The Japanese central government is reportedly set to borrow some US$30 billion for the continuing cleanup of the Fukushima nuclear power facility and the surrounding areas affected by the radiation from what is now one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters, as well as for compensating evacuees, a Reuters report said, citing government sources. This effort to borrow 3 trillion yen has been put on by pressure because of a long list of high-profile gaffes and human error as plan operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) pushed on with the decommissioning process. The Japanese Government has stepped in, and it now appears that more funds are necessary for the clean-up.
Government sources cited by Reuters said that this new borrowing initiative will put the total cost set aside for Fukushima at US$80 billion, which does not include the cost of shutting down the actual reactor units. That dangerous process is projected to take several decades and cost the government another US$150 billion. This new amount will, however, cover the government’s plans to increase salaries for cleanup crews working in the region by US$500 billion, including an increase in the hazard pay from around $100 to $200 a day. There is also a plan for putting up a new facility for storing nuclear waste. That waste would include not only water, but also soil and leaves collected from the surrounding contaminated areas.
These mounting situations and pressure have put Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a position where his administration needs to reconsider the funding strategy for the cleanup and its associated projects. Recently, it has been suggested from the premier’s own Liberal Democratic Party that public funds – taxpayers’ money – be used towards the acceleration of the recovery of Fukushima, as well as taking care of reimbursing displaced residents who may never be able to return home in their lifetime. The radius of evacuation after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown is an area larger than the size of Hong Kong, and some areas will remain contaminated for years to come. Of the 5 trillion yen set aside for such compensation, a little less than four trillion has already been spent.