One of the many outrageous scandals surrounding the Fukushima nuclear crisis is the way the people of Japan have had to bail out TEPCO, the utility whose negligence allowed the accident to happen.
Just this week we’ve seen how TEPCO are refusing to repay the 10.5 billion yen ($106 million) it cost the Japanese government to conduct decontamination work around the damaged Fukushima reactors.
Who will pay if TEPCO continue to refuse to honour their obligations? The Japanese people, of course. When it comes to nuclear power, it’s always the people who pay and the companies that profit.
The Japanese people have already paid out 1 trillion yen to keep TEPCO afloat thanks to its incompetence at Fukushima. Further taxpayer trillions are budgeted to support the 160,000 victims who cannot go home. Yet the disaster was so huge those trillions are nowhere near enough to help people recover what they have lost.
However, this fight against the unwillingness to face responsibility is not over. Greenpeace continues to press for nuclear companies to be made fully liable for any accidents they cause.
Last week, together with other NGOs, Greenpeace Japan campaigners presented a proposal to amend the Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damage to the Chair of a government committee examining potential changes to the law in Japan.
They demanded changes that would give priority to protection of victims, which is currently stated as one of its double objectives with promotion of nuclear business. They also emphasised minimizing the burden on taxpayers while at the same time adequately compensating victims. The stockholders and creditors related to the Fukushima nuclear power plant must be liable for damages before the people are made to pay via increased tax or electricity charges.
Not only that but, nuclear reactors must be made subject to the Product Liability Law. This means the manufacturer of a nuclear reactor, along with all other companies supplying materials for it, must be held liable for damages above everyone else. Are you listening, General Electric, Hitachi and Toshiba? Where has your ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ gone?
Basically, it’s the “if you break it, you bought it” principle. It’s about holding those who have been closely involved accountable and not punishing the innocent. Who could argue against that? The people of Japan have suffered enough since the events of March 11 2011 without having their pockets picked as well.