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Victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster to get fair and prompt justice? Investigation by Tsutomu Kirishima

Victims of Fukushima nuclear power plant accident issue a complaint class action against US based General Electric

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While a trial asking for the responsibility of the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident that occurred throughout the country, Japanese plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit in the US court pursuing the responsibility of US nuclear reactor manufacturers. At trial in the United States, the amount of compensation may exceed tens of billions to one trillion yen (upper costs are nearly 9 billion dollars) . Will it lead to relief of the victims? Journalist Tsutomu Kirishima investigated.

* * *

A complaint was filed in the United States District Court in Boston, Massachusetts in mid-November 2017. In the plaintiff column of the 49-page complaint written in English as “request for class action suit and jury trial”, three people living in Fukushima prefecture and Ibaraki prefecture and six corporations have names. The Defendant is General Electric Company (GE) headquartered in Boston.

The complaint submitted is here

GE is a manufacturer involved in the design, manufacturing and installation of nuclear reactors for TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. In the nuclear power plant accident on March 11, 2011, the nuclear reactor could not be cooled from the power loss due to the tsunami, and the 1,3 and 4 units exploded (NOTE unit 2 also exploded arclight2011) and led to meltdown. The Plaintiff argued that

“GE has been involved in the design, manufacture, and maintenance of nuclear reactors that caused meltdown, but has no responsibility for economic losses due to the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident.”

He is seeking compensation from the company for huge damage in the accident.

Although the claim amount is not written in the complaint, the local newspaper in Boston reported that “a class action suit of 56 billion yen against GE who designed the problematic destroyed reactors”.

Specific problems to mention are poor design of the nuclear reactor and negligence on installation.

In the 1960’s, which was the dawn of the nuclear industry, “GE designed a small, cheap reactor to set costs at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to reduce costs”.

Initially, the nuclear reactor building that should be built 35 meters above sea level was

“grounded by GE’s seawater pump so that water can not be pumped up to this height, and it was set at 10 meters above sea level.This is the cause of the tsunami damage, It has been pointed out. “

In addition, GE said that it was the responsibility of the nuclear accident, saying “Failure to install a safety device such as an independent backup power supply resulted in meltdown and the release of radioactivity.”

In fact, it is known that the Mark I reactor set up at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was of low safety.

 Mr. Dale Bridenbaugh, who was involved in the design of the nuclear reactor as a former GE engineer, resigned GE with two colleagues in danger of safety in 1976 and was calling for the suspension of operations.

The plaintiff who filed the case this time are two doctors in Fukushima prefecture, four hospitals, small businesses and their managers.

Both were victims of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Damage Accident and said that they were suffering from operating damage from the impact of the accident, being forced to leave or face bankruptcy. One of the plaintiffs speaking with anger in his expression follows;

 

“The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident took place six years ago and the town’s population has decreased and a major obstacle has been raised in work. Not only Tokyo Electric Power Company but also the desire to pursue the responsibilities of manufacturers who built the nuclear reactors I have sued for that. “

 

A class action lawsuit against the nuclear power plant maker has already been filed in Japan and is in progress.

Mr. Tsuyoshi Okubo who is co-director of caretaker at plaintiffs’ lawsuit plaintiff group explains.

“We filed a lawsuit against Hitachi, Toshiba and GE in January 2014. Although the Law on Nuclear Damage Compensation focuses our responsibility on electric companies, we believe manufacturers should pursue their responsibilities as well as electric companies Approximately 3700 current plaintiffs from 35 countries are in dispute with the Tokyo High Court of Appeal. “

Although the plaintiffs are different from this trial, why did you dare to sue a class action in the US this time? Ryan Goldstein, a lawyer familiar with the class action lawsuit in the United States of America, commented, “Because the mechanisms differ greatly in class actions between Japan and the United States.”

“In the class action (class action) in the United States, if a large number of people are suffering similar damage in the case or accident, some of the victims can make a lawsuit on behalf of the whole. The party increases by an order of magnitude as it automatically participates unless it indicates “intention to not participate in the lawsuit.” The judgment and the contents of the settlement apply to all people who participated in the case, so if the defendant is defeated We will incur huge damages. “

In the class action suits in Japan, each person forms a plaintiff group with the willingness to participate, so the scale of the US system is certainly more likely to expand.

According to a class action lawsuit on Takata’s defect airbags, major automakers have agreed to pay a settlement amount totaling 130 billion yen by September this year. Also in the past, class action suits appealed tobacco makers, astronomical settlement fee of 42 trillion yen also came out. As nuclear accident evacuees amount to more than 150,000 people, it is expected that the amount of compensation will be enormous.

Even if the jury does not proceed to trial, it is not unusual to settle with a settlement amount of tens of billions of yen. Because plaintiff lawyers are paid around 30% of settlement money and compensation as remuneration, there is a law firm specializing in class actions in the United States and we are constantly looking for plaintiffs that are likely to sue and matching plaintiffs It is said.

The first hurdle of the case is whether the court will certify that the plaintiffs of this case are composed of a certain range of people (classes) in common.

