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102 year-old suicidee - TEPCO must apologise

July 29, 2015

Fukushima family demands apology from TEPCO over suicide of 102-year-old man



FUKUSHIMA -- Relatives of a 102-year-old man who hanged himself after learning he would have to evacuate from his home village in the wake of meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant requested plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to accept its responsibility and apologize.

"I want TEPCO to think about why a person who lived to 102 years old had to take his own life and understand the value of a human life," Mieko Okubo, 62, daughter-in-law of Fumio Okubo, told a news conference at the Fukushima Prefectural Government building on July 29.

Mieko and two other relatives of Fumio Okubo filed a damages suit against TEPCO on July 29, claiming that Okubo suffered psychological distress due to the prospect of being forced to leave his home in the village of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, and that drove him to suicide. They are demanding some 60.5 million yen in the lawsuit filed with the Fukushima District Court.

According to Mieko, Okubo was born and raised in Iitate. He married and had eight children there, and on his 99th birthday nearly a hundred villagers gathered to celebrate the special day.

However his peaceful life was ruined in the nuclear disaster. On April 11, 2011, Okubo was informed about the nuclear evacuation order on TV and learned that his village would be designated as a no-go zone. Okubo told Mieko, who was watching TV with him at the time, "I don't want to leave. I've lived a bit too long." The following morning he was found hanged in his room.

"The village was everything to him. I still shed a tear when I think about the pain he must have felt," Mieko said. "I want TEPCO to admit its responsibility and apologize."

The village of Iitate is still under an evacuation order.


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