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Government panel revises guidelines for Fukushima compensation

Dec. 20, 2022

A government panel has revised a set of guidelines for the amount of compensation to be paid to people in Fukushima who have been affected by the accidents at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in 2011. This is the first revision of the guidelines in nine years.

The revised set of guidelines will make more people eligible for compensation.

People who have evacuated from some of the areas outside the government-designated no-go-zones will now be eligible for compensation worth 2.5 million yen per person.

Those who lived in “evacuation preparation zones” within a radius of 20 to 30 kilometers of the nuclear plant will be paid 500,000 yen in compensation.

The panel for the first time said that these sums will not be the ceiling.

It called on Tokyo Electric Power Company to be flexible in paying damages to those not included in the new guidelines.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221220_41/

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January 4, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2022, Fuk 2023 | , | Leave a comment

The compensation standards for voluntary evacuees from the nuclear power plant accident will finally be reviewed on May 5, and there are concerns about whether the standards will be commensurate with the actual situation.

Members of the Nuclear Damage Dispute Review Committee (front) interviewing victims in the evacuation zone (back) at the town hall of Okuma Town, Fukushima Prefecture, in August.

December 4, 2022
The government’s Dispute Coordination Committee for Nuclear Damage (CALI) will discuss compensation for “areas subject to voluntary evacuation,” which are defined by the guidelines as areas within 30-100 km of the nuclear power plant, at its meeting on December 5. While some victims have voiced their appreciation for the review, others have criticized the slow response and inadequate relief. (Natsuko Katayama)
 The trigger for the review was a judicial decision. In March, the Supreme Court rejected TEPCO’s appeal in seven class action lawsuits filed by victims of the nuclear accident against the government and TEPCO, ordering TEPCO to pay damages that exceeded the guidelines. The final ruling in the Fukushima lawsuit, which was contested by approximately 3,650 people in and outside of Fukushima Prefecture, approved an additional maximum of 3 million yen per person.
 In response, the CALI finally decided on November 10 to review the guidelines. New compensation targets, such as “severe evacuation conditions” in evacuation-directed zones, will be added. On the other hand, the review of voluntary evacuation zones and other areas is likely to be limited to a very small portion.

Guntaro Managi, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the Fukushima lawsuit, commented, “The fact that there has been a move to review the lawsuit is a result of the class action lawsuit, but it is too late to wait for the Supreme Court decision. The review is too late,” said Ittaro Managi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the Fukushima lawsuits.
◆Discrimination and bullying at evacuation centers, and many times “I want to die
 In the review of the “interim guidelines” for compensation standards by the CALI, one of the issues presented so far is the focus on “areas subject to voluntary evacuation, etc.” The court made a partial judicial decision on children and pregnant women. This is because the CALI Board is cautious about reviewing the guidelines for children and pregnant women, even though some judicial decisions have approved compensation amounts higher than the guidelines. The review for adults is also inadequate, and some of the victims are concerned about whether the amount of compensation will be commensurate with the damage.
 We want them to listen to us, who were children at the time of the accident, even now,” said one victim. A female student at a vocational school, 18, who evacuated to another prefecture from the voluntary evacuation zone, said, “I would like you to listen to our stories, even now.
 She was in the first grade at the time of the accident. She suffered discrimination and bullying at the evacuation site. Radiation” and “Fukushima is dirty. Her father worked in Fukushima and commuted to the evacuation site on weekends, while her mother was busy raising their young children. Not wanting to cause worry to her parents, she kept to herself, unable to confide in them. I wanted to die” she thought many times.
 Before deciding on the review policy, the CALI committee members heard from residents in the evacuation zone, but only asked the head of the municipality for his opinion on the voluntary evacuation zone. The committee members said, “We don’t want you to make a decision as if you knew about the damage we have suffered without hearing from the people involved. We are concerned that the review will be far removed from the actual situation.
 In several court decisions, children and pregnant women in the voluntary evacuation zone have been awarded compensation that exceeds the guidelines, but the CALI is cautious about a review. If the guidelines had been reviewed at the most difficult time, I would have felt that they recognized my suffering and saved my life…” he said.

