In an abrupt about-face, the government will step in and establish a fund to speed compensation payments to victims of a nuclear accident on behalf of Tokyo Electric Power Co.
The move is intended to ease grievances from victims of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, who have complained about a delay in compensation payments from TEPCO, the plant operator.
The government is expected to work out details of the fund before the ordinary Diet session opens in January.
The bill authorizing the establishment of the fund in Fukushima Prefecture, home to the crippled plant, was passed by the Diet in July.
The fund was designed to help cover expenses for people who evacuated their homes at their discretion, for decontamination costs and to deal with loss of income caused by reports of radioactive contamination.
The government had deferred the establishment of the fund, intending to have TEPCO single-handedly deal with the compensation. However, officials were forced to reverse their stance after calls grew for them to come to the fore as a delay in payments frustrated many victims.
In December, Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato urged the government to expedite the compensation process by way of setting up the fund.
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