Japan's parliament passed a 4 trillion yen ($49 billion) budget — including using 2.5 trillion yen from government pension funds — for rebuilding after the March 11 earthquake, the first in a series of relief packages.
The Diet's upper house unanimously approved the extra spending after the lower house passed the measure April 30.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said several extra budgets may be needed to rebuild after the quake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, with government estimates putting the damage at as much as 25 trillion yen. Higher taxes may be needed to limit any increases in bond sales that would swell a debt burden already twice the size of the economy.
Along with pension assets, the package approved Monday will be financed with money originally intended to increase payments to families with children. Bond sales will be necessary for the next plan, officials have said.
Money will go toward the cleanup and more than 100,000 temporary houses after the temblor left more than 25,000 people dead or missing. Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Kaoru Yosano said April 21 that reconstruction “must” be backed by higher levies