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Don't move out evacuation zone to study

October 28, 2014

TEPCO guidelines say evacuees entering college not eligible for compensation


Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has set in-house standards for compensation that require evacuees who have moved out of evacuation zones to attend university or college to repay some of the compensation they have already received, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

A TEPCO document obtained by the Mainichi Shimbun says that if a tenant agreement between an evacuee and a landlord had been signed before the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, it is considered that the decision to move was made before the disaster, and that their evacuation was over after they moved into the new place. TEPCO is believed to use the guidelines when interviewing evacuees about requests for compensation.

According to the Fukushima Prefectural Board of Education and other concerned parties, however, there are no universities or two-year colleges in areas that have been designated as evacuation zones, where residents are entitled to 100,000 yen in compensation monthly for their mental distress. It means that under the TEPCO standard, all evacuees who moved out of evacuation zones to enter university or college, regardless of the location of the institutions, will be subject to TEPCO's demand for repayment.

While TEPCO has not disclosed how many people are subject to such a rule, the prefectural education board said there were some 1,000 students in off-limits zones who graduated from high school in the spring of 2011.

A 21-year-old woman from a difficult-to-return zone, who is being urged to return some 9 million yen to TEPCO, was accepted into a three-year nursing college in the Kanto region in December 2010. She signed a rental contract for an apartment near the school in January 2011 and moved there in the beginning of April. In June this year, TEPCO requested the woman's family to send a copy of the rental contract to TEPCO's head office in Tokyo, and sent back a note in September with the amount of repayment the woman needs to pay, claiming that she ended her evacuation when she moved into the apartment.

A representative of TEPCO's head office for Fukushima restoration told the Mainichi Shimbun, "We make decisions on compensation after checking individual circumstances," but added that the company cannot release payment guidelines.

Attorney Naoto Sasayama, who takes part in nuclear disaster compensation claims, said, "As disaster compensation is funded by the government, operation transparency and fair payment guidelines are indispensable. If TEPCO demands evacuees repay some of the compensation, the company needs to disclose the payment standards."

October 28, 2014(Mainichi Japan)

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