Tuesday 6 December 2011


Dear Friends
Applying for compensation is in full swing. A manual (a thick tome) written by a national legal association is best seller in the main bookshop in town. At the company we're preparing our application for the period to end August but we're getting lawyers in to do it. It's very complex and there are big sums of money involved. We can't claim for sales lost due to the earthquake, for example if a factory was closed for several months for repairs to earthquake damage, but we can claim for sales lost to businesses which were evacuated from the 30km zone, or for sales lost due to the nuclear accident - boxes to pack fruit and vegetables,  boxes used in our shiitake packing business, and loss of business to some industrial and food producers.

The word on everyone's lips is fuhyo higai  風評被害 which according to an online dictionary translates as 'financial damage caused by harmful rumours or misinformation'. Or in other words, this blight to the Fukushima brand.

The forms have been simplified but still too difficult for smallholder Endo-san to cope with. He sells about 200,000 yen's worth of persimmons every year, enough to pay his costs, but doesn't have receipts and can't cope with the paperwork. Good news then today that a government committee has decided that we're all going to get compensation. Up until now only those evacuated in areas where radiation levels amounted to over 20 mSv/year could claim. But now the area has been extended to cover three quarters of the prefecture, 1.5 million people, Koriyama included. So I'm going to get 80,000 yen ( that's 657 GBP or $1,026 ) for the period from March to end of December. Pregnant women and children under 18 are to get 400,000 yen each ( 3,288 GBP or $5,132).

From the start the prefecture has been demanding compensation for all, especially  those who evacuated voluntarily. It's been a long struggle to get some recognition for the stress we've suffered and I'm glad those who left are eligible too. This kind of stress and fear affects people in different ways, it's very subjective, so you can't blame people for leaving. And living in two places is expensive.

More good news for Endo-san. At last testing has become available for small scale growers and he took his persimmons along to the city office to get tested. He hasn't had the full results yet but had a phone call to say they were OK and he can sell them if he wants. I immediately sent a box off to my friend in Osaka who loves persimmons. She told me a local women's group she's a member of is taking orders for Fukushima apples. Good work.

And following on from the Dalai Lama, Yoko Ono visited a junior school in Fukushima city today. What fame. She told us we had to be strong as the world was watching and she hugged every child in the class.

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