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VOX POPULI: Power company execs should think of liability if accident occurs

Plaintiffs and their lawyers hold a news conference on July 13 after the Tokyo District Court ordered four former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay 13 trillion yen in compensation.

July 19, 2022

I see something akin to chaos in the notably varied conclusions different courts reached in their verdicts of the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which Tokyo Electric Power Co. operates. 

Some courts ruled the government’s long-range assessment, which pointed out at an early date the possibility of a major tsunami, was scientifically reliable, while others raised their doubts.

Some verdicts severely questioned the responsibility of plant operators for failing to implement tsunami countermeasures, while other courts ruled that the government could not be held responsible as a regulatory authority because the disaster would have occurred no matter what countermeasures were in place.

Judges are human. As long as their decisions are made independently, I believe it is only natural that their opinions vary.

But as in a kaleidoscope where ordered patterns are created out of disorder, it may be possible to see a broad pattern emerge from the chaotic jumble of diverse court decisions.

When an accident occurs at a nuclear power plant, the government’s responsibility is not questioned too severely, but the utility and its executives are made to pay a huge price.

The Tokyo District Court on July 13 ordered former TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and three other former top executives to pay 13 trillion yen (about $94 billion) in damages.

If this ruling holds, the defendants will probably have to sell off their entire personal assets and, if necessary, eventually file for personal bankruptcy. That is the sheer size of the compensation they will have to pay.

The industrial-bureaucratic-academic complex dealing with nuclear power is dubbed Genshiryoku Mura (Nuclear power village) in Japanese. The “villagers” share common interests, but they do not share a common destiny.

I wonder how TEPCO’s current executives feel about the reality that has emerged from the court rulings to date.

And the government, whose destiny remains independent of the village’s, has started calling louder for nuclear power plants to be brought back online.

I respectfully suggest to utility executives that they think very carefully, as many times as needed, about how much 13 trillion yen actually is.


July 22, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Prefecture Bar Association makes an emergency statement on the Supreme Court ruling on the nuclear power plant lawsuit

July 19, 2022
In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling last month that the government is not responsible for the nuclear power plant accident, the Fukushima Prefecture Bar Association called for a decision based on the actual situation in the other lawsuits.

On March 17, the Supreme Court ruled against the government’s responsibility in four class action lawsuits over the nuclear accident, stating that even if the government had obliged TEPCO to take measures to prevent a nuclear accident, there is a high possibility that an accident would have occurred.

In response, the Fukushima Prefecture Bar Association held a press conference in Fukushima City on March 19 and issued an emergency statement.

Daisuke Yorikane, attorney-at-law of the Fukushima Prefecture Bar Association, said, “In terms of responding to the wishes of the litigants, we are disappointed because we wanted the Supreme Court to give a proper opinion on the state of nuclear safety regulations in the country.

The statement pointed out that the Supreme Court’s decision was based solely on the theory of causality and could not be said to be responsive to the wishes of the plaintiffs.

The statement called for the Supreme Court to make a decision that recognizes the responsibility of the government based on the actual conditions of the other cases that are still ongoing.

Attorney Yorikane said, “I hope that (the government) will actively fulfill its responsibilities regarding the exercise of its authority based on scientific findings.

The Fukushima Prefecture Bar Association also referred to the government’s interim guidelines, which serve as the standard for compensation for damages, and called for a review of the guidelines according to the actual conditions of the damage in the future.

July 22, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Compulsory prosecution trial, request for resumption of hearings, request for evidentiary hearing of Supreme Court decision

Victims’ representatives head to the Tokyo High Court on the morning of March 23. to file a motion to reopen the trial

June 23, 2022
On June 23, TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Tsunehisa Katsumata, 82, former chairman of TEPCO, and three other members of the company’s former management team, were acquitted in the first trial after the prosecutors’ panel voted to force them to stand trial on charges of manslaughter and death.

The trial concluded on March 6, and a decision date has been set for next January, but the Supreme Court ruling on the class action lawsuit brought by residents who were evacuated from their homes after the accident is still pending. The court concluded the trial on January 6 and set a decision date for January next year.

 At a press conference held in Tokyo after the filing of the appeal, Yoko Okawa, a lawyer representing the victims, said, “The Supreme Court decision does not deny the reliability of the long-term assessment itself. (I think it will be difficult to maintain the first instance judgment (in the compulsory prosecution trial).

June 26, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Plaintiffs slam Supreme Court ruling

June 17, 2022

Some plaintiffs expressed their frustration at a news conference in Tokyo on Friday following a Supreme Court decision that the government is not responsible for the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima.

The leader of the plaintiffs from Fukushima Prefecture, Nakajima Takashi, said many people without the means to evacuate have had to keep living there while fearing radiation. He said the ruling is absolutely unacceptable as they are still struggling.

Tanji Sugie from Gunma said she has lost many things since evacuating 11 years ago. She said she wanted relief measures commensurate with the plight in which the plaintiffs found themselves, and had clung to the hope that the Supreme Court would hold the state liable.
She called the ruling regrettable, and added that a country that fails to protect its people should not operate nuclear power plants.

The leader of the plaintiffs in Chiba, Omaru Tetsuya, said he had believed the claim by the state and TEPCO that nuclear plants are safe and secure, but he ended up being forced to evacuate as a result of the disaster. He said he wanted the court to shed light on why the state had made such a claim and whether the state’s judgment was correct, and to acknowledge its responsibility for the accident.

Watanabe Hiroshi from Ehime Prefecture said the plaintiffs want to put an end to their suffering and move forward. He said they relied on the judicial authorities to achieve this because the government has refused to respond. He added that if the blame is placed on TEPCO alone, the mistakes by society that led to the accident will not be corrected.

June 18, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s top court rules state not liable for Fukushima disaster

Plaintiffs for lawsuits demanding that the government pay compensation for the Fukushima nuclear accident walk to the Supreme Court in Tokyo on Friday.

June 17, 2022

Japan’s top court on Friday dismissed claims that the government should pay damages in cases involving around 3,700 people whose lives were seriously affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, absolving the state of responsibility for mass evacuations in the crisis.

The decision by the Supreme Court’s Second Petty Bench was the first for the top court and covered four lawsuits filed in Fukushima, Gunma, Chiba and Ehime prefectures. Around 30 such lawsuits have been filed across Japan by people who had to evacuate from their home or whose lives were greatly impacted by the earthquake— and tsunami-triggered disaster.

