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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 February 15 - 21  > Fukushima farmers demand continuation of payments for damages from 2011 nuclear disaster
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2017 February 15 - 21 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Fukushima farmers demand continuation of payments for damages from 2011 nuclear disaster

February 19, 2017
It has been almost six years since the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in March 2011. While the prospects for bringing the accident under control are still dim, the Abe government intends to lift evacuation directives, and the plant operator is attempting to terminate the payment for damages to affected local people. It seems as if they are claiming that the disaster has become a thing of the past.

Saito Norio, 70, living in Kawamata Town in Fukushima Prefecture, was raising 20 dairy cows with his wife and son. His cows produced about 400 liters of milk a day, but the nuclear disaster forced him to change the feed he provides and then some of his cows died of disease. As a result, milk output halved to 200 liters a day.

Saito explained that it is difficult to stay in business with an output of less than 400 liters a day and that he cannot even get a bank loan to replace the equipment needed for his dairy operation. Seeking compensation for damages, the dairy farmer has taken part in negotiations with the central government every other month since April 2012. However, he has not yet received any response from state authorities.

In September 2016, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled Fukushima NPP, proposed a plan to pay double for the annual loss of earnings of local farmers and forestry businesses in 2017 and respond on a “case-by-case basis” in and after 2019. This is tantamount to announcing the termination of compensation in two years.

TEPCO’s proposal provoked widespread outrage. In December, pressed by mounting public criticism, the power company announced that it will pay triple for the annual lost earnings of those who had lived in the evacuation areas. The utility also presented a new proposal to continue to provide the current rate of compensation to sufferers living outside the areas until 2017 and draw up a future plan to pay them damages by the end of this year.

The prefectural council for nuclear damage, headed by the Fukushima governor, held a meeting to discuss TEPCO’s revised proposal on December 24, 2016. The meeting was also attended by a senior vice minister of economy along with the president of TEPCO.

At the meeting, local farmers and small business owners spoke one after another demanding the continuation of reparations. Baba Tamotsu, the mayor of Namie Town which is adjacent to Kawamata Town, pushed for adequate compensation for all affected people, stressing, “It will take a long time for them to fully overcome their difficulties.”

The Japanese Communist Party points out in its 27th Congress resolution adopted in January that the Abe government is lifting the evacuation orders and terminating compensation payments to disaster victims, which will increase the suffering of evacuees. The JCP demands that the national government and TEPCO fulfil its responsibility to ensure that all disaster victims can rebuild their lives and businesses, and that the government give up its attempt to reactivate NPPs and instead take a decisive step forward to create a Japan without nuclear power generation.

Past related article:
> Fukushima N-crisis sufferers negotiate with state and TEPCO for full compensation [June 3, 2016]
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