The human and financial cost of the tsunami continues to rise, after police estimates showed more than 18,000 people have died in the disaster and the World Bank said it may cost Japan as much as £145bn to repair the damage.
Attention is turning to the humanitarian crisis on Japan’s north-east coast and the cost of the cleanup and reconstruction operations.
The World Bank said on Monday that it could take Japan five years, and cost between £75bn and £145bn – equivalent to 4% of Japan’s GDP – to overcome the catastrophe, while private insurers face a combined bill of up to $33bn.
“Damage to housing and infrastructure has been unprecedented,” the bank said. “Growth should pick up though in subsequent quarters as reconstruction efforts, which could last five years, accelerate.” The bank said damage from the tsunami could also affect trade in the region.
The price of some Japanese-made memory chips have risen 20% because of disruption to production lines, while car plants in Asia face shortages of auto parts. “Disruption to production networks, especially in automotive and electronics industries, could continue to pose problems,” the World Bank said. “Japan is a major producer of parts, components and capital goods which supply east Asia’s production chains.”
While hundreds of workers battle to render the nuclear plant safe, Japan continues to count its dead. Police estimates show more than about 18,400 died– 10,500 in Miyagi prefecture alone. A further 452,000 people are living in shelters. “It is very distressing as we recover more bodies day after day,” said police spokesman Hitoshi Sugawara.(guardian.co.uk)