Tepco redress: from tourism to tea

Education ministry panel wants damages awarded across a wide spectrum of industries

by Takahiro Fukada

Staff Writer

Tokyo Electric Power Co. must compensate travel agencies, inns and hotels nationwide for cancellations made by foreign travelers fearing radiation from Tepco’s stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, a government panel said Friday.

The panel under the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry also said, in an interim report on the scope of Tepco’s compensation, that the utility must expand its compensation to the tea, flower, beef and manufacturing industries.

The amount of damages was not specified, nor was how a utility that has suffered a massive net-worth devaluation and vast other redress demands would be able to cough up the compensatory funds.

Because the damage from the ongoing nuclear accident — the worst since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster — has had an enormous impact on an extremely wide range of industries, the affected parties should get compensation as soon as possible, panel head Yoshihisa Nomi told reporters after the group’s meeting at the ministry.

Education minister Yoshiaki Takaki said the ministry will do its utmost to help compensate victims of the disaster.

“While working together with other ministries and agencies, the education ministry will make utmost efforts so that swift, fair and proper compensation will be made along with this report,” he told the panel.

On the tourism industry redress, the panel called for compensation over the loss of revenues by foreign travelers who had booked trips before the accident started in March but had canceled them by the end of May.

For cancellations made by domestic travelers, the panel said Tepco must compensate for lost tourism industry revenues in Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma prefectures.

Tea-sector damages would include compensation for industries in eight prefectures, including Shizuoka and Kanagawa. The panel also said the utility must expand its payments to include flowers grown in Fukushima, Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures and beef from at least 17 prefectures.

As for exports, the panel cited lost revenues and other costs after foreign governments imposed import restrictions.

The panel recommended compensation be paid to cattle farmers in 17 prefectures for financial losses suffered as a result of the plunge in sales and in beef prices after it was learned that cesium-tainted rice straw may have been sold as fodder in most of those areas.

Tepco must also cover losses at Fukushima Prefecture manufacturing and service industries that suffered hits in sales and were snubbed by trading partners fearful of radiation, the panel said.