Gov’t eyes legal revision to permit base construction in Fukushima’s no-go zones

The central government is set to revise the Act on Special Measures for Fukushima Reconstruction and Revitalization to give a legal basis to its plan to build reconstruction bases from fiscal 2017 in “difficult-to-return” zones set up after the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. It is aiming at having the amendment enacted into law next spring after making a Cabinet decision and submitting it to a regular Diet session convening early next year. The planned revision will call for the use of central government subsidies for base construction by municipalities in case their reconstruction programs are authorized by the prime minister. The central government will undertake some work such as infrastructure improvement on behalf of municipalities. It will also include preferential tax treatment to encourage establishment of businesses in the municipalities concerned. The off-limits zones, where radiation levels are still dangerously high, are in place in parts of seven municipalities -- Minamisoma city, the towns of Namie, Futaba, Okuma and Tomioka, and the villages of Katsurao and Iitate. The national government plans to launch reconstruction base construction in fiscal 2017, beginning next April, and lift evacuation orders around five years later. But the Fukushima reconstruction law has no specific provisions regarding the difficult-to-return zones, providing no legal foundations for building rehabilitation bases. (Translated by Kyodo News)