nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Fukushima compensation guidelines need further revision

hgjlklmùThe difficult-to-return-zone around Ono Station on the JR Joban Line in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture is empty on March 1. A part of evacuation order was lifted on March 5, but most of the area remains eerily the same as when the nuclear disaster happened in 2011.

 

March 19, 2020

The Sendai and Tokyo high courts recently said in separate rulings that Tokyo Electric Power Co. should pay more in compensation to victims of the 2011 accident at the company’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Some 30 class action lawsuits have been filed by people who were forced to evacuate from their homes in the wake of the nuclear disaster to seek damages beyond the amounts the electric utility has agreed to pay. 

The fact that the two rulings, the first high court decisions concerning these cases, both questioned the adequacy of the existing Fukushima compensation program is highly significant in its legal and policy implications.

During the trials, the plaintiffs argued that it is difficult to return to their homes even if the evacuation orders are lifted. Even if they return, they claimed, they will face local towns and communities that have been radically altered by the accident.

The two high courts acknowledged the seriousness of the corrosive effects of what these victims call “the loss and transformation” of their hometowns and ruled that they deserve to be compensated for this problem in addition to damages for being forced to flee their homes and the mental anguish caused by their lives as evacuees.

The courts awarded the plaintiffs additional damages beyond the amounts the company has already paid.

The utility has adamantly refused to pay any blanket compensation to victims beyond the amounts based on the guidelines set by the Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation, a panel established within the government to settle disputes over compensation for victims of the Fukushima disaster.

TEPCO has also rejected deals to settle these class action suits proposed by the Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center, a body created to help resolve such disputes through simplified procedures.

The company has even turned down a compromise recommendation issued by the Fukushima District Court based on arguments during a trial over a compensation dispute it had heard.

Clearly, the company fears that accepting such a deal would affect the entirety of its compensation talks and cause the total of damages it has to pay to soar.

After the devastating accident, however, TEPCO made “three vows.” It pledged to pay compensation to all victims without leaving a single one uncompensated, ensure that compensation will be paid quickly according to individual circumstances and respect proposals to settle disputes.

As the company that is responsible for the unprecedented nuclear accident, TEPCO has a duty to make sincere responses to the high court rulings in line with its own vows.

The government, which has promoted nuclear power generation as a national policy and is effectively the largest shareholder of the utility, has the responsibility to provide strict guidance for the company’s actions concerning the matter.

The two rulings have also brought to the fore some shortcomings of the guidelines set by the dispute reconciliation committee.

Established immediately after the accident, the guidelines are obviously out of tune with the complicated realities of the accident’s aftermath despite several revisions that have been made.

The “loss and transformation” of hometowns is a consequence of the accident that has become clearly visible over the nine years that have passed since that day in 2011.

It is time for the government to have some in-depth debate on the effects of this problem on affected people and embark on a sweeping review of the guidelines.

The high court rulings are not totally acceptable, however. Arguing that the money TEPCO has already paid covers part of the additional damages owed to the victims, the rulings only awarded the plaintiffs 1 million yen to 2.5 million yen ($23,000) per head in additional compensation.

Many victims have criticized the amounts for being “too small to be fitting compensation for the actual damage” suffered by the victims.

There is no easy solution to this complicated problem. But that does not justify inaction in the face of such gross injustice.

All the parties concerned need to offer ideas and ingenuity to spare the victims the need to spend any more effort and time with regard to compensation issues.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13227560

 

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Tokyo High Court slashes damages to Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuees

n-fukushimaruling-a-20200319-870x637Isao Enei (left), head of a group of plaintiffs seeking damages for evacuating after the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accident, speaks at a news conference Tuesday in Tokyo alongside their attorney Junichiro Hironaka.

 

March18, 2020

The Tokyo High Court on Tuesday ordered ¥1 million in additional damages be paid each to some 300 evacuees from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, down by two-thirds from the amount awarded by a lower court ruling.

The total amount of additional compensation Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. must pay was reduced to about ¥360 million from the ¥1.1 billion awarded by the Tokyo District Court in 2018.

The nuclear accident occurred at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant operated by Tepco, after it was affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In their petition, the plaintiffs, including former residents of the Odaka district in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, sought additional damages of ¥10.9 billion in total.

The ruling was the second by a high court on a collective damages lawsuit filed by those displaced by the nuclear accident, following one issued by Sendai High Court last week.

On Tuesday, presiding Judge Wataru Murata said Tepco must pay additional damages on top of the ¥8.5 million it paid per person based on estimates calculated under government-set interim standards.

The additional damages have to be paid to compensate for the loss of hometowns, as “the foundations of residents’ lives have changed greatly and have yet to be restored,” Murata said.

But the amount of the additional damages should be reduced because individual circumstances of the evacuees should not be taken into account, Murata said, denying the need for such consideration as had been recognized by the lower court.

The reduction is unavoidable, also considering that returning to hometowns is possible,” the judge concluded.

Plaintiff Isao Enei criticized the latest ruling at a news conference, saying that actual circumstances in areas hit by the nuclear disaster were completely ignored.

There is no point in filing a collective suit if individual damages are ignored. The ruling is inconceivable,” said Junichiro Hironaka, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/03/18/national/crime-legal/tokyo-high-court-slashes-damages-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-evacuees/#.XnNDrXJCeUl

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Sendai High Court orders Tepco to pay more to Fukushima evacuees

n-tepco-a-20200314-870x567Plaintiffs and lawyers who filed a lawsuit seeking damages for having to evacuate after meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant hold up banners Thursday in front of the Sendai High Court.

