Environmental Restoration and Conservation Agency of Japan(ERCA)

Operation of the Pollution-related Health Damage Compensation System

The Law Concerning Pollution-Related Health Damage Compensation and other Measures came into force in September 1974, in order to provide victims of pollution-related illnesses with compensation benefits, such as medical benefit, etc. This law is also aimed at enforcing the pollution health and welfare program in order to give prompt and fair protection to pollution victims.
Those eligible for the compensation are certificated patients in the designated areas I (41 areas) defined as those where"significant air pollution results in a wide outbreak of disease"and in the designated areas II (5 areas) defined as those where a clear causal relationship between pollutants and illnesses such as Minamata disease and itai-itai disease is systematically established. The compensation expenses are provided by a government subsidy and the pollution load levy and the specified levy collected from businesses operating facilities that emit substances causing air pollution.
ERCA collects the pollution load levy and the specific levy, and delivers them to the governments* of local areas where the outbreak of the pollution-related diseases has occurred.
*The local governments deliver the compensation benefits to sufferers.

The designated areas I and Pollution Load Levy

After the establishment of the compensation system, the air pollution caused by sulfur dioxide was remarkably reduced due to the progress of pollution control policy by the central and local governments, the introduction of pollution prevention facilities by industries and a general tendency to economize on energies and natural resources. On the other hand levels of pollution caused by nitrogen oxides and SPMs continued to fail to meet environmental quality standard, but the character of air pollution underwent a great change and air pollution was no longer thought to be the main cause of diseases such as chronic bronchitis as before.
Based on this situation, the Compensation Law was revised in 1988, the designation on 41 areas was cancelled and a new certification of sufferers was completed. But ERCA has been paying compensation benefits to certificated patients.
The pollution load levy is based on a self-assessment and -payment system as well as national taxes such as corporation tax and income tax. Accordingly, businesses that have been emitting or have emitted pollutants and meet the prescribed conditions are supposed to declare and pay the pollution load levy to ERCA.

The designated areas II and Specified Levy

We have 5 designated areas II at present, as shown in the figure. Pollution sufferers are certificated when the causal relationship between their diseases and the pollutants are confirmed.
The certified patients in the designated areas II are provided with the compensation benefits and the pollution health and welfare programs as well as those in the designated areas I. All the expenses are paid by the businesses operating the specified facilities that have emitted the pollutants.
The businesses that are obliged to pay the specified levy are limited, so ERCA fixes the amount of the specified levy and notices it to the businesses.

Designated areas and designated diseases

1)Compensation Benefit Program

ERCA provides 7 types of compensation benefits to certificated patient:

  1. medical expenses
  2. disability compensation
  3. survivors' compensation
  4. survivors' lump-sum compensation
  5. child compensation allowance
  6. medical care allowance
  7. funeral expenses

2)Pollution Health and Welfare Program

ERCA carries out 5 types of pollution health and welfare programs, in order to restore, maintain and improve health:

  1. rehabilitation program
  2. climatotherapy program
  3. medical care equipment supply program
  4. home healthcare training program
  5. subsidy program for influenza inoculation
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