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Japan's Government to Compensate Farmers, Businesses for Loss of Income Due to Radiation Damage

Source: Daily Yomiuri Online

Posted on 24 Mar 2011

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The Japanese government will likely be shelling out a significant amount to compensate farmers for damages incurred as they and other businesses near the troubled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant face huge losses caused by radiation leaks from the power station.

According to sources, the Japan's government could pay between 120 billion yen and 240 billion yen ($1.48-$2.96 billion) based on the Compensation for Nuclear Damages Law, which stipulates the accountability of nuclear power plant operators when accidents occur. The government would also likely have to shoulder any portion Tokyo Electric Power Co. -- the plant's operator -- was financially incapable of paying.

The law stipulates a nuclear plant operator should, in principle, pay for damages caused by a nuclear accident at their plants.

In the event of natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunami, however, the government is obliged to cover up to 120 billion yen in losses caused by each nuclear plant. The government is leaning toward paying for damages caused by radiation leaks at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. It could face an additional 120 billion yen to cover losses incurred by the evacuation order around the Fukushima No. 2 plant.

Although the law states the state should pay for all losses caused by social unrest or abnormally large natural disasters, the government has taken the position that radiation leaks caused by the March 11 earthquake do not fall under this special category, and thus TEPCO is responsible.

"TEPCO should take primary responsibility [for the accident]. But in addition, the government will have to help the victims," Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Yoshiaki Takaki said Tuesday at a House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting.

Compensation payments will likely be made mainly to local firms forced to close their offices, and to farmers whose radiation-tainted produce has been banned by the government. Experts said the total amount of compensation could reach several trillion yen.

Despite the government's desire for TEPCO to shoulder its share of the burden, some in the ruling Democratic Party of Japan have insisted the law's exception should apply to this disaster, and have urged the government to pay for all the damages.