Japan puts reconstruction projects not linked to disaster zones on hold

Japan's government has suspended 35 projects included in a budget for reconstruction after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that were not directly related to the disasters.

The decision Tuesday followed criticism that as much as a fourth of the 11.7 trillion yen ($148 billion) budget had been earmarked for unrelated projects, including subsidies for a contact lens factory in another region and research whaling.

The 35 projects put on hold during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda involved spending of 16.8 billion yen ($210 million).

No specific reason was given for each project, though Noda and other officials have vowed to cut spending not directly for reconstruction. Many of the projects were included on the pretext they might aid Japan's economic revival.