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7 March, 2016

Special Committee on the Nuclear Damage Compensation System Finds It Difficult to Set Liability Cap

On March 2, the Special Committee on the Nuclear Damage Compensation System, under the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), held its seventh meeting, focusing on whether power companies experiencing accidents at their nuclear power plants should have limited or unlimited liability.

Some countries, including the United States, impose limited liability on NPP operators. Thus, it is deemed necessary to consider whether unlimited liability under the current civil liability principle in Japan is appropriate to enabling private industries to enjoy “foreseeability” in their nuclear businesses.

All committee members shared the view that all victims must be fully compensated. Many, however, said it was difficult to clarify the scope of operators’ liability.

Kiyoshi Shimizu, a special professor at the Organization for the Strategic Coordination of Research and Intellectual Property at Meiji University, has said that it is difficult at this point even to discuss the scope of liability.

He noted that the future positioning of nuclear power within electric power businesses in Japan has not been clarified under current circumstances, namely, one in which nuclear operators have been privatized in line with national policy, with the Japanese power retail market set to start full deregulation.

Managing Director Satoshi Onoda of the Federation of Electric Power Companies (FEPC), who attended the meeting as an observer, urged the adoption of a detailed system whereby the national government would cover the portion beyond what operators can pay, in the spirit of supporting local communities and standing closely with them.

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