'Japan misspent part of tsunami reconstruction fund'
Tokyo: Japanese authorities have diverted cash earmarked for tsunami reconstruction to unrelated projects, a government audit has revealed.
The government passed a number of budgets to fund reconstruction efforts in areas affected in the March 2011 tsunami and earthquake.
Some 19,000 people were killed or remain missing following the natural disaster that struck the north-eastern region of the country last year, the BBC reports.
But a government audit showed money had been used for unrelated projects, reportedly included on the basis that they could boost national economic revival.
According to the report, projects financed by the USD 150 billion fund include roads in Okinawa, an ad campaign for Japan's tallest building and support for whaling research.
The report quoted Takashi Kubota, the deputy mayor of Rikuzentakata, a fishing port where nearly half of the houses were destroyed, as saying that ‘not one single new building yet’ had been built in the destroyed downtown area.
“In 19 months, there have basically been no major changes,” he said.
The findings come at a time when questions are being asked about the speed of Japan's reconstruction effort.