September 23, 2011
The Tokyo Electric Power Co.(TEPCO) requires victims of Fukushima nuclear accidents to fill out a lot of paperwork to request compensation for damages.
The paperwork TEPCO distributed to victims on September 12 included a 60-page form to fill in and 160 pages of instructions, with requirements to attach receipts and other documents. Sixty thousand sets of papers were sent out to the victims, but only 1,500 forms have been returned to TEPCO as of September 20. Anger is spreading among the victims because the required paperwork is discouraging them from attempting to make claims for compensation.
Mashiko Kimiko (50) is taking refuge at a temporary housing in Aizuwakamatsu City with her three children, aged from 10 to 20. She used to live in Okuma Town, host of the crippled nuclear power plant. The entire town is now designated as an alert zone. She said, “When I looked at the papers, I was dumbfounded. It is almost impossible for elderly people to even read through the instructions, let alone understand them.”
The coverage of compensation this time is limited to costs for evacuation, medical expenses related to worsened health conditions due to evacuation, and economic loss due to incapacity of work. There are many items that have to be filled in, and receipts and certificates have to be attached.
Mashiko, who used to work as a temporary worker at a hospital had no choice but to quit working after the accident. The procedure for claiming reparation requires her to ask the staffing company to certify herself as a worker, which is difficult and requires too much time and effort under the present circumstances.
Kobayashi Masahiro (47), who was involved in the construction industry and is currently living in the same temporary shelter as Mashiko said, “There are many people who can neither understand what to do nor walk to obtain the needed documents. TEPCO should visit every victim and explain directly what needs to be done.”
For certain items TEPCO unilaterally set a limit to the claimable amount.
The amount of compensation for mental damage from the accident differs according to where the victim lives. By the end of August, those who live at shelters are paid 120,000 yen a month, and those living in temporary housing, hotels or their own houses are to be paid 100,000 yen a month. After September, however, the amount is cut to 50,000 yen to those not living in their houses. Nothing will be paid to those living in their own houses.”
Mashiko complained, “Suffering is not halved after six months. On the contrary, it may increase.”
Those who fail to get certificates for damages from loss of work can claim only a low amount of compensation set by TEPCO.
A woman friend of Mashiko’s, age 46, used to receive 50,000 yen in cash a month for her part-time job. The lack of a pay statement entitled her to the payment of only 30,000 yen a month from TEPCO.
Assets such as houses, cars and equipment are not covered for compensation at this time.
As Kobayashi had to leave dump trucks and other necessary equipment for his business behind, there is no possibility for him to resume the business. He said, “It is unreasonable for TEPCO to set conditions without hearing from us victims. Anxiety about the future is slowly killing people. Many people are actually becoming ill from the stress and anxiety. TEPCO and the central government should account for how to deal with the disaster-hit towns and people.”