Japanese Court Orders Payments To Plaintiffs Over Fukushima Disaster

Government, Tepco ordered to pay about ¥500 million in damages for Fukushima disaster

FUKUSHIMA-A court here on October 10 held the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. responsible for the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and ordered them to pay compensation to about 2,900 evacuees.

This is the third ruling in some 30 similar lawsuits nationwide and the second one recognizing the government's responsibility for damages.

A court on Tuesday ruled that the Japanese government and the operator of the nuclear power plant are liable for negligence in the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

While plaintiffs in the two previous cases were evacuees, over 80 percent of those in the Fukushima court case did not flee their homes after the accident.

All the three district court decisions so far have ordered Tepco to pay damages.

"The government's inaction in exercising its regulatory authority (to order Tepco to take safety measures) was extremely unreasonable", the judge said.




The plaintiffs claimed the government should be held liable because it was able to foresee the tsunami based on an assessment in 2002 and make Tepco take preventive measures.

In the aftermath of the quake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, the Fukushima plant had suffered the worst nuclear disaster (since the one at Chernobyl in 1986), that had displaced thousands of people and adversely affected local businesses.

The assessment, made by the government's natural disaster research promotion unit, predicted a 20 percent chance of a magnitude-8 level tsunami-triggering quake occurring along the Japan Trench in the Pacific Ocean within 30 years, including the area off Fukushima.

In 2011, an quake and tsunami caused multiple meltdowns at the nuclear power plant, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people.

The court supported the plaintiffs' argument that the disaster could have been avoided had TEPCO moved the emergency diesel generators located in its basement to a higher spot and made its reactor buildings water tight, based on a 2002 study that recommended those changes. Around 55,000 people remained evacuated both within and outside Fukushima Prefecture as of the end of August.

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