March13, 2020

SENDAI – A high court on Thursday ordered the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to pay ¥730 million in damages to evacuees from the 2011 tsunami-triggered meltdown, up ¥120 million from a lower court ruling.

In their appeal at the Sendai High Court, 216 plaintiffs, most of whom are evacuees from areas within 30 kilometers of the plant, maintained their claim for a total of ¥1.88 billion in compensation from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

The latest ruling is the first to be handed down by a high court among 30 similar lawsuits filed nationwide by evacuees and victims seeking damages, either from the power company alone or both the utility and the state.

Tepco knew around April 2008 that there was the possibility of a tsunami that could be high enough to reach the site of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant and might cause the failure of the safety functions intended to halt the nuclear reactor,” presiding Judge Hisaki Kobayashi said when handing down the ruling.

The accident occurred while countermeasure construction had been postponed. From the victims’ point of view, this is the thing that Tepco should have the greatest amount of regret over,” he said. “Tepco’s lack of proper preparation is extremely regrettable and should be an important factor in calculating the amount of compensation.”

Also taking into account pain caused to the plaintiffs by the loss of their neighborhoods and hardships during evacuation, the court ordered additional compensation of ¥1 million each for evacuees mostly from areas once designated as restricted residence zones and ¥500,000 for those from former emergency evacuation preparation zones.

In the previous ruling at the Iwaki branch of the Fukushima District Court in March 2018, 213 out of 216 plaintiffs were awarded compensation of between ¥700,000 and ¥1.5 million per person, depending on where the victims were living.

Both the utility and the plaintiffs had appealed to the high court.

It is a fair ruling,” said Tokuo Hayakawa, who leads the plaintiffs. “We cannot go back to our daily lives even if the evacuation orders are lifted.”

Tepco said in a release that it was considering how to respond to the latest ruling.

The value sought in the lawsuit had been lowered by the plaintiffs from ¥13.3 billion to avoid the possibility of a prolonged trial that could have raised court costs and may have undermined the amount of money they could receive at its conclusion.

The plaintiffs argued that the operator could have foreseen the accident caused by the tsunami based on the government’s 2002 long-term assessment of major quakes, and demanded compensation for their “loss of a hometown” in addition to the amount already paid by the power company.

Tepco maintains that it could not have predicted the tsunami, and has claimed that the damages have already been paid to evacuees in accordance with government guidelines on compensation.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/03/13/national/crime-legal/sendai-court-ups-tepco-payouts-fukushima-evacuees/?fbclid=IwAR3fRDL1wZA1ja0AHXkBFkYkaxiLujaP30ZlQhDWb1gl3Q5FDcVl7SYk58w#.XmunEXJCeUl

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Gov’t, TEPCO ordered to compensate Fukushima evacuees to Hokkaido

gavel

March 11, 2020

SAPPORO — A court ordered the government and the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant Tuesday to pay a combined 52.9 million yen in damages to 89 people who evacuated from their hometowns to Hokkaido after the 2011 nuclear disaster.

The Sapporo District Court ruling marked the seventh case where both the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc were ordered to pay damages, out of 11 cases brought against the two parties. In the four other cases, only TEPCO was ordered to pay damages.

It was also the 15th decision handed down among around 30 similar damages suits filed across Japan over one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters, triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

A total of 257 plaintiffs, 90 percent of whom at the time were living in Fukushima city and other locations outside of areas given evacuation orders, had sought a combined 4.24 billion yen from the utility and the state.

“While (the ruling) is a sign of recognition of the government’s responsibility, it doesn’t reflect the actual lives that those who evacuated to Hokkaido have led,” a lawyer representing the plaintiffs told reporters after the court decision.

Following the ruling, TEPCO offered a “heartfelt apology for causing great trouble and worries” to those affected in Fukushima and other areas and said it will consider how to respond to the court decision after closely examining it.

At the court, the operator had said it had already paid damages to some of the plaintiffs and that the amount was adequate as it was based on the government guidelines. The utility also said it was not obligated to compensate the others as they had voluntarily evacuated.

The government has denied responsibility for the disaster, saying it could not have foreseen the flooding of the nuclear plant due to a tsunami.

The plaintiffs argued that TEPCO neglected to take preventive measures although it could have predicted earthquake and tsunami risks at the plant, and that the government did not enforce adequate safety measures despite approving power generation at the complex.

They also said that the psychological distress they suffered due to fears that radiation exposure had damaged their health, among other concerns, had impacted their ability to lead a normal life following the evacuation.

https://japantoday.com/category/national/gov%27t-tepco-ordered-to-compensate-fukushima-evacuees-to-hokkaido

March 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | 1 Comment

TEPCO ordered to cough up after it refused deal on compensation

Earlier in February, a Japanese judge ordered TEPCO to pay over 50 plaintiffs: “Refusing the court’s settlement offer was outrageous. It amounted to ignoring the company’s responsibility for causing this unprecedented nuclear disaster.”

ggjlmùPlaintiffs and supporters at a news conference in Fukushima after the court ruling on Feb. 19

February 20, 2020

FUKUSHIMA–The district court here sided with local residents seeking compensation for psychological damage resulting from the 2011 nuclear disaster after the operator of the stricken facility snubbed mediation efforts for a settlement.

The court on Feb. 19 ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay 12.03 million yen ($108,000) to 50 of the 52 plaintiffs. 

The plaintiffs had sought 99 million yen in damages for their psychological suffering due to their voluntary evacuation after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and fear of being exposed to high levels of radiation.

