Statement Calling for Application of the System of Private Rental Houses Deemed as Temporary Housing Units for (Voluntary) Evacuees outside the Designated Areas in Fukushima Prefecture
The system of private rental houses deemed as temporary housing units for evacuees (the “System”) is a system under the Disaster Relief Act in which prefectural governments which accept evacuees from disaster-affected regions rent private rental housing and provide them to those evacuees, and disaster-affected prefectural governments reimburse the incurred costs, up to 90% out of which are borne by the national government in the end. In Fukushima Prefecture (the “Prefecture”), where over 60,000 evacuees are still living outside the prefecture, this System plays an indispensable role in stabilizing the livelihoods of those who have evacuated because of concerns about the effects of low-dose exposure on health and other reasons.
Currently, in prefectures other than the Prefecture, the System can be utilized by not only evacuees from the official evacuation zone, but also those from places with relatively high doses of radiation not designated as the evacuation zone. Within the Prefecture, however, the System is only applicable to evacuees from the evacuation zone and those from outside the evacuation zone are not eligible for the aid.
According to newspapers dated June 9, 2012, relating to the issue of non-applicability of the System to residents who have evacuated from outside the designated evacuation zone to other areas within the Prefecture following the outbreak of the nuclear disaster, the Fukushima Prefectural Government reportedly expressed its view that it is difficult at the moment to apply the System to such residents. Meanwhile, on July 4, the Fukushima Prefectural Assembly unanimously adopted an opinion calling on the national government for the implementation of relief measures such as provision of rented housing units.
In response to a request by evacuees from outside the evacuation zone to other areas within the Prefecture, the Fukushima Prefectural Government is currently in the process of discussions on the application of the System to such evacuees with the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. However, the response to citizen groups of the Prefecture indicates the Ministry’s cautious stance on the application of the System to those who evacuate from outside the evacuation zone to other areas within the Prefecture, conveying the intention to examine the actual status of payment of compensation by Tokyo Electric Power Company, Incorporated (“TEPCO”) to those who have evacuated of their own accord together with this issue.
However, the System under the Disaster Relief Act is a relief measure aimed at stabilization and reconstruction of the current lives of evacuees, differing in purpose in the first place from the system of damage compensation which is intended to recover damage to evacuees after the occurrence of the accident. Compensation by TEPCO thus cannot be a ground for procrastinating on the application of the System. Even today, more than half a year has passed since last December when “the guidelines on criteria for determining nuclear damage compensation coverage (losses arising from the voluntary evacuation and others)” (the supplement to the Interim Guidelines) was released, TEPCO has not even indicated its prospect for the timing of the start of compensation payouts for the actual costs, which is consequently placing many evacuees in economically difficult conditions. Some of the residents who have evacuated from outside the evacuation zone chose to relocate within the Prefecture on account of their attachment to Fukushima or their work. It must be concluded that there is a substantial imbalance of distribution of support under the System, which is applicable to those who have evacuated outside the Prefecture, but not to those who have evacuated within the Prefecture.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (“JFBA”), therefore, calls on the Fukushima Prefectural Government for the further application of the System to those who have evacuated from outside the designated evacuation zone to other areas within the Prefecture, and also on the national government to defray such expenses incurred by the Prefecture pursuant to the Disaster Relief Act.
July 11, 2012
Japan Federation of Bar Associations