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Japan to help Tepco pay nuclear compensation

Japan to help Tepco pay nuclear compensation
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Two months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan’s government says it is to help the plant’s operators bear the burden of compensating victims.

Naoto Kan’s administration has agreed to set up a fund, with taxpayers’ money. The move should also help power utility Tepco avoid financial collapse.

Financial expert Shinichi Ichikawa of Credit Suisse said it was important to safeguard a stable energy supply, adequately compensate victims and not to shake up financial markets.

The big money plan staves off investors’ fears of Tepco’s woes playing havoc with Japan’s financial markets. But bank shares fell amid uncertainty about the eventual cost to utilities.

The fishing port of Kesennuma has paid a heavy price for March’s earthquake and tsunami. Their livelihoods is in ruins and fishermen like Wataru Satou feel abandoned. He says he is not expecting compensation.

Even if payments do reach those struggling to recover in Kesennuma, the future looks bleak.

“The biggest problem right now is the nuclear disaster,” said fish market manager Masato Onadera. “We cannot export the fish. The government will have to help.”

Outside Kesennuma, one public concern is that the financial burden of payouts to victims will lead to higher electricity prices.