In his ruling, Presiding Judge Toru Endo noted that residents who evacuated voluntarily found themselves living an uncertain and insecure existence with no future prospects.

The court acknowledged that those who didn’t evacuate were also unable to move around freely, given that they lived in fear and anxiety over the prospect of being exposed to radiation.

The court ordered TEPCO to pay between 22,000 yen and 286,000 yen to each eligible plaintiff, in addition to a uniform compensation sum of 120,000 yen per person that the utility had already paid.

The court recommended a settlement last December, the first of its kind among 30 or so class action lawsuits filed around the country over the nuclear accident, but TEPCO refused to comply.

Residents living in designated voluntary evacuation zones in Fukushima city and other areas more than 30 kilometers from the nuclear power plant filed the lawsuit in April 2016, seeking higher compensation than the figure stipulated in the government’s guidelines.

The plaintiffs had sought to settle the lawsuit quickly in light of their mental exhaustion and advanced age rather than engage in a drawn-out process.

In a statement, TEPCO said it will consider how to respond to the ruling after thoroughly examining it.

‘REFUSING SETTLEMENT OUTRAGEOUS’

After the ruling, Yoshitaro Nomura, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, condemned the stance that TEPCO took on the matter.

Refusing the court’s settlement offer was outrageous. It amounted to ignoring the company’s responsibility for causing this unprecedented nuclear disaster,” Nomura said.

Groups of disaster victims resorted to a system called alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, in the hope of winning compensation for the nuclear accident. But many of them started facing an impasse in the process two years ago after TEPCO refused to accept deals proposed by the Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center.

The issue was taken up in the Diet, and the industry minister warned the utility to be more cooperative. However, the number of ADR cases that went nowhere continues to rise.

TEPCO refused to change course even after the district court recommended a settlement in a trial where the plaintiffs and the defendant are required to provide more solid arguments and proof.

The court-ordered compensation of 12.03 million yen comes to almost the same amount as the court proposed in the settlement last December. The government guidelines set individual compensation at 120,000 yen.

TEPCO has made it clear it intends to make no compromise on settlement offers that may lead to a revision of the government’s guidelines,” said lawyer Izutaro Manaki, a member of the Daini Tokyo Bar Association who is well-versed in compensation issues.

As of Feb. 14, TEPCO had paid more than 9.32 trillion yen in compensation. The company has covered the costs through government loans and higher electricity rates.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13144481

February 27, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

$4000 Settlement for Fukushima Daiichi Evacuees

$4000 settlement for all their losses and 9 years of misery…

hjlmù.jpg

Dec 17, 2019

The Yamagata District Court awards a group of Fukushima evacuees a minor settlement in a suit seeking damages from the government and TEPCO for suffering caused by 2011’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

[© Nippon TV News 24 Japan]

https://www.nippon.com/en/news/ntv20191217002/$4000-settlement-for-fukushima-daiichi-evacuees.html

December 24, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Japan’s govt urges Fukushima evacuees to return – in drive to promote 2020 Olympics

Fukushima: Despite health threats, the Japanese government urges residents to return. Families who fled nuclear meltdown in Fukushima are being urged to return to their homes ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
jhihjlkm
Families claim the government is speeding up return ahead of Olympics
Aug 4, 2019
Alarming levels of radiation up to 20 times higher than official safety targets have been recorded in areas where locals are being encouraged to go back. We found ghost towns eight years after three reactors went into meltdown at Daiichi power plant 140 miles north east of Tokyo in March 2011. Tokyo 2020 is being hailed as the “Reconstruction Olympics” signalling new hope following the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the disaster and left more than 18,000 people dead. 
Now evacuees are being urged to return as the global spotlight focuses on the recovery of the region. The government has lifted most evacuation orders and all but a handful of hot spots have been declared safe. 
But parents believe their children are in danger, saying officials are downplaying the dangers and safety is compromised in a cynical attempt to convince the world the crisis is over. 
Families have accused the government of speeding up their return to showcase safety standards ahead of the Olympics. 
We found once-vibrant communities now post apocalyptic wastelands like something from a Hollywood movie after the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. 
Schools, shopping malls, supermarkets, libraries and petrol stations lie decaying along with thousands of homes. Many are set behind guarded barricades in exclusion areas known officially as “difficult to return to zones”. 
Others lie in areas which the government says are safe to live in but whose few residents – wild boar and monkeys – demonstrate signs of mutation. Along roadsides sit giant black bags containing contaminated soil. 
In Tomioka, five miles from the power plant, a school sports hall is scattered with footballs left when children fled. 
It’s in stark contrast to arenas being built for the £20billion Games. Fukushima is hosting the first event, a softball match on July 22, two days before the opening ceremony. 
The Japanese leg of the torch relay starts on March 26 at a soccer training centre 12 miles south of the crippled plant. The J Village, a base for emergency workers, only fully reopened last month. 
In Okuma our Geiger counter sounded furiously, recording four microsieverts an hour. The government safety target is 0.23 microsieverts per hour. 
It came days after evacuation orders were lifted for parts of the town which had 10,000 residents. The centre remains a no-go zone and just 367 former residents have registered to go back. 
Ayako Oga, 46, who suffered a miscarriage, says: “The Olympics are putting lives in danger. The government is forcing people to leave the public homes they have been in. They are putting a heavy burden on people still suffering mentally and financially.” 
In Namie, which had 21,000 residents, evacuation orders were lifted in 2017. It is said 800 people returned but we found desolation, only traffic lights working. 
The Wild Boar bar last served a drink on disaster day. Owner Sumio Konno, in a group legal action against the government, says his son, who was five, still suffers nosebleeds. “He is sick all the time,” he says. “Every month he needs to go to the doctor.” 
Ryohei Kataoka, of the Citizens Nuclear Information Centre, says: “The government’s insistence in lifting evacuation orders where heightened radiation-related health risks undeniably exist, is a campaign to show that Fukushima is ‘back to normal’ and to try to make Japan and the world forget the accident ever happened.” 

