April's quakes cost Japan more than $6 billion

TOKYO - The economic impact of the earthquakes in southwestern Japan this April is estimated at 500 billion yen (S$6.86 billion), judging by sources including the government of hardest-hit Kumamoto Prefecture.

Saturday marks a month since the first major tremor shock. In Kumamoto and neighbouring Oita Prefecture, damage to the agricultural, forestry and fisheries sector is estimated at 135.4 billion yen. Damage to transportation infrastructure, including highways and bridges, is seen totaling 320 billion yen.

More than 80,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed, and 10,000-plus people remain in evacuation centres and other temporary housing.

Back in business

Many retailers have returned to normal operations in Kumamoto. The southwestern-Japan unit of retail giant Aeon has reopened all stores in the prefecture. Supermarket operator Izumi is eyeing reopening three severely damaged stores by the end of June. Convenience stores are mostly back to normal as well.

Prices of 2-liter plastic bottles of mineral water jumped 24 per cent from April 1 to April 18 in southwest Japan, according to Nikkei Inc. data collected from supermarket registers. But the prices have fallen in May.

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