TOKYO — Japanese consumers would be on the hook for nuclear damage payments and earthquake reconstruction costs under two tax plans the government is considering, officials said Tuesday.
The Kyodo News agency said one plan would raise electricity customers’ charges to help cover claims against Tokyo Electric Power Co. from people who suffer losses from the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. The increase would come in the form of a higher electricity source-development tax, which is collected from customers as part of their electricity bills.
TEPCO must pay people forced to evacuate from the region surrounding the nuclear plant, but officials said the power company may not be able to pay all the claims.
“While TEPCO will be primarily responsible for damages payments, the government may have to support the firm,” Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda told a press conference Tuesday. “We are considering taxation, the electricity charge and other measures to enable the government to shoulder some of the burden.”
A second plan would raise to 8 percent Japan’s current 5 percent consumption tax for about three years, Kyodo said. The extra $273 billion ($22.5 trillion yen) would pay for reconstruction of the country’s northeastern region, said senior lawmakers in the Democratic Pary of Japan.