In its review of the issue, the CALI Board stated that adults in the voluntary evacuation zone are not considered to be more sensitive to radiation than children and pregnant women, and that fear of exposure alone is not sufficient to warrant compensation. On the other hand, the court acknowledged the combined fear of continued accidents and further spread of radioactive contamination, and considered extending the period of compensation.
 The plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit in Niigata Prefecture, who had been suing the government for damages for the accident, said that the Supreme Court’s decision was too late to review the case. Masashi Kanno, 48, a plaintiff in the class action lawsuit in Niigata Prefecture, evacuated from Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture, which is in the voluntary evacuation zone, to Niigata City, where he still lives with his family. He said, “I can’t imagine how much fear and heartache the parents must have felt worrying about their children without any knowledge of radiation. I don’t care if the compensation period is extended without hearing from the people involved and without a proper acknowledgement of the damage.
 Although the CALI tribunal has ruled that damages other than those covered by the guidelines can be compensated through alternative dispute resolution (ADR), there have been a number of cases where TEPCO has rejected settlement proposals because of the gap between the guidelines and the CALI tribunal. Mr. Kanno said, “The guidelines are supposed to be the ‘minimum standards for compensation,’ but TEPCO has set them as the ‘upper limit’ for compensation. Why didn’t TEPCO investigate the actual situation and take action sooner?
 Regardless of the outcome of the trial, he believes that the government itself should have reviewed the guidelines. I hope that this time, the government will seriously review the damage, rather than just saying that it has reviewed the situation.

https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/217773?rct=national

December 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan Govt to Review N-Accident Compensation Criteria

Nov 10, 2022

Tokyo, Nov. 10 (Jiji Press)–A Japanese government panel agreed Thursday to review the state’s guidelines on the criteria for compensation for people affected by the country’s worst nuclear accident, which occurred in Fukushima Prefecture in March 2011.

The decision came after the panel received a final report from experts who looked into court rulings ordering the government to pay more compensation than the amount set under its interim guidelines for damages related to the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The dispute reconciliation panel for nuclear damage compensation said it is set to summarize the points of five items, including psychological damage caused by the loss of people’s hometowns or changes that occurred in their hometowns due to the March 2011 triple meltdown at the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. plant, presented in the report, and make efforts to take into account the newly classified types of damage.

The current guidelines stipulate that around 100,000 yen be paid monthly per person in compensation for psychological damage caused by evacuations.

In March this year, however, the Supreme Court finalized seven rulings ordering TEPCO to pay more compensation than stipulated in the guidelines. Calls for a review of the guidelines have been growing among local residents.

https://www.nippon.com/en/news/yjj2022111000653/

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

Ministry panel calls for expanding eligibility for nuclear damage compensation

The Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant is seen in Fukushima Prefecture on Aug. 29.

November 11, 2022

Additional compensation should be provided to more evacuees affected by the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, according to experts on the Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation.

The experts compiled a final report Thursday on interim guidelines for compensation. Based on the report, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry’s committee was to start reviewing the current guidelines later in the day.

In class-action lawsuits filed by evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture against plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. and others, seven high court rulings ordering compensation beyond the guidelines were finalized as of March this year. Ahead of the review of the guidelines, lawyers were among the five appointed as expert members of the ministry panel to analyze these rulings.

The guidelines were first devised in August 2011 and will be reviewed for the first time since December 2013.

The experts’ report categorized five types of damage, such as psychological damage caused by the deprivation or change of an evacuee’s hometown, and called for making efforts and using resourcefulness to take newly categorized damage into consideration.

Specifically, the report talked about how to calculate compensation regarding psychological damage that residents have suffered due to having to leave their hometown. Such changes came about because the hometown became an evacuation-designated zone. There are three categories, with the most severe situation being designated a difficult-to-return zone.

The report created a category for damage stemming from people returning to a hometown and having to deal with the changed situation there.

The expert members presented their view that it is reasonable to calculate the amount of compensation by referring to lawsuits seeking damages filed by evacuees in which courts ordered compensation beyond the guidelines.

Regarding compensation for residents who have been deprived of their hometown, the experts also pointed to the need to consider the approximate amount in light of such court decisions. They called for increasing compensation for each category of evacuee.