August 12, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Restoring crops and a sense of pride

The mayor of Okuma, home of the damaged nuclear power plant, has been in exile for eight years – here he writes about finally returning
1936.jpg
Okuma residents plant rice in an experimental field in May this year.
June 22, 2019
The residents of Okuma were among more than 150,000 people who were forced to flee their homes after the March 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. As one of the wrecked plant’s two host towns, Okuma was abandoned for eight years before authorities declared that radiation levels had fallen to safe levels, allowing residents to return. Even now, 60% of Okuma remains off limits, and only a tiny fraction of the pre-disaster population of 11,500 has returned since their former neighbourhoods were given the all clear in April. A month later, Okuma’s mayor, Toshitsuna Watanabe, and his colleagues returned to work at a new town hall. In his final diary for the Guardian, Watanabe reveals he has mixed feelings about being able to return to his family home.
2305.jpg
Okuma’s mayor, Toshitsuna Watanabe, stands outside his family home. He will move back soon after renovations are completed.
 
Toshitsuna Watanabe, mayor of Okuma
My family home is in the Ogawara neighbourhood of Okuma. The radiation levels there were deemed low enough for the government to lift the evacuation order for that part of the town in April this year, eight years after every single resident was forced to leave. My house, which stood empty for all that time, is being refurbished and I will be able to move back in August.
It’s a big old house and needs a lot of work. All of the walls and roof have to be removed as they were badly damaged in the earthquake. Other parts will have to be renovated. The workmen will also strengthen its foundations and rebuild the outer walls. It would have been cheaper and quicker to demolish the house and build a new one on the same plot of land. But I decided against that as I was determined to keep at least some of the house that my father built 60 years ago.
My father was always eager to learn. He studied new farming methods at university in Tokyo, and tried his hand at poultry farming and aquaculture, which were almost unheard of in those days. As his eldest son, I was expected to follow in his footsteps and work in agriculture. It seemed only natural to me that that’s what I would do.
I spent two years away from Okuma when I studied at an agricultural college in Sendai. My father and I had disagreements when I was young, but I eventually came round to his way of thinking about the importance of protecting our home and keeping it in the family. Now I say exactly the same thing to my son.
2256.jpg
Sunflowers grow in fields in Okuma that were used for crops before the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Photograph: Okuma town office
I like the Japanese saying seiko udoku – which means working in the fields when the sun is shining and staying at home reading when it rains. So when I finally return to my own home in Okuma, I’m going to get involved in farming again, but this time as a hobby.
Sunflowers grow in fields in Okuma that were used for crops before the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
 
The fields we own have been decontaminated, but because they haven’t been used for eight years they need to be restored to a state fit for growing crops. Eventually I’d like to keep chicken and sheep, and grow mushrooms. I get secretly excited whenever I think about it.
But the painful truth is that less than 4% of Okuma’s population can dream like that. The area where the other 96% of the population lived is still classed as “difficult to return to” because of radiation levels. It could take years to lift the evacuation order there, or it might not be lifted at all.
It breaks my heart to think that our residents have been divided into those who can come home and those who can’t. The latter must be tempted to think that they have been left behind while other people are able to return to their clean homes.
2256.jpg
Residents of Okuma dance during the O-bon summer festival in 2018, when they were able to visit their hometown but not stay there overnight.
 
A conversation I had with someone I know in the town left a real impression on me. She had been told that she could, in fact, return as long as she moved to a neighbourhood where the evacuation order had been lifted. But she said: “I don’t just want to return to Okuma; I want to return and live in my old house in Okuma.”
I know exactly how she feels, and so do the other people who want to return to Okuma. When I think about people in that predicament I can’t feel completely happy about my own situation.
From now on, we will try to revive our hometown in two ways. First, every single resident, including those who may have given up on ever living in Okuma again, will be able to return whenever they like. And second, we will build a town that will attract people who have never lived here.
We have always taken great pride in the hard work everyone put into building Okuma into a great place to live. I am sure that the same sense of pride will continue to help us as we rebuild our town and make it an even better place.
I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to get our old town back. My seiko udoku hobby can wait if necessary.

June 27, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Government must help rebuild Fukushima evacuees’ lives

 
jkjm.jpg
In this May 20, 2015, file photo, a Fukushima evacuee in her thirties is living in Tokyo with her two children. Her husband chose to stay in Fukushima for work.
 
