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article imageCompensation for Fukushima evacuees to end by 2018

By Karen Graham     May 20, 2015 in World
Tokyo - The Japanese government has instructed Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to terminate compensation payments to nearly 55,000 evacuees forced from their homes in March 2011 because of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster.
As the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks toward restarting most, if not all of the country's nuclear reactors, it is apparent to many anti-nuclear activists that the plight of the survivors and evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture is being dismissed.
On Tuesday, the Asahi Shimbun reported sources are saying the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is planning to instruct TEPCO to terminate compensation payments to 54,800 evacuees from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, regardless of the radiation levels in their hometowns, by 2018.
The new stance by the ministry is based on the assumption that decontamination work will lower the radiation levels, making it possible to lift the evacuation orders, say the sources. There are currently three government designated zones where over 80,000 people were evacuated in March 2011. The zones are divided, based on the severity of radiation contamination.
Almost 31,800 evacuees have homes in the zones being prepared for the lifting of the evacuation order. Another 23,000 people have homes in what is called the "no-residence" zones. TEPCO is currently paying these people 100,000 yen (about US$834) in compensation every month. These two groups of people are the ones affected by the new plan.
According to the government, the compensation payments for evacuees in the two zones will end in 2018, "without exception." The lifting of the evacuation order is supposed to make it easier for the government to work out support protocols with those returning to their homes. "The lifting of evacuation orders will proceed,” a government official said. “We will be able to construct houses and attract plants and firms (to the areas) more positively.”
Fukushima Prefecture to stop free housing
The prefecture government is planning to put a stop to free accommodations on March 2017, to people who voluntarily left the prefecture and were not subject to evacuation orders. It is hoped this move will encourage people to move back into their homes, although the end of assistance will not be taken well.
There were about 115,000 people who left the prefecture in March 2011. Of that number, around 36,000 were not in the government designated zones for the evacuation orders. Many of these people were from the town of Hirono, the village of Kawauchi and the city of Minamisoma, all very near the designated evacuation zones.
Growing the economy through nuclear power
Prime Minister Abe wants to have the country looking forward, putting the Fukushima disaster behind by restarting Japan's nuclear power plants as quickly as possible. For the government, resuming nuclear power, which provided 40 percent of the country's electrical output, is essential to tweaking the sluggish economy.
Ikata nuclear power station in southwestern Japan.
Ikata nuclear power station in southwestern Japan.
wochit business
The country's switch to fossil fuels after the March 2011 disaster caused imports of liquefied natural gas to rise to a record 7.78 trillion yen (US$65 billion) for the fiscal year ending March 31. In the meantime, while work on decontaminating the Fukushima power plant site continues, a few power plants elsewhere around the country have been signed off on "basic safety" measures in their planned restart.
Japan's Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) signed off on basic safety for the Ikata nuclear power station in southwestern Japan on Wednesday, a boost for operator Shikoku Electric Power. Basic safety is just one of three inspections reactors need to pass before being allowed back online.
More about fukushima, TEPCO, Evacuees, government support, Compensation
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