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The rebuilding effort is expected to require tens of billions of dollars of public spending that will benefit construction companies but add to the already swollen national debt.

After the 1995 Kobe quake, Japan’s economy was able to rebound relatively quickly because the government boosted public spending by more than 15 percent in the following 12 months.

This time around, the government cannot afford to spend so freely because it is already straining under a debt load that is double the size of the economy.