• Kyodo

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Councils comprising agricultural and dairy cooperatives and local governments in Fukushima and four other prefectures near the crippled No. 1 nuclear plant will seek more than ¥10 billion in damages from Tokyo Electric Power Co., according to recent announcements.

A council of agricultural cooperatives and other farm groups in Gunma Prefecture said Thursday it will demand ¥1.6 billion from Tepco in compensation for losses incurred as a result of the ban on the shipment of the prefecture’s spinach and “kakina” leafy vegetables from March 21 to April 8.

A similar council in Tochigi Prefecture said the same day it will seek ¥1.3 billion in damages from the utility.

The two councils planned to dispatch their officials to Tepco’s headquarters in Tokyo on Friday to urge the utility to pay the full amount demanded.

A farm council in Fukushima Prefecture has said it will demand that Tepco pay ¥480 million in damages, while similar bodies in Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures said they will seek ¥6.5 billion and ¥300 million.

Gunma’s council said it estimates its member farmers had incurred losses worth ¥1.6 billion by the end of April as the nuclear crisis hurt the image of their produce, and plans to demand the amount separately in June.

Tochigi’s council has already sought ¥1.14 billion in compensation for March.

So far, Tepco has informed the Tochigi council that it plans to pay ¥110 million in compensation for March by the end of May.

Study abroad task force

KYODO

The government has launched a task force aimed at reversing the decline in the number of students opting to study abroad.

The decrease is attributed largely to the economic slump and difficulty of finding a job after returning from overseas.

At its first meeting Thursday, the task force, headed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, also discussed ways to attract foreign students amid the Fukushima nuclear crisis. Its members include the foreign, education and industry ministers.

The education ministry said last December that the number of Japanese studying abroad posted a record 11 percent year-on-year decline to 66,833 in 2008. The number of Japanese students overseas peaked at 82,945 in 2004, but has been declining ever since.

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