25 Novembre 2015
November 24, 2015
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Total tax revenues in 42 municipalities affected by the 2011 triple disaster have surpassed pre-3/11 levels, but more than half of them are still experiencing declines in tax income, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.
The increase came mainly from larger municipalities in urban areas that were not so severely hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami or meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Companies in those municipalities are gaining profits from reconstruction projects and paying more in local taxes.
Although these projects and the municipalities’ rise in tax revenue may only be temporary, the harder-hit areas have yet to reach that point in their rebuilding efforts.
Twenty-three of the 42 municipalities surveyed showed decreases in tax revenues for fiscal 2014, which ended in March 2015, from fiscal 2010.
Many are small communities that were devastated in the disaster and are still struggling to recover their daily lives.
The 42 municipalities, many of them located on the Pacific coasts of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, had all released their fiscal 2014 financial statements by October. They also included areas where residents were ordered to evacuate after the disaster unfolded at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The Asahi Shimbun surveyed the 42 municipalities’ annual tax revenues for fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2014 to determine changes over the five-year period. The Great East Japan Earthquake struck in March 2011, the last month of fiscal 2010.
According to the survey, the 42 municipalities obtained tax revenues totaling 362.7 billion yen ($2.95 billion) in fiscal 2014, exceeding 354.4 billion yen in fiscal 2010 for the first time.
The municipality with the largest increase in terms of amount was Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture, at 9.6 billion yen, followed by Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, with a rise of 3.4 billion yen.
An increasing number of construction and other companies have set up offices in Sendai apparently for a piece of the reconstruction budget.
According to the land ministry, contracts for public works projects in the three prefectures were worth 2.4 trillion yen in fiscal 2014, 5.3 times larger than the figure for fiscal 2010.
Iwaki serves as a base for work to decommission the reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Tax revenues in Hirono, Fukushima Prefecture, rose 61.7 percent in fiscal 2014, the largest growth rate among the 42 municipalities. Revenue from the fixed asset tax increased after the expansion of a thermal power plant in the town.
Soma in Fukushima Prefecture and Ofunato in Iwate Prefecture followed in terms of the ratio of tax revenue increases, according to the survey. Both cities suffered relatively minor damage from the disaster and recovered fairly quickly.
In addition, companies in Soma and Ofunato won contracts for reconstruction projects in surrounding municipalities.
On the other end of the scale, Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, marked the biggest decreasing rate--72.9 percent--in tax revenues for fiscal 2014.
All residents of the town near the crippled nuclear plant remain in evacuation. Although tax payments from companies increased from decontamination work and other public works projects, income taxes paid by residents and fixed asset taxes have declined.
The towns of Onagawa and Yamamoto in Miyagi Prefecture also had sharp decreases in tax revenues. The towns both had a high death toll from the tsunami.