【Report】The International Conference on “Nuclear Disaster Compensation: Building an Anticipatory, Participatory, and Transnational Framework in East Asia” was held!

On Saturday, August 6, 2022, a conference on “Nuclear Disaster Compensation: Building an Anticipatory, Participatory, and Transnational Frame in East Asia” was held and cohosted by the Asia-Japan Research Institute of Ritsumeikan University and the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs of Northwestern University, based on their research cooperation agreement.

The global multilingual forum Meridian 180, which has been operated by the Buffett Institute, was started in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, and the resulting research was published as Hirokazu Miyazaki ed., Nuclear Compensation: Lessons from Fukushima(with Meridian 180 Forums, Interviews with Experts and Intellectuals) in 2021. (Please access the e-book version here.)

At this international conference, Participants discussed the steps for future research projects based on the results of research.
The participants were:

Yuki Ashina (Shizuoka Bar Association)
Hirokazu Miyazaki(Northwestern University)
Hiroyuki Mori (Ritsumeikan University)
Ryo Morimoto (Princeton University)
Annelise Riles (Northwestern University)
Takao Suami (Waseda University)
Satsuki Takahashi (Hosei University)
Masafumi Yokemoto (Osaka Metropolitan University)
Dai Yokomizo (Nagoya University)
Ryoichi Yoshimura (Ritsumeikan University)


At the beginning of the conference, Professor Miyazaki raised the need for international discussion on compensation liability in preparation for future accidents, due to the huge amount of compensation liability caused by the Fukushima nuclear accident. Specifically, he pointed out the need to build discussions in Japan and East Asia to create a framework in which diverse stakeholders can participate.

In response to this issue, many of comments were provided from various perspectives by the participants.
Some of the main points of interest are as follows:

・In modern law, it is a principle to compensate for damages based on the drawing of a line. Was it possible for the victims of the nuclear accident to regain their livelihoods?
・How should we consider the division of victims caused by differences in the amount of damages and the compensation?
・From the point of view of local industries, there are many cases that damages caused by nuclear accident are not covered by compensation, even though those damages directly affect local people’s livelihoods. Especially, where fisheries are concerned, it is impossible to predict the future damage caused by further discharge of treated water into the ocean. This is directly related to the problem of how to think about future reparations in addition to the past.
・It is relatively easy to convert the cost of evacuation into money, but the damage caused by radioactivity, such as anxiety and fear, which is difficult to evaluate in terms of money, is also very large. In addition, Japan focuses on compensation for individual damages, but it is difficult to compensate for damage to the entire region or community due to the nuclear accident. In the United States, local governments often file lawsuits for damages for community destruction caused by pollution, and in Japan, the city of Hakodate is seeking an injunction to shut down the Oma nuclear power plant based on the personal rights of local governments.
・Since International treaties on nuclear energy are primarily to control nuclear weapons and promote the safe use of nuclear energy there is lack of legislation on disaster compensation. In addition, current international treaties have no provisions for state liability, not enough major countries have signed up, the claim process must be borne by the victim, and environmental damage is not included in the assessment.
・Since the effects of damage caused by the nuclear power plant accident are long-term and widespread, it is necessary to discuss compensation from the perspectives of generations and ecology.
・Since the “limits of litigation” and the “limits of compensation” are different, we should consider various methods which provide rulings on liability beyond the content of civil lawsuits, such as the Pollution Coordination Commission (Administrative Committee) in Japan.
・The idea of environmental rights encompasses the restoration of livelihoods through the restoration of materials. Therefore, it should be important for nuclear compensation to consider this in earnest.
・Regarding participatory discussions on compensation liability, there is a problem of how far rational judgments and agreements can be made because the amount of damage caused by an accident cannot be estimated in advance. For example, people’s way of thinking can be different depending on how much the electric power company’s compensation amounts will affect the increase in electric power charges.

In this international conference, researchers who are active at the forefront of various fields related to the issue of nuclear compensation gathered and discussed cutting-edge issues. The results will provide a platform for discussing future nuclear issues from an international perspective, and AJI will also be actively involved in this discussion.