April 8, 2019
Eight years on since the nuclear disaster, there are still many evacuees living away from their homes in other parts of the nation, unable to return to their communities after the catastrophic accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
But the situations of these Fukushima evacuees have been fading into the fog of obscurity over time.
The central government and the Fukushima prefectural government should step up their flagging efforts to grasp the realities of their life as evacuees and help them rebuild their destroyed livelihoods.
Some 40,000 former residents of areas around the nuclear plant still live away from their homes, either within or outside Fukushima Prefecture, according to statistics compiled by the Reconstruction Agency and the prefectural government. The figure is one-quarter of its peak level.
But the statistics have been criticized for failing to give a true picture of the problem.
Critics say the data is distorted by questionable government criteria for recognizing evacuees. They point out that the prefecture stopped treating people living in makeshift housing as evacuees when it terminated providing such temporary housing for free.
In many of the municipalities in areas close to the stricken nuclear plant, most local residents have not returned even after the evacuation order was lifted.
There are also people who have “voluntarily” fled their communities even though they were not in evacuation areas.
It is believed that the number of people who regard themselves as “evacuees” is far larger than 40,000. But nobody knows exactly how many.
Many Fukushima evacuees have opted not to return to their former communities after the evacuation order was lifted for various reasons. Some have already purchased new houses while living away from their homes, while others don’t want to force their children to change their schools.
Many others are hesitating to return or wavering about what to do because of concerns about the living conditions in affected areas and possible safety risks, especially radiation.
After years of living away from home, many evacuees are also struggling with problems such as reduced incomes, the difficulties of finding jobs, deteriorating health and isolation.
Some are suffering from poverty, anxiety about losing their housing due to the termination of public financial support and physical and mental illness.
The plights of these evacuees have been only partially made known by surveys of host local governments and support groups.
The government’s response to the problem has been grossly insufficient. The government conducted a survey of Fukushima evacuees last year, but it only covered former residents of areas subject to an evacuation order or other disaster response administrative action.
The government should try to see the entire and accurate picture of the problem including the situations of “voluntary evacuees” to understand what kind of support and systems are needed.
The most pressing issue for evacuees at the moment is housing. The Fukushima prefectural government and some local municipalities discontinued at the end of March most of their programs to provide free housing to evacuees from the areas where the evacuation order has been lifted as well as housing support for voluntary evacuees.
As a result, dozens of families have been left without housing. The local governments should take a more flexible stance in making such decisions. They should, for example, allow evacuees struggling with serious problems such as diseases to live in their current homes under the same conditions.
Behind the moves to cut housing support to evacuees is the policy of the central and prefectural governments of placing the top priority on encouraging them to return home.
While policy efforts to make it easier for evacuees to return to their homes are important, this policy is clearly out of tune with the realities of evacuees. These victims have come from a wide range of areas and already spent many years away from their homes.
Instead of imposing certain time frames for ending their life as evacuees, the authorities should readjust their support programs for evacuees so that they can receive effective help for any of the three options: returning to their hometowns, continuing to live as evacuees and settling down in their current communities.
The Reconstruction Agency has a particularly important role to play. Even though it often stresses its commitment to supporting evacuees and the central government’s leading role in helping these people, the agency has actually left most of the heavy lifting to the prefectural government.
The agency should take more specific actions to fulfill its responsibility to support victims of the nuclear accident that match its words.

April 14, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | | Leave a comment

Fukushima evacuees resist return as ‘Reconstruction Olympics’ near

d520a6c4bb0a9433b4bc87354e1290900e85f0ef.jpgKazuko Nihei, who fled her home in Fukushima city with her two daughters after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, at her apartment in Tokyo

 

March 11, 2019

TOKYO – With Japan keen to flaunt Tokyo 2020 as the “Reconstruction Olympics”, people who fled the Fukushima nuclear disaster are being urged to return home but not everyone is eager to go.

Tokyo and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) plan to use the global spotlight from the Games to showcase the recovery of the region devastated by the 2011 nuclear disaster and the tsunami that triggered it, killing 18,000 people.

But Kazuko Nihei, who fled her home in Fukushima city with her two daughters in 2011, insists she won’t return, even though government subsidies she once received have now ended.

“I’m not wavering at all,” she told AFP in Tokyo, where she relocated with her daughters, now 11 and nine, after the disaster.

Japan ordered more than 140,000 people to evacuate when the Fukushima Daiichi reactors went into meltdown, but many others living outside the evacuation zones also opted to leave, including Nihei.

Her husband and in-laws stayed in Fukushima city, and living apart has come with emotional and financial costs.

“I have to work with every ounce of energy,” said Nihei, who works seven days a week to help keep the family afloat.

For six years, she and her daughters lived in free accommodation supported by government subsidies, but support for “voluntary” evacuees ended in March 2017.

She moved and now struggles to pay the 130,000 yen monthly rent.

But she insists she is not ready to return to Fukushima city, despite government assurances the area is safe.

Japan’s government has pressed an aggressive decontamination program involving removing radioactive topsoil and cleaning affected areas, and evacuation orders have been lifted across much of the region affected by the meltdown.

But the program has not swayed everyone, with a poll conducted in February by the Asahi Shimbun daily and Fukushima local broadcaster KFB finding that 60 percent of Fukushima region residents still felt anxious about radiation.

Nihei worries about “various health risks for children, not only thyroid (cancer) but others including damage to their genes.”

“If there was a comprehensive annual health check, I might consider it, but what they are offering now is not enough, it only concentrates on thyroid cancer,” she told AFP.

Part of the doubt stems from Japan’s decision in the wake of the disaster to alter its own standards for what it considers acceptable levels of radiation exposure.

It changed the level from 1 millisievert (mSv) a year to 20 and says that level of exposure carries far lower cancer risks than smoking or obesity and “can be comparable to the stress from evacuation”.

The International Commission on Radiological Protection sets a maximum dose of 1 mSv/year in normal situations and a range of 1-20 mSv/year in post-accident situations, though it has urged Japan’s government to choose a target at the lower end of that range.

