Draft policy outlines moves to pay for Fukushima health checks, job creation

May 24, 2012

By FUKUKO TAKAHASHI/ Staff Writer

The central government will make clear it is primarily responsible for rebuilding Fukushima Prefecture following the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

The policy was spelled out in a draft document expected to win Cabinet approval in mid-June.

The draft accepts a number of key demands by the Fukushima prefectural government, including support for long-term checks into the health of residents and backing for the efforts of communities near nuclear plants to wean themselves off their reliance on the industry.

Fukushima Prefecture had depended on the nuclear power industry to provide jobs and a sound economic base. However, the catastrophe at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has forced a radical rethink.

The policy document states: "The principle of seeking a society that does not depend on nuclear energy will be respected."

The central government has agreed to set up centers in Fukushima Prefecture devoted to the promotion of renewable energy and medical advances with a view to creating new jobs.

The draft also calls for consideration to be given to implementing, in the fiscal 2013 budget, the financial means to replace the tax allocations given for hosting nuclear plants.

Another focus of the basic policy draft is dealing with health concerns among Fukushima residents following the disaster.

The central government will provide support for tests to check the thyroid glands of all residents who were 18 years old or younger at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Plans call for completing those tests by the end of March 2014. People aged 20 and under would subsequently be tested every two years, while those 21 and older would be tested every five years.

A study of radiation effects will be conducted for all Fukushima residents, and medium- to long-term health checks will also be carried out for those who have evacuated elsewhere.

Farm and marine products from Fukushima Prefecture, along with other food items, will be tested for radiation levels and the information made available to the public. The central government will compile guidelines for inspection and safety control during the production and distribution of such products.

The central government will also provide fiscal support to deal with negative publicity from the nuclear accident that adversely affects agricultural and maritime products, as well as tourism.

The basic policy draft also states that it will be the central government's responsibility to secure a temporary holding area for dirt and rubble contaminated by radioactive substances, as well as the interim storage facilities and final processing facilities for dealing with that material.

In addition to support for rental payments for the use of land for that purpose, the central government will consider providing land that it already owns.

For residents who are unable to return to their homes because of radiation levels, the period for which they can reside in temporary housing will be extended.

Assistance will also be provided to get children into schools and find jobs for people in the areas where they have relocated.

The central and local governments will liaise on surveys of residents' intentions regarding returning to their homes.

While the basic policy draft does touch upon creating "temporary communities" by constructing housing and public facilities in other municipalities, no specific details were included. The draft states: "The necessary measures will be implemented by respecting the outcome of discussions between the prefectural government and local governments that agree to take in outside communities."

By FUKUKO TAKAHASHI/ Staff Writer
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A doctor checks the thyroid gland of a university employee. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

A doctor checks the thyroid gland of a university employee. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • A doctor checks the thyroid gland of a university employee. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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