The Assistance for Children and Nuclear Disaster Victims Act became a law in June 2012. It is a fundamental law designed to assist children and adults who have been affected by the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. This act is remarkable on two grounds. (1) It grants evacuees rights to provision of transport, housing, education, employment and public services, regardless of whether evacuation has been compulsory or voluntary. (2) The act also ensuring support of their lives and medical service at reduced cost without requiring evidence of causality relationship to radiation. Other sorts of support are also available for both evacuees and non-evacuees, such as education, food safety and measures to minimise and recuperate from radiation exposure. In addition, children separated from close family members due to radiation related evacuation are to be compensated.
Despite the enactment of the law in 2012, these policies to support the children and victims have not yet been implemented. This is going to be the most urgent task for the newly elected government to reflect those ideas onto their practical policy measures. The citizens' support is also vital for the act to be fully realised.
The full text of the Assistance for Children and Nuclear Disaster Victims Act
Act concerning the promotion of measures to provide living support to the Victims, including the children who were affected by the TEPCO Nuclear Accident in order to protect and support their lives (Act Number 48 of the 27th of June 2012)
Given that, following the accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant which resulted from the Tohoku- Pacific Ocean Earthquake on the 11th March 2011 (hereinafter referred to as the "TEPCO Nuclear Accident") radioactive materials have spread widely, and that because the risk of radiation from the radioactive materials on human health is not fully understood scientifically, those who live in or used to live in areas where radiation exceeds a certain threshold and those who have been forced to evacuate these areas under the instructions of the Government as well as those in similar circumstances (hereinafter referred to as the "Victims"), are concerned about their health and are forced to bear the burden in their everyday lives, it is now necessary to provide support to the Victims and pay special attention to supporting children who have been affected, the Act sets out the underlying principles for the measures relating to provide support for living for the Victims with special attention to children (hereinafter referred to as "Victim Living Support Measures") and promote Victim Living Support Measures to protect and support the Victims with the aim of freeing the Victims from fear and helping them to gain stability in their lives.
Victim Living Support Measures must be implemented while accurate information is being provided in relation to the disaster situation caused by TEPCO Nuclear Accident and the recovery from the disaster.
2. Victim Living Support Measures must ensure that the Victims will be supported properly regardless of whether each Victim decides to move to the area where support will be provided under Article 8(1) of this Act, moves to other areas, or returns to the areas they inhabited before the evacuation, so that the Victim can make their own decision freely.
3. In relation to Victim Living Support Measures, maximum endeavours must be made to be able to promptly alleviate the Victims' health concerns relating to internal and external exposure to radiation caused by TEPCO Nuclear Accident.
4. In preparing Victim Living Support Measures, due consideration must be given to ensure that the Victims shall not be unreasonably discriminated against.
5. In preparing Victim Living Support Measures, considering the fact that children (including foetuses) are more susceptible to the health effects of radiation, special consideration must be given to children and pregnant women which will include, inter alia, reducing the amount of radiation and ensuring that their health is managed at any cost with a view to prevent any damage to their health.
6. Given the likelihood that the effect of the radiation due to the TEPCO Nuclear Accident will persist for a long time, Victim Living Support Measures must be carried out without fail as long as there is a need to provide support to the Victims.
(Responsibilities of the State)
Given that the State is socially responsible for protecting people's lives, bodies and properties from nuclear disasters and is responsible for having promoted a nuclear energy policy so far, in accordance with the basic principles of the preceding Article, the State has the responsibility to develop comprehensive Victim Living Support Measures and to implement the measures.
(Legislative Measures) Article 4
The Government must take any measures including legislative measures or financial measures required to implement Victim Living Support Measures.
(Basic Policies) Article 5
In accordance with the basic principles set out in Article 2, the Government shall formulate basic policies concerning Victim Living Support Measures (hereinafter referred to as "Basic Policies").
2. Basic Policies shall prescribe the following matters:
(1) basic policy concerning the promotion of
Victim Living Support Measures
(2) matters relating to the Support Target
Areas set out in Article 8(1)
(3) basic matters relating to Victim Living
Support Measures (including matters relating to the plans necessary for the promotion of Victim Living Support Measures)
(4) in addition to those listed in the preceding provision (3), important matters concerning Victim Living Support Measures
3. In formulating Basic Policies, the Government shall take measures necessary to reflect in their contents the opinions of the residents of the areas affected by the TEPCO Nuclear Accident and those who have been evacuated from the affected areas.
4. After formulating Basic Policies, the Government must submit them to the Diet and publish them without any delay.
5. The preceding two provisions shall apply mutatis mutandis to a change in the Basic Policies.
(Research on the status of pollution)
In order to ensure the effective implementation of living support for the Victims, the State shall carry out detailed research on the status of pollution caused by the radioactive materials released by the TEPCO Nuclear Accident for each type of radioactive material on an ongoing basis by taking into account the nature of the radioactive materials which might have been released by the TEPCO Nuclear Accident.
2. So as to assist the Victims' decisions as stated in Article 2(2), the State shall predict potential incidents of radioactive contamination based on the results of the research set out in the preceding provision and the results of research concerning the dynamics of radioactive materials in the environment.
3. The State shall publish the results of the research set out in Article 6(1) and the results of the predictions set out in the preceding provision from time to time.
(Continuous and rapid implementation of decontamination)
Based on the results of the research set out in Article 6(1), the State shall take necessary measures to rapidly and continuously decontaminate soil affected by radioactive materials.
2. In implementing the preceding provision, the State shall give due consideration to implementing decontamination of the soil particularly rapidly in areas where children's residences, schools, nurseries are situated and in other places where children are usually present (including routes usually taken by children) and also in areas where pregnant women reside or are usually present.
(Assistance to the Victims residing in the Support Target Areas)
In order to support Victims residing in the Support Target Areas (areas where the level of radiation is below that which will require the Government to order evacuation, but above a certain threshold - same meaning hereinafter), the State shall take certain measures to provide medical assistance, support to children's schooling, assistance to local efforts to decrease the amount of radiation and the reduction of the burden on their lives, maintenance of physical and mental health through outdoor activities, for example, as well as providing support for children who live apart from their families, and any other necessary measures.
2. The measures set out in the preceding provision relating to the support to children's schooling shall include the provision of additional tutoring for children who had a break in learning at school and the provision of opportunities for outdoor exercise for the children who have difficulty exercising outside.
3. The measures set out in the Article 8(1) concerning the safety and peace of mind for food at home and in schools, shall include the provision of equipment to inspect radioactive materials at joint kitchen facilities for school meals.
4. The measures set out in the Article 8(1) concerning the reduction of radiation and reduction of the burden on the Victims' lives shall include the measures such as decontamination of the soil contaminated by radioactive materials by children's guardians, inspection of radioactive materials at school meals, and the support for these measures shall also include provision of dispatching experts who can provide professional advice and information based on the latest scientific knowledge.
(Assistance to the Victims living in areas outside of the Target Support Areas)
In order to support the Victims who have moved from Target Support Areas and live in areas other than Target Support Areas, the State shall take measures such as supporting the Victims to move from Target Support Areas, securing housing at the destination, supporting the learning of the children at the destination, supporting employment at the destination, assisting the Victims to receive the services provided by the local government at the destination without any difficulty, maintenance of the relationship with the local government in the Target Support Areas, supporting the children who live apart from their families, and any other necessary measures.
(Assistance to the Victims returning from areas outside the Target Support Areas)
In order to support the Victims mentioned in the preceding Article who are moving back to the areas where they used to or those who are in similar circumstances, the State shall take measures such as supporting the move to the said areas, securing the housing at the said areas, supporting employment at the said areas, assisting the Victim to receive the services by the local governments at the said areas without any difficulty, supporting the children who live apart from their families, and any other necessary measures.
(Assistance to the Victims who have been evacuated from the Evacuation Areas)
In order to support the Victims who have been evacuated from the areas that are covered by instructions by the Government concerning evacuation, the State shall take measures such as ensuring specific nuclear operators (in accordance with Article 3(1) of the Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damages (Act Number 147 of 1951), the nuclear operators (as defined in Article 2(3) of the act) who are liable to pay compensation for the damages caused by TEPCO Nuclear Accident) pay compensation properly, assisting children who live apart from their families and any other necessary measures.
2. In order to support the Victims who are returning to the areas where they used to live before the said evacuation as set out in the preceding provision, the State shall take measures to conform to the measures set forth in the preceding provision.
(Providing information on measures)
The State shall endeavour to establish systems to provide necessary information to the Victims concerning the concrete measures to be taken in relation to the measures set out in Articles 8 to 11.
(Research on the health effects of radiation, and the provision of health care)
In order to clarify the situation of exposure to radiation caused by the TEPCO Nuclear Accident, the State shall take measures such as estimating the amount of radiation exposure, evaluation of the amount of radiation exposure by carrying out effective inspections and any other necessary measures.
2. The State shall take necessary measures in relation to implementing periodic health screenings of the Victims and any other research on health effects of radiation caused by the TEPCO Nuclear Accident,
In this case, in relation to those who have lived as children in the areas where radiation above a certain threshold has been detected (including those whose mothers have lived in such areas while they were foetuses) and those in similar circumstances, the measures shall be carried out while these individuals are alive.
3. In relation to the medical expenses to be borne by Victims who are children or pregnant women (excluding medical care relating to injury or illness not caused by exposure to radiation caused by the TEPCO Nuclear Accident), the State shall take measures which are necessary to reduce the financial burden or any other measures relating to the provision of medical care to the Victims.
(Reflection of opinion)
In order to contribute to the proper implementation of the measures set out in Articles 8 to 13, the State shall reflect the opinions of the Victims within the specific contents of the said measures and shall take necessary measures to ensure that the procedures of determining the said contents are transparent.
(Research and dissemination of the results)
In order to promote the research and development concerning the impact of low level radiation on human health (hereinafter referred to as "Research"), the State shall carry out Research itself, promote Research to be carried out by the private sector and take necessary measures to disseminate the results of Research.
(Training of individuals involved in medical care and Research)
In order to train a broad range of individuals who are engaged in providing medical care to those who have been exposed to radiation and those engaged in Research, the State shall take necessary measures.
In order to promote effective and efficient implementation of Research, the State shall collaborate with foreign governments and international organisations which have advanced knowledge of the impact of low level radiation on human health and shall take any other necessary measures.
(Understanding of the people)
To promote better public understanding of radiation and Victim Living Support Measures, the State shall take measures to provide opportunities to learn the impact of radiation on human health and the methods of effective protection from radiation through school and social education.
(Coordination with Damages)
The State shall seek reimbursement from specific nuclear operators for the costs required to implement Victim Living Support Measures.
1. This Act shall come into force as from the date of promulgation.
2. The State shall review the areas that are subject to the Target Support Area every year based on the results of the investigation as set out in Article 6, paragraph 1 or any other research pertaining to the amount of radiation.