18 Mars 2017
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
MAEBASHI--A court here on March 17 held the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. accountable for the Fukushima nuclear disaster and ordered them to pay compensation to evacuees.
The ruling by the Maebashi District Court was the first in a series of group lawsuits over the nuclear accident.
The court ordered the government and TEPCO to pay a total of 38.55 million yen ($340,000) to 62 plaintiffs who evacuated to Gunma Prefecture after the disaster started to unfold at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011.
The group of 137 plaintiffs had demanded 11 million yen each in compensation.
The court accepted most of the plaintiffs’ arguments about how the government and TEPCO failed to prevent the triple meltdown at the plant.
The plaintiffs pointed out that TEPCO in May 2008 obtained an estimate of a tsunami as high as 15.7 meters that could hit the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
A wave around that height did hit the plant on March 11, 2011, knocking out power and leading to the reactor meltdowns.
The court said if the utility had installed emergency diesel electric generators on higher ground, it could have prevented the nuclear disaster.
The court also said it was possible for the government to predict the tsunami.
In its long-term estimate announced in July 2002, the government said the probability of an earthquake striking in the Japan Trench off the coast of northeastern Japan, including the sea area off the Fukushima No. 1 plant, was “about 20 percent within 30 years.”
The magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake spawned the tsunami that devastated coastal areas of the Tohoku region, including the nuclear plant.
If the government had used its regulatory powers to make TEPCO take countermeasures, such as installing seawalls, against such an event, the nuclear disaster could have been avoided, the ruling said.
The government and TEPCO argued that the long-term estimate and the May 2008 tsunami estimate were not established facts.
They also said the tsunami on March 11, 2011, was much larger than anticipated, making it impossible to prevent the nuclear accident.
Another point of dispute was whether TEPCO was paying a reasonable amount in compensation to evacuees based on intermediate guidelines compiled by a government screening panel.
TEPCO currently pays 100,000 yen a month to each person who was living in government-designated evacuation zones around the nuclear plant. The utility has also paid 40,000 yen to 720,000 yen to each person who lived outside the evacuation zones but evacuated “voluntarily.”
The plaintiffs argued that guidelines are overly simplistic and do not take into account all the damages the evacuees have suffered.
TEPCO argued that the intermediate guidelines are reasonable. It said that even if voluntary evacuees experienced anxieties or a sense of crisis over radiation exposure, their legal rights have not been infringed upon.
More than 40 percent of the plaintiffs are voluntary evacuees.
About 30 similar lawsuits involving about 12,000 people have been filed throughout the country.
March 17, 2017
Govt.,TEPCO ordered to compensate evacuees
A court in Japan has found the central government and Tokyo Electric Power Company liable for failing to prevent the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.
In a ruling on Friday, the Maebashi District Court in Gunma Prefecture ordered the government and TEPCO to pay more than 38 million yen, or about 335,000 dollars, in damages to a group of 137 evacuees.
The plaintiffs moved to Gunma Prefecture from parts of Fukushima Prefecture, including areas near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant.
They demanded 97,000 dollars in compensation each, about 13 million dollars in total, for the loss of their livelihoods and emotional distress.
The tsunami that hit northeastern Japan on March 11th, 2011, led to a triple meltdown at the plant and took out all of its power sources.
Presiding judge Michiko Hara said that both the government and TEPCO could have foreseen the tsunami based on a 2002 report by a government research agency. The report warned of a 20 percent chance of a magnitude-8 class earthquake hitting the region within 30 years.
The judge said TEPCO could easily have taken preventive measures, such as installing emergency generators on higher ground, and that the government could have ordered TEPCO to take such measures.
The case is the first to be decided among a series of suits filed by more than 12,000 people with courts in Tokyo and 17 prefectures.
Govt, Tepco ordered to pay damages
Court: State and TEPCO must compensate
A court in Japan has ordered the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company to pay damages to evacuees of the 2011 nuclear accident.
The ruling is the first among similar suits filed across the country to order compensation.
137 evacuees mainly living in Gunma Prefecture northwest of Tokyo, filed the suit. They were seeking damages for emotional distress suffered after losing their livelihoods.