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Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi on Thursday said the government will compensate victims of the Tokai nuclear accident — if they can establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the radiation and any illnesses.

Compensation would be paid to residents who are confirmed to be victims of Japan’s worst nuclear accident, which occurred Sept. 30 at a JCO Co. uranium fuel processing plant in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, Obuchi said.

“They (residents) will receive compensation if a cause-and-effect relationship is established,” Obuchi told a plenary session of the House of Councilors.

Obuchi also reiterated that his tripartite coalition, launched a month ago, must continue to exist for the sake of the people.

The statement was a response to opposition criticism that the government lacks principles.

He justified the coalition’s raison d’etre on the basis that more stability in the political situation would better serve the interests of the nation.

Meanwhile, Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Akihisa Terasaki criticized Obuchi’s coalition partners. He rapped the Liberal Party for giving up on its promise to seek to cut 50 Lower House seats and New Komeito for having done an about-face on its pledge that it would never team up with the Liberal Democratic Party — only to join the ruling coalition.

Transport Minister Toshihiro Nikai, the only Liberal Party member of the Cabinet, counter-argued that the opposition camp should focus on discussing policies, not the political situation.

New Komeito’s Kunihiro Tsuzuki, who is director general of the Management and Coordination Agency, replied that his party changed its old anti-LDP stance in an attempt to achieve its policies.

Meanwhile, Obuchi promised that Tokyo will continue its aggressive spending despite criticism that the government’s spending spree will further deteriorate the nation’s coffers. The long-term debts of the central and local governments amount to 600 trillion yen.

During the Diet session, the three coalition parties’ debates have revealed a divisive policy rift within the ruling bloc.

Nikai openly told the Upper House that the Liberal Party eventually aims to make sure that the planned public-care insurance system for the elderly is financed by income from the consumption tax.

The government is opposed to the idea, saying it would change the basic characteristics of public-care services.

“The current insurance systems (for social security) have already reached their limits,” claimed Nikai.

Tsuzuki reiterated New Komeito’s argument that public-care systems at health-care facilities should be financed by taxes and that any services at home can be covered by an insurance system, which would reduce the financial burden on the insured.

The LDP and the Health and Welfare Ministry have maintained that public-care should be based on an insurance system, which they say will make clear the relationship between what a person pays and what he or she receives, and will also encourage local municipalities to offer services that fit the particular needs of local residents.

Obuchi told the Diet that he will observe policy talks between the ruling parties over how the system should be financed in the future.

Foreign Minister Yohei Kono, meanwhile, was grilled over his apparent change of heart over corporate contributions to individual politicians.

Kono, as LDP president, agreed in January 1994 with then Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa to ban corporate contributions to individual politicians starting in January 2000. Subsequently, a related law was revised in the hope that political corruption might be eradicated.

But during Thursday’s Upper House session, Kono said that his decision in 1994 was based on a collective choice by the party and that he will merely follow the party’s decision again this time.

A political reform panel within the LDP has already compiled a report concluding that corporate contributions should not be banned, despite New Komeito’s demand that such payments be made illegal, as stipulated by the current law.

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