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Japan: UN expert to assess Fukushima evacuees’ plight during official visit

21 September 2022

GENEVA (21 September 2022) – UN expert Cecilia Jimenez-Damary will visit Japan from 26 September to 7 October, to assess the human rights situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs), or evacuees, from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.

“Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced in the immediate aftermath of the disaster and tens of thousands remain as evacuees today, more than 10 years later,” said Jimenez-Damary, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs.

“By engaging with Government, evacuees, and other relevant stakeholders during the visit, I aim to foster collaborative, whole-of-society efforts to address the remaining barriers evacuees face in achieving durable solutions,” the expert said.

Jimenez-Damary will visit Tokyo and the prefectures of Fukushima, Kyoto, and Hiroshima. She will meet Government officials, UN bodies, academic experts, and human rights organisations, as well as civil society, IDPs and communities affected by internal displacement during her visit.

The UN expert will present her preliminary observations at the end of her visit on 7 October at a press conference, which will take place at 13:00 at the Japan National Press Club, 2-2-1 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0011. Access to the press conference will be strictly limited to journalists.

A comprehensive report on the Special Rapporteur’s visit will be presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2023.

ENDS

Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary was appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons by the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2016. A human rights lawyer specialized in forced displacement and migration, she has over three decades of experience in NGO human rights advocacy. Her mandate, which covers all countries, has been recently renewed by resolution 50/6 of the Human Rights Council.

As a Special Rapporteur, she is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Read the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement

UN Human Rights country page: Japan

September 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.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220617_33/?fbclid=IwAR2NIGovn4VOYisj-oWuEWBH7oaJ5uU_eMyIYcSAZy430oMxBcvMEK0mwaM

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.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/06/17/national/crime-legal/fukushima-court-no-damages/?fbclid=IwAR0_9rD12pY1rmOQ9u844nNfefLVD_M1kAqha9FW8b24s2jZffeznViDNnU

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.
https://newsdig.tbs.co.jp/articles/tuf/73210?display=1&fbclid=IwAR1NlC9yQdyN-k6f41FHUGE1FLAIqhrqEv6vbJuaoQ6YPzbJn3Oonbs54Ic

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.

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

Class Action Lawsuit by Evacuees of Nuclear Power Plant Accident to be Decided by Supreme Court Today

June 17, 2022

The Supreme Court will hand down its decision on April 17 in four class action lawsuits filed by people who evacuated to various areas after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, demanding compensation from the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). The Supreme Court is expected to issue its first unified judgment on the government’s responsibility for the nuclear accident, which may have an impact on similar lawsuits filed across Japan and the way relief should be provided to the victims.

The Supreme Court’s decision will be handed down in four class action lawsuits filed against the government and TEPCO by people who evacuated to various areas after the nuclear power plant accident, including Fukushima, Gunma, Chiba, and Ehime.

The focus of the lawsuits is the reliability of the “long-term assessment” published by the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion in 2002, nine years before the earthquake, and whether the government could have predicted the huge tsunami and prevented the accident if TEPCO had taken countermeasures.

The residents of the area said, “The long-term assessment is reliable, and the government should have ordered tsunami countermeasures, but it failed to do so. The residents argued that the accident could have been prevented if they had been given countermeasures for flooding and other problems.

In response, the government argued that the “long-term assessment” was unreliable and that the actual tsunami was different in scale from the estimates based on the assessment.

The two courts were divided in their decisions, with the Fukushima, Chiba, and Ehime courts recognizing the reliability of the “long-term assessment” and holding the government responsible, while the Gunma court denied the reliability of the “long-term assessment” and held the government not responsible.

This is the first time that the Supreme Court has reached a unified decision on the government’s responsibility for a nuclear accident. If the court determines that the government is responsible for the accident, the government, along with TEPCO, will be liable for the total 1.4 billion yen in compensation that has already been determined.

Furthermore, the ruling is expected to have an impact on similar lawsuits that have been filed throughout Japan, and depending on the decision, it may have a ripple effect on the relief for victims and the way nuclear power plants are regulated.

The verdict will be handed down at 2:30 p.m.


The judgments so far are.

