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Supreme Court Arguments in Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and Livelihood Lawsuits Plaintiffs: “Our Lives Have Been Changed” Ruling in June

Plaintiffs entering the Supreme Court (April 25, 2022)

April 26, 2022
Residents who lived in Fukushima Prefecture and neighboring prefectures at the time of the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant have filed a class action lawsuit, “Give us back our community, give us back our livelihood! Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Lawsuit (Livelihood Lawsuit)” was held on April 25 at the Second Petty Bench of the Supreme Court.

Since the Second Petty Bench of the Supreme Court has already rejected TEPCO’s appeal in March 2022, the only remaining point of contention is the responsibility of the national government.

The Supreme Court has already rejected TEPCO’s appeal in March 2022, so the only remaining point of contention is the responsibility of the government. In the Ikigyo lawsuit, the Sendai High Court in the second trial accepted the government’s responsibility, saying that the accident could have been prevented if measures had been taken.

The plaintiffs, referring to the reliability of the “long-term assessment” that the government agency was supposed to have warned about earthquakes, claimed that the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) and TEPCO failed to take tsunami countermeasures despite warnings in 2002 that a tsunami was coming, and that the government, which has regulatory authority, is responsible for this.

The government, on the other hand, argued that the long-term assessment (issued by the government) was unreliable, and that even if it had ordered countermeasures, the accident could not have been prevented. The trial concluded with a request that the plaintiffs’ claims be dismissed.

At a press conference held after the hearing, Takashi Nakajima, the leader of the plaintiffs in the Ikigyo lawsuit, said, “The government has shown absolutely no remorse, so it will repeat the damage, as evidenced, for example, by its policy of discharging tritium-contaminated water into the ocean. If it is not condemned, it will continue to do so,” he said, harshly criticizing the government’s stance. (Chia Yoshida, writer)

  • We have had our lives changed.
Plaintiffs and supporters appealing in front of the Supreme Court. The man on top of the truck is Takashi Nakajima, the leader of the plaintiffs’ group (April 25, 2022)

On the day of the argument, five buses from Fukushima Prefecture, one from Soso in Hamadori, one from Fukushima (northern part of the prefecture), one from Koriyama (central part of the prefecture), one from Shirakawa (southern part of the prefecture), and one from the National Federation of Peasant Movements (Fukushima), headed for the Supreme Court. 350 people gathered from Fukushima Prefecture and beyond, and many banners and banners were raised in front of the Supreme Court.

One of the plaintiffs, a woman who said she left by bus from Fukushima City at 6:00 a.m. that day, spoke her mind along the roadside in front of the Supreme Court, “At the time of the nuclear accident, I had two elementary school children, and I did not allow them to participate in marathons and other events held outside because of concerns about radiation.

The nuclear accident increased radiation levels in their living environment, and many parents made the decision to stop their children from outdoor activities as much as possible in order to prevent them from being exposed to radiation.

I feel sorry for them now because they don’t have the same memories as everyone else,” she said. The children didn’t say anything at the time, but recently they told me, ‘We wanted to do it with everyone. Our lives have been changed. There is no such thing as the government not being responsible. I want my life back to the way it was before.

Another plaintiff, who was standing next to me, added, “If you talk to each and every one of the victims, they all have their own story of the nuclear accident.

“I moved 11 times in 11 years” after the nuclear accident.

Keiko Fukaya, who lived in Tomioka Town, Fukushima Prefecture, was the one who presented her argument that day. At the press conference, she said, “I have moved 11 times in the past 11 years. How hard it has been for me. I wanted the presiding judge to understand that,” she said.

Ms. Fukaya opened a beauty salon in her home at the age of 60 after working for 40 years as a hair stylist in stores in Namie Town and Tomioka Town while raising her children. Welcoming customers from the community, eating vegetables from her own garden together, and chatting happily with them were the things that made her life worth living.

