Slow recovery from Noto Peninsula quake weighs on businesses

People are still struggling to rebuild six weeks after an earthquake rocked the Noto Peninsula in central Japan on New Year's Day.

With dim hopes for a quick recovery, some businesses are facing the prospect of closing permanently.

Yoshiura Tsukasa works in the fishing industry in Ishikawa Prefecture's Wajima City, one of the areas hit hardest by the quake.

Before the disaster, he trawled for snow crabs and other catches.

The quake caused the coastline to lift, making it too shallow for about 200 boats to operate.
It made Yoshiura decide to call it quits after 50 years of fishing.

Yoshiura said, "I don't know how long recovery will take. Maybe five years, maybe ten. I can't earn unless I go out to sea."

Yatsui Takahiro runs a firm that produces and sells a traditional lacquerware known as "Wajima-nuri."

The quake left his workshop and store needing repairs to stay in business.

But he thinks the fixes could take a long time as it's difficult to find construction workers.

Yatsui said, "Ultimately, money matters. We're not getting any income, and it costs money to get our workshop repaired."

A local credit association conducted a survey of businesses in the affected cities of Wajima and Suzu.
It found that at least 60 percent of about 1,600 firms were unable to operate.

The association says it is important to help companies secure the funds to stay open. And this requires the government, the private sector, and other groups to work together to find solutions for local businesses.