The issues are whether a giant tsunami could have been predicted based on the “long-term assessment” of earthquakes published by a national agency, and even if it could have been predicted, whether it would have been possible to avoid the accident by having TEPCO take effective countermeasures.

Of the four cases for which verdicts are to be handed down, the Fukushima and Ehime lawsuits were found to be the responsibility of the government in both the first and second trials.

The Fukushima lawsuit, also known as the “Ikigyo lawsuit,” is the largest class action lawsuit in Japan, with over 3,500 plaintiffs.

The Sendai High Court, which made the first ruling in the second trial, noted in September 2008 that “the ‘long-term assessment’ has an objective and reasonable basis, and that if the government and TEPCO had promptly made estimates based on this assessment, they could have predicted a large-scale tsunami.

He continued, “It must be admitted that the government was trying to avoid estimating the long-term assessment itself because it was afraid of the large economic burden on TEPCO. It is illegal for the government not to have ordered measures to be taken.

In a lawsuit brought by more than 20 people who evacuated to Ehime Prefecture, both the first and second judges found the government liable, saying, “The government should have predicted the danger of tsunami based on the long-term assessment and taken countermeasures.

On the other hand, the first and second judgments in Chiba and Gunma differed.

In a lawsuit by more than 40 people who evacuated to Chiba Prefecture, the Chiba District Court in the first trial denied the government’s responsibility, saying, “Although the arrival of the tsunami could have been foreseen in 2006 at the latest, it is not recognized that the accident could have been prevented through measures related to the tsunami.

However, the Tokyo High Court in the second instance denied the government’s responsibility, stating, “If a tsunami assessment had been made based on the ‘long-term assessment,’ the government could have recognized that there was a risk of tsunami exceeding the height of the nuclear power plant site. If countermeasures had been taken, the impact of the tsunami would have been mitigated and the plant would not have lost all of its power supply.

In a lawsuit filed by more than 90 people who evacuated to Gunma Prefecture, the Maebashi District Court in the first trial accepted the government’s responsibility, but the Tokyo High Court in the second trial, a different judge from the Chiba lawsuit, refused to accept the government’s responsibility, saying that “it cannot be said that the tsunami could have been predicted based on long-term assessment and that the accident could not have been avoided even if tsunami countermeasures had been taken. The court refused to accept the government’s responsibility, stating that “the tsunami was not predicted by the long-term assessment.


What is a “long-term assessment?”

The “long-term assessment” that was the focus of this report was published in July 2002 by the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion, a group of experts on earthquakes and tsunamis established by the Japanese government in the wake of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, to estimate the areas where major earthquakes and tsunamis will occur in the future based on past earthquakes and other data, and the probability of their occurrence.

What was published at that time was a forecast of seismic activity from Sanriku-oki to Boso-oki. Based on the fact that three major earthquakes with magnitude 8-class tsunamis have occurred along the Japan Trench in the past 400 years, we estimated that a similar earthquake would occur within a wide area on the Pacific side, including off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, with a probability of about 20% within 30 years.

Based on this “long-term assessment,” a subsidiary of TEPCO estimated in 2008, three years before the nuclear accident, that the maximum tsunami height that could reach the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant would be 15.7 meters. The result was much higher than the maximum height of 5.7 meters that TEPCO had assumed at the time, and some on-site personnel voiced the need for countermeasures.

On the other hand, some experts questioned the reliability of the “long-term assessment,” and so the study was entrusted to another organization, the Japan Society of Civil Engineers (JSCE), which had previously assessed tsunami heights, and no concrete measures were taken.

One of the main issues in the trial was whether the government and TEPCO were able to foresee a huge earthquake with a large tsunami before the nuclear accident based on scientific evidence, and whether the “long-term assessment” could be said to be the basis for the foresight.

The Supreme Court’s decision on the “long-term assessment” is expected to be the focus of attention.


Evacuee Class Action Lawsuits Filed in 33 Cases Nationwide

A total of 33 class action lawsuits have been filed across Japan by people who evacuated to various areas after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, demanding compensation from the government and TEPCO, with a total claim of 106 billion yen and more than 12,000 plaintiffs.

