From Reuters new agency:
Fukushima victims: homeless,desperate and angry
By Yoko Kubota – Mon Oct 17 2011, 9:57 pm ET
FUKUSHIMA, Japan – At last, victims of Japan’s nuclear crisis can claim compensation. And they are angry.
They are furious at the red tape they have to wade through just to receive basic help and in despair they still cannot get on with their lives seven months after the huge quake and tsunami triggered the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.
Shouts fill a room at a temporary housing complex where seven officials, kneeling in their dark suits, face 70 or so tenants who were forced to abandon their homes near the Fukushima nuclear plant after some of its reactors went into meltdown after the March 11 quake struck.
“We don’t know who we can trust!” one man yelled in the cramped room where the officials were trying to explain the hugely complex procedures to claim compensation.
“Can we actually go back home? And if not, can you guarantee our livelihoods?”
About 80,000 people were forced to leave their homes by the nuclear crisis.
While the owner of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co, has made temporary payments to some victims, it was only last month that it finally began accepting applications for compensation.
But the procedure is so complicated that it seems to just make things worse.
After claimants have read a 160-page instruction manual, they then have to fill in a 60-page form and attach receipts for lodging, transportation and medical costs.
“It’s too difficult. I’m going to see how it goes. I don’t want to rush and mess up,” said Toshiyuki Owada, 65, an evacuee from Namie town, about 20 km (12 miles) away from the plant.
Owada is one of many who still has not applied for compensation even though they have lost jobs or businesses and are running out of cash.
COMPLEX AND UNFAIR
The complexity of the task is one deterrent.
There is another — the perception that Tepco is not playing fair.
Confidence in the authorities is low. The government is seen as having bungled its early response to the crisis and being secretive about what was really happening.
Tepco is accused of failing to take sufficient safety measures at the Fukushima plant even though it knew the risks and then deliberately underplaying the extent of the accident.
It is also seen as insensitive.
One clause in the original instruction booklet telling victims they would have to agree to waive their right to challenge the compensation amount in order to receive payment provoked a public uproar.
Chastised by the government, the company promised to drop the clause, issued a simplified 4-page instruction booklet and assigned 1,000 employees to Fukushima prefecture to help victims with the process.
“There may be times when the content is difficult to understand or in some cases our employee in charge may not grasp it fully, but we would like to explain and respond as carefully as possible,” said Tepco spokesman Naoyuki Matsumoto.
A government panel overseeing the compensation scheme estimates claims are likely to reach 3.6 trillion yen ($46.5 billion) in the financial year to next March.
But so far just 7,100 individuals have applied to Tepco for compensation out of the 80,000 it send forms to.
And of the 10,000 businesses in the Fukushima area, a mere 300 have submitted claims.
The company expects a total of 300,000 claims from businesses given that the impact of the radiation crisis has been so widespread.
Victims can sue but that is rare.
Junichi Matsumoto, a Tepco official, said the utility faces about 10 lawsuits so far. He declined to disclose details but said some were seeking more than the firm deemed appropriate.
Yuichi Kaido, an attorney and the secretary-general of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, said lawsuits are considered a last resort in conservative rural northeast Japan.
“In the end, many lawsuits could take place,” he said.
“But the majority is thinking of first speaking with Tokyo Electric or seeking mediation.”
SENSE OF RESIGNATION
The final compensation depends on whether and when victims will be able to return to homes within a 20-km evacuation zone. That question remains unanswered, breeding a growing sense of resignation among evacuees.
Some said they doubt they will ever be able to go home and suggested their entire towns simply be relocated and many worry about long-term health effects of radiation.
An Asahi newspaper poll showed this month that 43 percent of evacuees still want to return, down from 62 percent in June.
For many, what is now on the table — reimbursement for moving and transportation costs associated with evacuating, compensation for damage to health, lost jobs, and psychological suffering — only deepens frustration over what they have lost.
