Japanese gov't puts quake cost damage to economy at 309 bln USD

09:46, March 24, 2011      

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The Japanese government in provisional estimations on Wednesday said that the economic cost of the March 11 devastating earthquake and ensuing tsunami on the seven most affected prefectures in the northeast of Japan could total up to 309 billion U.S. dollars.

The Cabinet Office said that, without including the possible cost of planned power outages, the cost of rebuilding crippled infrastructures, businesses and housing could push the nation's GDP 0.5 percent lower and cost between 198 and 309 billion U.S. dollars.

"We provided the number based on data available so far, and cannot help having certain ranges in our estimate," economic and fiscal policy minister Kaoru Yosano told reporters.

"As there are some people who are concerned the Japanese economy could sink, I am saying the actual loss of GDP will be this size," Yosano said.

The government noted however that the domestic economic fallout could be offset to a degree by the massive forthcoming rebuilding and construction projects, which will span the northeast region of the country.

"We must keep in mind that because of the earthquake, production could slow down over an extensive area and for a lengthy period," Yosano added.

The World Bank's chief economist on Wednesday estimated the economic cost of the catastrophe to be in the region of 122-235 billion U.S. dollars, but suggested Japan's economic recovery would gain momentum in the fourth quarter.

"After the post-disaster reconstruction period spanning over the 2nd and 3rd quarters, the economy recovery will speed up," Justin Lin, chief economist at the World Bank, was quoted as saying.

The World Bank initially estimated that the total cost of the earthquake and tsunami damage to Japan could be in the region of 235 billion U.S. dollars and following the disaster on March 16, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimated the total cost of the disaster to reach just 197 billion U.S. dollars, which alone is 1.6 times the amount of the earthquake that hit Kobe in May 1995.

Meanwhile, Japan's National Police Agency reported that the death toll following the quake and tsunami rose to 9,408 on Wednesday, with 14,716 people still unaccounted for.

Source: Xinhua
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