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Government finally decides on basic policy to help Fukushima victims、asahi, 8/31/2013

The Asahi Shimbun

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The central government has finalized its basic policy for providing support to those affected by the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The state minister in charge of reconstruction, Takumi Nemoto, announced the measures Aug. 30.

Under the basic policy, 33 municipalities in eastern and central Fukushima Prefecture will be designated as eligible for support measures. All the areas approved recorded high radiation levels soon after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.

While some disaster victims hailed the announcement as an important first step, others questioned why the government’s plan does not cover individuals outside Fukushima Prefecture.

Both houses of the Diet originally passed the law providing support to victims of the disaster in June 2012, but the central government did not put together a basic policy that included specific measures to implement the law until now.

That led to the filing of a lawsuit earlier this month by some victims who were fed up with the government’s lack of action.

In the areas designated eligible for state-funded support, the central government plans to construct medical facilities and implement measures to support children attending school.

And despite criticism of the basic policy, it does actually leave open the possibility that those who moved outside of Fukushima due to the disaster may become eligible for some assistance as well.

One individual who said the basic policy was an important first step was Takeshi Murakami, 37, who evacuated from Fukushima city to Niigata city. “I hope the government provides realistic support that meets the needs of individual evacuees,” he said.

One group of disaster victims that lobbied the central government for aid also praised some of the measures in the new policy, particularly the decision to allow private-sector organizations to provide support to evacuees and the securing of staff to conduct thyroid testing for children.

However, not all had praise for the new measures: Tokiko Noguchi, who was among the plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit against the central government over the delay in providing timely relief, criticized the fact that the entire prefecture of Fukushima was not deemed eligible for assistance.

There was also criticism that areas outside of Fukushima Prefecture that registered high radiation readings were not included in the basic policy despite the minister in charge of reconstruction giving his assurance that necessary measures would be implemented if officials felt there was a need.

In February, nine cities in northwestern Chiba Prefecture jointly submitted a request to the Reconstruction Agency asking that it implement measures to better manage the health of residents. Officials from those municipalities were puzzled at the fact that their cities were not designated as being eligible for the support measures passed by the Diet. The cities plan to further study the government’s basic policy before deciding what course of action they will next take.

The government’s new policy also states that a panel of experts will consider what health management measures for residents should be implemented for prefectures neighboring Fukushima.



Quake insurance rate hits record 56% , yomouri, 8/25/13

Jiji Press
The percentage of fire insurance contracts in Japan that include earthquake coverage rose to 56.5 percent in fiscal 2012, hitting a record high for the 10th straight year, according to the General Insurance Rating Organization of Japan.

The margin of increase, however, dropped to 2.8 percentage points from 5.6 points in fiscal 2011, when the rate jumped after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The top three prefectures for growth were Fukushima with an increase of 6.7 points to 64.8 percent, Tochigi with a rise of 5.0 points to 55.4 percent, and Ibaraki with a 4.9-point rise to 57.4 percent.

600 social entrepreneurs in Tohoku are now on a web site – Assistance project for start-ups by the Cabinet Office.

In the last fiscal year of 2012, Cabinet Office of Japanese Government implemented a project of “Reconstruction assistance of regional society employment creation” and chose 600 entrepreneurs, whose businesses and profiles are now publicized on the web. The government office, under the project, subsidized an amount up to 3 million yen each of the entrepreneurial enterprise and individual that started social business in the disaster district of Tohoku. As of August 20th, 569 businesses have been uploaded to the site where more will sequentially follow.

At the web site( named as “The team of 600 entrepreneurs”, a viewer can search for a business by region or category of business. Distribution of numbers of businesses (see the right side chart below) by geographical region is 39%, 29% and 32% for prefectures of Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate respectively. By category (the left side of the charts below), community formation becomes the most common theme in the business, followed by medical care, welfare and health, town planning, shopping mall promotion , agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry.

The web site is run by Council of Supporting Entrepreneurs for Recovery. Mr. Kazuma Watanabe of the council says, “It is amazingly epoch-making for Tohoku to have this much of new business in quite a short period of time. Taking this opportunity, we would like to root new cultures of Act-To-Challenge in Tohoku.” Mentioning women’s activities for the new businesses, he continues, “Women have been keeping home and region peaceful since a long time ago. They are very patient with strong mind of wick to run their businesses.” The whole picture is unavailable but many of the entrepreneurs’ photographs show female.

The governmental project finished in March this year. However, it is important that the entrepreneurial business continue to create employments in each region of Tohoku.

Council of Supporting Entrepreneurs for Recovery plans further to expand its activities to assist entrepreneurs in fund-raising, know-how and information distribution, and networking among the entrepreneurs.

Fukushima Residents to Sue Govt over Law on Victim Support, jiji, 8/20/2013

Tokyo, Aug. 20 (Jiji Press)–A total of 19 residents of Fukushima Prefecture plan to file a suit to demand that the Japanese government support victims of the 2011 nuclear accident under a law enacted last year, informed sources said Tuesday.
They had lived outside areas that were designated by the government as evacuation zones after the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s .
In the suit to be filed with Tokyo District Court Thursday, they will accuse the government of failing to draw up detailed measures more than one year after the June 2012 enactment of the law designed to support victims of the nuclear accident.
They will ask the court to recognize the government’s inaction as illegal as well as their eligibility for support measures under the law, according to lawyer Kenji Fukuda. The residents will also demand one yen each in state compensation.
The suit will aim to ask the government to implement support measures, instead of seeking individual benefits, Fukuda said.


Namie mayor to accept govt’s proposal to reclassify into 3 areas by year-end, fukushima minpo, 8/19/2012

Tamotsu Baba, mayor of Namie town in Fukushima Prefecture, on Aug. 18 indicated his readiness to accept the central government’s proposal by the year-end to reclassify the town’s evacuation zones into three areas in line with radiation levels.

One of the three areas is classified as difficult to return to for a long period of time due to high levels of radiation. The other two are a residence-restricted area with visitation-only access and an area ready for the lifting of evacuation orders.

Speaking to reporters after attending a symposium in the city of Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, the mayor said, “I’d like to reclassify the town into three areas by the end of the year.” The Namie municipal government had suspended talks with the central government on the reclassification proposal, citing Tokyo’s slow response to the town government’s request on the payment of damages and health supervision for the town’s residents.

Baba, however, has apparently judged the way for settling these issues has been paved, and decided to resume talks with the central government on the reclassification.

The Namie municipal government plans to launch talks with the central government on how to draw the line between the areas for reclassification and to explain the matter to the town assembly and residents where necessary.

During a question-and-answer session at the symposium from residents on the reclassification, the mayor noted the importance of the payment of damages, decontamination work and health supervision for residents.

“The reclassification will be made in the not-so-distant future,” Baba said, adding the central government has reacted to the requests. “Many people wish to resume normal life now that 17 months have passed since the outbreak of the nuclear disaster” at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.


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