Legislative Proposal for the Great East Japan Earthquake -Focusing on Double Loan Payments, the Extension of the Period for Acceptance or Renunciation of Inheritance, and ADR for Damage Compensation by the Nuclear Power Plant Incident-
The Great East Japan Earthquake, in which Japan was simultaneously hit by an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, was a calamity of unprecedented complexity, causing not only catastrophic damage to the affected areas but delivering a massive impact to the entire Japanese economy and society.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) and local bar associations throughout Japan have been conducting free-legal-consultation services through telephone or face-to-face meetings, and a great number of attorneys have visited evacuation shelters to provide such consultation services. Through listening to the victims’ struggles and concerns, a wide range of problems and issues to be tackled have been brought to our attention, and the JFBA has been making various legislative proposals in an attempt to resolve these issues.
Among the great variety of proposals that have already been made, one that has especially grabbed the public’s attention is the so-called "double loan payments problem," regarding which the JFBA has already proposed its "Recommendations on Relief from Unreasonable Debt including Double Loans as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake" targeting the victims, including those unable to again gain loans from the banking industry. With such a high level of interest regarding this topic, the government and both the ruling and opposition parties have finally come to the realization that it is necessary to tackle this problem. However, as there are a wide range of opinions as to how to tackle and solve these problems, at the time of writing, there have not yet been any concrete measures decided on in this area. In terms of the JFBA’s attempts at resolving such issue, it has been urging the government, the political parties and the relevant administrative bodies involved to speedily develop systems which will help enable the affected areas and the victims, including individuals, individual business operators, small/medium-sized companies, and persons in the agricultural/forestry/fishing industries, to rebuild their lives.
Also, the JFBA has put forward a proposal suggesting the extension of the "Period for Acceptance or Renunciation of Inheritance" for the victims. It is still fresh in our minds that “the act regarding special provisions of the civil code concerning the period for acceptance or renunciation of inheritance as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake" has recently been enacted in lawmaker-initiated legislation.
Further, it is expected that a great number of legal disputes will occur in relation to the Great East Japan Earthquake. With the JFBA aware of ADR being key to solving many of these disputes, it has already set up an ADR review team in its Great East Japan Earthquake task force regarding the Incident at the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant, and has been reviewing and discussing related issues with the government and various related bodies about effective ways for such ADR to work.
In particular, regarding the substantial number of expected claims for nuclear disaster compensation, the JFBA has proposed the early establishment of an ADR institute, which will help to ensure neutrality and to realize speedy and fair settlements of such claims, and the government is already actively moving towards that direction. Since it is expected that a large number of attorneys will have to be involved in such ADR, it is important that we keep a close watch on how this and related matters develop.
Other than the proposals stated above, the JFBA has been making a variety of recommendations on legislative proposals in relation to the Great East Japan Earthquake. For details of the proposals, I would like to ask you to take a look at the dedicated pages on the JFBA website regarding its "Disaster Recovery Support for the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Incident."