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Monday, March 12, 2012
Tepco president renews apology
On the first anniversary of the start of the nuclear crisis, Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Toshio Nishizawa once again offered an apology and vowed every effort to keep the Fukushima No. 1 plant stable and "appropriately" compensate those affected by the accident.
"Because of the accident at our Fukushima No. 1 plant, we have caused trouble, pain and concern to residents around the plant, people in Fukushima Prefecture and all the other people in society," Nishizawa said Sunday.
He and Tepco employees observed a moment of silence at 2:46 p.m., the time the killer earthquake struck off Miyagi Prefecture a year ago and set off the events triggering the crisis.
In his speech at the crippled plant, which was broadcast at Tepco's headquarters, Nishizawa said the utility is still causing considerable trouble and anxiety for the public.
"As for the compensation, we are facing a very tough situation. But we have to sincerely consider the people affected by the accident and do our utmost to make appropriate compensation," he said.
Although Nishizawa emphasized the importance of caring for those affected by the crisis, he said he couldn't adjust his schedule to meet any of the victims during his visit to Fukushima.
Neither did Tepco arrange news conferences for Nishizawa or Chairman Tsunehisa Katsuma.
Only Executive Vice President Zengo Aizawa, who is overseeing Tepco's nuclear power section, held a news conference Sunday to explain the current situation at the Fukushima plant.
Slow progress on redress
Tokyo Electric Power Co. has only paid out a quarter of the roughly ¥1.7 trillion in financial aid made available for people and companies affected by the crisis at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, according to sources.
The utility's slow progress in compensating the victims reflects the complicated application procedures it has set up for the payouts, as well the lack of flexibility in its system for deciding payments — especially to owners of real estate.
As of Wednesday, the total redress to individuals and corporations stood at ¥441.7 billion, well short of the ¥1.7 trillion or so the government decided to provide to the utility, the sources said.
The assistance aimed at covering Tepco's redress payments comprises ¥1.1 trillion approved in November and additional support decided in February.
Tepco has effectively postponed compensation for real estate in areas subject to evacuation orders and advisories because of the difficulty of inspecting such properties.
A government panel responsible for drafting compensation guidelines might compile its final version as early as Friday, before the government reclassifies the hot zone layers in April.
The guidelines will set steps to accelerate real estate compensation and better support nuclear disaster victims financially by compensating for their future mental distress in lump-sum payments.
A government body set up in September to mediate compensation negotiations between Tepco and victims had received requests to review 1,243 cases by Thursday, but only 18 of them have been settled.