When the nuclear accident occurred, he was at work and evacuated with almost nothing. Since then, he has moved 11 times, but no matter where he went, he never felt at ease. He turned 70 during the evacuation and did not have the energy to build a house or store in a new place.

I want them to give me back my life itself, which the nuclear accident took away from me,” he said. If that is not possible, I joined the trial because I want them to clarify how the accident happened and who is responsible,” said Fukaya.

At the appeal hearing three years ago, a judge from the Sendai High Court came to see Mr. Fukaya’s home and store. That judge ruled in the appeal trial that not only TEPCO was negligent, but also that the national government was responsible.

●”The trial is a major stepping stone, but it is not the end.

The press conference after the arguments. Left: Ms. Keiko Fukaya, center: Mr. Takashi Nakajima, right: Mr. Ittaro Managi, attorney at law (April 25, 2022)

In their arguments on this day, the plaintiffs referred to the reliability of the “long-term assessment” that the government agency was supposed to have warned about the earthquake.

They argued that the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) (the national government) and TEPCO, which has regulatory authority, are responsible for not taking tsunami countermeasures, even though there were warnings in 2002 that a tsunami was coming and could not be ignored.

Attorney Guntaro Managi, who represents the plaintiffs, said, “The government is responsible for not exercising its regulatory authority properly because it has been entrusted with the authority to prevent accidents from happening, even if they should happen, because of the enormous damage that could occur to people’s lives and health.

The government, on the other hand, argues that the long-term evaluation (issued by the government) was unreliable and that the accident could not have been prevented even if countermeasures had been ordered.

Mr. Nakajima, the leader of the plaintiffs’ group, said at a press conference after the argument date, “The government has shown absolutely no remorse, so it will repeat the damage, as evidenced, for example, by its policy of discharging tritium-contaminated water into the ocean. If it is not absolved, it will continue to do so,” he said, criticizing the government’s refusal to accept responsibility.

He continued, “I believe that our trial is required to make the government admit its illegality, and at the same time, to make the government change its attitude through public opinion, not only that of the plaintiffs. The trial is a major stepping stone, but I don’t think it will be the end of the story,” said Nakajima.

In addition to the Ikigyo lawsuits, three other cases in Chiba, Gunma, and Ehime are being argued before the Supreme Court. The Ikigyo lawsuit is the third case to be argued before the Supreme Court, and the Ehime nuclear power plant lawsuit is scheduled to be argued on May 16 before the ruling in June.

Chia Yoshida: Freelance writer. After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, she has continued to cover victims and evacuees. She is the author of “Reporto: Mother and Child Evacuation” (Iwanami Shinsho), “Sotoko no Fukushima: Nukei no Koto o Koto wo Ikiru Hitobito” (After Fukushima: People Living After the Nuclear Accident) (Jinbunshoin), “Korunin Futaba-gun Firefighters’ 3/11” (Iwanami Shoten), and co-author of “Nukei Hakusho” (White Paper on Nuclear Evacuation) (Jinbunshoin).

May 1, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Supreme Court orders damages for Fukushima victims in landmark decision

A victory sure, but $3,290 for 10 years of misery and a devastated life it is cheaply paid…

A barricade set up at a no-go zone in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in February

March 4, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld an order for utility Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to pay damages of ¥1.4 billion ($12 million) to about 3,700 people whose lives were devastated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the first decision of its kind.

NHK said the average payout was about ¥380,000 ($3,290) for each plaintiff in three class-action lawsuits, among more than 30 against the utility. The three suits are the first to be finalized.

A massive tsunami unleashed by an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 off Japan’s northeastern coast struck Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant in March 2011, leading to the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

About 470,000 people were forced to evacuate in the days after the disaster and tens of thousands have still not been able to return.

Friday’s decision came as the court rejected an appeal by Tepco and ruled it negligent for not taking preventive measures against a tsunami of that size, the broadcaster said.

The court withheld a verdict on the role of the government, which is also a defendant in the lawsuits, and will hold a hearing next month to rule on its culpability, NHK added.

