Japan enacts bill to extend nuclear calamity damages claim period

JIJI

The Diet passed a bill Wednesday to extend the three-year statute of limitations on the right to claim damages to 10 years exclusively for those suffering from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant catastrophe.

The special bill was approved at a plenary meeting of the House of Councilors. The House of Representatives passed it last week.

The Civil Code stipulates that the statute of limitations on damages claims expires within three years after the discovery of losses.

But unless the period is extended, people affected by the March 2011 meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled power plant could begin to lose their rights to seek compensation next March.

The special legislation for the nuclear crisis victims also says the right to demand damages payment will automatically disappear 20 years after the damages are produced by a tortious act, which means the calamity, modifying a Civil Code clause saying the 20-year period starts at the time of the tortious act.

The change will allow people who have not already suffered Fukushima-related losses to demand compensation whenever they incur losses, including health injuries in the future, pundits said.

In May, the Diet enacted a special bill to suspend the statute of limitations for people who seek involvement of a government mediation body to settle disaster damages disputes with Tepco.

Given that there are still many people who have not figured out the amounts of damages, there have been calls for supporting those who have not filed for mediation requests.