March 7, 2012 - 21:55 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Japanese Red Cross said on Wednesday, March 7 an entire year has been lost in rebuilding tsunami-ravaged areas of the country because the central government and local authorities had failed to agree on a "master plan," Reuters reported.
It also said that the slow pace of reconstruction was deepening mental suffering and called for intensified efforts to bring the region back to life.
A year after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake on March 11 unleashed a tsunami that killed about 16,000 and triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, about 326,000 people are still homeless. Nearly 3,300 remain unaccounted for.
Hopes that the triple disaster would jolt Japan out of longstanding economic and political torpor have so far proved unfounded.
Government debt accumulates, while key decisions keep being postponed and politicians have reverted to skirmishing in a deadlocked parliament. Public mistrust of officials and politicians has risen.
The Red Cross has raised 400 billion yen ($4.95 billion) over the past year in donations from Japan and abroad, providing 290 billion yen in cash payouts to affected residents.
It said Red Cross activities had shifted over the year from attending to the urgent medical needs of survivors, many of them elderly, to long-term support - including help in building temporary and permanent health facilities.
Uncertainty, it said, was deepening a sense of isolation felt by many survivors, adding to huge psychological burdens.
Communities close to the Fukushima nuclear plant, crippled by the disaster, have to cope with additional stress and anxiety over long-term effects of radiation released after reactor meltdowns at the station, the Red Cross said.