‘Mini-Kasumigaseki’ Task Force in Full Operation for Quake Reconstruction in Noto; Task Force Inspired by Success of ‘K9’ for Kumamoto Quake Recovery Efforts

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, second from left, speaks at the inauguration ceremony of a task force that will support reconstruction efforts on the Noto Peninsula, in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, on July 1.

A government task force in charge of reconstruction efforts following the Noto Peninsula Earthquake has been in full operation to speed up reconstruction in disaster-hit areas by responding quickly to issues such as the demolition of houses at public expense.

Monday marks one week since the launch of the Noto Creative Reconstruction Task Force, which consists of about 150 people and is headed by a vice minister-level official. The task force is stationed in the disaster-struck areas as a “mini-Kasumigaseki.” Kasumigaseki is Tokyo’s bureaucratic nerve center.

“The aim [of the task force] is to bring together officials from the national, prefectural, and municipal governments to share information on the progress of each project and work to resolve issues,” said Yoshifumi Matsumura, minister of state for disaster management, at a press conference on Friday.

The task force was established based on the experience of the “K9,” a group of nine senior officials at the director-general and deputy director-general levels from various government ministries who responded to the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes by going to the disaster-hit areas. At that time, the nine officials and senior officials of the Kumamoto prefectural government held almost daily meetings known as “K9” at the Kumamoto prefectural government’s disaster response headquarters. K9 was named after the initial of Kumamoto.

The series of meetings led to swift decision-making and cross-ministry support. A Cabinet Office report praised this system as something that “can be a model for future disaster response.”

The establishment of the task force is said to have been the brainchild of Takashi Shimada, an executive secretary to the prime minister who led the K9 as deputy vice minister at the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, and others, with the aim of demonstrating the Prime Minister’s Office’s leadership in the recovery effort. The task force consists of a total of about 150 officials dispatched from the Cabinet Office and six ministries, including the Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism Ministry and Environment Ministry, as well as the local offices of these government agencies and officials from six municipalities in the Noto and Ishikawa prefectural governments.

Kazuhisa Nagahashi, director general for recovery and reconstruction support at the Cabinet Secretariat, was appointed as the chairperson. The staff members are based in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, and other locations and are staying in hotels and other facilities while working in the quake-hit areas.

The government’s on-site extraordinary disaster management headquarters has been involved in reconstruction efforts following the Jan. 1 Noto Peninsula Earthquake with a maximum of 300 personnel, but restoration and recovery efforts have been slow due to the disruption of road networks and other problems. In addition to publicly funded demolition of houses, restoration of water supply and liquefaction countermeasures, there are also other issues that need to be addressed such as measures to support tourism after reconstruction is completed.

“We will resolve reconstruction issues while listening to the requests from cities and towns [in the disaster-hit areas],” Nagahashi told The Yomiuri Shimbun.