Sunday, January 8, 2012

Free Medical Care for Children inside Fukushima Prefecture May Be Offered

as a means to halt the population decrease in Fukushima Prefecture. In other words, free medical care for children is offered as an incentive for the residents to stay put instead of moving out of Fukushima to escape high radiation contamination. It is being demanded by the Fukushima prefectural government.

Why is Fukushima demanding it? Because the population decrease means less subsidy money coming from the national government, which is based on the population. Less money, less power.

Even then, the national government balks at the potential cost for free medical care in Fukushima as too high.

How much money are they talking about? 10 billion yen (US$130 million) per year.

For your reference, Japan's special budget for energy (nuclear, practically) development is about 340 billion yen (US$4.4 billion) per year, whose funding comes from about 110 yen per month surcharge per account on electrical bills for the consumers. (If you read Japanese, here's Tokyo Shinbun's article on this special budget, 9/30/2011, saying half the money goes to organizations set up specifically to receive the retiring bureaucrats and politicians - amakudari, or "descending from heaven".)

This offer is not extended to children who are now out of Fukushima, or to children residing in other prefectures in Tohoku and Kanto regions with high radiation hot spots and significant radiation contamination.

From Asahi Shinbun Digital Version (1/9/2012):

野田佳彦首相は8日、東京電力福島第一原発事故の「収束宣言」をしてから初めて福島県を訪れた。首相は、県内の18歳以下の医療費無料化について「大変重要な課題と受け止めさせていただいた」と、検討する考えを記者団に表明。政権内で調整していく方針だ。

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda visited Fukushima Prefecture on January 8 for the first time since he declared the end of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. Concerning the free medical care for anyone under the age of 18 in the prefecture, the prime minister said, "I take it as a very important task", indicating to the press corp that he may consider examining the issue. It will be coordinated within the administration.

 18歳以下の医療費無料化は、福島県が求めている。放射線被曝(ひばく)への懸念から子どもが県外に避難しているため、人口の流出を防ぐねらいがある。この日、野田首相と会談した佐藤雄平県知事が改めて要請した。

Free medical care for people under the age of 18 is demanded by the Fukushima prefectural government. Since many children have evacuated from Fukushima for the radiation exposure concern, the plan is aimed at halting the population decrease. Governor Yuhei Sato, who met with Prime Minister Noda on January 8, pressed for the plan again.

 経費は年間100億円弱と試算。だが、政府の復興対策本部は「線引きが難しく、風邪なども含めれば財政負担も多額になる」(幹部)と否定的だ。8日の福島復興再生協議会で、首相は「政府内にもいろいろな意見がある。難しい問題だ」とも述べたという。

The cost is estimated to be slightly less than 10 billion yen per year. However, the executive staff of the reconstruction headquarters of the national government are negative on the idea, saying "It's hard to draw a line. If illnesses like common cold are included, the fiscal burden [to the national government] would be [too] large." In the meeting of the Council for Fukushima Reconstruction on January 8, the prime minister was heard saying, "There are various opinions within the government. It is a difficult problem."

Ah, Sir Humphrey Appleby. Noda will consider considering the plan. When someone presses him a few weeks later, he will say it is a difficult problem that needs more time. A month later if someone still asks, he will say he will consider setting up an expert committee to consider it. When someone else asks him a few months later, he will say since it is so important, he will consider asking the experts to consider setting up an expert committee to consider it, and so on.

It is amusing if people's health and lives aren't at stake.

Even the scheming mayor of Futaba-machi, where Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is located, is frustrated with the non-response from the Noda government. During the Council meeting, he said directly to Prime Minister Noda, "Do you consider us the residents of Futaba-machi as Japanese citizens?" according to Yomiuri Shinbun (1/9/2012).

9 comments:

Maju said...

Doesn't Japan have universal free medical care as in Europe (or Cuba)? I'm surprised to find out (however I was also surprised years ago when I knew that people in "communist" China had to pay for something as basic as medical attention, here taken for granted).

A risk anyhow is that the state does that to keep an even tighter on what health information permeates.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@Maju, no it does not. It's basically a co-pay system with a lot of exceptions (certain costs are not covered). Quality of care, mediocre at best.

Anonymous said...

To be precise it is "universal" coverage, with 70% of medical costs covered by the state, excluding elective procedures. For certain chronic health issues and for health issues which have high costs of care, the state pays more. Quality of care is debatable. Some consider the standard here to be high. I put universal in quotes because it is possible to drop out of the system if you do not pay the premiums (and are not listed as a dependent under someone else's coverage).

kintaman said...

What does it matter unless they have a cure for cancer and other radiation related illnesses?

Anonymous said...

Adults must pay to be treated for radiation sickness and health problems related to contamination? This is getting so much worst than Chernobyl, worst than anything actually, even worst for Japan finance. It will lead to longer and never ending health related problems with all the related financial costs. Better treat people now than let it poison a whole population and their descent.

Anonymous said...

Again, another strong move to make everyone think that the problem is only in Fukushima! What about the sick peoples from other prefectures? Unacceptable discrimination as well for someone living in Gumma or Yokohama and has develop problems from irradiation (internal or external).

Anonymous said...

"Adults must pay to be treated for radiation sickness and health problems related to contamination?" No, if illness is the result of another party, you can get compensation from that party.

Anonymous said...

Another party? You mean TEPCO? Good luck.

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