Lower courts have been split over the extent of the government’s responsibility to foresee the disaster and order steps by Tepco to prevent it.

March 7, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

With appeal of Tepco acquittal, thousands hit by Fukushima nuclear disaster seek closure

Ruiko Muto, the 66-year-old leader of the class action lawsuit against former Tepco executives, speaks at Utsunomiya University in Tochigi Prefecture on July 21.
Oct 11, 2019
Plaintiffs have appealed a ruling handed down by the Tokyo District Court in mid-September that found three former Tokyo Electric Power Co. executives not guilty of professional negligence. A class action lawsuit against the executives claimed they had failed to apply the proper safety measures to prevent the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, despite being aware of the devastating effect tsunami would have.
The disaster upended daily life as local residents knew it and tore apart the social fabric of societies and communities around the area. Eight and a half years on, the victims are still grappling with the loss of their homes, and are turning to the courts for answers and closure.
Ruiko Muto, the 66-year-old leader of the class action lawsuit against former Tepco executives, has tirelessly conducted talks around the country since the nuclear disaster in 2011, which saw three of the six core reactors of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant go into meltdown after massive tsunami struck the facility.
“Grassroots efforts are what pushes forward the social change we need to see,” she said, adding, “awareness spreads only when each individual starts to think about the issue at hand.”
Muto has campaigned for the end of nuclear power for over 30 years. Seeing the devastating effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident in the former Soviet Union catapulted her into the anti-nuclear movement.
On that fateful day in the Tohoku region in March 2011, a day after a massive earthquake hit Japan, she drew parallels with what had happened in Chernobyl over 30 years ago to what was happening in her hometown.
“I thought, this is exactly the same as Chernobyl,” she said, remembering her initial reaction to hearing news of an explosion at the nuclear reactor building.
Muto eventually filed a lawsuit questioning the responsibility and accountability of the Tepco executives. She had sued them in the hope that “the truth of what happened that day and who should be held accountable would come to light,” she recalled.
Word of the lawsuit spread and support began to snowball, until ultimately 14,716 people signed on to the class action.
Muto went to Tokyo for all 37 of the court sessions held before the ruling was handed down. The notes that she took in the spectators’ gallery of the Tokyo District Court fill 14 notebooks.
From hours of listening to witnesses and pouring over evidence from the spectators’ gallery, she learned that the main reason why the executives repeatedly put off applying countermeasures against possible tsunami was they feared it would cause the company to run at a loss.
Muto believes that a lot of the evidence discussed in court would have never seen the light of day had she not filed the lawsuit.
Yet throughout the trial, the former chairman of Tepco refused to accept responsibility for the nuclear disaster, saying in court that the “relevant department should assume sole responsibility over what safety measures should have been put into place.”
“These were the words of the head of the biggest nuclear energy business in the country. It was almost like it represented a society that refuses to take responsibility,” Muto said.
The words made her feel powerless, she recalled.
Although the court claims there are 57 victims — people who had either died or were physically injured by the disaster — Muto believes “countless victims have been affected by the accident.”
Fumio Okubo was one of those countless victims.
“I wanted him to die a dignified death. It pains me that that didn’t happen,” said his daughter-in-law, Mieko Okubo, 66, as she placed flowers on his grave, nine summers after his death, before putting her hands together in quiet prayer.
In April 2011, Fumio hanged himself at their house. He was 102. It happened half a day after the government ordered the entire village to evacuate following the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
On Fumio’s 99th birthday, 80 members of his extended family got together to celebrate. He wowed those who had come to celebrate by singing his favorite songs for them. When he turned 100, he received awards and gifts from all over the country celebrating his long life. That day is captured in a photo of him on his birthday, surrounded by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A wide smile lights up his face in the photograph.
But two years later, as he lay in his coffin, Fumio looked calm — almost like he was sleeping. His last words to Mieko were “I might have lived a tad too long.”
As a man who loved his hometown and made a living through farming, Iitate village — his home — was also his life. Mieko eventually developed a visceral dislike for nuclear power and its potentially devastating effects. She filed a civil lawsuit at the Fukushima District Court in July 2015 against Tepco, seeking to hold the utility responsible. All she wanted was revenge.
She got that three years later in February 2018, when Mieko won the lawsuit against Tepco.
In keeping with Mieko’s wishes, Tepco employees visited her at her house to apologize in person. “We are deeply sorry,” they had said, before lighting incense in memory of Fumio — a common practice in Japan that displays respect for the deceased — as Mieko had requested.
Yet despite the courtroom win and the compliance with Mieko’s wishes, she also heard later that the employees who visited her were employees in charge of handling matters related to the “aftermath” of the accident.
“My father-in-law is gone, and he won’t ever come back. It should have been the company executives who were being held accountable for the accident who came to apologize,” Mieko said.
“I didn’t get any sense of integrity from them,” she added.
Mieko had repeatedly asked Tepco to think of the issue as one that “may have affected their very own family.” After the Great East Japan Earthquake, over 100 suicides within Fukushima Prefecture alone have been officially recognized as being caused by the nuclear disaster.
Mieko believes that there is a culture of devaluing people’s lives that is prevalent within the company.
The devastating effects of the accident are as clear as day. Yet, the detachment of the employees were as if the issue didn’t concern them at all, Mieko said.
This section features topics and issues from the Tohoku region covered by Kahoku Shimpo, the largest newspaper in Tohoku. The original articles were published on Sept. 12, 13 and 14.

