A Japanese government audit has found that a portion of the $150 billion fund designed for reconstruction projects in areas damaged by the devastating 2011 tsunami-earthquake has been spent on other projects.
Some of the unrelated projects include an advertising campaign for Japan’s tallest building, whaling research and roads on Okinawa, the BBC reported, though it is not clear how much was spent.
Some of these unrelated projects were being funded with reconstruction money on the grounds that they would contribute to the country’s economic recovery from the disaster.
Around 325,000 people remain displaced from the tsunami that killed some 19,000 people last year.
Many areas heavily damaged by the tsunami have yet to begin rebuilding, leading to intense scrutiny and criticism of how the reconstruction funds are being spent.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda responded to the criticism Monday before parliament and promised to address the issue.
"There have been various criticisms made regarding how the budget for reconstruction has been spent," Noda said, the BBC reported.
"We must listen sincerely to the voices calling for the utmost priority to be accorded to disaster area reconstruction. We will properly provide allowances for budget items that are truly needed by the disaster-affected areas and strictly narrow down other items."