18 Mars 2016
March 18, 2016
By MANA NAGANO/ Staff Writer
FUKUSHIMA--Fukushima District Court judges inspected the houses of three evacuated plaintiffs on March 17 in connection with a lawsuit filed against the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. over the nuclear disaster.
It marked the first visit by judges to evacuation zones regarding litigation concerning the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which was caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
Called “Nariwai Sosho” (livelihood suit), the lawsuit has about 4,000 plaintiffs seeking consolation money and the restoration of their former lives that were lost because of the nuclear accident.
What was gleaned from the on-site inspections will be used as evidence in the trial.
The plaintiffs had called for the judges to visit the affected sites and hear their explanations to assess the scope of damage of the nuclear disaster.
The inspections involving about 50 people, which were closed to the media, started at 10:45 a.m. and ended around 4:30 p.m.
Three judges, including Presiding Judge Hideki Kanazawa, first visited the home of Sadatoshi Sato, a 68-year-old who raised livestock before the disaster, in Namie.
Other plaintiffs, government officials and TEPCO representatives accompanied the judges. All participants wore white protective suits and masks.
At Sato’s home, the judges viewed empty cattle sheds. Sato had been raising about 150 cattle when the nuclear accident unfolded, but most of them starved to death while he was evacuating. Sato also took the judges to the site where the dead cattle were buried.
“I want the judges to give a thoughtful ruling so that the dead cattle would rest in peace,” Sato told reporters after the inspection.
The judges also visited the homes of 67-year-old Yuji Fukuda in Futaba and a woman in Tomioka who had been operating a piano school out of her house before the nuclear accident.
Fukuda’s house is in a difficult-to-return zone about 4 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. He showed the judges his once-thriving garden. He also told them about a local store that is now desolate.
“I told the judges from the bottom of my heart that I am not the only one who has suffered,” Fukuda said. “I had wanted the judges to come sooner. But my hope has finally come true.”