October 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Tepco ordered to pay $30,000 each to 318 people of the Minamisoma’s Odaka District class action suit

TEPCO ordered to pay 1.1 billion yen to evacuees in Fukushima
Junichiro Hironaka, lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, right, speaks at a news conference on Feb. 7 after the Tokyo District Court ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay 3.3 million yen in damages to each plaintiff in a Fukushima nuclear disaster compensation lawsuit.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. has been ordered to pay 3.3 million yen ($30,000) each to 318 people who were forced to flee their hometown in Fukushima Prefecture after the 2011 nuclear disaster.
However, the plaintiffs are unhappy as they sought 10 times that amount.
“We are stripped of our hometown, livelihood and life, and Odaka will not return to what it used to be,” 76-year-old Isao Enei of Minami-Soma said at a news conference after the Feb. 7 verdict at Tokyo District Court. “I am sorry that the judges did not visit and see the situation of Odaka for themselves.”
The plaintiffs are now considering appealing as they had initially sought 33 million yen each in additional damages in the lawsuit.
“It is significant in a way in recognizing ‘damages for the loss of a hometown,’” said Junichiro Hironaka, the plaintiffs’ lead lawyer. “But the amount of compensation ordered does not correspond to the actual damages they suffered.”
In handing down the ruling, Presiding Judge Yuko Mizuno said that the plaintiffs’ “right to a stable life in a place that was the foundation of their livelihood had been breached.”
TEPCO said it will respond to the court decision after studying it in detail.
The plaintiffs lived in Minami-Soma’s Odaka district before the triple meltdown at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011.
Odaka was located within the 20-kilometer no-entry zone surrounding the plant from which residents were forced to evacuate.
The plaintiffs contended that TEPCO was liable for causing psychological damage as they were displaced and lost their hometown.
The total that TEPCO must pay to the 318 plaintiffs falls a fraction short of 1.1 billion yen, but the court dismissed claims by three plaintiffs on the grounds that they lived overseas at the time of the accident or for other reasons.
The verdict was the fourth that has been handed down in regard to about 30 similar lawsuits that have been brought across the nation.
In the three other suits, the plaintiffs claimed in the district courts that the government and TEPCO had been negligent, but in the latest case the court was only concerned with the amount of compensation.
The plaintiffs argued for compensation for damages stemming from the evacuation, as well as compensation for a loss of various general benefits that they would have enjoyed if they had continued to reside in their hometown.
The power company rejected the plaintiffs’ claim for additional compensation, citing the payment already made of 8.5 million yen per victim of the nuclear disaster in the district based on the government’s “interim guidelines” for compensation.
It insisted that the plaintiffs’ claim that “Odaka has been lost forever” was not proven.
The evacuation order was lifted for most of the district in July 2016.
But the court stated that even after it became possible for residents to return (to Odaka), it “constitutes a serious violation of the plaintiffs’ life if the foundations of their livelihood were considerably changed.”
TEPCO argued that the government’s interim compensation guidelines were reasonable.
But the court rejected it, saying the district court will not be bound by the government’s guidelines.
Rulings for similar lawsuits are expected in March at the Kyoto District Court and Tokyo District Court.
Fukushima operator Tepco ordered to pay US$10 million in new damages
A Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) employee working near the reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant on Jan 31, 2018
