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No exemption for TEPCO

July 20, 2012


Court backs gov't decision not to exempt TEPCO over nuclear disaster



TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Tokyo District Court ruled Thursday it was legitimate for the government not to apply an exemption, which relieves utilities of compensation payments over nuclear accidents caused by natural disasters, to Tokyo Electric Power Co. over last year's nuclear crisis.

In handing down the ruling, presiding Judge Masatoshi Murakami said, "The government's interpretation of the exemption in an extremely limited way was reasonable to some extent."

The lawsuit, filed by an individual shareholder of Tokyo Electric, focused on whether the government should have applied the exemption to the utility, known as TEPCO, in connection with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The law on compensation for nuclear accidents includes a waiver clause under which the government, rather than a nuclear power plant operator, would pay compensation for damage caused by a nuclear accident resulting from "an unusually huge natural disaster or a social upheaval."

Murakami said, "There are various interpretations (of the clause) and it is difficult to draw a primary meaning."

Given that the purpose of the law is to protect disaster victims, the government's understanding that the exemption should be applicable to absolutely unimaginable situations is reasonable, the judge added.

The court rejected the demand for state compensation of 1.5 million yen made by the plaintiff, who argued the government's refusal to apply the exemption caused a decline in TEPCO's stock price.


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