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.