Four of these lawsuits have been appealed to the Supreme Court (Fukushima, Gunma, Chiba, and Ehime), which will hand down its decision on April 17. 14 lawsuits filed at 13 district courts and branches in Tokyo, Yokohama, Niigata, and other cities are being heard by the High Court.

In the two cases of Saitama and Fukushima, where the government’s responsibility was dismissed at the first trial in April this year and on the 2nd of this month, the residents and others have appealed the cases.

The remaining 13 cases are still pending in the district court or awaiting a decision.

The court decisions on the responsibility of the government are divided, with 12 of the 24 judgments handed down so far by the first and second instance courts acknowledging the responsibility of the government and 12 refusing to do so.

The breakdown is as follows: the district court in the first instance recognized the state’s responsibility in 9 cases, and the high court in the second instance did not recognize the responsibility in 11 cases.

Of the four lawsuits decided by the high court, Fukushima and Ehime were found to be responsible by both the first and second instance courts, while the first instance court that found the government liable in Gunma was reversed, and conversely, the second instance court found the government liable in Chiba.

Under these circumstances, the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision may have an impact on the lawsuits that are still being heard in various regions.


Four lawsuits confirm TEPCO’s liability and the amount of compensation in excess of 1.4 billion yen.

The Nuclear Damage Compensation Law stipulates that in the event of a nuclear accident, electric power companies are in principle liable for unlimited compensation regardless of fault, and in four lawsuits, TEPCO’s liability and the combined damages in excess of 1.4 billion yen have already been determined.

The national review board established in response to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant established “interim guidelines,” which set standards for the amount of compensation, and TEPCO has individually compensated those who are eligible for compensation based on these guidelines.

Although the amount and the range of damages awarded differed, the amount of compensation awarded exceeded the interim guidelines in each case, taking into consideration the fact that the victims had to change their lives before the accident and the “loss of their hometowns” among other factors.

The amounts awarded were approximately 1 billion yen to 3,500 people in the Fukushima lawsuit, 120 million yen to 90 people in the Maebashi lawsuit, 270 million yen to 40 people in the Chiba lawsuit, and 46 million yen to 20 people in the Ehime lawsuit.

If the Supreme Court rules that the government is also liable for compensation, TEPCO and the government will both have to bear the burden of compensation amounting to about 1.44 billion yen in total for the four cases.


More than 30,000 people still living in evacuation shelters

According to Fukushima Prefecture and the Reconstruction Agency, up to 164,865 residents of Fukushima Prefecture alone were evacuated due to the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear power plant accident, and as of last month, more than 11 years after the accident, 30,231 people, or 18%, were still living as evacuees.

Of these, 6,549 are in Fukushima Prefecture, 23,677 are outside the prefecture, and 5 are unaccounted for.

Evacuees from Fukushima are located in all 47 prefectures of Japan, with Ibaraki Prefecture having the largest number of evacuees with 2,626, followed by Miyagi Prefecture with 2,573, Tokyo with 2,431, Saitama Prefecture with 2,386, Niigata Prefecture with 1,1958, Kanagawa Prefecture with 1,790, Chiba Prefecture with 1,423, Yamagata Prefecture with 1,262, Tochigi Prefecture with 1,151, and Hokkaido with 617. Hokkaido has 617, and so on.

So-called “voluntary evacuees” who evacuated from areas where evacuation orders were not issued are not included in the number of evacuees within the prefecture, but are included in the number of evacuees outside the prefecture.

In addition, people who have rebuilt their houses or moved into public disaster housing are not included in the evacuees because the evacuation is considered to end when the provision of free housing such as temporary housing ends. However, people who are living in the homes of relatives or acquaintances are included as evacuees as temporary temporary housing.


Plaintiffs who continue to live in evacuation shelters are

Keiko Fukaya, 77, who represented more than 3,500 plaintiffs in the Fukushima case, was living in Tomioka Town, Fukushima Prefecture, approximately 7 km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant at the time of the accident.

She has been living in Koriyama City for the past three years, after having evacuated to other prefectures in and out of Fukushima Prefecture 10 times.

