Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that he has received a proposal from the ruling parties that called on the Japanese central government to use public funds towards the acceleration of the recovery of Fukushima, which has been hit by what is now one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters. The proposal called on the government to spend taxpayers’ money to fund part of the clean-up of radiation-contaminated areas outside the disaster stricken Fukushima nuclear complex, which on original plans would have had to be shouldered by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).
“The government will work together with the ruling parties on the plant’s decommissioning and radioactive water management,” Abe said after receiving the proposal document from lawmakers of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and coalition ally the New Komeito. The proposal also touched on TEPCO’s seeming inability to present a stable structure in handling the clean-up process. The document said that the embattled utility needed to have “a clear organizational structure” and a new in-house organization to take charge of decommissioning operations.
The recovery of Fukushima and the other areas affected by the nuclear accident has been sluggish compared with areas hit by the huge earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 but unaffected by the resulting nuclear crisis. To this, Abe said that the Japanese government should present “criteria” for people affected by the crisis to help them decide how to put their lives back in order. Following massive radiation leaks from the Fukushima nuclear plant, more than 140,000 people from Fukushima Prefecture are still living as evacuees, and the cost of decontaminating areas in the prefecture could well reach more than 5 trillion yen (more than US$50 billion).