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Statement Marking the Fifth Anniversary of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the Subsequent Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant Accident

Today marked the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake (the “Disaster”) and the subsequent Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant accident (the “Nuclear Accident”).


However, even after five years have passed, the number of people who still remain away from their hometowns and live all over Japan exceeds 170,000. Despite the fact that both the Disaster and the Nuclear Accident were unprecedented situations, there is no other way to describe it but that the situation remains highly serious.


By collecting the voices of the affected people and the victims and conducting legal counseling services at evacuation centers, etc., the JFBA has engaged in a number of legislative proposal activities from the point of view of bringing about the “restoration of humanity.” As a result of such JFBA activities, not a small number of new legal systems have been established. However, as time passes, it has become clearer that the problems faced by each of the affected persons are getting more complicated and serious and that there are people who may not be able to be saved under the current support measures.


Marking five years since the Disaster, acknowledging again the fact that the reconstruction of people’s livelihoods and the recovery of the affected areas has not yet been completed, and that more pinpoint support catering to the damage suffered by each individual is now required, the JFBA will continue conducting support activities for the affected persons. The following describes the issues that the JFBA will particularly address:


The first issue is the problems surrounding the means of providing support in reconstructing the livelihoods of the affected. Currently, based on the Act on Support for Reconstructing Livelihoods of Disaster Victims (“Disaster Victims Support Act”), monetary benefit is furnished on the basis of the degree of damage suffered by each household. However, since other indications such as (i) damage to the living environment including regular employment and community, and (ii) the extent of deterioration in mind and body, have not been taken into consideration, the system has not been able to respond to the harsh conditions in which each individual has been placed. Given such situation, the JFBA suggests that, in addition to the enhancement of the current support system, the current system should be revised so that it provides for manpower support such as allocating persons dedicated to the reconstruction of the livelihoods of the affected, and also plans and implements support measures designed for each individual. The JFBA will continue to provide its long-term support for the affected and will also make every effort to work on its activities targeting the amendment of the Disaster Victims Support Act.


The second issue is the problems concerning monetary compensation for damage to the victims of the Nuclear Accident. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (“TEPCO”) has been providing a certain degree of monetary compensation for the damages to the victims, centered around those from the mandatory evacuation zone in a uniformed and formal manner. However, sufficient compensation has not been made, and moreover, secondary damage such as separation between and conflict among the residents has even been brought about. Regardless of the issuance of evacuation directives, individually and specifically-designed compensation corresponding to the situation of the damage caused to each victim is required. In addition, the extent of damage that could continue into the future is as yet unknown, and it is also immeasurable how the situation of being evacuated for such an extended period of time and the inconvenience at the places where the victims have been living as evacuees will adversely affect the victims. Another issue which remains unresolved is that there are some cases in which TEPCO has rejected the settlement offers proposed by the Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center (the “Nuclear Resolution Center”). The JFBA will continue to call on TEPCO to pay necessary and sufficient amount of money for compensating for damages, and also to respect the settlement offers proposed by the Nuclear Resolution Center. Further, in order to prevent the adverse effects caused from the Nuclear Accident from further aggravating the health of the victims, the JFBA will call on the national government to ensure an appropriate living environment including implementing the housing support measures and to conduct support measures for maintaining the health of the victims.


The third issue is the problems surrounding Disaster-related deaths. It can be said that Disaster-related deaths are “preventable deaths,” and this indicates the fact that the support measures being provided for the affected and victims have been insufficient. In Fukushima Prefecture, the number of Disaster-related deaths is in excess of 2,000, which is greater than the number of people whose deaths were directly caused by the Disaster. On the other hand, in light of the extent of damage suffered, some people state their observation that the official number of Disaster-related deaths is too small. Since the results of a series of lawsuits filed with Japanese courts have become known, it is necessary to conduct a thorough survey on the actual situations including whether the screening regarding the Disaster-related deaths conducted in each municipal government have been performed in line with the intent of the related legal systems. The JFBA will continue to actively pay attention to the matters concerning Disaster-related deaths and state opinions when necessary.


The fourth issue is regarding the resumption of operations of nuclear power plants. Despite the fact that it became apparent through the Nuclear Accident that such types of accidents will bring serious and irreparable damage to extensive areas, the operations of the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant resumed on August 11, 2015. Moreover, other nuclear power plants are also currently preparing to resume operations. Such facts are raising a genuine concern. The JFBA has been calling on the national government to revise the current energy policies, and we hereby state once again that we will call on the national government to promptly abolish all nuclear power plants and provide necessary support to those areas in which nuclear power plants are located to help realize the self-sustainability of such areas.


March 11, 2016
Susumu Murakoshi
Japan Federation of Bar Associations


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