TOKYO (AFP) – A Tokyo court has ordered the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to pay US$10 million (S$13.3 million) in fresh damages to residents who fled their homes after the disaster, the plaintiffs’ attorney said Thursday (Feb 8).
Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) was instructed to pay a total of 1.1 billion yen (S$13.3 million) to 318 former residents of the Odaka district in Fukushima, around 20 kilometres from the plant.
The sum is a tenth of what the plaintiffs had demanded, citing the financial hardship and psychological impact they suffered after the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima that was triggered by a deadly earthquake and tsunami.
Tepco had already agreed to pay each of the plaintiffs 8.5 million yen, but the ruling requires it to pay an additional 3.3 million yen to each of those affected, according to Isamu Oki, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs.
Residents are technically free to return to Odaka, which the government has certified as decontaminated, but only a few dozen have gone home because of financial and health concerns, Oki told AFP.
“Especially those with small children are worried… while elderly people are unable to come back without any supporting family,” he added.
Junichiro Hironaka, who heads the legal team representing the residents, said Wednesday that the court’s decision showed it recognised “compensation for a lost hometown”.
But he said the additional damages awarded by the court were insufficient, suggesting the plaintiffs might appeal.
Tepco said it was reviewing the ruling before deciding how it would proceed.
Around 12,000 people who fled their homes for fear of radiation have filed dozens of lawsuits against the government and Tepco.
In March 2017, a court in the eastern city of Maebashi ruled that both the government and Tepco were responsible.
A massive undersea earthquake on March 11, 2011 sent a tsunami barrelling into Japan’s northeast coast, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or missing and sparking the Fukushima crisis, the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
In June 2017, three former Tepco executives went on trial, the only people ever to face a criminal court in connection with the disaster. The hearing is continuing.

February 9, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | 2 Comments

Chiba court recognizes nuke disaster evacuees’ ‘loss of hometown’ for first time

chiba court victory 23 sept 2017.pngLawyers for the plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking damages from the government and TEPCO for residents who evacuated to Chiba Prefecture following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster hold up banners reading “Government not liable,” left, and “TEPCO must pay portion of compensation,” right, in front of the Chiba District Court on Sept. 22, 2017.


When on Sept. 22 the Chiba District Court ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to pay some 376 million yen in damages to a group of Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuees, it gave concrete recognition to the evacuees’ loss — of hometowns, jobs and personal relationships — for the first time.

Six and a half years after the disaster, even in areas where evacuation orders have been lifted, the reconstruction of the communities that once thrived there is still a distant prospect. However, though it absolved the government of legal liability, this court ruling — the second in a slew of class action suits filed against TEPCO and the government — can be said to be a breakthrough far exceeding previous compensation levels.

“The Maebashi District Court (in March) recognized the responsibility of both the government and TEPCO, but this ended up feeling like a victory in name only, with no ‘reward.’ But it can be said that the Chiba (District Court) decision finally reaped ‘rewards,”’ commented lawyer Katsuyoshi Suzuki, lead counsel of the plaintiffs’ legal team in the Maebashi court case, who was at a gathering in Chiba awaiting the Sept. 22 ruling.