Despite the uncertainty, Fukushima prefecture plans to end almost all housing subsidies by the end of March 2021, with a goal of having no evacuees by the time — a target some fear will have disastrous results.

Read more :

https://japantoday.com/category/national/fukushima-evacuees-resist-return-as-‘reconstruction-olympics’-near

 

 

March 18, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Free temporary housing for Fukushima evacuees to mostly end in March ’20

april 2017.jpg
This file photo taken in April 2017 shows temporary housing in the city of Nihonmatsu in central Fukushima Prefecture in northeastern Japan for evacuees from the 2011 disaster at the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant
August 28, 2018
FUKUSHIMA — The government of Fukushima Prefecture in northeastern Japan has announced it will terminate in March 2020 the provision of free temporary housing to most of the evacuees from areas in four towns and villages rendered difficult to live in due to fallout from the 2011 triple core meltdowns at the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
It was the first time to set a deadline to end housing support for evacuees from those “difficult to return” areas. The new measure, announced on Aug. 27, will stop the provision of all rent-free temporary housing from dwellings in the towns of Okuma and Futaba where the nuclear plant is located.
The termination of the support program will affect a total of 3,298 households who had to move out of difficult to return areas in the villages of Katsurao and Iitate, as well as the towns of Tomioka and Namie. The measure will cover both temporary prefabricated housing as well as private rental accommodation paid for by the prefecture.
The prefectural government explained that the financial support is being phased out as it is now possible for those residents to find stable homes on their own, among other reasons. Meanwhile, the prefecture will conduct an opinion poll on some 1,661 households from Okuma and Futaba to determine whether to continue to offer free housing for them after March 2020.
The free temporary housing service will end in March next year for evacuees of 2,389 households from five municipalities including the village of Kawauchi and the town of Kawamata, where evacuation orders have been lifted, but the service can be extended for another year for people with special circumstances.
Evacuation orders prompted by the 2011 nuclear disaster targeted 11 municipalities although they were eventually lifted for nine cities, towns and villages by April 2017 except Futaba and Okuma as well as difficult to return zones in some of the municipalities.

September 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Free temporary housing for Fukushima evacuees to mostly end in March ’20

Evacuees Nihonmatsu April 2017.jpg
This file photo taken in April 2017 shows temporary housing in the city of Nihonmatsu in central Fukushima Prefecture in northeastern Japan for evacuees from the 2011 disaster at the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
 
August 28, 2018
FUKUSHIMA — The government of Fukushima Prefecture in northeastern Japan has announced it will terminate in March 2020 the provision of free temporary housing to most of the evacuees from areas in four towns and villages rendered difficult to live in due to fallout from the 2011 triple core meltdowns at the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
It was the first time to set a deadline to end housing support for evacuees from those “difficult to return” areas. The new measure, announced on Aug. 27, will stop the provision of all rent-free temporary housing from dwellings in the towns of Okuma and Futaba where the nuclear plant is located.
The termination of the support program will affect a total of 3,298 households who had to move out of difficult to return areas in the villages of Katsurao and Iitate, as well as the towns of Tomioka and Namie. The measure will cover both temporary prefabricated housing as well as private rental accommodation paid for by the prefecture.
The prefectural government explained that the financial support is being phased out as it is now possible for those residents to find stable homes on their own, among other reasons. Meanwhile, the prefecture will conduct an opinion poll on some 1,661 households from Okuma and Futaba to determine whether to continue to offer free housing for them after March 2020.
The free temporary housing service will end in March next year for evacuees of 2,389 households from five municipalities including the village of Kawauchi and the town of Kawamata, where evacuation orders have been lifted, but the service can be extended for another year for people with special circumstances.
Evacuation orders prompted by the 2011 nuclear disaster targeted 11 municipalities although they were eventually lifted for nine cities, towns and villages by April 2017 except Futaba and Okuma as well as difficult to return zones in some of the municipalities.
(Japanese original by Hideyuki Kakinuma, Fukushima Bureau)

August 28, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Third Court, Kyoto District Court, Rules Tepco and Government Liable to Pay Damages to Evacuees

15 march kyoto court.jpg
TEPCO, state told to pay 3/11 evacuees who left on their own
March 15, 2018
The legal team for evacuees of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster hold signs stating partial victory at the Kyoto District Court on March 15.
KYOTO–The district court here ordered the government and the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant on March 15 to pay a combined 110 million yen ($1 million) to 110 evacuees who fled voluntarily after the 2011 nuclear disaster.
Presiding Judge Nobuyoshi Asami at the Kyoto District Court ruled that the government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. were liable on grounds that they failed to take adequate measures to protect the plant from the tsunami that inundated the facility after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
The court noted the government’s “long-term assessment” for possible earthquakes unleashing tsunami compiled in 2002. The report pointed to the possibility of a powerful earthquake and tsunami striking the plant.
All of the 174 plaintiffs from 57 families had evacuated to Kyoto Prefecture without an evacuation order except for one individual from Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture.
Tomioka was within the 20-kilometer radius from the plant ordered to evacuate after the crisis unfolded on March 11, 2011, triggered by the magnitude-9.0 quake and tsunami.
Apart from Fukushima, the plaintiffs were from Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures.
The plaintiffs plan to appeal the court decision, as 64 were not awarded compensation.
The plaintiffs sought 846.6 million yen collectively in damages from the government and the utility.
The district court ruling marked the fifth in a series of similar lawsuits brought across the nation.
In all five cases, the respective courts acknowledged TEPCO’s responsibility to pay damages to the plaintiffs.
The Kyoto District Court’s decision was the third to acknowledge the government’s responsibility.
The key issues in the Kyoto case were if the towering tsunami that swamped the plant was foreseen, if the government had authority to force TEPCO to take countermeasures against such an event, and if the amount of compensation paid by TEPCO to voluntary evacuees based on the government’s guidelines was appropriate.
Most of the plaintiffs sought 5.5 million yen each in damages.
In the ruling, the district court determined that TEPCO should pay additional compensation on top of the amount set in the government guidelines to 109 plaintiffs who fled voluntarily despite not being subject to evacuation orders.
The criteria for extra payment are distance from the plant, radiation levels around homes, and family members who require medical attention due to the exposure to radiation.
Among the plaintiffs who were awarded additional compensation were those from Chiba Prefecture, just east of Tokyo and roughly 240 km from Fukushima Prefecture.
The court stated that the extra payment should be based on damage they suffered over two years after they began evacuating.
In the lawsuits filed at three other districts, some of the plaintiffs who evacuated voluntarily were awarded additional compensation, ranging from 10,000 yen to 730,000 yen per person.
 
