Japan rebuilding may cost $235B, says World Bank (VIDEO)


Katsuo Fujihara, 73, prays at the tomb of a dead family member at a cemetery in Kamaishi in Iwate prefecture on March 21, 2011. Japanese people, still reeling 10 days after Japan's deadliest natural disaster since 1923, marked shunbun no hi (vernal equinox day) on March 21 by visiting the tombs of their ancestors to clean them and offer prayer and ohagi (sweet rice balls covered with red bean paste).


Roslan Rahman

The World Bank Monday said it may cost $235 billion to rebuild Japan, as engineers make limited progress on stabilizing a stricken nuclear plant.

Japan might need five years to rebuild after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami devastated much of the country and triggered an ongoing nuclear crisis, AP reports. Entire towns were destroyed by the disaster.

The World Bank report said the cost to private insurers will be up to $33 billion. Government reconstruction efforts will require $12 billion from the current national budget and more down the line.

Japanese officials said that progress has been made at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex to prevent a complete nuclear meltdown, but the progress has been modest and dangers at the plant remain. 

Some 300 engineers have been spraying the complex with seawater to prevent fuel rods from overheating and emitting more radiation, and power cables have been attached to some of the reactors, Reuters reports.

"There have been some positive developments in the last 24 hours but overall the situation remains very serious," Graham Andrew, a senior official of Vienna-based U.N. watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told Reuters.

Engineers hope the power cables will enable the plant to restart water pumps and the facility's cooling system. However, if the pumps have been too badly damaged and cannot restart, the plant will need to install a new cooling system, which would take more time.

Until the cooling system is turned on, the plant faces continued radiation leakage from spent fuel rods at the two reactors that have not been attached to a power cable, reactors Nos. 3 and 4, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"We can't be complacent," chief government spokesman Yukio Edano said Sunday, the Journal reports. "Even if things go well, we'll certainly see ups and downs."

The injection of seawater seems to be providing stability at the reactors for now, but some experts say the rods are at risk of full meltdown until the facility's standard cooling system is restored at reactors Nos. 3 and 4.

The official death toll in Japan rose to 8,450, and close to 13,000 remain missing, BBC reports.

Some 390,000 people remain homeless and are living in shelters with short supplies of food, water, medicine and heating fuel, according to Reuters.

Amidst the trauma and suffering, the country embraced a rare piece of good news as two people were rescued from the rubble Sunday. Read GlobalPost's report on the miraculous recovery.



-- Hanna Ingber Win