The ruling leaves Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, solely responsible for slightly over ¥1.4 billion ($10.5 million) in damages in the four lawsuits. The top court finalized the utility’s liability in March for the first time.

The ruling marks a major milestone 11 years after a massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Japan’s northeastern region triggered the world’s worst nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and will inevitably set a precedent for future cases.

Lower courts were split over the extent of the state’s responsibility for the disaster as the regulator of the company, also known as Tepco. Of the four lawsuits, high courts had found the state responsible except in the Gunma case.

The focal point of the four suits 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 made public in 2002.

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

Based on the assessment, a subsidiary of the power company had estimated in 2008 that a tsunami of up to 15.7 meters could strike the nuclear power plant.

The plaintiffs argued that the disaster was, therefore, preventable if the government had exercised its regulatory powers to order the company to take preventative measures against flooding based on the long-term assessment.

The government and the company, for their part, claimed that the assessment was not established knowledge, and even if they had foreseen a tsunami higher than the site of the plant and taken measures against it, they could not be held liable as the scale and direction of the actual tsunami differed from estimates.

Of the roughly 30 damages suits seeking compensation from the state and the company over the disaster since 2013 by more than 12,000 people, lower courts have issued rulings in 23.

In 12 cases, courts acknowledged that the government and the utility were negligent in preparing for a tsunami similar to the one that struck the facility. In the other 11, courts ordered only the company to pay damages.

June 18, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

The Supreme Court “does not accept the responsibility of the government” for the nuclear power plant accident

June 17, 2022
The Supreme Court has refused to recognize the government’s responsibility in four class action lawsuits filed by approximately 3,800 people in Fukushima and other prefectures against Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the national government over the nuclear accident. Eleven years have passed since the earthquake and the nuclear accident. We caught up with each of the plaintiffs on the day that marked a major milestone.

June 18, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

June 17 Supreme Court Decision: What is the Responsibility of the State? Four lawsuits by victims of the nuclear power plant accident

April 25, 2022 Plaintiffs entering the Supreme Court.

June 17, 2022

A class action lawsuit brought by victims of the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, seeking compensation for damages, as well as pursuing responsibility on the part of the government and TEPCO. About 30 lawsuits have been filed in various parts of Japan, with plaintiffs numbering approximately 10,000. Of these, four of the lawsuits (the Ikigyo lawsuit (Fukushima), Gunma, Chiba, and Ehime) will have their appeals heard by the Supreme Court’s Second Petty Bench today, January 17. The Supreme Court’s decision, the first regarding the government’s responsibility for the nuclear accident, will be the focus of much attention. The victims of the nuclear power plant accident from all over Japan, who became plaintiffs in the class action lawsuits, spent their days of anticipation and anxiety in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision on the 17th.

A series of small episodes

I would like the court to decide that the government is responsible, but with the current situation in the country, I don’t know if the court will make a decision that the government was not at fault,” he said. So there is a fear that such a thing may happen.

 Shigeaki Konno, 84, spoke in Hamadori on the 15th, two days before the Supreme Court ruling.

 Mr. Konno is from Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture. He was forced to evacuate after the nuclear accident and is currently living in Fukushima City. Give us back our community, give us back our livelihood! He has been fighting for more than nine years since March 2013 as the deputy leader of the plaintiffs in the “Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Lawsuit (Livelihood Lawsuit).

Shigeaki Konno

Konno-san begins a little happily, “I’m anxious, but the other day, April 25, during the Supreme Court arguments, …… There was a judge there from the Sendai High Court.”

 April 25 was the day the Supreme Court arguments in the Ikigyo lawsuit were held, and Mr. Konno was in the audience. He was in the waiting room of the Supreme Court when he happened to meet a judge from the Sendai High Court.

I think I broke my leg, and I couldn’t go home from the hearing. I went to the waiting room with him by my sides and sat there for a while. Then the judge came from the other side and saw my face and must have recognized me. He said, “It’s Mr. Konno,” and “Thank you very much for your help.

By “thank you for your help,” he meant the on-site inspection. On May 27, 2019, the presiding judge of the Sendai High Court and other judges visited Mr. Konno’s home and other sites in Namie Town to verify the actual damage and conditions. Subsequently, the second trial court of the Sendai High Court ruled that the government and TEPCO were responsible, following the first trial court’s decision.

The judge said, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard a judge call out to me. Thanks to judges like that, we made it all the way to the Supreme Court.”

 Mr. Konno shared the episode with us with a laugh, saying that he and the plaintiffs and their lawyers were talking about good fortune and that they might win the Supreme Court, too.

Sendai High Court judges visit Ms. Konno’s home

It was rare for a judge to visit the site at the high court stage. In the Ikigyo lawsuit, both the first and second trial were conducted by the judge. The lawyer Gentaro Managi, the executive director of the lawyers’ group for the Ikigyo lawsuit, described the efforts that led to the on-site inspection as follows.

We were the first in Japan to conduct on-site inspections in a nuclear accident case, so we spent a lot of time negotiating with the judge at the first hearing, asking if we could go to the site. We are not seeking a verdict without an on-site inspection,’ he continued, ‘If we go to the site, the town hall of Namie Town will provide us with a place to have lunch in the town hall building,’ ‘We also met with the mayor of Futaba Town, and he has agreed to help us,’ and ‘Tomioka Town I told them about our plan, and they said, “You can park your car here and see this facility. (Laughs.) It took two years and a lot of persistence and energy to get the judge to conduct the site inspection.

Also, at the time of the on-site inspection at the first hearing, there was this incident.

On the day of the Nakadori inspection, it was raining lightly. The judge was wearing a rain gown, but without a hood, he was wet. One of the plaintiffs noticed this and asked the judge to put his hood up, but the judge said, ‘If you put your hood up, I won’t be able to hear what you are saying.

 This episode shows the judge’s attitude of listening to the plaintiffs’ thoughts and feelings. Many such small episodes have accumulated over the past nine years of the fight. The lawyers and plaintiffs have held more than 500 meetings in and outside of Fukushima Prefecture to gather plaintiffs, collected signatures before the verdict, and after the verdict, have repeatedly visited ministries and political parties to realize relief for the victims.

A Pregnancy Full of Anxiety

 One of the plaintiffs, Maya Kobayashi, 38, who lives in the Aizu region of Fukushima Prefecture, was raising her 18-month-old son at the time of the nuclear accident. The Aizu region was not ordered to evacuate by the government and was not compensated in any way. However, the area was not free of radioactive contamination, even in the municipality where Ms. Kobayashi lives, where there were restrictions on the shipment and consumption of vegetables.