He worked as a hairdresser for many years, and when he was 59 years old, he built a beauty salon on the premises of his home to provide a place for the community to relax.

Ms. Fukaya said, “I loved this house where I could live slowly. The house where I raised my children and lived with my husband for several decades is my life itself, so when I see it in ruins, I feel sad and wonder what my life and all the hard work I have done so far has been for nothing, and every time I see it, I burst into tears.

The judge visited this place in May 2019 for a site survey during the course of the second hearing at the Sendai High Court, and at that time, Ms. Fukaya directly conveyed her feelings to the court, wanting them to know the situation the evacuees are in.

Before the Supreme Court’s ruling, Ms. Fukaya visited a beauty salon in the hard-to-return zone last week for the first time in three years since the time of the field survey, but the roof had collapsed and the interior was inaccessible.

Ms. Fukaya said, “I couldn’t go in there because they said the radiation was particularly high, and it was covered with scrub and looked like a mountain. My work and interaction with my neighbors were my purpose in life, and I put my heart and soul into building my beauty parlor, but because of the nuclear accident, everything I have built over the past 40 years while living and struggling in this town has been destroyed by the slides. For me, it is as if everything was taken away from me,” she said with tears in her eyes.

He then added, “It is not a matter of money. I really don’t want money, I want things to go back to the way they were. If they could return it to the way it was before the nuclear accident and put me back where I was, I would like to come back here, but that is impossible. If there had been no nuclear power plant, if the accident had not happened, I could have lived here, but because of the nuclear accident, I can’t live here anymore,” he said.

He continued, “The past 11 years have been a waste of time for me, as I have been repeatedly evacuated, living like a rootless weed, lost on the street. I wanted to do more, but nothing has been done and nothing has been decided. No one will give me back the past 11 years of my life, but what can we do if the government does not accept its responsibility? That is why we absolutely must win this trial, and for the sake of the many people who are still evacuated, we must win.


Possible Influence on the Way Victims’ Relief is Provided

The Supreme Court’s decision on the government’s liability for the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant may have an impact on the way relief for victims is provided.

Of the approximately 30 class action lawsuits filed by people who evacuated to various locations as a result of the nuclear accident, the Supreme Court has so far ruled in seven cases that TEPCO is liable for compensation and that the amount of compensation exceeds the guidelines set by a national panel by 2013.

The reason for this is that new damage, prolonged evacuation, and delays in the restoration of living conditions in the surrounding areas were unforeseen at the time the guidelines were established.

However, up to now, the government has been “supporting” TEPCO by issuing government bonds and providing necessary funds to compensate for damages caused by the nuclear power plant accident, based on the assumption that the government has a social responsibility for promoting nuclear energy policy.

If the Supreme Court ruling holds the government responsible for the accident, the government will be recognized as a party to the same problem as TEPCO, which may lead to a review of the way relief for victims should be provided.


Experts: “The nature of compensation and support will determine the future course of events.”

Professor Rifumi Yedimoto of Osaka Public University, an expert on compensation for nuclear accidents, commented on the significance of the ruling: “This is the first judgment on the responsibility of the government in the more than 11 years since the nuclear accident. It is a decision of great significance in that it will determine the future direction of compensation, reconstruction policies, and support for disaster victims.

If the government is found to be responsible for the disaster, the government will face the victims in the same position as TEPCO, and the foundation of its policies will be fundamentally changed,” he said. This would have the impact of fundamentally changing the foundation of the government’s policy. I think the government will be required to review its policies, such as by launching a drastic effort to support the reconstruction of the lives of individual victims.

Professor Dedimoto commented, “The Supreme Court’s decision in March of this year confirmed that the compensation based on the government’s guidelines to date is insufficient. Regardless of what conclusion is reached regarding the responsibility of the government in this decision, I think it is essential to review the guidelines. There are many things that have become clear through research and trials over the past 11 years, and the government should properly consider what the ideal form of compensation should be.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20220617/k10013675451000.html?fbclid=IwAR10lwc_d5Pu-6uVmuI3WOmjIftSBlMtVlqNlBRwRpqoloWMX29yeA3idBM

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.
https://www.minpo.jp/news/moredetail/2022061697974?fbclid=IwAR1Q9vySLN6xSfAStjuONrVPFKgU3N2yHDsFjioDW9gN33nEVsI3LrbJuzQ

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.

