Statement Marking the Fourth Anniversary of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the Subsequent Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant Accident
Today marked the occasion of the four year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake (the “Disaster”) and the subsequent Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant accident (the “Nuclear Accident”).
However, restoration and recovery activities are still insufficient, and there are still approximately 230,000 people who have been forced to remain away from their hometowns and required to live elsewhere owing largely to radioactive contamination caused by the Nuclear Accident. There are also a great number of affected people and victims of the Nuclear Accident who did not have to leave their hometowns, but who are still suffering ongoing damage and have not been able to receive sufficient redress. Acknowledging that the recovery and restoration should be centered around the rights of the affected people and the victims of the Disaster and Nuclear Accident, and that the principle for restoration and recovery is to realize a “restoration of humanity,” i.e., to restore the fundamental human rights guaranteed under the Constitution of Japan, the JFBA will continue to provide support to those afflicted by the Disaster and Nuclear Accident. In addition, taking into consideration the problems surrounding legislation relating to the Disaster, such as the Disaster Relief Act, etc., we will tackle the mid- and long-term measures for restoration described below in order to successfully realize a “restoration of humanity.”
Regarding the recovery and restoration of the affected areas and the need for achieving redress for the affected people, it is important to ensure the provision of necessary infrastructure and enhance the living environment of the affected, as well as to provide full compensation for the damage caused by the Nuclear Accident. From such point of view, the JFBA will strive to realize the resolution of each of the particular issues stated below:
The first issue is regarding the development of a housing support system, including improvement of the systems relating to temporary housing. Most of the temporary housing being used is operated under restrictions such as the requirement for renewals to be made on an annual basis. Further, it is, in principle, prohibited for residents to move from one house to another, and there are a number of temporary housing units which are due to expire at the end of March 2016. It is expected that it will take a considerable amount of time until completion of the process of moving to houses built on higher ground or the construction of disaster public housing. In order to resolve such problems, it is necessary to review the housing measures based on the Disaster Relief Act, and to shift the housing policy toward the provision of support for the independence of those affected, including from the viewpoint of developing new towns. The period of providing this temporary housing should, at least, be promptly extended for a reasonable period of time.
Further, since there are various environmental problems present, such as issues of contaminated water, temporary placement of contaminated soil, and the fact that decontamination itself is still ongoing, it is necessary to establish a flexible housing support system including choices such as allowing people to return to their hometown or move out, respecting the actual situations and wishes of each household.
The second issue involves the problems in relation to disaster-related deaths, the number of which has already reached approximately 3,200 people. Even though the number of recognized disaster-related deaths for which disaster condolence money has been paid has been steadily growing, in a reflection of the situation surrounding the slow progress of housing reconstruction and environmental improvement, problems of disparities between municipalities have not been resolved and lawsuits have been filed across Japan. In order to prevent disaster-related death, the causes of such deaths should be investigated and the methods and standards for recognizing such deaths should be reviewed.
The third issue is to ensure the health of residents in relation to the Nuclear Accident. A systemized health checkup of all residents has been conducted only within Fukushima Prefecture, and further, a detailed health checkup has only been provided to evacuees from the evacuation areas. The scope of those who can have a health checkup should be expanded and moreover, a survey regarding the impact of radiation on such persons’ health should be conducted in a careful, comprehensive and continuous manner.
The fourth issue is to realize full compensation for individuals and corporations for the damage caused by the Nuclear Accident. In order to achieve smooth, speedy and fair damage compensation, the Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center (the “Nuclear Resolution Center”) was established, and the number of petitions filed by groups has been increasing. Amid such moves, although Tokyo Electric Power Co. (“TEPCO”) has promised to respect settlement proposals made by the Nuclear Resolution Center, the fact that TEPCO has been refusing such proposals since last year has been attracting a lot of attention. If such situation continues, there is a possibility that trust in the Nuclear Resolution Center may be lost and the very existence of such Center may be questioned. The JFBA hereby reiterates its request to confer unilateral binding power with regard to the settlement proposals made by the Nuclear Resolution Center.
The issues described in the above are problems which are actually being faced on a daily basis by the victims of the Disaster and Nuclear Accident and for which resolutions are being actively sought. This clearly indicates the fact that restoration is still a work in progress and is far from complete. The Disaster and Nuclear Accident have taught us once again the menace of earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear power plant-related disasters. Such experience should be deeply reflected in the disaster measures and nuclear power policies put into practice in Japan, a country which is unfortunately no stranger to frequent large-scale disasters. The JFBA will continue to support the affected people, putting our thoughts into the actual situations they are facing. Further, we will spare no effort in working towards enhancing the support system for the affected people based on our experience gained in providing support to such people to date.
March 11, 2015
Japan Federation of Bar Associations