Ministry panel calls for expanding eligibility for nuclear damage compensation

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant is seen in Fukushima Prefecture on Aug. 29.

Additional compensation should be provided to more evacuees affected by the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, according to experts on the Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation.

The experts compiled a final report Thursday on interim guidelines for compensation. Based on the report, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry’s committee was to start reviewing the current guidelines later in the day.

In class-action lawsuits filed by evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture against plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. and others, seven high court rulings ordering compensation beyond the guidelines were finalized as of March this year. Ahead of the review of the guidelines, lawyers were among the five appointed as expert members of the ministry panel to analyze these rulings.

The guidelines were first devised in August 2011 and will be reviewed for the first time since December 2013.

The experts’ report categorized five types of damage, such as psychological damage caused by the deprivation or change of an evacuee’s hometown, and called for making efforts and using resourcefulness to take newly categorized damage into consideration.

Specifically, the report talked about how to calculate compensation regarding psychological damage that residents have suffered due to having to leave their hometown. Such changes came about because the hometown became an evacuation-designated zone. There are three categories, with the most severe situation being designated a difficult-to-return zone.

The report created a category for damage stemming from people returning to a hometown and having to deal with the changed situation there.

The expert members presented their view that it is reasonable to calculate the amount of compensation by referring to lawsuits seeking damages filed by evacuees in which courts ordered compensation beyond the guidelines.

Regarding compensation for residents who have been deprived of their hometown, the experts also pointed to the need to consider the approximate amount in light of such court decisions. They called for increasing compensation for each category of evacuee.

The current guidelines, the report said, do not adequately take into consideration psychological damage caused by evacuation, as residents had fled with only the bare essentials. Given that, the experts suggested that the revised guidelines specify the increased amount of monthly payments to compensate for disruptions to the daily life of evacuees.