Third court rules Tepco, govt liable over Fukushima disaster-media
TOKYO, March 15 (Reuters) –
* Kyoto district court on Thursday ruled that Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) and the Japanese government were liable for damages arising from the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011, the Asahi newspaper said
* The ruling is the third court decision assigning liability to both Tepco and the government for the disaster that led to the evacuation of around 160,000 people
* A group of 174 claimants sought 850 million yen ($8 million)in damages arising from the disaster
* The court in western Japan did not accept that all plaintiffs should be awarded damages ($1 = 105.9900 yen) (Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
 
Court orders Japan government to pay new Fukushima damages
TOKYO (AFP)-A Japanese court on Thursday ordered the government to pay one million dollars in new damages over the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, ruling it should have predicted and avoided the meltdown.
The Kyoto district court ordered the government and power plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) to pay 110 million yen in damages to 110 local residents who had to leave the Fukushima region, a court official and local media said.
Thursday’s verdict was the third time the government has been ruled liable for the meltdown in eastern Japan, the world’s most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
In October, a court in Fukushima city ruled that both the government and TEPCO were responsible, following a similar ruling in March in the eastern city of Maebashi.
However, another court, in Chiba near Tokyo, ruled in September that only the operator was liable.
On Thursday, presiding judge Nobuyoshi Asami ordered that 110 plaintiffs who saw their lives ruined and their property destroyed by the disaster be awarded compensation, Jiji Press and other media reported.
Contacted by AFP, a court spokesman confirmed the reports, adding that the ruling denied damages to several dozen additional plaintiffs.
“That damages for 64 people were not recognised was unexpected and regrettable,” a lawyer for the plaintiffs said, adding that they would appeal, according to public broadcaster NHK.
Around 12,000 people who fled after the disaster due to radiation fears have filed various lawsuits against the government and TEPCO.
Cases have revolved around whether the government and TEPCO, both of whom are responsible for disaster prevention measures, could have foreseen the scale of the tsunami and subsequent meltdown.
Dozens of class-action lawsuits have been filed seeking compensation from the government.
In June, former TEPCO executives went on trial in the only criminal case in connection with the disaster.
The hearing is continuing.
Triggered by a 9.1-magnitude earthquake, the tsunami overwhelmed reactor cooling systems, sending three into meltdown and sending radiation over a large area.

March 16, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

7 Years On, 40 Pct of Fukushima Evacuees to Niigata Have No Plans to Return

tohoku.jpg
March 12, 2018
Niigata (Jiji Press)–Nearly 40 pct of evacuees from nuclear accident-hit Fukushima Prefecture to Niigata Prefecture have no plans to return to Fukushima, a Niigata government survey has shown.
 
According to the survey, 39.7 pct of respondents, including those who initially came to Niigata but moved out of the central Japan prefecture later, do not plan to return to Fukushima, home to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
 
Including respondents unable to decide as yet whether or not to return, the proportion of evacuees who are not eager to go back home reached some 70 pct.
 
As reasons, worries about residual radiation’s health effects were cited by 60.6 pct, followed by concerns about children’s future and difficulties in finding jobs.
 
The survey results illustrate how it is difficult to rebuild people’s lives in nuclear disaster-hit areas, pundits said.
 

 

