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HOME  > Past issues  > 2011 March 9 - 15  > JCP’s efforts win financial support for snowfall-hit areas
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2011 March 9 - 15 [JCP]

JCP’s efforts win financial support for snowfall-hit areas

March 6, 2011
Sunday edition

Two prefectures in Japan’s San’in region, Tottori and Shimane, were hit by a record heavy snowfall this winter. The Japanese Communist Party’s prompt actions have helped the two prefectural governments establish a financial support system to local farmers and fishers whose businesses have been severely damaged by the unusual weather.

In February, the two local governments launched financing programs to compensate fishers and farmers for one third of the costs spent to restore their business. The total amount of damage in agriculture, forestry, and fishery industries caused by the snowstorms was 1.8 billion yen in Tottori (as of February 24) and 1.2 billion yen in Shimane (as of February 25).

Strawberry farming

In Shimane’s Yasugi City, Seo Masumi, a 57-year-old farmer, has run a strawberry farm for 40 years. The heavy snowfall collapsed 3 out of his 7 plastic greenhouses and damaged nearly half of his 22-are farm. Restoring just one greenhouse costs more than 2.5 million yen.

“After the devastation, Agriculture Ministry officials visited us, but all they did was to explain about existing financing programs. However, JCP members were totally different. They listened to our needs and explained them to the state, prefecture, and city governments,” said Seo. He received a report from JCP Dietmembers on their negotiations with the national government. “No other party will do what the JCP does,” he added.

Together with the party’s local assembly representatives, JCP House of Councilors member Yamashita Yoshiki carried out on-site investigations right after the heavy snowfall. Based on their research, JCP parliamentarians made representations to State Minister for Natural Disaster Prevention Matsumoto Ryu, calling for public financial assistance to the disaster-hit areas.

Omura Toshinari, a JCP representative of the Shimane Prefectural Assembly, said that the number of farmers in Shimane sharply dropped from 42,000 in 2005 to 30,000 in 2010 and that their average age is over 70. He stressed, “Direct financing programs must be provided for those who want to continue farming related businesses. It is essential to protect domestic agriculture.”

Squid fishing

In Tottori Prefecture, 147 fishing boats were capsized by the weight of snow. One of them is owned by Ikebuchi Kohei, a 59-year-old squid fisher in Tottori’s Sakaiminato City. The damage to his boats amounts to more than 20 million yen.

Ikebuchi is now temporarily using a fishing boat owned by his older brother, Shiro, while looking for a used boat he can purchase.

In February, the city assembly of Sakaiminato included in its supplementary budget 62 million yen in financial support for repairing local fishers’ boats.

Matsuo Yoshiyuki, Japanese Communist Party member of the city assembly, said, “We have urged the city administration to recognize fishery as the city’s key industry and set up financial assistance programs to help recover their businesses.”

“JCP members came to look into the damage right away. They are different from other parties which only visit us during elections. We can actually trust them,” said Shiro.

His younger brother Kohei said, “We appreciate the swift actions taken by both the prefectural and city offices to give us direct support. However, I still need an additional 10 million yen in order to buy a boat and other necessary equipment.”

JCP Tottori Prefectural Assembly member Nishikiori Yoko stated, “The national government claims that the latest heavy snowfall cannot be categorized as a ‘serious disaster’ set by state law so that it does not need to provide financial support. However, the prefecture and city administrations have their limited available funding. The state should take a flexible response and set up financial assistance.”

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