There was a time when I was worried about the water I turned on. When I told my friends about it, they said, ‘If you talk like that, you can’t even wash your clothes.

 I didn’t talk about the nuclear power plant accident much anymore,” she said.

At the time of the nuclear accident, she lived with her husband, their son, her husband’s grandmother, and her husband’s father (father-in-law). They were raising their children and running their own business in an area rich in nature, with rice paddies behind their house and a crystal clear river nearby.

 It was on March 12 that she learned of the dangers of the nuclear accident. she saw on social networking sites that the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was in a dangerous situation. For a moment, Mr. Kobayashi wondered if she should evacuate, but without a sense of reality, she was busy dealing with the shortage of supplies needed for her business.

 On March 13, she left her son with her father-in-law and visited her mother in Nakadori to bring her some food, only to find out about a week later that she was pregnant with her second son. Ms. Kobayashi regretted leaving Nakadori at a time when radiation levels were high.

 After finding out that she was pregnant and seeing images of the explosion on TV reports and other media, she discussed with her husband whether it would be better to evacuate. However, her husband’s grandmother needed assistance with toileting and her father-in-law had Parkinson’s disease, so evacuation was unrealistic.

 Therefore, they began to live inconveniently, trying to avoid exposure to radiation as much as possible.

 The day-care center where my son was taken care of was located near a bank, and after receiving information that the grass and bank were accumulating radioactive materials, I hardly let him go to the center and had him leave at the end of March 2011. After that, we sent him to a day-care center in the city center and did not allow him to play outside at all within our sight. Because she was pregnant, she asked her husband to do the delivery work for her own business and avoided going out as much as possible. She did not hang her laundry outside and cleaned the house frequently.

 In order to avoid internal exposure from food, she chose foods from far away as much as possible, looked for old rice at the supermarket, and bought drinking water. She had taken for granted the delicious rice harvested in the rice paddies behind her house, and she regretted …… why she had to go to the trouble of eating stale rice.

 Mrs. Kobayashi was not the only one forced to live in such inconvenience at the time. Many parents and children I have met in and outside of Fukushima prefecture have told me that they had to put up with it in order to avoid radioactive materials. And many have evacuated from areas that had not been ordered to evacuate by the government because they could not continue that lifestyle.

 They are worried about the air they breathe and the water they drink,” Kobayashi said.

I spent my pregnancy worrying about the air I breathed and the water I drank. All I could think about was how not to expose my child to radiation and how not to expose myself to radiation. I was filled with anxiety about whether it was really safe to live here, whether my child would be born safely, and whether my son’s health would be affected.

I may never be able to return to my home.

 At the same time, Mr. Konno was being forced to leave the land where his ancestors had lived since the Edo period.

 On the morning of March 12, he and his wife and eldest son evacuated to a high school in the Tsushima district of Namie Town (Tsushima Branch of Namie High School), and then to a relative’s house in Nihonmatsu City, as if driven by the sound of a town public information van announcing “Please evacuate. There, he learned of the nuclear accident for the first time. After that, he spent a month in a gymnasium in Fukushima City as an evacuee.

 Mr. Konno had been opposed to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant even before the nuclear accident. He had joined the lawsuit for an injunction against the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant, arguing that the plant would be in serious trouble if an earthquake occurred. When he learned of the accident, he thought, “Oh, I knew it had happened,” and from an early stage thought, “I may never be able to return home.

I was involved in a local youth group that campaigned against the nuclear power plant,” he said. At first we weren’t against the nuclear power plant, we were against ‘Yo Masu,’ but from there we moved on to the nuclear power plant. I was in my twenties when I was involved in the ‘Yo Masu’ movement.

 Konno-san said.

The “extra mass” refers to the rule that rice cannot be shipped unless an extra few hundred grams are added to the rice before it is shipped. He said that there was a meeting of the local youth group to discuss the absurdity of this rule. That was 60 years ago. About 60 years earlier, in September 1961, the Okuma Town Assembly passed a resolution to invite TEPCO to build the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and a month later, Futaba Town passed a resolution to invite the plant. Even as a young man, Mr. Konno kept his eye on the local community and society.

So …… we wouldn’t have had to evacuate like this if it weren’t for the nuclear power plant,” Konno muses.

 Living in a gymnasium in Fukushima City, he did not get his underwear until the end of March. There was no privacy in the cardboard boxes separating them from each other, and there were long lines to use the restroom and to eat. The only food they had was onigiri (rice balls) and bread, some of which was rotting. He then moved to a guest house in Inawashiro Town, and by the time he moved to rented housing a few months later, his eldest son had rented another house, and his fourth son, who lived nearby, had evacuated to Gunma Prefecture, so his family was scattered.

 The family-like local community, where neighbors shared vegetables and naturally gathered at someone’s house in the evening for a drink, was also lost.

June 18, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

First unified decision on state liability Supreme Court to hear appeals of four class action lawsuits on June 17

June 16, 2022
On June 17, the Supreme Court’s Second Petty Bench (Chief Justice Hiroyuki Kanno) hands down its first unified judgment on the state’s responsibility in four class action lawsuits brought by evacuees of the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, who sought compensation from the state and TEPCO. The High Court has reached a split decision on the issue. The high court has reached a split decision, and it is inevitable that the outcome of subsequent lawsuits of the same type will be determined. The impact on the criminal trials of TEPCO’s former management is also attracting attention. The series of lawsuits seeking to hold the government legally responsible for the unprecedented accident has reached a major milestone.

 The progress of the first and second trials in the four lawsuits is shown in the table below. In addition to the amount of compensation, the lawsuits also focus on (1) the reliability of the “long-term assessment” of earthquake forecasts released in 2002 by the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion, and (2) the reliability of the nuclear power plant’s earthquake forecast. In addition to the amount of compensation, the main points of contention were (1) the reliability of the “long-term assessment” of earthquake forecasts released by the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion in 2002, (2) whether the arrival of a tsunami at the plant could have been predicted (foreseeability), and (3) whether the accident could have been prevented if the government had made TEPCO take measures (obligation to avoid consequences). The appeals court decisions in the Fukushima, Chiba, and Ehime cases found the long-term assessments to be reliable and found the government liable for the accident. On the other hand, the Tokyo High Court denied the government’s responsibility in the Gunma lawsuit.

