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Japan disasters to cost up to $300 billion

Tokyo(AP):The government expects the economic toll from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami could exceed $300 billion, considerably higher than other estimates, a report said today.

Economy Minister Kaoru Yosano will present the estimate of 15 trillion yen to 25 trillion yen (USD 185 billion to USD 300 billion) at a Cabinet meeting today, the newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun said.

The March 11 magnitude-9.0 quake and tsunami devastated Japan’s northeastern coast and triggered a crisis at a nuclear power plant that forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

Utilities have imposed power rationing, many factories remain closed and key rail lines are impassable. The government reportedly plans to inject public money into banks to help support lending as companies rebuild. Funds could come from a fund of 11 trillion yen (USD 135 billion) that is still available under a law on emergency support to banks passed after the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs had estimated quake damage of as much as USD 200 billion. The World Bank on Monday said damage might total up to USD 235 billion.

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