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TEPCO should keep to Gov't guidelines on compensation

 February 27, 2014

Gov't to instruct TEPCO to improve practices over nuclear disaster compensation



Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hakubun Shimomura said Feb. 26 that the government had informally decided to instruct Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to improve its practices and abide by government guidelines in providing compensation for the nuclear disaster stemming from its crippled Fukushima plant.

Shimomura made the comment during a sectional committee meeting of the Lower House Budget Committee, in response to a question from Yosei Ide of the recently formed "Yui no To" party. Earlier it was learned that TEPCO had created its own compensation standards that ran counter to government guidelines.

Under TEPCO's standards, which it applied to its employees, nuclear disaster evacuees who had previously been living in rented dwellings or with their families had their payments for emotional damages cut off when they changed their place of residency. The payments totaled 100,000 yen per month. Guidelines set by the government's Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation, however, state that compensation payments should continue for roughly one year after entry restrictions on areas in which evacuees were previously living are lifted. Reporting by the Mainichi Shimbun showed guidelines by TEPCO ran counter to those stipulated by the government.

"We will issue instructions (to TEPCO) to avoid severing compensation simply because a person has moved, and abide by the spirit of the committee's guidelines, paying sufficient consideration to individual circumstances," Shimomura said.

The amount of compensation is calculated by TEPCO upon receiving a claim from a person affected by the nuclear disaster. People who are unhappy with the amount of compensation presented by TEPCO can file a complaint with the Nuclear Damage Claim Dispute Resolution Center, an alternative dispute resolution entity that suggests resolution proposals.

However, it has emerged that TEPCO has refused to abide by some of the center's proposals. Until recently it was unclear how many resolution proposals TEPCO had refused to abide by, but on Feb. 26, Satoshi Tanaka, head of the Education Ministry's Research and Development Bureau, stated that there has been 15 such cases as of Feb. 25. All of these reportedly involved claims lodged by employees or their family members. Apparently no non-employees had been turned down.

Under a business turnaround plan that TEPCO announced in January, the utility cited "respect for resolution proposals," bringing its cold treatment of employees into relief.

At least one TEPCO employee was asked to return money that had already been paid out, and there have been claims of a decline in morale among workers, including those involved in decommissioning reactors.

Yuji Masuda, a managing executive officer of TEPCO, admitted that a considerable number of young people were leaving the company, and stressed that the treatment of employees in benefit plans would improve.


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