 The issue that will divide the Supreme Court on March 17 is how to determine whether the government’s regulatory authority over TEPCO was “properly exercised or illegally exercised” with regard to the tsunami countermeasures at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

 In the Chikuho pneumoconiosis lawsuit, the Sennan asbestos lawsuit, and other lawsuits in which the existence of state liability for non-use of regulatory authority was disputed, the Supreme Court has taken the position that the state is liable for compensation if its failure to use its authority “deviates from permissible limits and is extremely unreasonable.

 The court is expected to follow this approach with regard to the nuclear power plant accident, and will examine the foreseeability of the tsunami and other issues to reach a verdict.

 In their arguments at the appeal hearings held in April and May, the plaintiffs argued that the long-term assessment was “highly reliable” and that the tsunami could have been foreseen based on the predictions. They argued that the accident could have been prevented if the government had forced TEPCO to build seawalls and make the buildings watertight to prevent flooding.

 On the other hand, the government argued that the long-term assessment was unreliable and “not precise and accurate enough to be incorporated into nuclear regulations. Even if TEPCO had been ordered to take countermeasures, the actual tsunami would have been different in scale and direction, and the accident could not have been prevented.

 In March, prior to the ruling, the Second Petty Bench of the Tokyo District Court had already rejected appeals by both the plaintiffs and the defendant regarding the amount of damages. With this decision, TEPCO’s liability and the amount of compensation are now fixed.

June 18, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Mr. Hiroshi Watanabe, a plaintiff in the Ehime lawsuit against the victims of the nuclear power plant accident, says, “The court’s decision will give hope to young people”.

Hiroshi Watanabe, a plaintiff in the Ehime lawsuit against the victims of the nuclear power plant accident, said he hopes the court will clearly recognize the government’s responsibility and give hope to young people.

June 15, 2022
◆Evacuation, Divorce…Families are falling apart
 Fukushima-san, Fukushima-san. Hiroshi Watanabe, 43, who evacuated to Ehime Prefecture from Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture, is sometimes called this by people he met in Ehime. Eleven years after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, he continues to be an “evacuee. And discrimination has not disappeared.
 Only 22 people have evacuated from Fukushima to Ehime (as of April, according to the Reconstruction Agency). Because the number of evacuees is so small, “evacuees stand out and are easily discriminated against. Some evacuees continue to hide the fact that they came from Fukushima from their neighbors, even after purchasing a house.
 Before the accident, he lived with his wife and two daughters in Odaka Ward, Minamisoma City, about 12 km north of the plant, and was a full-time farmer. He left the town under a government evacuation order, and a month after the accident, he evacuated to Ehime, where he spent his college years.
 He divorced his wife in 2019 after a prolonged evacuation in a faraway place, which caused him and his wife to clash with each other more and more. Mr. Watanabe and his second daughter (13) remained behind, while his eldest daughter (17) moved with his ex-wife to Sukagawa City, Fukushima Prefecture. The reality that his family has been torn apart has left him with an unforgettable feeling: “If only the nuclear accident had never happened…”.

◆The ruthless attitude of the country was shown to me.
What triggered the lawsuit against the government and TEPCO was a social gathering of evacuees that started immediately after the accident at the urging of a Buddhist priest in Matsuyama City. When the group met once a month, one after another, they voiced their plight, saying, “We are suffering financially. They could not forgive the government for leaving compensation to TEPCO and providing inadequate support for the evacuees.
 We went door to door to explain to the evacuees participating in the exchange meeting and recruited plaintiffs. Many of the evacuees were of child-rearing age, and eight plaintiffs, or 30%, were under 20 years old at the time of the accident.
 In January 2003, at the first oral argument at the Matsuyama District Court, they were confronted with the ruthless attitude of the government. When the plaintiffs attempted to state their opinions in court about the hardships of evacuation life, the government’s representative refused to listen to them, saying, “It is unnecessary because it is not evidence (for the trial). After that, the scientific debate continued endlessly, and I wondered in the audience. I wondered in the audience, “Is there any place for evacuees in this trial?

◆”I wanted a school for evacuees.”
 Still, if they did not speak out, their suffering would be pretended to have never happened. In May, I visited the plaintiffs in an effort to convey the feelings of the evacuees in the Supreme Court.
 Among them was a brother who had been bullied and had stopped attending school. The 22-year-old brother said that he wished that evacuee schools had been established throughout Japan so that evacuees could go to school with other evacuees, and that if the government had been honest enough to apologize, the accident would never have happened in the first place. If the government had been honest and apologetic, the accident would never have happened in the first place,” he said angrily.
 Mr. Watanabe’s second daughter, who is in her second year of junior high school, said, “My classmates don’t know much about the nuclear accident. If they don’t know about it, it will cause another accident, so I hope that when the verdict comes out, it will be written in textbooks that the accident was caused by the government’s policy.
 Hearing the voices of the young plaintiffs, Ms. Watanabe thinks, “Young people will continue to live with the accident. I hope that the court will issue a verdict that will give hope to the young people who will have to live with the accident in the future.

 Ehime Lawsuit Residents who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture to Ehime Prefecture due to the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant filed lawsuits one after another since March 2014, and two lawsuits were filed in Ehime Prefecture. Five people have filed lawsuits against the government and TEPCO, demanding compensation. On March 26, 2007, the Matsuyama District Court of the first instance (Judge Keiko Kuboi) ordered the government and TEPCO to pay a total of 27.43 million yen. On September 29, 2009, the Takamatsu High Court (Ryuichi Kamiyama, presiding judge), the court of second instance, also ordered TEPCO to pay a total of ¥2,743,000. The second trial court, Takamatsu High Court (Judge Ryuichi Kamiyama), on September 29, 2009, also found the government liable and ordered TEPCO to pay a total of 46.21 million yen, saying that the government’s failure to take tsunami countermeasures “deviated from acceptable limits and was extremely unreasonable. TEPCO’s liability was confirmed by the Supreme Court’s Second Petty Bench (Hiroyuki Kanno, Chief Justice) on March 30, 2010, rejecting TEPCO’s appeal.

June 18, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Evacuees from nuclear disaster await Supreme Court ruling

Sugie Tanji, left, and her husband, Mikio, in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture, look through documents on June 1.

June 14, 2022

Tetsuya Omaru initially thought he could return to his home in Fukushima Prefecture “in a week” after the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant forced him to flee.

However, the 92-year-old former farmer is still far from home 11 years after the nuclear disaster. 

