Doubt in "Ten Trillion yen"

Reconstruction and rehabilitation from the Great Hanshin Earthquake should be carried out based on a precise grasp of the damage situation and needs of the disaster-affected people. The Hyogo prefectural government estimated the amount of direct damage to be 9.9268 trillion yen, of which 5.8 trillion yen or 58% was building damage (the amount of reconstruction cost due to building damage).

Damage to Buildings Alone Reached 14 Trillion yen

The amount of building damage estimated by the author, however, is about 14 trillion yen. The author provides two reasons for this estimation. The first is the number of damaged buildings. Hyogo prefectural government estimated the total amount of damage on February 17, a month after the earthquake. The number of damaged buildings then, which was taken as the bases for the damage estimation, was 150,337. However, the number of totally and partially collapsed buildings later increased to 228,212. This figure was obtained by combining the number in Kobe as of December, 1995, and the number in Hyogo prefecture excluding Kobe as of June, 1996. The first estimation was compiled by Kobe city from a table in "An Earthquake City's Year of Reconstruction (Shinsai-toshi Fukko no Ichinen) (1996)" issued by the City Planning Institute of Japan, Kansai Branch, and the latter was compiled by the Hyogo prefectural government.

The second reason is the fact that reconstruction cost differs according to the building structures and regions. Base data for the Hyogo prefectural government for the calculation does not clearly indicate whether the damaged buildings were wooden or non-wooden. According to the "Annual Statement on Construction (Kensetsu-Tokei-Nenpou)" issued by the City Planning Institute, Kansai Branch, in 1995, reconstruction cost for a wooden house was 25.62 million yen while that for a non-wooden building costs 29.02 million yen. Also, a wooden building which costs 25 million yen in Nishinomiya city will cost 17.56 million yen in Sumoto-city, Awaji-island.

As a result of the provisional estimation based on the above-mentioned number, 228,212, and taking the differences according to the structures and regions into consideration, the estimated damage amount comes to 10.6 trillion yen in Kobe city and 3.4 trillion yen in all the other areas combined.

The damage was underestimated because, as pointed out by SAKAIYA Taichi, who was a member of the Committee for Reconstruction of the Hanshin-Awaji Area and later served as the chief of the Economic Planning Agency for the Obuchi administration, "The governmental officers tried to make the damage appear as small as possible in order to calm the upset people, and they were also concerned about the international credit of the Japanese government. The local governments failed to give the central government an impression of urgency." (Interview with SAKAIYA Taichi, Kobe-Newspaper, January 21, 1998).

(IKEDA Kiyoshi)