(Reuters) - Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), the owner of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, last month began accepting victims’ applications for compensation, but the complex procedures have for many become a source of more grief.
After claimants have read a 160-page instruction manual, they then have to fill in a 60-page form and attach receipts for items including lodging, transportation and medical costs.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on Tuesday that about 100 lawyers and experts would be sent to temporary housing complexes to help evacuees go through the application process.
Here are some facts about how victims of the nuclear disaster will be compensated.
To receive compensation over the nuclear disaster, victims can apply to Tepco directly or seek mediation by a third-party group.
They can sue the utility, though there have been only a handful of cases so far.
It is now accepting compensation application forms from evacuees and businesses for the five months to end-August.
After this, Tepco plans to accept claims at an interval of every three months. It is unclear until when this will last.
Nuclear compensation claims against it for the year to next March are likely to be about 3.6 trillion yen ($46.5 billion) according to a government panel calculation. Some analysts estimate payments could be as high as $130 billion.
The troubled utility is seeking help from a taxpayer-funded bailout body to foot the cost. It must submit a business restructuring plan and win government approval by the end of this month in order to receive funds from this body.
Those forced to evacuate are eligible for compensation covering lost income, psychological suffering and costs for transportation and lodging. It is unclear whether and how individuals who left voluntarily would be compensated.
In the case of those forced to flee, individuals would be paid 5,000 yen per person for transportation within the same prefecture. They would receive up to 8,000 yen per day for hotel expenses and 5,000 yen to cover decontamination efforts to deal with radiation exposure.
A typical family of four where the husband was the sole breadwinner making 270,000 yen a month would be paid about 4.5 million yen, including 2.8 million yen for psychological suffering, Tepco said.
Property damage and other claims that will take longer to assess will be dealt with at a later date, which some experts say is problematic as this is often the biggest asset for individuals.
Prior to the first round of compensation, the utility has handed out about 52 billion yen in temporary payments to 56,400 households and an additional 43 billion to individuals for fees they had paid to be evacuated.
It sent out application forms to some 80,000 individuals but have only received 7,100 requests for compensation as of October7.
Businesses can be compensated for lost profits and any additional costs occurring from the nuclear disaster. Such businesses include stores, staffing services, forestries, manufacturers and tourism businesses.
Most businesses will be compensated for lost profits, which will be calculated by comparing the profits for the five months after the nuclear accident to end-August and what they have made in the same period in the recent years.
Businesses will also be reimbursed for extra costs related to the disaster such as radiation tests.
Damage to property and other assets will be dealt with later.
Tepco has paid about 8.2 billion yen to small and mid-sized companies as temporary compensation.
The utility sent out about 10,000 application forms to businesses in and near Fukushima. Only 300 have been returned so far. Because of the extent of the impact of the disaster across Japan, about 300,000 businesses are expected to make claims.
Farmers and fishermen will be compensated for lost profits and any additional fees they had to pay.
For those who were operating within 30 kilometers from the plant, where people were forced to or advised to evacuate, representative groups are negotiating with Tepco on compensation.
Tepco has paid about 21.8 billion yen to farmers and 3.6 billion yen to fishermen in temporary compensation. ($1 = 77.365 Japanese Yen)
Reporting by Yoko Kubota, Editing by Jonathan Thatcher and Joseph Radford