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More details about the potential "buffer zone"

April 7, 2012

Hirano airs 'buffer zone' proposal



Tatsuo Hirano, state minister in charge of reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, publicly stated Friday his idea to create a circular "buffer zone," or permanently uninhabited area, around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

In a press conference following a Cabinet meeting Friday morning, Hirano said the envisioned uninhabited zone "will probably be set at a certain distance from the nuclear facility as one of the yardsticks [for its designation]."

"Discussions must be held in the government about whether 500 meters or 1,000 meters [from the nuclear plant], for instance, would be an appropriate distance [for the uninhabited zone]," he said.

"A decision on the matter must be finalized after hearing the opinions of the concerned local municipalities," Hirano added.

The minister's remarks were interpreted as an indication that the government considers it adequate to demarcate the uninhabited zone within a certain radius from the towns of Futaba and Okuma, with the crisis-struck plant as its center. Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant straddles the Pacific coast border of the two towns.

"It is advisable for the government to have talks on the matter with the local municipalities concerned, especially the towns of Futaba and Okuma," he said.

Regarding compensation for former residents of the uninhabited zone, Hirano said the calculation of damages "will be different from the formula currently employed" by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry's nuclear accident compensation dispute screening panel.

The minister's statement suggested that the government determine compensation criteria to be specifically applied to the uninhabited zone, separate from the new classification of three nuclear crisis-affected areas, including the zones where residency is prohibited for an extended period.


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