A government screening panel has compiled a plan to set a cap on compensation to residents who face prolonged evacuation from their homes due to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, angering evacuees and a mayor from the affected towns.
The panel on disputes for nuclear damage compensation wants to set the limit on compensation payments to evacuees in amounts ranging from 10 million yen to 14 million yen ($96,820 to $135,548).
According to the proposal made by the science and technology ministry panel on Dec. 9, Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, will make additional lump-sum damage compensation payments ranging from 2.5 million yen to 6.5 million yen to residents of "difficult-to-return" zones. These zones are where annual radiation doses exceed 50 millisieverts, and evacuees are not allowed to return for at least five years from March 2012. They were once home to about 25,000 residents.
Koichi Miyamoto, mayor of Tomioka in the zone, criticized the timing of the panel's plan to set a limit.
“It is impossible to decide on the entire amount of compensation while evacuees are still in the middle of their evacuations," he said.
Miyamoto added that it wouldn’t be possible to declare the rebuilding plan for the affected areas complete unless evacuees can return to their normal lives.
Under the plan, the base amount of the “last” compensation payment will be incorporated into additional guidelines to be compiled by the end of the year.
The panel’s secretariat estimated the total compensation to be paid to evacuees to range from 10 million yen to 14 million yen, using three unrelated circumstances to arrive at the amounts; compensation of 12 million yen that residents will receive from TEPCO if their evacuation lasts 10 years due to the nuclear disaster; base compensation of 28 million yen that bereaved family members, who lose their primary wage earner, will receive from a person who caused their loss in a traffic accident; and special payments for relief and compensation ranging from 6 million yen to 8 million yen that residents, who cannot live in their homes due to natural disasters such as landslides, are eligible to receive from municipalities.
However, as the residents of the difficult-to-return zones, the major target, have already received compensation payments of 7.5 million yen, this amount will be deducted from the estimated total amount. As a result, the additional damage compensation payments would range from 2.5 million yen to 6.5 million yen.
Other than the 25,000 residents of the difficult-to-return zones, about 600 people of the zones where residences are restricted, and the zones being prepared for the lifting of the evacuation order in the towns of Okuma and Futaba, are also included in the plan.
In these towns, 96 percent of each population come from the difficult-to-return zones. Moreover, no full-scale decontamination and infrastructure rebuilding plans have yet been made.
For other evacuees apart from those approximately 25,600 evacuees, the monthly compensation of 100,000 yen for mental distress will continue to be paid, but will be halted after a year of the lifting of their evacuation order.
Residents of the zones where living restrictions will apply in Okuma and Futaba have received compensation payments of 3.9 million yen, while people residing in the zones being prepared for the lifting of the evacuation order have received 3.3 million yen.
The ministry’s panel will consider how to make up the differences between 3.3 million yen or 3.9 million yen and the 7.5 million yen that the residents of the difficult-to-return zones have received.
However, local residents lashed out at the panel's proposal, including the possibility of compensation being halted while they are being forced to endure an endless evacuation.
"I cannot understand this," said a 62-year-old man who has been living in temporary housing in Iwaki after evacuating from his home in Okuma.
The Okuma resident has been searching for work after losing his job due to the nuclear accident. Although he and his wife receive monthly compensation payments for psychological duress of 100,000 yen each, he said it is difficult for them to save half of their total payments.
He said that compensation should be halted only after evacuees have secured homes and employment.
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