His home in Namie, a small town in Fukushima Prefecture, is located about 11 kilometers from the plant, nestled in the mountains.

Omaru was born to a farming family dating back to more than 300 years. He used to grow rice and raised silkworms before he was displaced.

He knew all the people in his community of about 30 households. They were close and worked together to stage traditional festivals.

Omaru’s life, however, has been uprooted and upended since the triple meltdown in March 2011. 

The nuclear disaster occurred when the plant lost power and thus could not cool its reactors after the Great East Japan Earthquake struck and a tsunami swamped the plant. 

Omaru is now awaiting a weighty decision from the country’s top court, due on June 17, regarding a lawsuit he and other plaintiffs filed at the Chiba District Court.

They are demanding the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), and the government answer for the triple meltdown.

“TEPCO and the government had asserted over the years that nuclear power plants are safe,” Omaru said. “I strongly hope the Supreme Court will recognize the government’s responsibility for redress.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling will be applied to three other similar lawsuits.

In handing down the ruling, the top court will look at whether the government carried out appropriate regulatory oversight on the nuclear industry.

One focus was whether a 2002 government report on potential earthquakes in the future was credible enough to foresee a possible tsunami resulting from a powerful earthquake.

Another focus is whether TEPCO could have avoided the disaster if appropriate measures had been taken to safeguard against tsunami.

The lawsuits are among the first to be filed by victims of the nuclear disaster and part of about 30 legal actions being taken across the nation. The top court’s decision is likely to influence the course of the other court battles.

The top court handed down in March a verdict ordering TEPCO to pay a combined 1.4 billion yen ($10.4 million) to the plaintiffs of the four lawsuits.


After moving around in Fukushima Prefecture, Omaru initially took refuge in his oldest daughter’s house in Chiba Prefecture.

But it was impossible for him to work in the field, his passion, under such circumstances. He suffered a stroke in 2012.

He is now living with his second daughter in Yokohama. He had surgery for esophageal cancer in 2021.

Omaru decided to join a group of victims suing TEPCO and the government out of resentment that he has been deprived of his livelihood and hometown.

In its 2017 decision, the Chiba District Court denied the government’s responsibility.

The Tokyo High Court overturned it in 2021, however.

The high court’s decision came after three judges and other court officials traveled to inspect Omaru’s home in the so-called “difficult-to-return” zone due to radiation levels estimated at more than 50 millisieverts a year.

His house was ruined by wild boars and overgrown grass.

“If possible, I want to go back to my home in Namie to live while I am still alive,” Omaru said. “It is where I was born and grew up.”

That appears to be unlikely, however, as the government does not plan on cleaning up the area encompassing his community.


Among others awaiting the top court ruling are Sugie Tanji and her husband, Mikio, who brought their case to the Maebashi District Court in Gunma Prefecture.

The couple fled from Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, though their home, about 40 km from the plant, was not covered by the government’s evacuation order for communities with an estimated annual reading of 20 millisieverts.

Though the district court recognized the government’s responsibility in a ruling in 2017, it was overturned by the Tokyo High Court in 2021.

In hearings at the high court, the government defended its policy of not providing redress to so-called “voluntary evacuees” such as the Tanji family.

Giving them compensation, said the government, “would amount to offending the feelings of residents who stayed, and it would be an inappropriate assessment of the nation’s land.”

Tanji, 65, said she was appalled by the statement, describing it as an attempt to divide victims.

“It is TEPCO and the government that polluted the land,” she said. “But they are trying to pass the buck.”

Tanji and her husband were running a shop repairing word processors in Iwaki when the nuclear accident unfolded.

They temporarily evacuated to an acquaintance’s house in the prefecture.

When they returned to the shop a half month later, they found piles of faxes from their customers.

Most contained kind words offering encouragement, but a few were negative messages, such as one that read: “You do not have to return my machine as I fear it is contaminated with radiation.”

“When we read them, we felt we could no longer run our shop there,” Tanji said of their decision to leave Iwaki for good.

They moved to Maebashi in July 2011–a city they picked after drawing circles on a map of Japan to see what places were outside a 100-km radius of every nuclear facility across the country. Maebashi was one they considered to be far enough away.

But the tragedies continued. Mikio’s mother, who stayed in Fukushima, died without being reunited with the couple after the accident. A woman who was close to the couple committed suicide.

Tanji strongly hopes the court finalizes the government’s responsibility, to prevent another nuclear disaster.

“Tears that victims have shed, as well as the lives and livelihoods lost due to the disaster, should never be wasted,” she said.

June 18, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Plaintiffs in court gather at the National Diet to seek relief for damage caused by the nuclear power plant accident.

June 13, 2022
The Supreme Court will render its decision on June 17 in four class-action lawsuits seeking to hold the government legally liable for causing the nuclear accident. On May 31, a total of about 50 plaintiffs and lawyers gathered at the Diet Members’ Building. On May 31, a total of about 50 plaintiffs and lawyers gathered at the Diet Members’ Building and visited more than 150 Diet members in separate groups, handing them letters of request for relief from the damage caused by the nuclear power plant accident.

 Victory in the case is assured. We walked around the Diet Members’ Building with the people who have suffered from the nuclear accident for 11 years. (We will surely win.)

We will win.

We will surely win at the Supreme Court. We will surely win, and when we do, we will need the help of all the members of the Diet!

 Takashi Nakajima, leader of the plaintiffs in the Ikigyo lawsuit, spoke strongly to the secretary of a ruling party Diet member and handed him a letter of request that he had prepared.

The letter of request.
 The government has taken the position that it is socially responsible for the nuclear power plant accident, without legal responsibility. If the Supreme Court of Japan recognizes the legal responsibility of the government, the government will be required to reevaluate its past stance and take measures in accordance with its legal responsibility. We are confident that the Supreme Court will issue a ruling in our case, and we request the following
1Please attend the debriefing meeting after the Supreme Court decision and encourage the plaintiffs.
2. The National Liaison Group for Nuclear Power Plant Victims' Litigation is compiling joint demands and working to realize them. We look forward to your cooperation.

Plaintiffs Gathered from Across Japan

 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. Across the street from the Diet is the Prime Minister’s official residence and the Diet Members’ Hall, which is used by members of the Diet from both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. Two high-rise buildings will be built for members of the House of Representatives and one for the House of Councillors. On May 31, just before the Supreme Court ruling, the plaintiffs in the nuclear accident lawsuit spent the day walking around the Diet members’ building.

