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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


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 2017/12/6 7: 00


December 10, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Reblogged this on Fukushima 311 Watchdogs.

    Comment by dunrenard | December 11, 2017 | Reply

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