Japan PM Kishida visits quake-hit Ishikawa

On a Sunday visit to the earthquake-affected central area, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged more assistance to those who survived.

Kishida spoke with catastrophe victims who had to leave their houses due to a major earthquake on New Year’s Day with a magnitude of 7.5 and strong aftershocks that left at least 221 people dead in emergency shelters in Ishikawa prefecture.

“I realise tough times are continuing. I received your thoughts and I will continue to do my part with all of my strength. Please stay strong,” he told a group of survivors who were staying at a middle school in Wajima city.

Following the first shock, the area saw a tsunami and more than 1,000 aftershocks, some of which registered as high as 5.0 on the Richter scale and destroyed infrastructure and homes.

Over 20,000 people in the isolated area are still residing in about 400 shelters two weeks after the tragedy.

In addition, hundreds of people live in over a dozen settlements that are inaccessible by car due to landslides and road damage brought on by the earthquakes. 9,300 families do not yet have electricity.

Reluctant to leave their hometowns, where they have jobs and homes, earthquake survivors confided in Kishida.

Local officials also told him about public health worries such as spread of infectious diseases like Covid and influenza at congested shelters and urged the national government to quickly build more prefabricated homes to house local residents.

Officials also stressed that many survivors left their homes as they were with no money, change of clothes or other belongings.

After his visit, Kishida pledged to release more than 100 billion yen ($690 million) from the government’s reserve fund to help the region before the end of January.

“Many survivors told me about their frustration and anxiety about their uncertain future,” Kishida told reporters.

“I am resolved to give all my strength to deal with the disaster and to restore the lives of the survivors.”

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