- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The panels, each about 16-by-4 feet, and 3 inches thick, were installed when the three-mile tunnel was built.

Recovery work in the tunnel halted Monday to allow reinforcement of the roof to prevent more collapses, said Jun Goto, an official at the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

By Tuesday, crews were removing the concrete slabs from the tunnel, said Mr. Goto, adding that authorities do not expect to find any more victims inside.

Spending on public works once was the lifeblood of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled Japan for most of the decades since World War II, though it was ousted by the Democratic Party of Japan in 2009.

The government created huge oceanside reclamation projects, bullet-train tracks and other vital infrastructure, as well as notorious “bridges to nowhere.”

Political reforms beginning in the early 2000s focused on cutting spending on public works, but they failed to differentiate between projects that contributed to efficiency and competitiveness and those that did not, said Masahiro Matsumura, a politics professor at St. Andrews University in Osaka.