Town near Fukushima nuclear plant seeks more compensation for residents

May 30, 2013

By YU KOTSUBO/ Staff Writer

The Namie municipal government, acting on behalf of its residents, asked an independent organization on May 29 to more than triple monthly benefits for psychological suffering caused by the Fukushima nuclear accident.

It is the first time a local government has served as an agent for its residents in seeking compensation for the accident, according to lawyers representing the municipality. It was also the largest number of individuals to take part in the submission of an application to the nuclear damage claim dispute resolution center, which was established by the central government.

Of the 21,000 residents of Namie at the time of the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, 11,602 joined the group application submitted to the center.

The municipal government will shoulder the legal expenses involved in the process.

“I want (the central government and Tokyo Electric Power Co.) to realize the direct distress suffered by residents who had to evacuate with only the clothes on their backs, as well as their dissatisfaction, worry and chagrin at having lost everything,” Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba said at a May 29 news conference in Tokyo.

Under guidelines established by the central government, TEPCO, the operator of the crippled Fukushima plant, has been paying 100,000 yen ($980) a month to each resident who was forced to evacuate. The payments will continue as long as residents lead lives as evacuees.

The figure was arrived at by referring to the approximately 120,000 yen monthly benefit that is paid through automobile liability insurance to those who are hospitalized as a result of traffic accidents.

In its request, the Namie municipal government argued that the figure was too low because it did not take into account the terrible damage caused by the nuclear accident, which forced residents to evacuate and broke up communities built up over many years. The application asked that monthly compensation for psychological duress be increased to 350,000 yen.

“We will respond seriously in the course of mediation procedures seeking a settlement,” a TEPCO official said.

Many residents took part because there is still no indication on when they will be able to return to the homes they fled from more than two years ago.

Lawyers for the municipal government conducted a survey in which about 5,000 residents replied. About 3,100 said they were still suffering, with about 70 percent of them saying the main reason was uncertainty about their futures.

“It’s not about the money,” one resident who evacuated to Nihonmatsu, also in Fukushima Prefecture, said. “I want to show TEPCO, which caused this to happen, what the situation is like with the continued effects of the damage.”

By YU KOTSUBO/ Staff Writer
  • 1
submit to reddit
Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba explains a request for compensation at a May 29 news conference in Tokyo. (Yu Kotsubo)

Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba explains a request for compensation at a May 29 news conference in Tokyo. (Yu Kotsubo)

Toggle
  • Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba explains a request for compensation at a May 29 news conference in Tokyo. (Yu Kotsubo)

More AJW