 The group that made the request was the National Liaison Group for Nuclear Power Plant Victims’ Lawsuits. In addition to the Ikigyo lawsuit, plaintiffs and defense lawyers who have filed lawsuits in various parts of Japan have joined the group. On this day, in addition to the four cases (Ikigyo, Gunma, Chiba, Ehime) for which judgments will be handed down on the 17th, plaintiffs from Kanagawa, Kyushu, Tokyo, Aichi/Gifu, and Iwaki also participated. Give us back our hometown! The plaintiffs from the Tsushima lawsuit also participated in the meeting. Including the lawyers, a total of more than 50 people made up the “large request group.

 On the morning of the day of the meeting, the conference room prepared as the meeting place was in a state of flux with all the preparations. Everyone, please listen carefully! Listen up! Gentaro Managi, attorney at law for the Ikigyo Litigation Defense Group, who was in charge of the entire request activity, shouted loudly, “Please listen carefully!

 The group was divided into 15 groups and was to visit more than 150 Diet members in a single day. Visiting the rooms of Diet members is a complicated process. In addition to making an appointment in advance, the participants had to go through a baggage check at the entrance to the Diet members’ chambers and hand in a piece of paper at the reception desk explaining the reason for their visit. Some of the plaintiffs who had gathered at the Diet members’ chambers said that this was their first visit to the building. Mr. Managi and Mr. Takashi Hattori, Deputy Secretary General of the plaintiffs’ group for the Ikigyo lawsuit, explained the procedure for the day.

They explained the procedure for the day: “All right, everyone,” they said. The head of each group has the list of places to visit. Many of the people in each group will be meeting for the first time. Please introduce yourselves before you leave.

I know the council members and secretaries are busy. Some secretaries may say yes, yes, yes, and try to turn you away after a minute or so. Please think of it as a game from there. ‘Don’t you need to take notes?’ and persist for three or five minutes.

Then, as soon as the groups have finished their preparations, please depart!

Plaintiffs preparing to make their request in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

Dedicatedly Going Around to Council Members

 The three members of Team 7 that accompanied the author were Takashi Nakajima, leader of the plaintiffs in the Ikigyo lawsuit (Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture), a man who is also a plaintiff in the Ikigyo lawsuit (Date City), and Makoto Seo of the Chiba lawsuit.

Let’s see, we’ll start with the fourth floor,” said Nakajima, looking over a list of places to visit. Nakajima looked over the list of places to visit. Each group is supposed to visit a dozen or so members of the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives has 465 members. The House of Councillors has 245 members (including three vacancies). Naturally, it is not possible to visit all of them. In addition to the executives of each political party, the list was narrowed down to those members who belong to committees related to the nuclear power plant issue. The targets were the Special Committee on Investigation of Nuclear Power Issues, the Special Committee on Reconstruction following the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the Budget Committee.

 The Diet members’ private rooms are lined up in the Diet Members’ Building like university laboratories. When I ring the intercom and say, “Sorry, please come in,” the legislator’s secretary opens the door. There, I inform them of the purpose of my visit and tell them that I would like to see the council member himself if possible. In reality, the council member himself was rarely in the room, and his secretary would often receive the request form on his behalf. Some secretaries of ruling party lawmakers refused to receive the documents, saying, “I think this will be difficult,” upon hearing the words “lawsuit over the nuclear power plant accident.

 The six Diet members’ rooms we visited in the morning were all unresponsive. In some cases, there were no secretaries, and they simply dropped the documents in the mailboxes. I guess they don’t listen to us after all. ……

 However, the steady footwork gradually yielded results in the afternoon.

 In the room of one ruling party lawmaker, the secretary who greeted him showed great interest in Nakajima’s story, and they talked for about 20 minutes.

The secretary said, “There is a part of the Diet members that as long as the trial is still going on, they cannot bypass it. In that sense, I think the Supreme Court decision is a great opportunity.”

Nakajima: “Thank you very much. We at the All-United Nations are confident that we will win the case. We are confident that we will win the case, and we are making a joint demand as something we will seek after the ruling. We would like to ask for the help of the members of the Diet in this regard, as it will require legislation.

The secretary said, “Understood. I will let him know. There are members of the ruling party who have various ideas about nuclear power, but I believe that it is the role of politics to help those in need.

 In the room of a former cabinet member, while he was talking persistently with his secretary, the Diet member himself came out from the back of the room.

Nakajima: “Whoa, well, well! Actually, there is a Supreme Court ruling on the 17th.”

Councilor “I see. I understand. I’m sorry. I don’t have time right now, but …… (to the secretary) make sure you listen to it properly!

 Of the dozen or so Diet members that Team 7 visited, only one member of the opposition party took the time to meet directly with the Diet member himself.

What is the outcome of the request?

 3:00 pm. After completing their requests, all 15 groups returned to the conference room for a debriefing session. Each group reported the results of the day and their impressions.

One person expressed his frustration, saying, “The secretary of Senator ●● refused to even meet with me!” One person expressed his frustration.

‘Many of the secretaries seemed to back away a bit when we started talking to them. ……

They didn’t even know that the verdict was on the 17th. It was very disappointing.”

 It was a debriefing session that showed that all the groups, though struggling, ran around trying to appeal to the legislators on the issue of the nuclear power plant accident.

Those who stood and tried to listen were generally not interested in hearing what we had to say. But they let me in when there were about four council members, and I was allowed to talk in the parlor.”

‘Where I could talk, I expressed my thoughts. The Congressman himself came out to see me!”

 Finally, Gentaro Managi, attorney for the Ikigyo lawsuit, said, “The senator’s request is not something that can be finished in a day. We have to continue the request even after the ruling. We need to continue the request two or three times from now on,” he summed up the day’s activities.

Joint Demand” by Plaintiffs’ Groups Nationwide

 On May 16, about two weeks before the action, the National Liaison Committee of Plaintiffs in Lawsuits Against Nuclear Power Plant Victims created a “Joint Demand” of 22 organizations.

The "Joint Demand for Relief of Victims of the Nuclear Power Plant Accident
1. The government and TEPCO must accept and deeply reflect on their negligent safety measures, which were declared illegal by the Supreme Court decision. Based on this self-reflection, the government and TEPCO must sincerely apologize to all victims, regardless of whether they are inside or outside Fukushima Prefecture, inside or outside the evacuation zone, or have chosen to live in, evacuate from, or return to their homes.

