Oil-hit prefectures state their case for compensation

The governors of nine prefectures along the Sea of Japan badly affected by oil from a wrecked Russian tanker gathered Feb. 18 in Tokyo to call on the central government to remove the wreckage and pay compensation for damage caused to local fisheries.

The liaison council of six prefectures, including Kyoto and Ishikawa, met on Jan. 14 to urge the government to treat the accident as a disaster under related laws and demanded financial relief as well as swift measures to protect the environment. But as the slicks have continued to spread, three more governors joined the council for the meeting Feb. 18.

Although the damage has not been assessed on a wide scale, the Home Affairs Ministry recently estimated financial damages caused by the spill at 7 billion yen. The ministry plans to reimburse with grants 10 prefectural governments, including Akita, which is not a liaison council member, for the cost of removing the oil and other necessary measures, sources said.

The nine prefectures will estimate their financial burdens stemming from the accident and send the bills next month to the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund, the sources said. But any compensation from the fund would not cover damage to fisheries and the cost of removing spills by cooperative unions, they said.