NO LONGER ABLE TO FARM

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.

TEARS FROM THE VICTIMS

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.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14644610

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

Prolonged evacuation takes its toll in Fukushima Pref. with many disaster-related deaths

A bereaved family member speaks about their late father’s condition while viewing a report that describes the background of his death, which was certified as being “earthquake disaster-related,” in the county of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 9, 2022.

June 13, 2022

Even over a decade after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami, and ensuing nuclear disaster, there have still been deaths in Fukushima Prefecture that have been certified as being related to the disasters, including those caused by worsening physical conditions due to prolonged evacuation.

In Fukushima Prefecture, which was hit hard by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident, an awfully high number of “earthquake disaster-related deaths” have been recorded, with the toll currently standing at 2,333.

When unraveling the reports submitted by bereaved families to local governments, it was found that harsh conditions surrounding evacuation, repeated shelter relocations, and feelings of loss regarding one’s hometown have been destroying the physical and mental well-being of elderly people and others in Fukushima.

Kenichi Hozumi, 71, a former high school teacher who has evacuated to the Fukushima Prefecture city of Iwaki from the prefectural town of Futaba, where the wrecked nuclear power plant is located, has lost both his parents. Their deaths were certified as “earthquake disaster-related.” At age 83, his father Yoshihisa’s physical condition worsened immediately after he evacuated, and he suddenly died from pneumonia. His mother Shigeko’s condition also gradually weakened amid prolonged evacuation, and she died aged 88 a decade after the earthquake.

According to Hozumi, Shigeko had temporarily left the evacuation shelter to go back home twice a month until around 2017. She could not permanently return to her house due to high radiation levels, and the home was sullied by animals. There had even been traces of a burglary.

From around 2018, Shigeko could not move both legs freely. Following her hospitalization in April 2020 after she complained of suffocation, she said she wanted to return to Futaba every time Hozumi visited her. In September 2020, she passed away from an acute aggravation of chronic respiratory failure.

Shigeko relocated six times following the nuclear disaster. She stayed with relatives in Niigata as well as at her grandchild’s home in Tokyo. “Following evacuation, she did not have a place she could settle down in even for a moment. In the end, she passed away with her mouth open, as if she had something to say,” Hozumi said. He expressed regret on behalf of his mother in a report recounting the events leading to her death.

Earthquake disaster-related deaths are certified by local governments after bereaved families file applications which undergo screening by a panel consisting of doctors and others. According to the Reconstruction Agency, 3,784 such deaths related to the 2011 disasters had been certified across 10 prefectures including Tokyo, as of late September 2021. Among them, deaths in Fukushima Prefecture account for 60%.

Furthermore, Reconstruction Agency statistics showed that over 90% of deaths in the severely affected areas of Iwate and Miyagi prefectures that were certified as relating to the earthquake involved people who died within one year from the disasters. In contrast, 40% of disaster-related fatalities from Fukushima Prefecture occurred more than one year after the 2011 onset of the nuclear disaster, from causes including prolonged evacuation, and applications for disaster-related death certifications have been continuously submitted in the prefecture to date.

In order to examine this reality, the Mainichi Shimbun filed requests asking that 26 municipal governments in Fukushima Prefecture, which authorized the certification of disaster-related deaths, and an assembly of municipalities in the Futaba area disclose documents submitted by bereaved families. As a result, about 2,200 individuals’ documents and data were disclosed by 20 local governments.

The Mainichi Shimbun examined the information on around 1,000 people whose backgrounds leading to their deaths were known. One report stated, “Winters at temporary housing were cold, and their legs and loins weakened as they had nothing to do,” while another read, “Uncertainty hung over their life amid prolonged evacuation and they came to drink alcohol from the daytime.” These reports showed that a change in environment following evacuation affected people’s health.