The Maebashi District Court awarded a total of some 460 million yen in damages. However, based on “interim guidelines” set for TEPCO by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation in August 2011 to ensure swift payouts, it was decided that TEPCO had already paid about 420 million yen. As such, a total of only 38.55 million yen was awarded to 62 of the 137 plaintiffs. Complaints followed that voices of the evacuees decrying their psychological pain had not been heard.

However, in the Chiba case, TEPCO was ordered to pay 42 out of the 45 plaintiffs a total of roughly 376 million yen, even after some 650 million yen was judged as already having been paid by the company under the “interim guidelines.” It was pointed out that the guidelines only set a minimum baseline for compensation, and upon considering the individual cases, the court granted the large damages award.

What stood out was that the court explicitly recognized the payout as compensation for the loss of hometowns, jobs and personal relationships suffered by the nuclear disaster evacuees. The majority of the plaintiffs in the Chiba case were residents of designated evacuation zones, and claimed they lost their livelihoods, relationships and local customs to the nuclear disaster, and were stripped of their right to live a peaceful life. They had sought 20 million yen in compensation each, saying that the interim guidelines did not accurately reflect the pain of losing their hometowns.

Concerning communities where the evacuation orders had been lifted by this spring, including the village of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, TEPCO cited falling radiation levels and infrastructure restoration as evidence that the plaintiffs’ claim that they lost their hometowns permanently was false. As such, TEPCO argued that their current compensation standards were sufficient.

However, even in areas where evacuation orders have been lifted, only roughly 10 percent of former residents have returned. The court decision stated, “(The plaintiffs) have lost their close connections to their local communities over a substantial period of time. Simply lifting evacuation orders will not immediately relieve this suffering,” awarding 36 of the plaintiffs an average of some 3 million yen each. Nevertheless, some of the plaintiffs are not satisfied by the results.

“Our lives were disrupted,” said Michiko Saito, 56, who evacuated from the Odaka district of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, to Yachimata, Chiba Prefecture. “Even if the money is returned to us, we will never get our hometowns back.”

September 24, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

22 sept evacuees court victory.png

Plaintiffs and their lawyers enter the Chiba District Court on Sept. 22 to hear the verdict in the Fukushima nuclear accident compensation case.


TEPCO ordered to pay evacuees of Fukushima nuclear disaster

CHIBA–A district court here on Sept. 22 ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay 376 million yen ($3.3 million) in compensation to evacuees of the Fukushima nuclear disaster but absolved the central government of responsibility.

Forty-five people in 18 households who evacuated to Chiba Prefecture following the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant sought a total of about 2.8 billion yen from TEPCO and the government.

About 30 similar lawsuits involving 12,000 plaintiffs have been filed at district courts around Japan.

The Chiba District Court ruling was the second so far.

In March, the Maebashi District Court in Gunma Prefecture found both TEPCO and the government responsible for the nuclear disaster and ordered compensation totaling 38.55 million yen for 62 plaintiffs.

The main point of the lawsuit in the Chiba District Court was whether TEPCO and the government could have foreseen a towering tsunami hitting the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and taken measures to prevent the disaster.

The plaintiffs emphasized a long-term appraisal released by the central government in 2002, which estimated a 20-percent possibility of a magnitude-8 level earthquake occurring between the coast off the Sanriku region in the Tohoku region to the coast off the Boso Peninsula of Chiba Prefecture within the next 30 years.

The plaintiffs argued that this appraisal shows it was possible to forecast a tsunami off the coast from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, and that measures could have been taken even as late as 2006 to prevent the disaster.

For the first time in a court case involving compensation related to the Fukushima disaster, a seismologist provided testimony on behalf of the plaintiffs.

Kunihiko Shimazaki, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, once served as a deputy chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. He was also in charge of compiling the 2002 long-term appraisal for the government.