March 15, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

UN: Japan Violated Human Rights, Fukushima Evacuees Abandoned

“Why should people, especially women and children, have to live in places where the radiation level is 20 times the international limit?” Sonoda said. “The government hasn’t given us an answer.”
a.jpg
Mitsuko Sonoda’s aunt harvesting rice in her village, which is outside the mandatory evacuation zone, before the disaster.
Fukushima evacuee to tell UN that Japan violated human rights
Mitsuko Sonoda will say evacuees face financial hardship and are being forced to return to homes they believe are unsafe
A nuclear evacuee from Fukushima will claim Japan’s government has violated the human rights of people who fled their homes after the 2011 nuclear disaster, in testimony before the UN in Geneva this week.
Mitsuko Sonoda, who voluntarily left her village with her husband and their 10-year-old son days after three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant went into meltdown, will tell the UN human rights council that evacuees face financial hardship and are being forced to return to neighbourhoods they believe are still unsafe almost seven years after the disaster.
“We feel abandoned by the Japanese government and society,” Sonoda, who will speak at the council’s pre-session review of Japan on Thursday, told the Guardian.
An estimated 27,000 evacuees who, like Sonoda, were living outside the mandatory evacuation zone when the meltdown occurred, had their housing assistance withdrawn this March, forcing some to consider returning to their former homes despite concerns over radiation levels.
In addition, as the government attempts to rebuild the Fukushima region by reopening decontaminated neighbourhoods that were once no-go areas, tens of thousands of evacuees who were ordered to leave will lose compensation payments and housing assistance in March next year.
The denial of financial aid has left many evacuees facing a near-impossible choice: move back to homes they fear are unsafe, or face more financial hardship as they struggle to build lives elsewhere without state help.
“People should be allowed to choose whether or not to go back to their old homes, and be given the financial means to make that choice,” said Kendra Ulrich, senior global energy campaigner for Greenpeace Japan.
b.jpg
Sonoda’s son and a friend drinking from a mountain stream before the disaster.
“If they are being put under economic pressure to return, then they are not in a position to make an informed decision. This UN session is about pressuring the Japanese government to do the right thing.”
Evacuees are being encouraged to return to villages and towns near the Fukushima plant despite evidence that some still contain radiation “hot spots”.
In Iitate village, where the evacuation order was lifted this March, much of the surrounding forests remain highly radioactive, although homes, schools and other public buildings have been declared safe as part of an unprecedented decontamination effort.
“You could call places like Iitate an open-air prison,” said Ulrich. “The impact on people’s quality of life will be severe if they move back. Their lives are embedded in forests, yet the environment means they will not be allowed to enter them. Forests are impossible to decontaminate.”
After months of moving around, Sonoda and her family settled in Kyoto for two years, where local authorities provided them with a rent-free apartment. They have been living in her husband’s native England for the past four years.
“We’ve effectively had to evacuate twice,” said Sonoda, who works as a freelance translator and Japanese calligraphy tutor. “My son and I really struggled at first … we didn’t want to leave Japan.”
c.jpg
Sonoda and her family near her home in Fukushima before the disaster.
Concern over food safety and internal radiation exposure convinced her that she could never return to Fukushima, aside from making short visits to see relatives. “It’s really sad, because my village is such a beautiful place,” she said. “We had a house and had planned to retire there.”
The evacuations have forced families to live apart, while parents struggle to earn enough money to fund their new accommodation and keep up mortgage payments on their abandoned homes.
“Stopping housing support earlier this year was an act of cruelty,” Sonoda said. “Some of my friends had to go back to Fukushima even though they didn’t want to.”
Greenpeace Japan, which is assisting Sonoda, hopes her testimony will be the first step in building international pressure on Japan’s government to continue offering financial help to evacuees and to reconsider its resettlement plan.
It has called on the government to declare Fukushima neighbourhoods unsafe until atmospheric radiation is brought to below one millisievert (mSv) a year, the maximum public exposure limit recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.
While 1 mSv a year remains the government’s long-term target, it is encouraging people to return to areas where radiation levels are below 20 mSv a year, an annual exposure limit that, internationally, applies to nuclear power plant workers.
“Why should people, especially women and children, have to live in places where the radiation level is 20 times the international limit?” Sonoda said. “The government hasn’t given us an answer.”
 
Fukushima evacuees have been abandoned by the Japanese government
Mitsuko Sonoda says Tokyo is violating the human rights of evacuees by pressuring them to return to the area, even though radiation levels remain high following the 2011 nuclear power plant disaster
I used to live in Fukushima with my husband and our child, in a fantastic natural environment with a strong local community. That was until the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 destroyed coastal communities and killed tens of thousands of people.
The day after it hit, there were constant aftershocks. It gave us another massive scare when the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant exploded. We decided to evacuate to Western Japan to protect our child.
The government raised the level of “acceptable” exposure to the same standard as nuclear workers – 20 times the international public standard. My son was not a nuclear worker, but a little boy, more vulnerable to the effects of radiation than adults.
Like my family, many fled contaminated areas that were below the raised emergency level, but higher than acceptable. We have been labelled “self-evacuees”. We have never received compensation, outside some housing support.
Some of the evacuee children have struggled to adjust to a different environment. They have continued to miss family, friends and old schools, and have been bullied by other children in their new residences. There were even rumours of “contagion”.
Many children also really miss their fathers, who have often stayed in Fukushima for their jobs.
Mothers have silently tackled these difficulties, including health problems in themselves and their children. We have sometimes been labelled neurotic, irrational and overprotective, our worries about radiation dismissed. Divisions and divorce have been common.
All the while, we miss our relatives, friends, old community and the nature we used to live in.
In March, the government lifted evacuation orders, and the housing support for self-evacuees stopped. Citizens were pressured to return to Fukushima. Research said radiation levels still exceeded the government’s long-term goals.
Because evacuation orders have been lifted, Tokyo Electric Power Company will also stop compensation for victims by March 2018. We need this accommodation support to continue any kind of stable life.
Before Fukushima, they said a major accident could not happen. Now they say radiation is not a problem. They say hardly any compensation is needed. Why should we have to return to live in a radioactive area? Nuclear victims don’t seem to have the right to be free from radiation.
I’m travelling to Geneva this week to testify at a pre-session for the UN Human Rights Council’s review of Japan. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s resettlement policies are violating our human rights. If the Japanese government doesn’t support the nuclear survivors, what’s stopping other countries from doing the same in the future?
Mitsuko Sonoda is a Fukushima nuclear accident survivor and evacuee. She now advocates for the rights of nuclear disaster victims, and is going to the UN Commission for Human Rights with the support of Greenpeace Japan

October 13, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment