The Japan Housing Finance Association recently revised its guidelines for disaster loans. Previously, the government would have to assess whether or not a particular disaster was big enough to warrant lending money to people whose homes were lost or damaged. But as of June 15, any natural disaster qualifies for a loan. And it’s just in time. The torrential downpour that hit Yamaguchi Prefecture yesterday destroyed a number of homes and damaged countless others.
These loans, it should be pointed out, are not interest free. The rates range from 1.9% to 2.8%, which isn’t much but there are many who believe that the government should actually grant money to help people rebuild their homes after natural disasters. In fact, there’s a kind of joke that is told with regards to the argument of whether you should rent or buy. One of the arguments against buying is that if your house is destroyed in a natural disaster, the government won’t help you. It’s obviously an exaggeration, but considering the poor quality of city planning and what passes inspection as far as house quality goes, the authorities do have some responsibility when disaster strikes. Most of the houses that were destroyed in the Great Hanshin Earthquake were lost because fire engines couldn’t reach them and zoning laws allowed for wooden structures to be built practically on top of one another.