One of the answers to why the recovery from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters is progressing so slowly may just be found in this new discovery. Sources say that part of the national budget for the reconstruction efforts has been diverted to help out Chubu Electric Power Co, which was forced to shut down all of its nuclear reactors in May 2011 at the government’s request.
Around 1.9 billion yen (approx. 19.2 million US dollars) from the fund administered by the Environmental Partnership Council was paid to the nuclear operator in fiscal years 2011 and 2012. 9 billion yen (91 million dollars) was set aside from the third supplementary budget for fiscal 2011 for “subsidy to facilitate thermal power generation”, while 1 million yen (10,000 dollars) was for “subsidy to improve a facility using thermal effluent.” Chubu Electric is the sole recipient of the subsidy so far, although all power utilities are eligible for it. The subsidy came from post-quake recovery surtaxes that were added on top of income and other taxes, a fact that will surely raise the ire of many citizens.
The subsidy also allows the government to assume responsibility for the Shizuoka prefectural thermal effluent utilization research center, a fish breeding facility which stopped receiving hot water when the Hamaoka nuclear plant was taken offline. An official from the industry ministry said that the post-quake recovery budget was used because the plant was shut down by the central government. But the official assured that the government will stop paying by July, and that they will ask the operator to return the 6-7 billion yen (60 to 70 million dollars) remaining from the fund. While there have been no accusations of corruption, stories like this only add to the public’s impression that the nuclear industry remains in “cahoots” with the government.
A report last May said that more than 100 billion yen in the post-quake recovery budget was distributed to 20 or 30 funds that could have been used outside the affected disaster zones. For example, 3 million yen was spent in Kagoshima Prefecture, 800 miles from the city of Ishinomaki which was practically destroyed by the disasters. And what were the funds used for? Apparently, for the protection and observation of sea turtles. Meanwhile, thousands of families in disaster-stricken areas remain displaced and/or have still not been able to recover from what they suffered in 2011.
[ via Asahi Shimbun ]