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10th ruling in favour of plaintiffs



Japanese court awards damages to Fukushima evacuees

March 26, 2019 (Mainichi Japan)

MATSUYAMA, Japan (Kyodo) -- A Japanese court on Tuesday ordered the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to pay a combined 27 million yen ($245,300) in damages to more than 20 people who fled from their hometowns due to the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The Matsuyama District Court awarded payments to 23 of the 25 plaintiffs, who had sought a total of 137.5 million yen in damages. In the wake of the nuclear disaster, they evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture to Ehime Prefecture, where the court is located.

The ruling marked the 10th consecutive loss for TEPCO in a series of similar damages lawsuits. The state was ordered to pay damages for the sixth time.

The plaintiffs claimed the government and the power company had failed to take proper steps to prevent the nuclear plant from being destroyed even though they were capable of foreseeing a potential disaster by 2006 based on official assessments on major earthquake and tsunami dangers.

Supporting their claim, Presiding Judge Keiko Kuboi ruled the government and the utility could have predicted the tsunami based on the assessment, released in 2002, and the plant could have withstood the massive waves had it installed watertight doors and taken other steps against flooding.

The plaintiffs said the compensation they had received from the utility is not enough, given the nuclear crisis triggered by the massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11, 2011, has separated families and destroyed community ties.

They each demanded 5.5 million yen for their psychological suffering and financial losses, including costs for moving.

The ruling was the 10th among roughly 30 similar damages suits filed across Japan against the government and the utility.

In the trial of the latest case, the government said it could not have foreseen tsunami and did not bear a responsibility to instruct the utility to take preventive measures, while TEPCO claimed it had done what it could do and said it had already paid necessary damages to those affected by the disaster.

All nine previous rulings said TEPCO must pay damages to those affected. Five of them also held the government responsible.

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