JAPAN DISASTER: Damage to cost up to $309bn - reports

23 March 2011 08:01  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The earthquake and tsunami that struck the northeast of Japan earlier this month are estimated to have caused yen (Y) 16,000-25,000bn ($198-309bn) worth of damage, media reports said on Wednesday, quoting Japanese government officials.

The estimate included damage to homes, roads, factories and other infrastructure, the BBC reported.

The figure does not include losses in economic activity from planned power outages or the wider impact of the ongoing nuclear crisis in Fukushima, a Reuters report said.

"This quake will cause the condition of Japan's economy and output to be severe," Reuters quoted Bank of Japan governor Masaaki Shirakawa as saying at a parliamentary committee meeting.

The country's central bank has already injected trillions of yen into the money market and has doubled its assets purchasing scheme to improve funding conditions, in a bid to prevent a collapse of its financial system.

The Group of Seven (G7) industrialised nations have also pledged to stem the rise of the yen to prevent Japan's exports suffering further damage.

The World Bank on Monday said the cost of the disaster might add up to $235bn, while in an earlier forecast Goldman Sachs analysts said it might be as much as $200bn.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami on 11 March killed thousands of people and led to a crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Many production facilities, including petrochemical plants and car factories, remain closed as utilities have implemented rolling blackouts.

"The impact from the planned power outages is likely to be significant," Fumihira Nishizaki, director of macroeconomic analysis at the Cabinet Office, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

On Wednesday, the confirmed death toll from the earthquake and tsunami was reported to be 9,079, with 12,645 missing, according to official police figures.

Engineers have continued to cool reactors at the Fukushima nuclear facility, while Japanese officials said that above-safety radiation levels have been discovered in 11 types of vegetables from the area, in addition to milk and water, Reuters reported.

The US Food and Drug Administration has said that it was stopping imports of milk, vegetable and fruit from four prefectures in Japan’s northeast, according to media reports.

South Korea may be the next country to ban Japanese food, the reports said.

($1 = Y80.92)

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By: Nurluqman Suratman

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