The government of Japan has almost doubled its estimate of costs related to the nuclear disaster at Fukushima.
In 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake off the east coast of Japan, caused a devastating tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people and caused three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant to melt down.
Originally, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) put the combined cost of decommissioning the defunct reactors and general restoration work at JPY 11 trillion (US$ 95.7 billion).
Its latest figures, however, place the total estimated cost at around JPY 21.5 trillion (US$ 188 billion), with the cost of decommissioning the ruined reactors having quadrupled to JPY 8 trillion (US$ 69.6 billion).
Along with new cost estimates, a government panel reporting on the project has called for more reparations from the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) and Fukushima Daiichi, the power companies responsible for the plant.
Tepco is now expected to bear just under JPY 16 billion (US$ 13.8 billion) of the cost, while other major utilities will shoulder JPY 3.7 trillion (US$ 32 billion) of the burden.
In a press conference, METI minister Hiroshige Seko, said, "For now, we don't expect the costs to increase further, but new developments and unforeseen factors mean there is a chance they could go higher."
He added, "Decommissioning technological innovation and a speedier clean up could help reduce costs and it is important that we put effort into that."