Tokyo Electric said it will pay about 100,000 yen a month for the period to end of August as compensation for psychological trauma. After that, the sum will be halved.
“Evidence that we have lived our lives is completely destroyed and for that, we are told that we will be compensated 100,000 yen for our psychological suffering. That’s it?” said 75-year-old restaurant owner Sumiko Toyoguchi, who had to leave her home in Namie.
“What’s at the root of our frustration is that we cannot see what our tomorrow will be like.”
($1 = 77.365 Japanese Yen)
(Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Jonathan Thatcher)
Women from Fukushima gather in Tokyo to peacefully protest nuclear & find hope amongst despair: here.
From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:
Japanese nuclear company twists public opinion
Reporter: Mark Willacy
The Kyushu Electric Power Company in Japan has been accused of misleading the public by stacking meetings with employees posing as ordinary citizens supporting nuclear power.
ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: Following the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the role of nuclear power in Japan is a topic of hot debate.
TEPCO, the power company which owns the Fukushima plant, has been heavily criticised for its response to the meltdown and for not revealing the full extent of the danger.
Now, another nuclear power company has also been accused of misleading the public.
The Kyushu Electric Power Company was found to have stacked public meetings with employees posing as ordinary citizens supporting nuclear power.
See also here.
Fukushima’s Owner Adds Insult to Injury – Claims Radioactive Fallout Isn’t Theirs. John LaForge, Truthout: “Tepco owns the six-reactor Fukushima complex that was wrecked by Japan’s … earthquake and smashed by the resulting tsunami. It faces more than $350 billion in compensation and clean-up costs, as well as likely prosecution for withholding crucial information … So, when the company was hauled into Tokyo District Court … Tepco lawyers tried something novel. They claimed the company isn’t liable because it no longer ‘owned’ the radioactive poisons that were spewed from its destroyed reactors”: here.
Critics Fear Louvre’s Plan to Loan Art to Fukushima Carries Radiation Risks: here.
The Animal Victims of Fukushima. Scientists study radiation effects on area flora and fauna: here.
Fukushima: Return to the disaster zone: here.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan was caused by authorities “choosing to ignore risks and make business a higher priority than safety,” Greenpeace claimed in a new report released on Tuesday: here.
The Japanese government withheld information about the full danger of last year’s nuclear disaster from its own people, according to an independent report released today: here.
The U.S. nuclear agency was in the dark after the Fukushima disaster: here.
Tracking Radiation From Japan to the Pacific Northwest: Scientific Insights: here.
Reblogged this on Basil Wheel.
Japan’s damaged rice culture
The 3.11 tsunami and radiation may have changed a system for good The effects of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan have wrought havoc on the long-term prospects for the country’s storied rice industry as well as doing short-term damage, according to a report by the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute. The disaster spurred evacuation of farmland in a 30-km radius around the nuclear plant, with consumer confidence in domestic rice falling and cutting into a system in which the country has been able to maintain the sovereignty of its international agricultural trade policies and agreements, with high tariffs keeping Japanese farmers self-sustaining, according to the report.
(Asia Sentinel, Jan 20)
Rightist rams car into SDP’s head office
A 41-year-old man was arrested Sunday morning for ramming his car several times into the shuttered entrance of the headquarters of the Social Democratic Party in Tokyo, police said. Takuya Ueno, who says he is a rightist, was apprehended on the spot by police officers alerted by a guard. No one was injured. Investigators quoted the man as saying he would explain his motives later. The small opposition party supports the Constitution’s pacifist stance and opposes nuclear power.
(Japan Times, Jan 23)
Fallout from Fukushima No. 1 on rise
The amount of radioactive materials released from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has risen this month compared with December, Tepco said. The amount so far has come to 70 million becquerels per hour, compared with 60 million becquerels in December, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Monday, adding that the increase is attributable to the displacement of radioactive materials that had settled on facilities and equipment as a result of work conducted near reactors 2 and 3. Tepco has recently probed the inside of the container vessel for the No. 2 reactor with an industrial endoscope and conducted scrap work around reactor 3.
