All residents forced to evacuate or remain indoors because of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant will receive at least 100,000 yen ($1,230) a month for mental distress, a government panel said.
"All evacuees have suffered similar pain and suffering in terms of having their daily lives greatly disrupted," the screening panel on compensation for nuclear accidents said in guidelines agreed to on June 20.
But the compensation plan has already been criticized as too small or unfair to those forced to live in evacuation centers.
"Compared to the actual suffering that the evacuees are experiencing, I believe the 100,000 yen a month amount is too small," Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba said. "The central government should disclose the standards used in calculating the amount so the evacuees will be convinced."
Provisional payment of compensation for evacuation expenses will be made by household, but the compensation for mental distress will go directly to each individual evacuee, regardless of age or the number of people in a household.
People currently living in evacuation centers set up at gymnasiums or other public facilities will receive an additional 20,000 yen a month because of the greater distress they face due to a lack of privacy in those locations.
The panel used compensation amounts paid out through automobile liability insurance as a standard for determining the compensation amount for mental distress.
Individuals hospitalized due to automobile accidents receive 4,200 yen a day in compensation. The amount of 120,000 yen was calculated using that daily amount as a reference point.
Residents who have been instructed to remain indoors at their residences will receive 100,000 yen a month.
All the compensation amounts will be paid out for six months from the accident.
The panel has proposed reducing the monthly compensation figure for mental distress to 50,000 yen a month for the following six months on the grounds that after half a year all evacuees will have moved into temporary housing where the mental distress they face is expected to decrease.
The panel will consider if additional compensation is needed beyond the first 12 months.
The compensation figure was a revision of the panel's initial proposal for four different amounts depending on where the evacuees were currently living.
However, Fukushima residents raised complaints that there was no difference in the pain and suffering experienced depending on where an evacuee had moved to.
As a result, the panel decided on a similar compensation amount for all evacuees, with the exception of those living in evacuation centers because of the greater inconveniences they face.
The panel is headed by Yoshihisa Nomi, professor of law at Gakushuin University who proposed the general guidelines for the compensation amounts. No dissenting opinion was expressed by other panel members.
But it remains to be seen if residents will be completely satisfied by the new compensation proposal.
"To have only a 20,000-yen difference for those living in evacuation centers and those who were able to find lodging at a Japanese inn is too small," said Fumiko Hara, 56, who lives in an evacuation center in Minami-Soma after her home was designated as being within the no-entry zone around the plant.
"There are almost daily problems at the evacuation center and I want the people who decided on the compensation amount to experience what life is like here. It is also a problem to have the amount reduced after six months," she said.
A 34-year-old man who evacuated to Fukushima city with his family plans to enter housing in Koriyama from July rented by the Fukushima prefectural government.
"My daughter who is in the second grade has finally become accustomed to the school in Fukushima, but she will have to change school again," the man said. "The mental distress on children is unfathomable, so I am not satisfied by the single compensation amount agreed to."
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