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e-Magazine (For the Japanese version of this article)

Early Reconstruction of Miyagi Prefecture’s Industry and Realization of a Prosperous Miyagi | Akira Inukai Director-General Commerce, Industry and Tourism Department Miyagi Prefectural Government [Date of Issue: 31/May/2013 No.0219-0891]

Date of Issue: 31/May/2013

Early Reconstruction of Miyagi Prefecture's Industry and
Realization of a Prosperous Miyagi

Akira Inukai
Director-General
Commerce, Industry and Tourism Department
Miyagi Prefectural Government


In order to achieve an early industrial recovery and to realize a prosperous Miyagi, the prefectural government is systematically deploying policies that reflect the current status of local industries.


The Great East Japan Earthquake and the accompanying massive tsunami waves left more than 10,000 people dead or missing in Miyagi Prefecture and caused an unprecedented level of damage—more than nine trillion yen—over a wide area along the coast. Now, a little over two years and two months since that disaster, the assiduous combined efforts of the government and people of Miyagi Prefecture to rebuild and restore the region, backed by the support and endless encouragement of many people from both within and beyond Japan, have enabled most public infrastructure to be returned to its pre-disaster state everywhere but in certain tsunami-damaged areas, while the prefectural economy too is gradually recovering.

Even in tsunami-hit areas, an end is finally in sight for clearing away the vast amounts of disaster debris, and new town-building has begun, including the construction of disaster recovery public housing and a group relocation promotion project for disaster mitigation. Moves toward recovery are accordingly making steady progress, and I would like to take this opportunity to once again express deep gratitude to everyone for your support.

At the same time, along the coast where the damage was most catastrophic, more than 100,000 people still have no choice but to endure their daily lives in prefabricated temporary housing, while more than 8,000 evacuees are still scattered outside the prefecture.

Turning to the prefecture's commerce, industry, tourism and employment, circumstances not envisaged when our disaster recovery plan was first created—for example, large-scale subsidence along the coast causing major delays in ground elevation—have also delayed business resumption by business owners as well as the reconstruction of shopping areas, particularly along the coast. Additional hurdles include the loss of sales channels and the lasting impact of reputational damage. All these factors have made things extremely difficult for Miyagi Prefecture's industries.

For example, looking at the status of business resumption by local businesses, a gap is emerging between coastal and inland areas, with the business resumption rate inland reaching 96.5 percent against only 78.1 percent along the coast (as at the end of March 2013).

Under the restoration and construction subsidy project for facilities and equipment applicable to groups of SMEs ('SME Group Subsidies'), subsidies totalling around 220.7 billion yen had been approved for 179 groups comprising 3,470 businesses as at March 2013, but due to delays in ground-raising, etc., the rate of progress for the subsidized projects has been only around 78 percent for projects approved in FY2011 and around 21 percent for projects approved in FY2012.

There has also been a marked decline in the number of businesses in affected areas, with the number of manufacturing operations in Miyagi Prefecture falling from 6,016 in FY2009 to 5,161 in FY2012.

In terms of employment, the effective ratio of job offers to applicants was 1.29 times for the whole prefecture as at March 2013, and more than 1.0 times even in Ishinomaki and Kesennuma. Particularly along the coast, however, mismatches are arising in employment conditions between, for example, wages and forms of employment, as well as mismatches among industry and job types and mismatches particular to affected areas.

Miyagi Prefecture's disaster recovery plan divides the 10-year period covered in the plan into restoration, reconstruction and development periods, with industrial reconstruction positioned as one of the plan's major planks. FY2013 marks the final year of the restoration period, but as noted earlier, along the coast, factors such as lack of progress with infrastructure development have meant that industrial reconstruction is in fact well behind schedule.

To address this situation, the prefectural government has drawn up a vision for industry and commerce, tourism and employment that it aims to achieve in three years (by the end of FY2015), and is working systematically toward this to accelerate industrial reconstruction.

Vision
1. Manufacturing and commerce
• Aim to have companies establish operations in Miyagi Prefecture and to restore the production levels of local companies to promote the full recovery of affected firms and create new jobs particularly in the coastal area.
• Aim to rebuild shopping streets in a manner that will provide convenience for local residents in their daily lives and underpinning the local community, gearing efforts to the state of progress with restoration and town-building along the coast.
• Develop a diverse range of human resources matched to the needs of the firms underpinning Miyagi Prefecture's industry, aiming to secure human resources to contribute to early reconstruction.

2. Tourism
• Aim to eliminate rumors, regenerate Miyagi tourism with broad-ranging appeal, and expand the non-resident population even as the resident population declines, revitalizing the local economy.