 The demand goes on to nine items. The demands include: “adequate compensation for the actual damage,” “free health checkups and medical care based on the dangers of radiation exposure,” “investigation and disclosure of the actual state of soil contamination,” and “no discharge of contaminated water into the ocean without the public’s understanding.

 The term “victims of the nuclear power plant accident” is used in a single sentence, but each person’s damage and situation are different. In some lawsuits, most of the plaintiffs remain in Fukushima Prefecture, while in other lawsuits, evacuees play a central role. The plaintiffs are in different positions, and they have discussed and developed a joint demand, according to the people involved. 

 The court decision will not walk away and change politics and society on its own. We have no choice but to take action ourselves. The plaintiffs from all over Japan are continuing their efforts.

June 18, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Ms. Sugie Tanji, a plaintiff in the Gunma lawsuit against the victims of the nuclear power plant accident, said, “I couldn’t give up because I was frustrated”

Ms. Sugie Tanji (left), a plaintiff in the Gunma lawsuit against the victims of the nuclear power plant accident, said, “I want to clarify the cause of the nuclear power plant accident.

June 12, 2022

◆The opportunity to prevent the accident “was there time and time again.”
 Before 6:00 p.m. on June 10, Tanji Sugie, 65, was holding a microphone in front of JR Maebashi Station.
 I want to clarify the cause of the accident, and I don’t want to see anyone shed tears the same way again.”
 This is the 483rd time for the campaign to call for nuclear power plant phase-out, which started every Friday since November 2012. She will not stand in front of the station on the 17th, the next time. On that day, the final verdict in her own trial will be handed down by the Supreme Court.
As one of the evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture to Gunma Prefecture following the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, she filed a lawsuit in September 2001. She wanted the Supreme Court to recognize that not only TEPCO but also the national government was responsible for the accident, which was one of the worst in the world.
 She argued that the government could not have prevented the accident even if it had taken countermeasures, even though it had many, many opportunities to prevent the severe accident. It was most upsetting to me that they didn’t even try and it was all for naught.”
 She went to every court hearing and traveled to various locations to support the lawsuits of other evacuees. She was not paid for her transportation or time off work. At home, she has piles of books and other materials related to the nuclear power plant that she has read.
 I studied, listened to others, and communicated. I have never had such intense days. I have no regrets. But I wonder if this is the life I wanted.

◆word like abuse I cried and shouted alone.
 If the accident had not occurred that day, she would be living with her husband Mikio, 68, in Okinawa. They were on their honeymoon in Okinawa, where Mikio continues to work as a home appliance repairman and a tourist guide. They used to talk about the future together, but now they only think about the past, “Those were the days….
 Mikio’s business was going well as he repaired word processors sent by customers all over Japan when the nuclear power plant accident occurred. In July 2011, Mikio moved from his home in northern Iwaki City, 35 km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, to Maebashi City. It was a “voluntary evacuation” from outside the government’s evacuation zone. About half of the plaintiffs are also voluntary evacuees.
 They were forced to evacuate for their own reasons, such as fears about radiation and not being able to raise their children safely. Despite this, the voluntary evacuees were labeled as “having fled without permission.
 At one point, I was even heckled with the comment, “The trial is hindering the reconstruction of Fukushima. I cried and screamed alone in the car many times,” she said. Even so, she continued to lead the group of plaintiffs. Four of the plaintiffs have died, and some are suffering from terminal cancer. I didn’t give up because I was frustrated.

◆There is still work to be done even after the trial is over.
 The Supreme Court’s unified decision on the government’s responsibility will have a tremendous impact on about 30 other lawsuits. I’m scared. I can’t sleep when I think about it. I can’t sleep when I think about it,” she said. I can’t sleep thinking about it. But I want them to accept responsibility.
 We need to create many measures so that the victims of the nuclear accident can live in peace. It is our responsibility as adults living after the nuclear accident”. Even after the trial is over, there is still work to be done. It will be a while before I can discuss the future with Mikio. (Shinichi Ogawa)

Gunma Lawsuit On September 11, 2013, 137 residents and their families who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture to Gunma Prefecture due to the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station filed a lawsuit against the government and TEPCO, seeking compensation. The court ordered TEPCO and the government to pay a total of 3.855 million yen. However, on January 21, 2009, the Tokyo High Court (Presiding Judge Satoshi Adachi) reversed itself and denied the government’s responsibility. It ordered TEPCO alone to pay a total of 119.72 million yen. TEPCO’s liability was confirmed on March 2, 2010, when the Supreme Court’s Second Petty Bench (Hiroyuki Kanno, Chief Justice) rejected TEPCO’s appeal.

June 13, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

I will not run away even if people say I am a “walking rumor mill”.

Takashi Nakajima cuts and slices fresh fish, mostly locally caught, that he personally selects at the market into sashimi and displays them at his restaurant, which his son has taken over, in Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture.

June 11, 2022

I think I might have to close down the store.
 In December 2012, when asked by Guntaro Managi, 46, a lawyer visiting from Tokyo, to become a plaintiff leader, Takashi Nakajima, 66, who runs a local fish supermarket in Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture, could not give an immediate answer. I might have to close down the store,” he said.
 Immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake, supermarkets were packed with people every day in search of water and food. They cooked rice from stores they had left over, negotiated to buy fish from frozen warehouses at markets, and carried water in bleached kettles. Some people came from far away by bicycle or on foot due to lack of gasoline. 1,500 people a day formed a long line. While stores in the area were closed, they worked desperately to secure foodstuffs so as not to let the local people starve to death.
 After the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the fishing industry in Fukushima was forced to suspend operations. Both the fish brokers and the retailers’ association, of which Mr. Nakajima is the president, were in dire straits because they could not get local fish. We have no choice but to hang ourselves,” he said. Such voices came in on a daily basis. With the help of a lawyer, he filed a direct claim for damages with Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), but the company was slow to take action.

Sales down 30%, living on a pension with his wife without pay
It was then that he was asked to become the leader of the plaintiffs’ group in a lawsuit seeking compensation from TEPCO and the central government. His wife Kazumi, 66, told him, “Everyone is going to hang themselves. My son will teach you how to cut fish. I’ll teach my son how to cut fish, and we’ll take care of the restaurant. The fact that the lawyers had told him, “We are prepared to win even if it costs us our own money,” also crossed his mind. We can’t just run away.
 Meetings of the plaintiffs’ group, lawsuits, negotiations with the government and TEPCO…. He began to leave the restaurant frequently. Due in part to the nuclear accident, sales have dropped by 30% at best, and now he and his wife live on a pension without pay.
 As the head of the plaintiffs’ group, he was prepared to face criticism from those around him for continuing to complain about the damage. I was very angry when I was told by neighbors that I was a “walking rumor mill. However, his determination to have TEPCO and the national government admit responsibility for the nuclear accident and apologize, and to help victims other than the plaintiffs, was unwavering.