An elderly man in the Fukushima Prefecture town of Namie died about one year after the nuclear plant accident and his death was certified as being related to the 2011 disasters. According to the report on the man, he returned home temporarily in the autumn of 2011, but was in a state of great mental shock when he saw his house in ruins. He reportedly teared up, saying, “If only the nuclear plant didn’t exist,” while burying the bodies of beloved pets on the premises of his house. The report then stated that it was around this time that he stopped going outdoors and developed the habit of saying, “I can’t do this anymore.”

While individuals aged 80 or older comprise a majority of earthquake-related deaths in Fukushima Prefecture, the aftereffects of the 2011 disasters have also eaten away at those of the working generation. An automobile salesman from Futaba county experienced a sudden change in his life as he visited relatives at shelters that took several hours to reach, as well as going to see clients who were scattered across Japan.

On top of this, he was ordered to vacate his home built with loans due to prefectural road construction even though he had just begun repairing it. The man, who apparently began to smoke more heavily due to shock, died of acute myocardial infarction in September 2014. He was aged 55. His 61-year-old wife commented, “He was a hard worker and did not show signs of being tired, but I think he had loads of stress.”

Masaharu Tsubokura, professor at Fukushima Medical University, who has been studying earthquake disaster-related deaths, believes that “secondary health consequences following the nuclear disaster last for long periods and are wide-ranging.”

With prolonged evacuation comes repeated relocations, separation from family, work changes, and loss of the person’s hometown. Tsubokura said, “Damage accumulates each time the victim’s environment changes, and those in vulnerable positions have been sifted out.” He insisted that even if people exercised less and drank more after large disasters, it should not be dismissed as an individual’s responsibility and society as a whole should consider ways to support them.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220610/p2a/00m/0na/031000c

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

TEPCO issues 1st apology from president for nuclear accident

Face value skin-deep apology: So sorry that we destroyed your life, your health and your living environment but happy that the court gave us only a chump change damages compensation to be paid for all of that.

Kazuyoshi Takahara, representative of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Rehabilitation Headquarters, center, apologizes to plaintiffs for the 2011 nuclear disaster at its office in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 5.

June 6, 2022

FUTABA, Fukushima Prefecture–Tokyo Electric Power Co. apologized to a group of plaintiffs who won a damages suit against the utility for the first time under the name of its president.

“We sincerely apologize to you for upending your lives and causing irreparable mental and physical damage with the nuclear disaster,” TEPCO President Tomoaki Kobayakawa said in the statement.

The apology was read by Kazuyoshi Takahara, representative of the utility’s Fukushima Revitalization Headquarters in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, to some of the plaintiffs who visited on June 5. He bowed after reading the statement.

Kobayakawa was not among the TEPCO officials who received them.

The apology followed the Supreme Court’s decision in March that upheld the Sendai High Court’s order for the utility to pay more compensation to the victims than outlined in the central government’s guidelines.

Naoko Kanai, who heads the group’s secretariat, said, “I would like to accept the apology and want to believe the words reflect the company’s determination to make efforts to restore the lives of the residents.”

But Tomio Kokubun, a deputy leader of the plaintiff group, blasted the absence of the TEPCO president when offering the apology.

“It shows a lack of common sense, given that the company caused an accident of such magnitude,” he said.

The group of 216 plaintiffs sued the company for the “loss of their hometowns” after they were ordered to evacuate when the triple meltdown unfolded in March 2011 following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

The lawsuit was among about 30 similar lawsuits brought against TEPCO.

June 8, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

TEPCO apologizes for the first time in the name of its president to the plaintiffs in the evacuees’ lawsuit

Kazuyoshi Takahara (center), representative of TEPCO’s Fukushima Reconstruction Headquarters, and others bow to plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by evacuees of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident.

June 5, 2022
On June 5, TEPCO apologized in the name of President Tomoaki Kobayakawa to the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit filed by residents evacuated from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident seeking compensation for the “loss of their hometown,” saying that the accident “ruined their lives and caused irreparable damage both physically and mentally. This is the first time that TEPCO has apologized to the plaintiffs of a class action lawsuit in the name of its president.