The height of a likely tsunami could have been known if it was calculated based on that appraisal,” Shimazaki said in court. “Even if a specific forecast could not be made, some sort of countermeasure could have been taken.”

The defendants argued that the long-term appraisal did not provide a specific basis for predicting a tsunami and only pointed to the fact that a magnitude-8 level earthquake occurring could not be ruled out.

Tepco again ordered to pay damages in nuclear disaster, but not state

CHIBA, Japan (Kyodo) — A Japanese court ordered Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. on Friday to pay damages over the nuclear disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following a deadly 2011 earthquake and tsunami, but dismissed claims against the state.

The Chiba District Court ruling follows a Maebashi District Court decision in March that found negligence on the part of both Tepco and the government played a part in the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl and ordered them to pay damages.

Friday’s ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by 45 people who were forced to flee Fukushima Prefecture to Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo as reactors that lost cooling functions caused meltdowns and spewed massive amounts of radioactive materials into the air.

The Chiba court awarded a total of 376 million yen ($3.35 million) to 42 of them, including all four who voluntarily evacuated. In the suit filed in March 2013, the plaintiffs were collectively seeking around 2.8 billion yen in damages from the government and plant operator.

The focal point of the Chiba case was whether the government and Tepco were able to foresee the huge tsunami that hit the seaside plant on March 11, 2011, and take preventive measures beforehand, with conflicting claims made by the parties regarding the government’s long-term earthquake assessment, which was made public in 2002.

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

Based on the assessment, the plaintiffs argued that, with the plant standing on ground roughly 10 meters above sea level, a tsunami higher than the ground striking the plant could have been predicted.

They then claimed that the disaster was therefore preventable if emergency power generation equipment had been placed on higher ground, and that the government should have made Tepco take such measures by exercising its regulatory powers.

The government and Tepco, for their part, claimed the assessment was not established knowledge, and that even if they had foreseen a tsunami higher than the site of the plant and taken measures against it, they cannot be held liable as the actual tsunami was much higher at around 15.5 meters.

The government also argued that it obtained regulatory powers to force Tepco to take anti-flooding measures only after a legislative change following the disaster.

In Friday’s ruling, the court found the government not liable, saying that while the government indeed has such powers, not exercising them was not too unreasonable.

While ordering Tepco to pay damages, the court determined that the plant operator did not commit serious negligence that would have required a higher compensation amount, saying it did not totally leave anti-tsunami measures unaddressed.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers criticized the ruling as unfair, in that the court did not recognize the state’s liability. But they still positively rated the court’s acknowledgement of the loss of the plaintiffs’ hometown, jobs and personal relationships, and compensation for such a loss.

In March, the Maebashi District Court in Gunma Prefecture recognized negligence on the part not just of Tepco but also the government, saying they were able to foresee a tsunami high enough to inundate the plant.

It was the first such ruling issued among around 30 suits of the same kind and the first to rule in favor of plaintiffs.

The Maebashi court acknowledged that the government had regulatory authority over Tepco even before the accident, noting that “failing to exercise it is strikingly irrational and illegal.”

The court awarded to 62 of 137 plaintiffs a total of 38.55 million yen in damages, far less than the 1.5 billion yen sought in total. Many of the plaintiffs have appealed the district court decision.

In the Chiba suit, the 45 plaintiffs, including four who evacuated voluntarily, sought 20 million yen each for compensation for their evacuation and the loss of their hometown, jobs and personal relationships because their lives were uprooted.

The magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, causing multiple meltdowns and hydrogen blasts at the nuclear power plant. Around 55,000 people remained evacuated both within and outside Fukushima Prefecture as of the end of August in the wake of the disaster.

TEPCO ordered to pay damages over nuclear accident

A Japanese court has ordered Tokyo Electric Power Company to pay damages to people who were forced to leave their homes after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The Chiba District Court on Friday ordered TEPCO to pay nearly a total of 3.4 million dollars to 42 of the 45 plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit against TEPCO and the government.

