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The Supreme Court will make its first ruling on the government’s liability for the nuclear power plant accident on June 17

My father was killed by the nuclear power plant. It is impossible that the government is not responsible for the accident,” said Kazuya Tarukawa, a plaintiff.

June 14, 2022
On May 17, the Supreme Court of Japan will make its first ruling on whether the government is liable for damages in four lawsuits brought by Fukushima Prefecture residents who evacuated from their homes following the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant (a total of 3,700 plaintiffs). The plaintiffs have been pursuing legal responsibility on the grounds that the government spread the myth of nuclear power plant safety before the accident, but after the accident, the government has been evading the issue, claiming that the accident was “unforeseen. The decision of the judiciary’s “last resort” will attract a great deal of attention because it will affect similar lawsuits that are currently being heard in the first and second courts.
The peasants of Fukushima are finished,” said his father, who took his own life.

 The farmers of Fukushima are finished. The farmers of Fukushima are finished. On March 12, 2011, a hydrogen explosion occurred at a nuclear power plant that had been inundated by the massive tsunami triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Kazuya Tarukawa, 46, a farmer in Sukagawa City, Fukushima Prefecture, still vividly remembers the words of his father Hisashi as he watched the TV news broadcast footage of the explosion. Twelve days later, Hisashi took his own life at the age of 64.

Hisashi was the seventh generation of the family to protect the 4.5 hectares of fields. His second son, Kazuya, took over at the age of 30 and worked hard growing rice and other crops while watching Hisashi’s back. Sukagawa City is located approximately 65 km southwest of the nuclear power plant, and although the government did not issue an evacuation order, radiation levels rose at the time due to the spread of radioactive materials.

 Mr. Kushi focused on cabbage production, and his commitment to organic cultivation was highly praised, and the cabbage was adopted as a food ingredient for local school lunches. However, the day before his death, a fax arrived at his home from a local agricultural organization informing him that cabbage shipments had been suspended due to the nuclear accident. At the time of his death, there were approximately 7,500 cabbage plants in the field, fresh and waiting to be harvested. I made a mistake by letting you take over the farm,” Hisashi told Kazuya. Those were Hisashi’s last words to Kazuya.

In accordance with the government’s compensation guidelines, TEPCO has compensated the farmers to a certain extent for the damage caused by harmful rumors and other factors related to the nuclear accident. TEPCO also acknowledged the causal relationship between the nuclear accident and Kushi’s death and paid him a settlement. However, the government has not acknowledged its legal responsibility and is proceeding with the restart of nuclear power plants. No settlement has been reached,” Kazuya said. Kazuya became a member of the plaintiffs’ group that filed a lawsuit for damages with the Fukushima District Court in March 2001, hoping to clarify the government’s responsibility.

 In the lawsuit, the government claimed that it “could not have prevented the accident caused by the tsunami. Kazuya was furious, saying, “If no advance countermeasures can be taken, the nuclear power plant should never have been allowed to operate. In October 2005, the district court ruled that both the government and TEPCO were responsible for the accident, and in September 2008, the second trial court, the Sendai High Court, increased the amount of compensation, sternly condemning the government for “acquiescing to TEPCO’s report and not fulfilling the role expected of a regulatory authority.

Kazuya was unable to hear the Supreme Court’s ruling on September 17 due to his busy farming season, but he said, “There is no such thing as absolute safety, but the government made the power company operate the nuclear power plant. It is impossible for the government not to be responsible. If my father were still alive, he would have become a plaintiff with the same feelings. I look forward to a verdict that will give us a good report,” he says.

Focus is on the government’s “failure to exercise its regulatory authority
There are about 30 class action lawsuits filed by evacuees over the nuclear power plant accident in Japan (more than 12,000 plaintiffs), including four cases in which the Supreme Court will issue a ruling on March 17. Twenty-three judgments have been issued so far, with 12 of the 23 cases finding the government liable and the remaining 11 cases refusing to do so. The Supreme Court’s decision will set the direction for future decisions by the first and second instance courts.

The focus will be on whether the government’s exercise of its regulatory authority over TEPCO was appropriate. The Supreme Court has ruled in past pollution lawsuits that the government is liable for compensation when the government’s failure to exercise its regulatory authority “deviates from the permissible limits and is extremely unreasonable. In determining “reasonableness,” the first and second courts in this case focused on two points: (1) whether a giant tsunami could have been foreseen, and (2) whether the accident could have been avoided. The Supreme Court is expected to follow the same approach in reaching its conclusion.

 The plaintiffs claim that the government could have foreseen the tsunami based on the “long-term assessment” of earthquake forecasts released by a government research institute in 2002, and the government argues that the long-term assessment was unreliable. As for the possibility of avoiding the accident, the plaintiffs claim that the accident could have been avoided if a seawall had been built and the buildings had been “watertight,” which would have prevented water from entering the buildings. The government, on the other hand, claims that the actual tsunami could not have been prevented even if a seawall had been built based on the assumptions at the time and that the method of “watertight” had not been established.


June 18, 2022 - Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , ,

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