“To pose a class action,

[1] whether the class is sufficiently large,

[2] whether the members have a common problem point,

[3] the plaintiff’s representative is a typical class of the class It is necessary for the court to certify whether it is making a request etc. The time required for the work is about 1 to 2 years and it will not be half of the total complaints to be authenticated. “(Mr. Goldstin)

Once the class has been certified, the next step is to present a huge amount of document presentation, testimonial testimonials, expert testimonies, etc. in the US or Japan in the United States It is done at the embassy.

After that, it finally entered the trial by the jury and a judgment comes out, but it is about 3% of the total going so far. The defendant is afraid that it will issue a huge amount of compensation and that most cases will be settled. A lawyer who has worked on a class action lawsuit in the United States says:

“Where a person and a company intersect with plaintiffs’ representatives if they are caught, the contents of damage are also different between the two and judgment is made by the court that” they do not have a common problem “, and they are pre-paid at the stage of certification that is also a possibility. “

There are also indications as to whether they will not be in conflict with the “Convention on Compensatory Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC)” which was signed in April 2003 by six countries including Japan and the United States.

CSC concentrates on jurisdiction of lawsuits concerning nuclear damage in the accident originating country from the aspect of victims’ rapid and impartial relief. Regardless of whether there is negligence or not, liability is also concentrated on nuclear power companies. In other words, interpret literally, the trial for damages relating to the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident can only occur in Japan, and also against TEPCO. When I interviewed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they answered “I would like to refrain from comment”.

Mr. Okubo said.

“Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant No. 1 was built in a way that GE takes full responsibility from construction to operation start, and the manufacturer should take responsibility for accidents as well.”

※ Weekly Asahi December 15, 2017 issue
Source links in Japanese only
AERA.dot 2017/12/6 7: 00
https://dot.asahi.com/wa/2017120500030.html?page=1
https://dot.asahi.com/wa/2017120500030.html?page=2
https://dot.asahi.com/wa/2017120500030.html?page=3
https://dot.asahi.com/wa/2017120500030.html?page=4

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December 10, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

FUKUSHIMA A RECORD OF LIVING THINGS

“The Fukushima nuclear disaster must have brought about huge damage not only to us humans, but also to countless animals”
A sad video from 2016, by director Masanori Iwasaki
in 4 episodes, about 3mins each
https://youtu.be/KPmuJRwTIKE
https://youtu.be/vEDW5NU8VRQ
https://youtu.be/_VaornErsUw
https://youtu.be/hQtpwUG6Iro

December 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

3/11 survivors may struggle to repay loans

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Many people in areas of Japan hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami worry that they may have trouble repaying loans extended by local governments to help in rebuilding their lives.
 
Municipalities can lend up to 31,000 dollars to each household affected by disasters.
 
The Cabinet Office says that as of the end of October, municipalities have lent some 460 million dollars in over 29,000 cases related to the March 11th disaster.
 
Three prefectures were hit hardest by the disaster. Households in Miyagi were lent the most at about 360 million dollars. Fukushima came next at roughly 52 million dollars and those in Iwate received some 24.6 million dollars.
 
As of the end of October, nearly 90 percent of planned public housing units for disaster survivors had been completed in the 3 prefectures.
 
But pensioners and people whose income has dropped since the disaster worry about their ability to pay off the loans. Repayment periods began this month.
 
Many people used the lending system after the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake in western Japan. Roughly 27.5 million dollars in loans have not been repaid in Kobe City.

 

December 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima to scale down radiation tests on rice

All part of the now 6 years ongoing denial campaign of the Japanese Government, denying the harmful effects of internal radiation and that even at low dose level, meant to calm down the fears of the local population, and to prepare the venue of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and also to incite other countries to lift their import restrictions and radiation testing of the Eastern Japan produce.
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Authorities in Fukushima plan to scale down radiation tests on rice harvested in the prefecture.
 
Since the nuclear accident in March 2011, the local government has spent 6 billion yen – or about 53 million dollars – every year to check radiation levels of all rice produced in Fukushima.
 
The tests require farmers to transport their harvest to a testing facility. Samples with radiation levels higher than the government-set limit have not been detected since 2015.
 
An expert panel convened in July to review the testing system and survey the opinions of consumers.
 
Based on the panel’s recommendations, local authorities have decided to replace full-scale testing with sample inspections in 47 of the Fukushima’s 59 municipalities.
 
The remaining 12 municipalities are located around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
 
Authorities have yet to decide when they will switch from full-scale to sample testing. Officials say they will take a decision in February.
 
Rice is the only produce from Fukushima to be tested systematically. All other agricultural and marine products undergo sample testing.

December 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Many children diagnosed with thyroid cancer after 3.11 disasters, families still worried

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Nearly 80 percent of respondents in a survey by a group supporting children diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster say they remain worried about the cancer, despite the prognosis for those who receive appropriate treatment being good.
 