 The apology was made in Futaba-cho, Fukushima Prefecture, where TEPCO’s Fukushima reconstruction headquarters is located, after the Supreme Court ruled in March that TEPCO should pay compensation in excess of the national standard. However, President Kobayakawa did not visit the site, and Kazuyoshi Takahara, the head of the Fukushima Reconstruction Headquarters, said, “The accident has caused great damage to our irreplaceable lives and hometowns. He read out a letter of apology and bowed his head.

 Naoko Kanai, 56, secretary general of the plaintiffs’ group, said, “We would like to accept your sincere apology with all sincerity. We believe that these words are a pledge to spare no effort to restore the lives of local residents without the arrogance of a large corporation.
https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASQ6566MSQ65UGTB00C.html?iref=pc_photo_gallery_bottom

June 7, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | 1 Comment

TEPCO apologizes to evacuees of nuclear power plant after losing lawsuit: “The accident ruined my life”

Kazuyoshi Takahara (second from right), representative of the Fukushima head office, and other TEPCO employees apologize to Atsuo Hayakawa (second from left), leader of the plaintiffs’ group, and others after the company lost a lawsuit claiming damages in Futaba Town, Fukushima Prefecture, on the afternoon of June 5.

June 5, 2022
In response to the final decision in a lawsuit filed by evacuees of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, TEPCO met with the plaintiffs on June 5 at an industrial exchange center in Futaba-machi, Fukushima Prefecture, and told them, “The accident has caused great damage to our irreplaceable lives and hometowns, and we are deeply sorry that your lives have been ruined and that you have suffered irreparable damage to your bodies and minds. The accident has caused irreparable damage to your lives and hometowns, and has wrecked your lives and caused irreversible physical and mental damage. I am truly sorry.


 Kazuyoshi Takahara, representative of TEPCO’s Fukushima headquarters, read the letter of apology in the name of President Tomoaki Kobayakawa and handed it to the plaintiffs. Atsuo Hayakawa, 82, the head of the plaintiffs’ group, received the letter and demanded, “I want you to investigate the cause and responsibility for the failure to prevent the accident based on objective facts.
https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/amp/article/181741?fbclid=IwAR2hQcp5pXdFFb8l989S0AFW8wObAlmwrsSaYgzmn-H4tJ2Q1JoIlBR7kK0

June 7, 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.
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20220519/k10013634001000.html?fbclid=IwAR1jvMLiIaufwrDbmhaQHR_KjCNj7RKHSXsamJslG9ocGVuM-8plLMH96yw

Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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

Government to phase out insurance fee exemption for Fukushima evacuees

A damaged clothing store is seen Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, in March as the whole town remains evacuated following the 2011 nuclear disaster

Apr 8, 2022

The government said Friday it will start phasing out from as early as fiscal 2023 medical insurance fee exemptions for evacuees affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a move that will increase the financial burdens on such people.

The phase-out affects evacuees who are now able to return or have already returned to the areas of their former residency following the lifting of evacuation orders.

The government aims to completely end the exemptions of health and nursing care insurance fees about 10 years after the evacuation orders were lifted in principle, with the 10-year period calculated as starting from April in the year after the lifting.

Reconstruction minister Kosaburo Nishime said the phase-out specifically took into account when evacuation orders were lifted to “avoid sharply increasing the burden” on the evacuees.

As for the 10-year timeframe, Nishime told a news conference the government believes that by then, the former residents would have returned to their hometowns and made some progress in rebuilding their livelihoods.

As for steps for former residents of zones still designated as off-limits in the Fukushima Prefecture towns of Okuma and Futaba, which host the Fukushima No. 1 plant crippled by the 2011 quake and tsunami disaster, the government will hold further discussions.

Many low-income people evacuated due to the nuclear crisis have so far been completely exempted from paying insurance fees as well as from a proportion of charges for the medical and nursing care services they receive.

As of late March, more than 32,000 people who evacuated after the nuclear disaster remain in other areas within Fukushima or outside the prefecture, according to government data.

The immediate target of the phase-out policy will be those who lived in areas where evacuations orders were lifted by 2014, such as the town of Hirono.

At first, the evacuees will be requested to shoulder half the amount of insurance fees before preferential treatment is scrapped completely in fiscal 2024.

Former residents of areas where the evacuation orders were lifted between 2015 and 2017 will see the phase-out policy begin in the period of fiscal 2024 to 2026, with the exemption ending entirely in two years.

The Fukushima No. 1 plant spewed out a massive amount of radioactive materials after the tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake flooded the facility, causing multiple meltdowns and hydrogen blasts at the complex and forcing some 160,000 people to flee at one point.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/04/08/national/fukushima-medical-insurance/

April 9, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

Bullying, suicide attempts…11 years for a girl in Fukushima… Before evacuation, she was cheerful: “It’s OK. You’ll just make more friends.”

A woman holds a group photo and high school diploma taken in Fukushima before the evacuation. She sometimes looked at the photos at the beach when she was having a hard time.

March 11, 2022

Serialization “At the End of the Tunnel: Trajectory of the Girl and Her Family” (1)

On her last day of high school, a girl (18) nearly burst into tears when her name was called by her homeroom teacher at the presentation of her diploma. The teachers and friends at this school made me smile from the bottom of my heart. I was sad to graduate. I didn’t think so when I was in elementary and junior high school.
 On March 11, 2011, just before the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant occurred, the girl was 7 years old and entering the second grade of elementary school. During the summer vacation after moving on to the next grade, she evacuated from Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture to Niigata. In the place where she sought a safe haven, she was bullied, saying “Fukushima is dirty” and “radioactive,” and cried out repeatedly that she wanted to go back to Fukushima. When she was in high school, she even attempted suicide.
 Days went on in a long dark tunnel with no way out. Now, under a clear sky, I feel as if I have finally escaped from that exit. Whenever you feel lonely, come back to us. From April, she will attend a vocational school in Niigata Prefecture to fulfill her dream.
Classmates transferred one after another… “It’s my turn now,” she said.
 March 11, 2011, 2:46 p.m. I was watching TV with my grandfather at home in Koriyama City. Furniture fell over and dishes broke as a result of the violent shaking. The cell phone was beeping incessantly with earthquake early warnings. I hit my head and body hard against the leg of the sunken kotatsu and the desk I was squatting on, and cried out in fear. I’m going to die, aren’t I? When she ran out of the house, she found a blizzard.
 At the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, hydrogen explosions occurred at the Unit 1 reactor on March 12 and at the Unit 3 reactor on March 14. A relative who had family members in the Self-Defense Forces told her father, “I heard the nuclear power plant is dangerous. We’re going to run away,” and her parents decided to evacuate temporarily.
 In the early morning of the 16th, the car with the family of four, including her one-year-old sister, headed for Niigata. At the shelter where they took shelter, there was hot food and hot spring baths. A private room was prepared for the family’s young child, and the mother was small, saying, “Even though we are not from the evacuation zone. Every day was fun because I could play with other children who had evacuated.
 When she returned to Koriyama in time for the new school term in April, she found her days suffocating. The children wore long sleeves, long pants, hats, and masks to avoid exposure to radiation, and the classroom windows were closed. The school building was covered with blue tarps, and the topsoil in the schoolyard had been stripped and piled up for decontamination. The homeroom teachers told us not to touch the soil.
 In the middle of the first semester, one by one, her classmates moved away from the school. I think it’s dangerous here, so I’m thinking of going to Niigata. When my parents asked me about it, I thought, “My turn has come.
 I was sad to leave my beloved father and grandparents who remained in Fukushima for work, but I knew that my parents were trying to protect me and my sister. So I thought positively and answered cheerfully. ‘That’s fine. You’ll just make more friends.”
 At the closing ceremony of the first semester, I was filled with sadness when my friends told me, “It will be okay wherever you go,” and “I’ll be waiting for you to come back to Fukushima again. That day, we took a group photo in class. It is a treasure that I still look back on from time to time. (Natsuko Katayama)
 Based on more than a year of interviews, this report tells the story of the girl and her family over the past 11 years in four installments.

https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/164844?fbclid=IwAR3848Nmfb-xZ1lPserU_cd1k-dFoGKLZvwJlaTS9XhiP5HCACZ2hTpQ2es

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