The government’s efforts to restart the nuclear power plants will not end with the court’s decision.
 More than 11 years have passed since the accident, and more than 100 plaintiffs have died. Mr. Nakashima cannot forget Mitsuo Takagi, then 71, a ramen shop owner in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, who committed suicide in 2003. In court, he said, “I was happy when my children came to the store with their families. Now that the area has been designated as an evacuation zone, I can’t even open that store. Do you understand my frustration? There was no suicide note.
 There was no suicide note,” Nakajima said. I believe that the Supreme Court’s decision will recognize the government’s responsibility. I wanted my friends who passed away to hear this. The government is now trying to restart the nuclear reactors. The ruling is not the end of the matter. The plaintiffs’ group will not disband and will continue to fight until we hand over to the next generation a society in which nuclear accidents will never happen again.

 Fukushima lawsuit: “Give back our livelihood, give back our community! The lawsuit was filed on March 11, 2013 under the slogan “Give back our livelihoods, give back our community! The lawsuit was filed on March 11, 2013 under the slogan “Give back our livelihood, give back our community! The Fukushima District Court (Kanazawa Hideki, presiding judge) in the first trial held the government liable for one-half of TEPCO’s damages, but the Sendai High Court (Ueda Satoshi, presiding judge) in the second trial found the government’s liability equal to that of TEPCO and doubled the amount of damages to 1.01 billion yen. The high court decision expands the area covered by the “loss of hometown” compensation, which was only allowed in the difficult-to-return zone under the government’s “Interim Guidelines” for compensation standards. The court also approved compensation for victims in the Fukushima and Aizu regions and parts of Tochigi and Miyagi prefectures that are outside the evacuation zone.

 On April 17, the Supreme Court’s Second Petty Bench will issue a unified decision on whether the government is liable for damages in four lawsuits filed by victims of the nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima, Gunma, Chiba, and Ehime prefectures against TEPCO and the government. Ahead of the ruling, which could have a tremendous impact on the approximately 30 class action lawsuits filed nationwide, we asked the plaintiffs in the four lawsuits about the past 11 years and what the future holds.

June 13, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Lawsuit by evacuees from nuclear power plant accident: Supreme Court to rule on June 17 for the first time on the government’s responsibility

May 19, 2022
The Supreme Court has decided to hand down its verdict on four class action lawsuits that have been appealed, demanding compensation from the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) by people who evacuated to various locations due to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on June 17. The Supreme Court is expected to issue a unified judgment on the government’s responsibility for the nuclear accident for the first time.

The ruling will be handed down in four of the class action lawsuits filed against the government and TEPCO by people who evacuated to various locations after the nuclear power plant accident, including Fukushima, Gunma, Chiba, and Ehime.

In the four lawsuits, the two courts were divided on the responsibility of the government, and the Supreme Court was hearing the cases.

In arguments held last month and this month, the residents said, “The government should have instructed tsunami countermeasures based on the government’s ‘long-term assessment’ of earthquakes, but neglected to do so. The accident could have been prevented if they had been given measures against flooding.

In response, the government denied responsibility, saying that the “long-term assessment” was unreliable and that the actual tsunami was completely different from the one estimated based on the assessment, and that the accident could not have been prevented even if tsunami countermeasures were ordered.

In the four lawsuits, TEPCO’s responsibility and the amount of compensation have already been determined.

The amount of compensation awarded in each of the four lawsuits exceeds the government’s standard for compensation for nuclear accidents, including damages for changes in the basis of daily life and loss of “hometowns.

It will be interesting to see what kind of unified judgment the Supreme Court will render on the responsibility of the government in the ruling to be handed down on the 17th of next month.

Translated with (free version)

May 29, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Ruling pressures Japan to set proper damages for Fukushima nuclear disaster

March 19, 2022 (Mainichi Japan)

The amount of compensation has been finalized in a series of class-action lawsuits brought by people affected by the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station managed by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings (TEPCO). The Supreme Court rejected appeals filed by TEPCO in six cases.

It is a message from the judiciary that relief for victims of the unprecedented nuclear disaster is insufficient. In each of the cases, the amounts awarded exceeded the compensation standards set by the Japanese government. The administration should seriously take the judicial decision to heart, and the standards should be revised immediately.

According to the government’s standards, people who lived in what are now called “difficult-to-return” zones are entitled to 14.5 million yen (about $121,600) in compensation, while those who evacuated voluntarily are entitled to damages of 80,000 yen (about $670). The amount was determined with reference to liability insurance for traffic accidents.

However, those who were forced to evacuate or otherwise relocate were deprived of their lives in their hometowns and local community ties. And people who continued to live in those areas were unable to engage in agriculture, fishing or other such lines of work.

In six high court cases, the courts increased the amounts of compensation to several million yen above the government’s standards and expanded the areas eligible for compensation, among other measures. They judged that the government standards did not set compensation high enough for people who had lost the basis for their livelihoods and had seen their hometowns utterly transformed.

In particular, in a ruling on one case with about 3,600 plaintiffs, the court set compensation amounts by evacuation zone and area. There is accordingly room for those who did not take part in the suit to file for compensation in the future.

To advance relief in line with the actual situations of victims, there is an urgent need to raise the government’s standards and expand the areas eligible for redress. Local bodies in affected areas are also calling for reviews.

Meanwhile, TEPCO’s response is being questioned anew.

In court, TEPCO maintained that it could not accept compensation that exceeded the standards. It even went as far as to claim that the current standards were too high.

The nuclear disaster compensation system is not premised on a presumption of negligence by TEPCO. Yet there have been rulings pointing out inadequate safety measures. The company’s responsibility is extremely heavy.

TEPCO’s three pledges for compensation are: 1) Be sure every eligible person receives payment; 2) Be sure that compensation is given promptly and accurately; 3) Defer to the proposals of mediators on settlements. It should faithfully carry these pledges out.

Eleven years have passed since the outbreak of the nuclear disaster, and many people still have no option but to stay where they have evacuated to. A significant number have decided to relocate permanently to other areas. The government and TEPCO have a responsibility to compensate the people who suffered damage in good faith.

March 20, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment