Scope of Fukushima nuclear accident compensation expanded

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A gate leading to a “difficult-to-return zone” is closed by a government official in a town in Fukushima Prefecture in May 2013.

Psychological damage stemming from the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant accident is being recognized by a government panel as eligible for compensation.

This policy was included in interim guidelines being compiled for the first time in nine years by the Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation on Tuesday.

It will significantly expand the scope of compensation for people affected by changes to their livelihood due to a long period of evacuation from areas around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The guidelines set the standards for compensation from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. following the nuclear accident at its plant.

As part of the revisions to the guidelines, rulings in lawsuits filed by evacuees will also be applied to non-plaintiffs.

The new guidelines recognize psychological damage caused by changes in living conditions of people who not only lived in the “difficult-to-return zones,” but also those who live in other evacuation-designated zones. This means additional compensation of up to ¥2.5 million each for about 30,000 people living in “restricted residence zones” and about 40,000 residents of “evacuation order cancellation preparation zones.”

For people who used to live within a 20-kilometer radius of the plant, an additional ¥300,000 is set to be paid on the grounds that they were forced to endure harsh evacuation conditions.

As for former residents of Fukushima City and other areas that are not included in evacuation zones but were subject to voluntary evacuation, the new guidelines raise the amount of compensation. An adult who is not pregnant will be eligible for ¥200,000, up from ¥80,000.

“We don’t think of these guidelines as caps on compensation,” TEPCO President Tomoaki Kobayakawa said to reporters at the of Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry. “We would like to respond sincerely to the matter.”

Kobayakawa indicated that TEPCO would continue to provide compensation to the southern part of Fukushima Prefecture, which is not included in the guidelines.

The latest revision is expected to cost TEPCO additional compensation of ¥500 billion.