3. Employment
• Aim to maintain employment, secure short-term employment, and realize stable employment to stabilize the lives of disaster victims.

Before the disaster, Miyagi Prefecture had set out the goal of realizing prosperity by stimulating industry toward growing the prefectural economy. To achieve a balanced industrial structure from primary across to tertiary industry, the prefectural government has been seeking to redress the prefecture's weakness in terms of secondary industry (manufacturing) clusters by attracting firms from within and beyond Japan and fostering local firms to encourage the development of local manufacturing clusters (the prefecture's 'prosperity strategy').

In addressing post-disaster reconstruction too, in addition to supporting the recovery of affected businesses, the prefectural government will need to take forward its prosperity strategy, integrate the attraction of outside firms and the development of local firms, and encourage the further development and expansion of industrial clusters so as to ensure the prefecture's sustained development into the future.

To that end, the prefectural government has designed significant tax breaks through to the end of March 2016 under the special disaster reconstruction zone system, and with early approval received for affected local authorities' recovery promotion plans, the prefecture's own company location incentive funds, low-interest loans and other systems are being utilized in working proactively to attract companies from within and outside Japan. The prefectural government will also use industry-university-government partnerships to boost local companies' skills and competitiveness and support the creation of sales channels and trade expansion by holding business talks, etc., to help stimulate the regional economy.

The location in Miyagi of an auto plant by a Toyota subsidiary as well as a Tokyo Electron semiconductor manufacturing equipment plant had been decided before the disaster, and both these plants subsequently moved into operation after the disaster. In terms of attracting firms to the region, the prefectural government is focusing its efforts on promoting and developing clusters of these auto and advanced electronic machinery industries, as well as the food, forestry and ship-building industries in which the region has traditionally been strong but which were severely damaged by the disaster, and also the medical care and health, clean energy and aerospace industries as new industries which will dominate in the next generation.

The prefectural government is also designing new systems and instituting bold new measures. One of these is stimulation of the area around the airport in response to the outsourcing of Sendai Airport's management to the private sector.

Sendai Airport: Taking the opportunity of management privatization to revitalize airport environs as a symbol of recovery

Sendai Airport: Taking the opportunity of management privatization to revitalize airport environs as a symbol of recovery

Sendai Airport and its environs, which suffered serious disaster damage, will be rebuilt as a global gateway bringing people, goods and money into the region from within and beyond Japan, serving as a symbol of reconstruction that communicates the whole prefecture's recovery to the world. The prefectural governor is consequently leading the way in this effort, which is being conducted in conjunction with the national government's airport management reforms.

This fiscal year, in addition to briefing and coordinating with the relevant institutions in the lead-up to privatization, a 'supporters' conference' was held toward realizing six million users and 50,000 tons of cargo at Sendai Airport, building momentum toward private-sector airport management.

DC mascot character ‘Musubi-maru’ & logo

DC mascot character ‘Musubi-maru’ & logo

As of April this year, we have been working with the East Japan Railway Corporation to operate the Sendai-Miyagi Destination Campaign, a large-scale national tourism promotion campaign. The mascot character for the campaign is 'Musubi-maru', themed on a rice ball made of the representative Miyagi foodstuffs rice and seaweed. Various tourist events will be held around the prefecture through to the end of June. Tourism is a multifaceted industry which ranges widely from primary through secondary and tertiary industry, and as such is an industrial area with substantial economic spillover and employment effects. The prefectural government is working together with local authorities, related groups and local residents to promote tourism-centered region-building beyond the bounds of individual industries, and we look forward to regenerating local tourism as we lead the campaign to a successful conclusion, positioning Miyagi Prefecture as a 'tourism kingdom'.

The theme of the campaign is 'sharing with a smile' the appeal of our prefecture and our appreciation for all the recovery support we have received to tourists from Japan and abroad who visit Miyagi Prefecture. We hope you will take this opportunity to visit Miyagi Prefecture and see for yourselves the current state of affected areas and the shape of the prefecture as a whole.

We will continue to exert maximum efforts to achieve early industrial reconstruction and prosperity for Miyagi Prefecture, and we look forward to your understanding, cooperation and support in this endeavor.

Sendai and Miyagi Prefecture tourist information
• Official website of the Sendai-Miyagi Tourist Campaign Promotion Council:
https://www.sendaimiyagidc.jp/en/

• Invest Miyagi:
https://www.pref.miyagi.jp/kokusai/investmiyagi/

(original article : Japanese)
(For the Japanese version of this article)


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