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January 2015

Written by: Joel Rheuben (Herbert Smith Freehills, Brussels) and Luke Nottage

It has been almost four years since the devastating triple disaster comprising a magnitude-9 earthquake, tsunami and meltdown of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant struck northeastern Japan on 11 March 2011. While a variety of programmes exist to clean up serious nuclear contamination and assist residents of the affected areas, it is only victims of the third of these disasters – tens of thousands of evacuees (even now) as well as many affected local businesses – who have access to a comprehensive scheme of compensation, administered by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (“TEPCO”). Claimants for compensation have three options for the resolution of claims: direct negotiation with TEPCO, mediation via the specially established “Dispute Resolution Centre for Nuclear Damage Compensation” (the “Dispute Resolution Centre”), and civil action under the Nuclear Damages Compensation Law (No 147 of 1961). Each avenue is outlined in turn below, based on an unfootnoted but updated version of our article published in October 2013 at pp126-31 of the Asian Dispute Review (supported by HKIAC and several other arbitral bodies) under the main title of “Now that the (radioactive) dust has settled”.

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