As Prime Minister Noda plans to ask China if he can borrow pandas for the disaster recovery in Miyagi, Minister of Economy Yukio Edano wants to give gift certificates to all people in Fukushima as compensation for the nuclear accident.
Gift certificates are to be used only within Fukushima Prefecture, in order to promote economic recovery of Fukushima.
Fukushima Minpo reported the news only in its print version (12/23/2011). Here's partial translation from the image of the article (the article image is posted on my Japanese blog):
Idea to distribute gift certificates to all Fukushima residents, as compensation for the residents who are not covered by the national government compensation scheme. 42 billion yen from the fund to be used?
Under the new guideline set by the council for the nuclear damage disputes under the Ministry of Education and Science, there are municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture being excluded from the government compensation scheme. Yukio Edano, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, disclosed the plan on December 22 to introduce a new support scheme in early January using the fund for emergency countermeasures for nuclear damages. Edano held a talk with Yuhei Sato, Governor of Fukushima, and his comment was in response to Sato's request. According to the government source, the national government is coordinating the ministries and agencies involved in order to put money in the emergency countermeasures fund that the Fukushima prefectural government hopes to set up, and [using the money in the fund] to distribute gift certificates to all Fukushima residents. However, there are still issues of how to reconcile this scheme with the compensation guideline, and the situation remains still fluid. The Fukushima prefectural government says "The scheme is one of the things being considered", and plans to press for compensation money [for all Fukushima residents].
According to the government source, the national government expects to pour 86 billion yen [US$1.1 billion] to the emergency countermeasures fund, and plans to use 42 billion yen [US$537 million] from the fund to issue gift certificates. The gift certificates can be used inside Fukushima Prefecture only, so that the local economy is revitalized by "local products, local consumption". The idea came up after the Ministry of Finance expressed reluctance to pay cash compensation to the residents who wouldn't be covered under the new guideline for compensation for voluntary evacuation. Instead of cash compensation, all Fukushima residents would get the gift certificates.
Let's see, Fukushima's population is (or was) slightly over 2 million. Under the scheme, each resident would get about 21,000 yen, or about US$270.
Meanwhile, the Japan's staunch ally United States's TSA confiscates a cupcake from a passenger because the frost on the cupcake was too "gel-like", posing a security risk.