3 May 2011

Japan passes emergency budget after disaster

8:35 am on 3 May 2011

Parliament in Japan has passed an emergency budget worth 4 trillion yen ($US49 billion) for reconstruction following the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March.

The bill was introduced last month. It passed the lower house on Saturday and was approved unanimously by a budget committee in the upper house early on Monday.

It will help fund new housing for tens of thousands of people who lost their homes. It will also support businesses hit by the disaster.

Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said further spending would follow in the months ahead. Analysts say the disaster could ultimately cost Japan $US300 billion.

The BBC reports allocations intended for pension funds, child allowances and slashing motorway tolls have been diverted into the emergency budget.

Japan already has a debt burden double the size of the economy.

According to the latest police figures, 14,704 people are now known to have died in the disaster. Another 10,969 remain missing.