Quake-hit Japan eyes Swedish homes

Quake-hit Japan eyes Swedish homes
Västerbotten county in northern Sweden has received a request from Tokyo to examine the possibilities for the supply of simple Swedish wooden homes and shelters to earthquake and tsunami hit areas of Japan.

“Despite the fact that the country is very far away we have all been very taken aback by the situation of all the people affected by the earthquake catastrophe,” Västerbotten governor Chris Heister said in a statement on Tuesday.

According to a report cited by the county, up to 350,000 homes are needed in Japan following the destruction wrought by the earthquake, tsunami and aftershocks. Many of the demolished homes were built from wood.

Sweden has a strong tradition in building houses from wood and Västerbotten county administration board has been asked by a existing contact within the construction industry in Japan to canvass companies to see what can be supplied.

“We have said that we will forward contact information and seek out interest and capability among companies in Sweden,” Mariann Holmberg at the county told The Local on Tuesday.

Japanese domestic production can manage about 5,000 wooden homes and so the search for alternatives to meet the immediate demand has broadened to as far afield as Sweden.

Following a Tuesday statement by the county, a large number of firms have been in touch from around Sweden and elsewhere.

“The immediate response has been from a large number of smaller firms. The response shows that there are a large number of suppliers who have done business with Japan and would able to meet the demand, if it comes,” Holmberg said.

Suppliers are being sought for pre-fabricated module houses which can swiftly be constructed to provide shelter from the elements.

“Japan has a winter climate so the house would need to be equipped for that, but what we have said is easy-to-build simpler homes.”

Suppliers across the counties of Västerbotten and Norrbotten have reportedly shown a willingness to adapt production to meet any specific demands from Japan.

“It would feel great if Västerbotten and northern Sweden could contribute to that which has hit an incredible number of people,” Chris Heister said.

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