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Japan’s tsunami funds were misspent, government audit finds

Japan’s tsunami funds were spent on whaling research an ad campaign for Japan’s tallest building, among other unrelated projects.

Japan’s tsunami funds were misspent by the government on unrelated projects, from advertising the country’s new tallest building to whaling, an audit has found.

The government-funded audit into the usage of the $150 billion relief fund created after last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami revealed that roughly one fourth of the budget was misdirected, the Associated Press reported.

Among the questionable uses of the fund were $30 million dollars to keep Japan’s controversial whale hunting practice afloat and another $380,000 to promote Tokyo Sky Tree, the country’s new tallest building, RT News reported.

The money was also spent on aircraft and fighter pilot training and the research and production of rare earths minerals, among other non-relief projects, the Times of India reported.

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The findings comes as 325,000 victims of the tsunami which killed some 19,000 are still displaced, the International Business Times reported.

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Recovery work and building has “barely begun” near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where the disaster set off the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, according to the Times of India.

“In 19 months, there have basically been no major changes,” Takashi Kubota, deputy mayor of Rikuzentakata, a fishing town largely destroyed, told reporters. “There is not one single new building yet.”

“There have been various criticisms made regarding how the budget for reconstruction has been spent,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Monday, promising that problems would be addressed,BBC News reported.

“We must listen sincerely to the voices calling for the utmost priority to be accorded to disaster area reconstruction. We will properly provide allowances for budget items that are truly needed by the disaster-affected areas and strictly narrow down other items,” he added.  

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