Komeito quickly reaches out to disaster victims

November 10 , 2019

Yamaguchi joined other Komeito responders at disaster sites (Oct. 16)Yamaguchi joined other Komeito responders at disaster sites (Oct. 16)

In recent months, Japan was struck by a series of extreme storms and flooding, caused largely by two major typhoons, Faxai and Hagibis. Not only were dozens of lives lost and many more injured, the damage wrought to homes, businesses and infrastructure is still being tallied. The cost to farms and fisheries alone is expected to exceed 250 billion yen.

Komeito moved immediately to assess the toll and come to the aid of the stricken, setting up a disaster relief unit led by Chief Representative Natsuo Yamaguchi and coordinating with the party’s prefectural organizations to engage in a broad array of assistance activities, including finding temporary housing for the displaced and clearing bureaucratic hurdles to restore lifeline infrastructure as quickly as possible. All told, Komeito came up with 75 relief and reconstruction initiatives and submitted them to the government on October 25.

As a result, the administration led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe adopted a special legislative package on November 7 that included nearly 132 billion yen in assistance as part of the fiscal year’s supplemental budget.

Much of the relief work carried out by Komeito legislators, both national and local, came about after they entered the disaster areas and spoke with victims in person. Such mundane items as women’s underwear, for example, were largely overlooked in evacuation sites, but were quickly delivered after women at those sites—who were forced to flee literally with only the clothes they wore—told women Komeito members of their plight. Another overlooked issue: a shortage of hot water for families to reconstitute powdered milk for babies at evacuation sites. When Komeito learned of this, it pushed the government to provide ordinary milk, with supplies subsequently delivered from nearby prefectures.

Kazuyoshi Akaba, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and Komeito member, also went to Chiba prefecture, which took the brunt of Typhoon Faxai’s gale-force winds, torrential rainfall and flooding in September. After his onsite tour, Akaba ordered his ministry to extend its home repair grant to homeowners that suffered storm damage to their houses that were previously insufficient to receive financial assistance. Komeito Secretary General Tetsuo Saito followed that with a strong recommendation to Abe grant further support, which the prime minister then agreed to adopt a permanent system that provided state aid to homes that received more than a 10%-damage rating.