CAPS engages in policy research in cooperation with administrative bodies and the like. As part of its activities to disseminate its research results to society, it also holds symposia. At this hybrid symposium―physical attendance and online―the total number participants (both days combined) exceeded 200.

On February 17, presentations and panel discussions were conducted under the theme of “Nuclear Damage Compensation in Fukushima.” Program-Specific Associate Professor YAMASHITA Yasunori of KIER spoke first, talking about the general situation for nuclear damage compensation and reconstruction in Fukushima.

Next, MATSUURA Shigekazu of the Research and Development Bureau, former acting head of the Nuclear Liability Division from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), having been directly involved, gave a keynote presentation on the issuance of interim guidelines by the Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation and revisions to them.

He talked about how the classification of compensation-eligible damages from the March 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi reduced the burden of proof for victims and enabled the prompt payment of compensation. In December 2022, the dispute reconciliation committee issued a fifth appendix to the interim guidelines after final decisions in seven class-action suits brought in association with the accident. A number of subsequent class actions were then settled amicably based on the appendix.

Matsuura also said that the Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Centre (ADR Centre), which promotes voluntary out-of-court settlements of disputes―despite having a few issues such as shortages of human resources―plays a very key role “as a receiving venue for out-of-court relief cases.”

Following that, OTSUKA Tadashi, a professor at the School of Law, Waseda University—who has served for more than ten years as acting chairman of the Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation—gave a presentation on the legal significance and issues in nuclear damage compensation.

The guidelines by the committee, he said, overstepped―out of consideration for the unique circumstances of the accident―the precedents in tort law, such as:

  • by partially incorporating the concept of restitution
  • by partially recognizing emotional injury from fear and anxiety
  • by relaxing requirements for indirect damage
  • by squarely recognizing environmental damage.

Otsuka also said that the fifth appendix to the interim guidelines, which he himself helped draft, maintained consistency with the previous guidelines, while incorporating a new classification. He also mentioned that many unsolved problems remained, including how to compensate such victims as elderly people who find it very difficult to rebuild their lives.

The next speaker was OSAKA Eri, a professor in the Faculty of Law at Toyo University, and a specialist in the civil code and environmental law, who talked about damage from the accident at Fukushima Daiichi and the reality of compensation. Referring to the wide range of problems confronted by vulnerable people, farmers, and others, she said that the interim guidelines and damage items in the overall categories set out by the ADR Centre were “responsive to a significant degree.”

She specifically pointed out that the interim guidelines were quite effective in prompting the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to initiate compensation. Additionally, the power company, as a respondent, has dealt with quite a few compensation claims and has become more adept at doing so efficiently.

On the other hand, in cases brought in the ADR Centre―the dispute-resolution forum―the number of victims represented by attorneys has fallen sharply. Because the victims and claimants are often not knowledgeable themselves about the law, she said the current state of legal support for them was insufficient.

Following that, HOKUGO Taro, vice-chair of Steering Committee of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency—also member of the International Expert Group on Nuclear Liability of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and chair of the third meeting of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) for Nuclear Damage—spoke about the nuclear damage compensation system in the United States, referring to the Colombia Report and the Forum Report.

He first talked about the international history of nuclear compensation systems, the circumstances in which Japan’s Law on Compensation for Nuclear Damage was born, and subsequent changes to the system. He then explained how the global community views and has reacted to compensation for the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

Hokugo said that the framework for compensation and the handling (trial and error) had generally been praised, although there many concerns also existed. He went on to say that Japan’s acquired expertise was valuable and would be helpful in improving such systems elsewhere, and thus that Japan should disseminate internationally what it has learned.

In the last part of the program on February 17, based on the above presentations, panel discussions were carried out on the present state of Fukushima compensation and issues, with KIER’s Yamashita serving as facilitator.

At the start, KAMATA Kaoru, former president of Waseda University and former chair of MEXT’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation—and who, as acting chair of the Advisory Committee on Nuclear Damage Compensation System of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), had taken part in a review of the Atomic Energy Damage Compensation Law in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident—summarized various issues regarding the compensation system.

He said that the primary purpose of damage compensation was to restore “benefits” lost by the accident to their original level, but also that it was impossible to restore human connections, occupations, and the like to their former condition. Thus, he said, it was essential for Fukushima Prefecture to create new industries, cultures, and societal environments to rebuild and develop as an attractive region. He pointed out that it was important that the compensation system and legal policy complement each other to maximize their effects.

Following those presentations, panelists discussed the following points:

(1) The current state and future issues in damage compensation in Fukushima
(2) What is necessary to maintain the compensation system sustainably
(3) The relationship between damage compensation and reconstruction.

Former Waseda University President Kamata concluded by saying that “harmony between reconstruction policy and compensation in Fukushima should be established as a model case.”