Catastrophe du Tôhoku : 6 ans

Cela fait 6 ans jour pour jour que la côte nord-est du Japon a été touchée par une triple catastrophe. Le 11 mars 2011, le Tôhoku est secoué par un violent séisme qui entrainera un tsunami meurtrier. Et les jours qui suivirent verront débuter une crise nucléaire toujours non résolue à l’heure actuelle. Pour rappel,…

Conférence : Le Japon dans l’ère post-Fukushima

Asialyst et l’IHEST organisent une conférence-débat sur le thème « Le Japon dans l’ère post-Fukushima » à Paris le mercredi 8 mars 2017, de 18h30 à 20h. Intervenants : Jean-François Heimburger, spécialiste du Japon et journaliste pour Asialyst, Japon Infos et différentes publications du monde de la recherche.Mathieu Gaulène, auteur du livre « Le nucléaire en Asie : Fukushima, et après ».…

Le message d’un écolier japonais face à la persécution

Des notes écrites en juillet 2015 par un jeune écolier japonais de 13 ans, rescapé de Fukushima et réfugié à Yokohama, ont été récemment révélées. Dans un document de trois pages associé à une déclaration faite par ses parents, il y décrit le calvaire de l’intimidation et des brimades dont il a été victime durant…

Concert : Parfum de France, Élégance du Japon

L’Espace Hattori vous propose une nouvelle date dans le cadre de ses « Concerts Pas Comme les Autres ». En effet, le prochain concert intitulé « Parfum de France-Elegance du Japon », ensemble de basson par Kiyoshi Koyama, flûte et piccoro par Pierre Monty et piano par Motoko Horinaka se déroulera le 28/04/2015 à 19h30. Ce concert est dédié aux victimes du Tsunami du Tôhoku où M.…

Japan’s Special Tax for Reconstruction Winners and Losers


Tax receipt, Bird Princess, ebook, Japan.

I just paid my taxes on last year’s income. They included a surcharge of 2.1% of my income tax, called the Special Income Tax for Reconstruction. In the case of companies as taxpayers, there was a similar Special Corporate Tax for Reconstruction.

The Special Corporate Tax for Reconstruction began to be levied in April 2012 and was levied for only two years, until 2014—the originally planned three-year period being suddenly truncated to two years (out of the goodness of the Diet’s heart?) The Special Income Tax for Reconstruction began to be levied at the start of 2013. Both taxes were and are for the purpose of securing sufficient resources for the reconstruction work in those areas affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. Unlike the two-year corporate tax, the personal income tax is to be levied until 2037 – that’s 25 years! Companies: winners, individual taxpayers: losers.

The Special Income Tax for Reconstruction is levied on all income tax paid in Japan, whether the taxpayer is a permanent resident of Japan or not.
However, for non-Japanese residents who qualify for a tax deduction for taxes paid overseas, the Special Income Tax for Reconstruction is levied based on income tax for that person’s pre-deduction earnings – such earnings including money earned in Japan, money earned overseas that was paid in Japan, and earnings remitted from overseas. The overseas earnings of some non-permanent resident taxpayers may exceed the maximum tax deduction allowed. For such taxpayers, the amount in excess can be deducted from the Special Income Tax for Reconstruction. However, no more may be deducted from the Special tax than the part of it that derives from overseas earnings.

The Special Income Tax for Reconstruction is further levied as a 500 surcharge on both prefectural and local body taxes, i.e., a 1,000 yen surcharge per tax payer per year.
In 2013, the Special Tax for Reconstruction raised one 1.224 trillion yen (i.e., about ten billion US dollars at today’s exchange rate).

While the funds are no doubt doing much good, there have been problems identified with their allocation. For example, in 2012, it was discovered that some of the funds were being used to strengthen the defenses of Japanese whaling fleets against attacks from anti-whaling groups, and, somewhat less egregiously, to reinforce central government agency buildings in Tokyo against earthquakes – still a far cry from helping those in need in the north-east.

Also, it has been found that, to date, of the funds that go to companies, almost three-quarters go to the zaibatsu, with small-and-medium-sized companies sent to the back of the queue.
Bizarrely, in 2012, 43 million yen (c. USD355,000) of the funds was given to the girl idol group, Bird Princess. Sure, they are a group from the affected area, look like lovely girls, and no doubt do a lot to cheer people there up – but a 43 million yen state subsidy for pop?
Equally bizarrely, last year it was discovered that a large amount of the funds had gone to the Japan Publishing Organization for Information Infrastructure Development (JPO), part of whose mission is to sponsor the digitization of books in the earthquake affected area, in the sense of creating archives. A worthy cause, but … several hundred such subsidized titles included works such as “The Ultimate in Erotic Ecstasy,” “Super-Sexed Coercive Probe,” and “Climaxing Housewives of Karuizawa” (Karuizawa being a resort area for the wealthy, far from the earthquake affected area). State-subsidized porn, in other words.

Well, in the stale, doughy air of the second floor of the backstreet Asakusa Tax Office, waiting for my tax payment to be dealt with at tortoise pace, I entertained myself with the possibility that 2.1% of the handful of brown banknotes I handed over is destined for stardom, whether in skirts on the dazzling stage, or in a “well-cummed” ebook reader.


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4th Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake


The Great East Japan Earthquake struck four years ago today. The social, economic and political aftershocks of the huge quake, the subsequent tsunami and consequent meltdown of the Tokyo Electric Power Company ( TEPCO) nuclear reactors in Fukushima are still felt in Japan to this day.

Fukushima 2011 painting

Over 15,000 people died as a result of the earthquake and tsunami, over 125,000 buildings collapsed, with tens of thousands more damaged. Four years on from this tragic disaster work is still ongoing to repair the damage.

As of September 2014, 38,463 people were still living in temporary housing in Iwate Prefecture, 25,494 people in Fukushima Prefecture and 23,621 people in Miyagi Prefecture. Elderly people, those aged over 65, make up 37% of the persons still temporary housed.

So far only 15% of the 29,000 permanent homes planned for Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima have been built. After the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 all people affected by the quake had been permanently re-housed after five years. This 5-year target simply will not be met for the people of the Tohoku region.

PM Shinzo Abe pledged today to finance a new 5-year plan for the three worst affected prefectures. So far the government has spent 5 trillion yen on the previous reconstruction plan and 1.5 trillion yen on the ongoing radiation cleanup at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant. Around 120,000 people have been forced out of their homes by the melt down in Fukushima.

The “clean-up operation” includes storing thousands of black plastic bags containing irradiated soil, leaf litter and other debris throughout Fukushima Prefecture even on beaches where they will easily be blown out to sea in a storm. 200,000 tonnes of toxic water are also being stored in hundreds of tanks near to Fukushima Daiichi.

The damage to business and citizens’ morale is more difficult to quantify. Some businesses and families have given up hope of ever being able to return to their properties and houses within the exclusion zone in Fukushima Prefecture and have tried to rebuild their lives elsewhere in Japan. Some 3,200 people are thought to have met an early death since the disaster as a result of suicide and poor health caused by the events of March 11, 2011.

The fishing industry off the Tohoku coast has taken a big hit and the area in general is suffering from a labor shortage in construction, fisheries and nursing.

As more years pass since the disaster there is a sense that the rest of Japan is ceasing little by little to care what is happening to the communities affected by the triple wammy of the earthquake, tsunami and meltdown. Workers, materials and finance are being sucked in to preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as interest wanes in the increasingly elderly people left behind in the north east.

The Tohoku region has also been a remote and relatively little-visited part of Japan compared with central Honshu and the big cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Kyoto.

See the JapanVisitor blog about the third anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake disaster.


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