N-plant victims demand compensation
Angry refugees forced from their homes near Japan's wrecked nuclear power plant have protested outside the HQ of its operator, demanding compensation.
"I can't work and that means I have no money," said Shigeaki Konno, 73, a mechanic who lived seven miles from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant before he was evacuated along with tens of thousands of others due to radiation fears.
"The talk about compensation is not concrete. We need it quickly."
The protest by about 20 small business owners from communities near the plant reflects growing public frustration with Tokyo-based Tepco's handling of the nuclear crisis.
Its president, Masataka Shimizu, and other company executives bowed in apology once again after Mr Shimizu pledged to do more to help compensate residents unable to return home or work due to the accident. Cash payments are being "readied as soon as possible," Mr Shimizu said.
He said the company "will do our utmost" to get the plant's reactors under control and curb radiation leaks that prompted the government to revise its rating of the incident to the worst possible, on a par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
Tepco manager Kensuke Takeuchi told the protesters the company was not yet prepared to give any money, but he promised to convey their demands to higher level management.
"You are eating a warm meal every day," said Mr Konno, complaining that the two pieces of bread provided daily at the evacuation centre where he is staying were not fit to be fed to dogs.
"I am not asking for anything more than I am entitled to. I just want my due," said Ichijiro Ishikawa, 69, a building worker who lived eight miles from the plant.
The government has downgraded its economic outlook for the first time in six months, saying that drops in production and consumer spending would be a drag on growth.