People donated a total of ¥251.3 billion as of June 2 to the Japan Red Cross and the Central Community Chest of Japan as relief money for victims of the March 11 quake and tsunami. The two organizations have distributed ¥82.2 billion to 15 prefectures.

But sufferers from the disasters and the accidents at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant have received only ¥37 billion. Some ¥45 billion remains at local governments. The Red Cross and the Community Chest still hold ¥169.1 billion.

The main reason for the delay in the money distribution is that for the sake of fairness, the Red Cross and the Community Chest are calculating the amount of money each victim family receives based on the degree of damage it has suffered.

One solution could have been to give an initial amount of money to each family immediately, then distribute additional funds, if necessary, once the degree of damage was determined.

A committee on the distribution of the donated money in April set down the standard: ¥350,000 for one dead or missing person, ¥350,000 for a family whose house was destroyed, ¥180,000 for a family whose house was half-destroyed and ¥350,000 for a family within 30 km of the nuclear power plant.

On June 6, the committee decided to give points to each prefecture on the basis of aggregated damage local residents have suffered and distribute the relief money according to the points.

This decision, however, does not necessarily lead to quick distribution of the money.

To get the money, victims have to obtain damage and death certificates from municipal governments. But some municipal governments were destroyed by the tsunami and many municipal offices lost resident registers.

At the very least, support personnel should be sent to such locations and procedures should be simplified.

Some families on welfare that have received relief money have had the livelihood assistance they receive from local governments reduced as a result. To prevent this, the central government should tell local governments that relief money must not be regarded as income.

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