The survey was conducted by the 3.11 Fund for Children with Thyroid Cancer, an independent, not-for-profit organization providing support for child patients of thyroid cancer and their families. It was sent in August to 67 households of people who were living in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the outbreak of the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011 and whose medical expenses the fund has helped to cover. A total of 52 households responded — a response rate of about 78 percent. Twelve of the respondents had received treatment themselves, while seven were fathers and 33 were mothers of those who had been treated.
A total of 40 respondents, or 77 percent, said they remained worried. When asked specifically what they were worried about, 23 people said “a relapse,” nine each cited “metastasis” and “health status in general,” while five each said they were worried about “pregnancy and childbirth” and “finding a job and working.”
Among children, some worried about cancer testing being scaled back. A total of 28 respondents called for the status quo to be maintained, while another 17 respondents called for the testing system to be enhanced. None said it should be downsized.
“Excessive diagnosis” has been blamed in the past for the large number of thyroid cancer patients in the wake of the nuclear disaster, but when given space to write their own opinions, some respondents were supportive of testing from the perspective of early detection of cancer, saying, “It’s better than finding out too late,” and “If a person has cancer, they’ll feel better if it’s removed.”
The fund’s representative director, Hisako Sakiyama, commented, “There’s a need to listen to what the afflicted people and their families want, and to hear what problems they are facing.”

December 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Safety of Fukushima food known less overseas

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A survey by Japanese researchers shows that many overseas consumers still worry about the safety of food from the disaster-hit region of Fukushima, and are unaware of measures taken to ensure its safety.
 
The researchers from Fukushima University and the University of Tokyo conducted the online survey of 10 countries and regions. They include China, South Korea, the United States, Britain, Germany and Japan.
 
About 30 percent of Japanese consumers said they worry about food from Fukushima. This compares to 80 percent in Taiwan, 70 percent in South Korea, and 60 percent in China.
 
The survey also found that 30 to 50 percent of people in the countries worry about food from all of eastern Japan.
 
Asked if they know that all rice from Fukushima goes through radiation tests, 30 percent of Chinese consumers said yes. The figure was 10 percent for South Korea, Britain and Germany.
 
Sample testing for vegetables and fruit from Fukushima and surrounding areas are known to 20 percent of overseas consumers.
 
An import ban and other restrictions on farm and marine products from Fukushima are still in place mainly in countries and regions in Asia, more than 6 years after the nuclear accident.
 
University of Tokyo researcher Naoya Sekiya says a ‘lack of knowledge’ has resulted in the prolonged import restrictions. He said there’s a need to publicize that ‘utmost safety checks’ are being conducted.

 

 

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December 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Delicacies from disaster-hit areas on the menu for Tokyo IOC banquet

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The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is teaming up with the Reconstruction Agency to bring delicacies from 2011 disaster-hit Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures to the table for its banquet with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Dec. 12.
It is said that many foreign travelers have strong concerns about the effects of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant caused by the earthquake and tsunami disaster in March 2011, but the Tokyo committee plans to use its many opportunities to appeal to the IOC about the safety of Fukushima products and the charm of the Tohoku region’s abundant foodstuffs. A spokesperson for the Fukushima Prefectural Government said, “We would like many people to try our products, and better understand the situation in the disaster-hit areas.”
The IOC and the Tokyo planning committee will hold a coordination conference for three days beginning on Dec. 11 to confirm progress on preparations for the games in the Tokyo area. Roughly 50 members of the IOC will participate in the banquet. In order to increase a feeling of involvement in the 2020 Games, the governors of each of the three prefectures have been invited to the banquet, and will be given time to speak to the IOC about the current conditions in each of their prefectures.
The organizing committee collaborated with the wishes of the three prefectures in deciding what special products to serve at the banquet. Representing Iwate Prefecture will be “hakkinton” (platinum pork) and two types of rice grown in the prefecture, “konjiki no kaze” (golden wind) and “ginga no shizuku” (drops of the Milky Way). From Miyagi Prefecture, beef tongue and “kinka” mackerel will be on the menu. Apples, “Kawamata Shamo” chicken and other items will be representing Fukushima Prefecture. The committee is working with the hotel that will hold the banquet to include each region’s products in every item on the menu.
In the outline for the committee’s “Basic Strategy on Food and Beverage Services at the Tokyo 2020 Games,” serving a menu made with ingredients from the affected areas is also planned to be utilized for athletes at the Olympic Village and other locations. While actually deciding on the menu for the games itself is still two years away, the banquet is a chance to promote the regional products to the IOC. The reputation of agricultural and other food products of Fukushima and the other prefectures have taken a heavy hit from rumors, and the committee hopes that 2020 will become a “Reconstruction Games” that will help dispel misconceptions.
This November, the Reconstruction Agency created a new reconstruction Olympics promotion team to connect the games to the areas that suffered damage from the 2011 disaster. The team will take on projects strongly requested by the areas to use foodstuffs at the Olympic Village as well as hold reconstruction promotional events.
“We’re extremely thankful that the organizing committee is taking on promotional events this early,” said State Minister for Reconstruction Toru Doi, who heads the team. “I would like this to be a step toward mending the damaged reputation of the regions.”

December 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment