Compensating the Victims of Japan's 3-11 Fukushima Disaster
32 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2016
Date Written: 2015
Japan’s March 2011 triple disaster — first a large earthquake, followed by a massive tsunami and a nuclear meltdown — caused a devastating loss of life, damaged and destroyed property, and left hundreds of thousands of people homeless, hurt, and in need. This article looks at the effort to address the financial needs of the victims of the 3/11 disaster by examining the role of public and private actors in providing compensation, describing the types of groups and individuals for whom compensation is available, and analyzing the range of institutions through which compensation has been allocated. The story is in some ways cause for optimism — billions of dollars have been spent compensating millions of individuals and businesses, in most cases through extra-judicial channels that have minimized the need for protracted, expensive litigation. But this article also reveals a compensation structure that excludes large numbers of potential claims by privileging the losses of nuclear accident victims over those of earthquake and tsunami victims; describes a system in which those potentially eligible for compensation must navigate an overly complex institutional matrix for pursuing their claims; and discusses an increasing amount of litigation by individuals and groups within and beyond Japan that has clouded the compensation landscape. In short, post-Fukushima compensation is both laudable and lamentable, relying upon arbitrary distinctions between deserving and undeserving victims and leaving many victims unpaid and discontent, but also succeeding in managing a large number of claims.
Keywords: Torts, natural disasters, victim compensation claims, nuclear energy, Fukushima, Japan, tsunami, earthquake, damages, insurance, social insurance
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