While the amount of radioactive materials released from reactor 1 decreased to one-fifth the level in December, the amount of materials from the other two each increased by 10 million becquerels per hour, Tepco said.
(Japan Times, Jan 25)
Japan finds water leaks at stricken nuclear plant
Japan’s stricken nuclear power plant has leaked more than 600 liters of water, forcing it to briefly suspend cooling operations at a spent-fuel pond at the weekend, but none is thought to have escaped into the ocean, the plant’s operator and domestic media said. The Fukushima plant, on the coast north of Tokyo, was wrecked by a huge earthquake and tsunami in March last year, triggering the evacuation of around 80,000 people in the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years. The operator of the complex, the Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), reported two main leakages on its Web site on Sunday, one from a pump near the plant’s office building and another from a back-up cooling system at reactor No.4.
“The cooling water is from a filtrate tank for fire extinction and doesn’t contain radioactive materials,” Tepco said of the incident at reactor No. 4. It added that some water from the other leakage had flowed into a drain and “we are examining whether this water has flowed into the ocean or not.” The Nikkei newspaper Monday quoted Tepco as saying around 40 liters had leaked from the pool-cooling system of the No. 4 reactor Sunday morning, with probably 600 liters of purified water leaking from another point. Water had also leaked at other facilities within the complex, the Nikkei added.
(Reuters, Jan 30)
Tepco bailout largest in Japan since rescue of banking industry
Tokyo Electric Power Co. is set to receive a government bailout that may cost as much as 11 trillion yen ($137 billion) after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the largest in Japan since the rescue of the banking industry in the 1990s. Japan’s government included 2 trillion yen in this year’s budget for the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund, the bailout vehicle for the utility known as Tepco. Part of that allocation can be used for the purchase of a stake in Tepco being considered by the government. The government plans to budget 4 trillion yen in the next fiscal year and has issued 5 trillion yen of so called delivery bonds, which the state fund can cash in for financial aid to Tepco.
(Bloomberg, Feb 24)
Japan fears permanent ban on habitation near nuclear plant
Japan on Friday said some areas surrounding the Fukushima nuclear power plant that was wrecked last year by a massive tsunami will likely remain permanently off-limits. Measurements taken between November and January confirm earlier results which show a level of radioactivity of 470 millisierverts per year when the average, under normal conditions, is less than one per year, according to a government report released on Friday. Some of the highest readings were taken in the town of Futaba, to the north-west of the plant wrecked on March 11. (Straits Times)
Forced out by tsunami, Japan sushi chef dreams of home
When the tsunami roared through his northern Japanese hometown of Ofunato last March, sushi chef Sanichi Niinuma managed to escape with his life, but his shop was battered and badly damaged by the raging waters. In the aftermath of the disaster, which killed over 400 in the city, the 47-year-old Niinuma went as far as starting to rebuild his shop — only to be told by the city that the area was off limits since the land had sunk and power and sewage systems were destroyed. After several months of part-time work, he accepted an offer to take over a sushi shop in Tokyo, becoming one of thousands of people forced out of their hometowns across northern Japan by the disaster in order to make a living. (Reuters)
Tepco’s political tentacles
Just as Tokyo Electric Power Co. is under fire for trying to raise consumers’ electricity bills before making sufficient efforts to streamline its management, a series of cases have surfaced in which the company appeared to be trying to strengthen its political influence by sending employees to prefectural and municipal assemblies. It has been confirmed so far that there are 19 members of various local legislatures who are still on the payroll of Tepco. Tatsuo Ishiguro, a member of the Democratic Party of Japan, was elected to the Nerima Ward assembly in Tokyo in April last year, shortly after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11 played havoc with Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
(Japan Times, Feb 28)
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