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Fukushima loses first high school to meltdowns, fukushima minpo, 11/29/13

【Translated by The Japan Times】A private high school in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, will close for good at the end of March because the nuclear disaster has decimated enrollment, school officials said.
Shoei High School, founded in 1957, will be the first in the prefecture to close its doors permanently since the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant began unfolding on March 11, 2011.
Although many schools in or near the radioactive 20-km exclusion zone around the plant have relocated in the hope of maintaining unity and continuity, Shoin Gakuen, which runs Shoei High, chose to recognize the obvious: the school is a financial dead-end.
“We don’t see any future prospects under the present situation brought about by the nuclear accident,” said Kazuhiko Sasaki, general affairs chief of Shoin Gakuen. “Despite many regrets, we decided to shut the school down at the executive board.”
Although the southern part of Minamisoma is in the 20-km hot zone and the school sits outside it, it is just 22 km away from the stricken nuclear plant.
Late last month, Shoin Gakuen submitted its plan for closing the school with the prefectural government, which approved it. But enrollment actually halted in the 2012 school year in light of its dim prospects for survival.
For Shoin Gakuen, the next step was obvious: Demand compensation from Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant’s owner.
Officials at Shoei High said they plan to negotiate directly with Tepco first, but if the talks bog down, are prepared to bring the matter to the government-run mediation center or sue Tepco in court for damages.
Founded in 1957, Shoei High School, the only privately run learning facility in the area serving Minamisoma and the adjacent town of Futaba, has produced more than 8,000 alumni to date. Another hundred were scheduled to enroll in April 2011.
After the disaster, about 40 of the 100 were enrolled in another senior high school run by Shoin Gakuen in the city of Fukushima. The rest were admitted to other schools around the prefecture.
Shoei High is not the only school with shortages. Eight public high schools in the area have failed to achieve their quota for new students in the past two years. Each school was forced to relocate by the nuclear crisis.
Under the rules set by the Fukushima Prefectural Board of Education, a public high school that fails to meet half its student quota for three consecutive years must be closed temporarily.
Of the eight, five are in Futaba, which is south of Minamisoma but hosts the Fukushima plant in conjunction with the town of Okuma. Four of the five have missed their quota for two years in a row.
But education board officials said the schools will be considered exceptions because of the extreme circumstances caused by the meltdowns.
Meanwhile, the education authority in Futaba has drawn up a guideline for reorganizing its schools that revolves around a plan to create a new school by combining junior high and high schools.
The cost of the overhaul will be included in the prefecture’s fiscal 2014 budget, officials said.
The new step means the Fukushima education board will block new students from enrolling at the five high schools in Futaba and consider them “temporarily closed.”
This section, appearing every third Monday, focuses on topics and issues covered by the Fukushima Minpo, the largest newspaper in Fukushima Prefecture. The original article was published Nov. 29.

Panel decides to pay additional damages to long-term Fukushima evacuees, asahi, 11/23/13

The government panel responsible for deciding compensation levels for the victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster said Nov. 22 that people who face prolonged evacuation from their homes will receive additional sums.

Lump-sum damages will primarily be paid to residents of the “difficult-to-return zones,” where annual radiation levels exceed 50 millisieverts. In these areas, the government evacuation order is expected to remain in place for the foreseeable future, and full-fledged decontamination and infrastructure recovery operations have yet to be planned.

The decision reflects a new policy by the government and ruling coalition to bolster support to evacuees on the assumption some will never be able to return to their homes.

The nuclear damage compensation dispute resolution center, set up under the science ministry, will include the new damages in additional compensation guidelines to be compiled in December.

Residents from areas under evacuation orders have already received lump-sum damages to help compensate for mental stress and suffering. Those payments ranged from 1.2 million yen to 6 million yen ($12,000 to $60,000), depending on where they lived.

The additional compensation is also expected to cover people who lived in two other evacuation zones with lower radiation levels in the towns of Okuma and Futaba, which co-host the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The damages will be paid regardless of whether residents eventually return home. Evacuees who are not able to return will receive more than those from areas where evacuation orders are lifted.

The dispute resolution center also proposed that evacuees who bought new homes after they relocated receive additional compensation equivalent to 50-100 percent of the difference between the value of land where they lived before the accident and the newly bought land.

Fukushima Local Govts to Get 7.6-B.-Yen State Subsidies for Housing, jiji, 11/8/13

Tokyo, Nov. 8 (Jiji Press)–The Reconstruction Agency said Friday that it will grant Fukushima Prefecture and two municipalities there 7,634 million yen in subsidies for housing for evacuees from the March 2011 nuclear accident in the northeastern Japan prefecture.
In the second allocation of such state subsidies, the prefecture as well as the town of Kori and the village of Kawauchi will receive the money for construction of public housing and parking lots for the long-term evacuees.
The Fukushima prefectural government plans to build 3,700 public housing units in total by fiscal 2015 for evacuees from the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. It will use the coming funds to acquire land lots for 563 units in the cities of Minamisoma and Iwaki.
The subsidy program was created in the current fiscal year to March, with 50.3 billion yen in the pipeline. By the end of December, the agency plans to invite applications for the third allocation.

NATIONAL Plan to get all evacuees back home is stalling, japan times, 11/6/2103

People forced to flee the radiation in Fukushima Prefecture who probably never will be able to return home may get relocation support, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi has suggested, apparently backpedaling from the government goal of reopening the evacuees’ communities.

“An increasing number of people will not return or are at a loss (over whether to return),” Motegi said Tuesday about those not able to return home because of high levels of radiation more than 2½ years after the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. “Given such an eventuality, we would like to prepare a variety of options.”

Motegi’s remarks at a news conference came after a top Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker cited the need to clearly declare that residents will not be able to return to some areas.

“Somebody will have to say at some point in time that ‘this region is inhabitable and this type of compensation will be offered (for those who are from the region),’ ” LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba said in a speech in Sapporo on Saturday.

More than 140,000 people are living away from their homes in Fukushima Prefecture, where evacuation orders are still in effect in 11 municipalities.

Motegi is believed to have in mind support for evacuees to find new homes.

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