Japan: Rethinking – Not Just Rebuilding

With a fierce yell and a resounding thwack, 13-year-old Japanese student Nanami Usui brings her bamboo sword down on her opponent.

By practicing Kendo, or Japanese swordsmanship, Usui is one of several students in the town of Minamisanriku who are rebuilding their confidence after last year’s tsunami washed away their homes and shattered their hometown in the country’s northeast.

Usui says she dreams of being a police officer, but she doesn’t know yet where she wants to live and work.

“Most high school students here have dreams about their future careers,” she says, as she prepares to don her helmet and breastplate. “I suppose if you want to become a fisherman you can stay here, but if you want to do anything else, you have to leave this town.”

Read the rest of the story: Rethinking, Not Just Rebuilding, Japan’s Northeast.

OK – Righting a Town After Japan’s Tsunami

MINAMISANRIKU, JAPAN – He writes “OK” several dozen times each day, and Jinichi Sasaki figures he’ll scribble the word for years before anything about his town feels right again.

In this tsunami-obliterated fishing port, rebuilding begins with one word, which Sasaki, a municipal employee, writes — in English — on every invoice and delivery form. He uses it in lieu of a signature, in part because he likes its simple utility — an antidote for a place that was destroyed. A truckload of rubber boots: OK. A fresh crate of rubbish bags: OK. Forty thousand 500-milliliter bottles of water: OK.

Read the rest of the story: After Japan’s tsunami, a town climbs back.

Japan earmarks first $50 billion for post-disaster rebuild

Japans cabinet approved on Friday almost $50 billion of spending for post-earthquake rebuilding, a downpayment on the countrys biggest public works effort in six decades.

The emergency budget of 4 trillion yen $48.5 billion, which is likely be followed by more reconstruction spending packages, is still dwarfed by the overall cost of damages caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, estimated at $300 billion.

"With this budget, we are taking one step forward toward reconstruction … and toward restarting the economy," Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

Unpopular Prime Minister Naoto Kan, under fire for his handling of the crisis, said Japan would have to issue fresh government bonds to fund extra budgets to come, and suggested he would stay on to oversee the process.

Read the rest of the story: Japan earmarks first $50 billion for post-quake rebuild.

Japan can pay for rebuild states central bank chief

Japan’s economy suffered a big blow in the triple earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, but the country should have no problem financing reconstruction, the central bank chief said.

Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa conceded problems in the economic supply chain, power generation, tourism and other important sectors.

But he said the financial system could cope.

"As long as Japan continues to work tirelessly towards rebuilding it is unlikely that financing problems will arise," he said in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Shirakawa said the three-pronged disaster struck "at a time when Japan’s economy was gradually returning" to strength. He said the disruption mean "it is inevitable" that production and supply will suffer.

Read the rest of the story: Japan can pay for rebuild: central bank governor.