Cabinet OKs bill to let Tepco tap state funds for decontamination, bullying measures

Kyodo

The Cabinet on Friday approved a bill enabling state funds to be used to decontaminate areas tainted by fallout from the Fukushima disaster.

The Cabinet hopes the bill to amend a special law on Fukushima reconstruction will be passed during the current Diet session. The bill also contains measures to prevent the bullying of children who fled the prefecture.

Under the bill, the government hopes to lift evacuation advisories in certain no-go areas within five years and set up special areas to provide accommodations for those who decide to return.

The operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., will shoulder the decontamination expenses, but costs related to the aftermath, including decontamination and compensation, are expected to continue to exceed the initial estimates.

The government decided to tape state funds in case the decontamination operations fall behind. It also plans to use state money to rebuild roads, water supply and other infrastructure in the abandoned area.

The bill stipulates support for schools and teachers in dealing with the bullying of child evacuees. The move was sparked in part by cases including an evacuee in Yokohama whose new school teacher teased him by adding “germ” to his name.

The government also plans to survey whether produce from Fukushima is being sold at lower prices due to the nuclear stigma and to curb the practice if it is discovered.