The complainants say they lost their homes and jobs because of the March 2011 accident. They were seeking 25 million dollars in compensation.

The focus was whether the defendants were able to predict the tsunami that hit the plant and should therefore have taken preventive measures.

Also at issue was whether the amount of compensation TEPCO is currently paying to evacuees is appropriate.

Presiding judge Masaru Sakamoto said TEPCO did not entirely fail to implement measures against the risk of tsunami, and did not commit a grave error.

But Sakamoto said the psychological suffering of the plaintiffs is linked to the accident, and that TEPCO should pay redress.

He did not hold the government liable for the accident. The judge said that although by 2006 officials were able to predict the possibility that a tsunami could hit the plant compound, the introduction of safety measures would not necessarily have prevented the accident.

This is the second ruling in a series of lawsuits filed by about 12,000 people over the nuclear accident.

In March, the Maebashi District Court ruled that both the government and TEPCO were liable for the accident and ordered the government and the plant operator to pay damages.




September 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Judges may order gov’t to submit redacted report in lawsuit over Fukushima disaster


A judge presiding at a trial over the Fukushima nuclear crisis said the judges in charge will decide by the end of this year on whether to order the government to submit some of its investigation committee’s reports on the disaster that have been withheld.

Presiding Judge Akihiko Otake at the Tokyo District Court made the remark on Oct. 13 during an oral proceeding of the suit filed by shareholders of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled nuclear plant, to clarify the responsibility of former TEPCO board members over the disaster.

Otake also said the judges in charge will conduct an in camera review on other documents, part of which has been blacked out before they were disclosed, to deem whether the measure is appropriate.

Specifically, the judges will examine documents recording statements by the now deceased Masao Yoshida, who headed the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant at the time of the outbreak of the disaster in March 2011, and those by two officials of the then Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

The documents were disclosed after the names of individuals and some other information were blacked out. The court said it has already ordered the Cabinet Office to submit the documents with the blacked-out parts unveiled. The Cabinet Office has reportedly responded that it intends to comply with the order by the end of this week.

October 15, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Makers of Fukushima reactor not liable: court




TOKYO – A Japanese court on Wednesday turned down a class-action lawsuit seeking damages from nuclear plant makers Toshiba, Hitachi and GE over the Fukushima meltdown disaster, the plaintiffs, one of the companies and a report said.

About 3,800 claimants in the suit, hailing from Japan and 32 other countries including the United States, Germany and South Korea, had sought largely symbolic compensation from the nuclear power plant manufacturers.

Under Japanese liability law, nuclear plant providers are usually exempt from damage claims in the event of an accident, leaving operators to face legal action.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers, however, had argued that that violated constitutional protections on the pursuit of happy, wholesome and cultured livelihoods.

But the Tokyo District Court ruled that the law “is not unconstitutional”, according to lawyers for the plaintiffs.

“We knew it was difficult to win under the current legal system in Japan, but it’s clearly wrong that nuclear (plant) manufacturers don’t have to bear any responsibility for an accident,” Masao Imaizumi, 73, one of the plaintiffs, told AFP.

“If they are spared responsibility, it could lead to disregard for product quality,” he said, adding that the plaintiffs will appeal.

Toshiba welcomed the decision.

“The company recognises the verdict as an appropriate ruling handed out by the court,” it said in a statement.

Hitachi and GE’s Japan office could not be reached for comment.

Japan’s Jiji Press also reported that the suit was rejected.

The suit — which sought just 100 yen (96 US cents) per claimant — was the first to be brought against nuclear power-plant suppliers over the accident, Akihiro Shima, lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, said previously.

The suit was first filed in January 2014 with just over 1,000 claimants, but more joined and the number nearly quadrupled.

The plaintiffs had alleged that the companies failed to make necessary safety updates to the Fukushima reactors, swamped on 11 March 2011 by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake-sparked tsunami that lead to the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Embattled plant operator Tokyo Electric Power is already facing massive lawsuits and compensation costs.

July 13, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment