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.