The current guidelines, the report said, do not adequately take into consideration psychological damage caused by evacuation, as residents had fled with only the bare essentials. Given that, the experts suggested that the revised guidelines specify the increased amount of monthly payments to compensate for disruptions to the daily life of evacuees.

Source: https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/society/general-news/20221111-69996/

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

Fukushima District Court Submits Motion to Reopen Argument in Evacuee Removal Trial (October 21, 2022)

October 24, 2022

On July 26, the Fukushima District Court, which had forced the conclusion of the trial for eviction of evacuees from their homes without conducting any proper proceedings, notified us on October 17 that it would deliver the verdict at 11:40 a.m. on October 27.

In response to this notice, the defendant evacuees submitted a petition to the Fukushima District Court to reopen the trial to ensure that the defendant evacuees have the “right to a trial” guaranteed by the Constitution.

The full text of the petition can be found here.

The beginning and end of the motion are as follows
Introduction

Ms. Cecilia Jimenez Damary, the UN Special Rapporteur appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the human rights situation of evacuees (internally displaced persons) from the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident and report to the UN Human Rights Council, visited Japan from September 26 to October 7 to conduct an investigation. When she left Japan, she gave an interview to Kyodo News, in which she said, “I do not agree with the lawsuit filed by Fukushima Prefecture demanding the evacuation of voluntary evacuees who continue to live in public employee housing even after the end of support (this is exactly what this court case is about). I can’t agree with it. It could be a violation of the human rights of the evacuees,” she warned (see attachment for photos and details of the interview below).

This is the first full-scale investigation of evacuees from the nuclear power plant accident by the UN, and in the course of the investigation, the UN Special Rapporteur also warned that “I do not agree with this lawsuit. The UN Special Rapporteur stated for the first time, “I do not agree with this lawsuit. It could be a violation of the human rights of the evacuees. This reference is in line with the defendants’ consistent assertion throughout the trial that “this action violates the right of residence guaranteed to internally displaced persons by international human rights law and is therefore inadmissible. In other words, the defendants’ argument was shown to be in line with the common sense of the world.

The court, by the way, has ignored or rejected every one of the six defenses and the thorough clarification of the facts through the examination of six witnesses and other parties, despite the fact that the defendants have been seeking relief from the human rights violations committed by the plaintiffs. On July 26, the trial was terminated. However, the serious concerns expressed by UN Special Rapporteur Damarie about the trial have reminded the defendants that the trial is a serious test not only for us in Japan, but also for the people and common sense of the world, and that failure is not an option. Therefore, in order to show that this trial is worthy of the world’s common sense, the Court must listen carefully to the world’s attention and common sense, decide to reopen the arguments, and conduct a thorough and true examination of the six issues and six interrogatories to ensure that the defendants’ “right to a fair and impartial trial” is guaranteed. We are now convinced that we have no other choice but to strive for a thorough clarification of the truth through the examination of the six defendants.

Therefore, for the reasons stated below, the defendants request the court to reopen the oral argument pursuant to Article 153 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

Conclusion

As stated above, if, despite the defendants’ earnest request, the court does not reopen oral argument and conduct the examination of witnesses requested by the defendants for the purpose of clarifying the truth, and if the court does not exercise its right of proper explanation to the plaintiff, and if the plaintiff continues to refuse to admit or deny or refute the defendants’ defense facts above, such plaintiff’s Not only does the boycott itself constitute an illegal act under the National CALI Act, but the root cause of this situation is the court’s negligence in not actively working to correct the plaintiff’s dishonest and illegal boycott of the issue. Therefore, if the court had not resolved this boycott and had denied all of the defendants’ applications for examination of witnesses and themselves without allowing the defendants to fully argue and prove the above defense facts, the court would have concluded the trial and issued a judgment, which would have been inevitable because of “the illegality of non-exhaustion of trial due to failure to exercise the right of explanation” and the judgment would have been reversed. The reversal of the judgment is inevitable.

Not only that, despite the fact that the defendants have repeatedly and strongly demanded that the illegal state of affairs be corrected, it is unacceptable for the court to continue to turn its back on them and refuse to exercise its right of explanation to the plaintiffs for the purpose of clarifying the issues. In this case, we strongly request the court’s decision to resume oral arguments.

 Judge Masayuki Fujiyama, who once distinguished himself in the Administrative Division of the Tokyo District Court, said, “A jurist’s work must be able to withstand not only contemporaneous but also historical evaluation. These words literally apply to this trial. Moreover, it is an evaluation of world history, not merely Japanese history. The words of the UN Special Rapporteur Damarie at the beginning of this article demonstrate this point. This trial must not become a stain on world history.
https://seoul-tokyoolympic.blogspot.com/2022/10/11027.html?fbclid=IwAR2uRP2Cg8TKTUTNzn09xrqceBBsC_Gh0cYjKSOcxbZSGLYcOXmz-ccVzFA

October 31, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan: Support for those displaced by Fukushima nuclear disaster must be unconditional, says UN expert

GENEVA (10 October 2022) – A UN expert has urged the Japanese government to give unqualified, human rights and needs-based support to the more than 30,000 people still displaced 11 years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.That approach must also apply to reconstruction in affected areas.

“Many displaced persons are unable or unwilling to return to their areas of origin due to lingering fears regarding radiation levels, or concerns about access to basic services including education, healthcare, and jobs in these areas,” said Cecilia Jiménez-Damary, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

The expert emphasised there could be no distinction made between IDPs – also known as “evacuees” in Japan – on the basis of whether their displacement was motivated by fear of the effects of the disaster or due to a mandatory evacuation order.

“Protection and assistance to IDPs must be provided on the basis of their human rights and their needs, and not on the basis of status-based categorisations, which have no justification under international human rights law,” Jiménez-Damary said in a statement presenting her preliminary observations from a 10-day visit to Japan.

“All IDPs have the same rights and entitlements as citizens of Japan, and the practice of allocating support based on whether IDPs are categorised as ‘mandatory’ or ‘voluntary’ must end.”

Since the 2011 disaster, IDPs have faced challenges in accessing basic rights, including housing, health, livelihood, participation, and education for children. “To enable durable solutions, conditions must be in place to ensure their right to an adequate standard of living including housing, access to employment and livelihoods, and effective remedy for displacement-related rights violations, including in places of origin to which they are being asked to return,” the Special Rapporteur said.

Accurate information was essential for the evacuees to make informed decisions on whether to return or settle elsewhere. It was also critical to ensure their right to freely choose the most appropriate durable solution is not impeded by policies that make assistance conditional on return.

“For IDPs who remain in evacuation, there should be continued basic support, especially provision of housing assistance to the most vulnerable households and support for all IDPs achieve sustainable livelihoods,” the Special Rapporteur said.

She urged authorities to adopt an area-based approach to the reconstruction of Fukushima Prefecture covering the needs and rights of both IDPs and remaining residents. “To rebuild social cohesion, it is essential that both IDPs and the current residents of Fukushima Prefecture engage in dialogue and are provided with full information and are able to freely participate in decisions related to reconstruction,” the expert said.

The Special Rapporteur visited Tokyo and the prefectures of Fukushima, Kyoto, and Hiroshima and met with executive and legislative officials, civil society organisations, lawyers, and academic researchers. She also heard from internally displaced persons and communities affected by the nuclear disaster.

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

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/10/japan-support-those-displaced-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-must-be?fbclid=IwAR1d60dn49OUcePSNjremA1Z9FsAfZ1E8GJt87ThF6EJ9Ner1qNqlfxZNic

October 16, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

UN expert says Japan should do more for Fukushima evacuees

This aerial photo shows the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, north of Tokyo, on March 17, 2022. A United Nations human rights expert urged Japan’s government on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, to provide evacuees from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster with more support, including housing, jobs and other needs, regardless of whether they fled forcibly or not.

October 8, 2022

TOKYO (AP) — A United Nations human rights expert urged Japan’s government on Friday to provide evacuees from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster with more support, including housing, jobs and other needs, regardless of whether they fled forcibly or not.

Wrapping up an investigation of the evacuees’ human rights conditions, Cecilia Jimenez-Damary said Japan has adequate laws to protect internally displaced people. They include a nuclear disaster compensation law that requires the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, to cover damages, and other government-led revitalization and reconstruction programs. But she said they have not been effectively used to address the vulnerability of the evacuees.

“Those laws should not remain just laws on the books, but they should be implemented,” she said. “Unfortunately, because they are not fully implemented, to a certain extent, this explains the proliferation of litigation against TEPCO and the government.”

Three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant melted after a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, knocked out cooling systems, releasing large amounts of radiation and displacing more than 160,000 people at one point. About 30,000 people remain displaced in and outside of Fukushima.

Thousands of people have filed about 30 lawsuits demanding compensation from both the government and TEPCO for the loss of livelihoods and communities because of the disaster. The Supreme Court in July dismissed four lawsuits, saying the government cannot be held liable because the damage from the tsunami that hit the plant could not have been prevented even if measures had been taken.

Jimenez-Damary said the evacuees have received unequal treatment depending on whether they were forced to leave no-go zones or left voluntarily. Voluntary evacuees are seen as having left unnecessarily and are excluded from TEPCO compensation and many other government support measures.

“The categorization of forced evacuees and voluntary evacuees, especially when it comes to receiving support and assistance, should therefore be dropped in practice,” she said, adding that the discrimination has “no justification under international law.”

She said she was very concerned about the termination in 2017 of housing support for voluntary evacuees in Fukushima that led to the prefectural government filing a lawsuit against people who remained in dorms for government employees despite an order to leave.

Jimenez-Damary, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights of internally displaced persons, met with Japanese officials, experts, human rights organizations and evacuees in Tokyo, Fukushima, Kyoto and Hiroshima during her Sept. 26-Oct. 7 visit to Japan. Her preliminary report is expected early next week, followed by a full report to be issued in June 2023.

She acknowledged efforts by the central and local governments to address the vulnerabilities of evacuees, but said, “I would like to stress that there has to be an improvement.”

Jobless rates among working-age evacuees exceed 20%, substantially higher than the national average of 3%, she said.

Evacuations also broke up one-third of the families that often maintain two households. Mothers who evacuated with their children often became unemployed and separated from their husbands, who stayed behind and secured their jobs, Jimenez-Damary said in a statement released later Friday. Children are often stigmatized and bullied by their classmates, who consider them as unjust recipients of large sums of compensation or spreaders of radioactivity.

She raised concern about the government’s recent shift away from supporting evacuees toward coaxing them into returning to their hometowns after they reopen, or face the loss of their support.

Jimenez-Damary also noted “considerable concern about the continuing effect of radiation exposure, especially to children who are now young adults,” as well as other anxieties suffered by evacuees. She called for continuation of the prefecture-sponsored free thyroid screening to “enable continued monitoring of the issue and provide much needed data to see evolution of health risks over time, with a view to ensure focused treatment programs to those who are suffering.”

Seven people from Fukushima who were children at the time of the disaster and later developed thyroid cancer have filed a suit seeking a total of more than 600 million yen ($4 million) in compensation from TEPCO and the government.

More than 290 people have been diagnosed with or are suspected of having thyroid cancer from a survey of about 380,000 residents aged 18 or younger at the time of the disaster. The occurrence rate of 77 per 100,000 people is significantly higher than the usual 1-2 per million, their lawyers say.

Government officials and experts have said the high rate in Fukushima is due in many cases to overdiagnosis, which might have led to unnecessary treatment. Some even suggest scaling down of the checks.

https://apnews.com/article/japan-tokyo-united-nations-government-and-politics-b43cc28cff011c092a30a80566e709f3

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

U.N. expert urges Japan to aid the voluntarily displaced in Fukushima

Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, the U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, delivers her preliminary remarks at the end of her visit to Japan to assess conditions for people displaced after the Fukushima 2011 nuclear disaster, at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo on Oct. 7, 2022.

October 8, 2022

The Japanese government should scrap distinctions between “mandatory” and “voluntary” evacuees from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and take a rights-based approach to ongoing support for those still displaced by its effects, a U.N. human rights expert said Friday.

Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, the U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, made the calls as the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, have been exposed to numerous lawsuits from voluntary evacuees and those who returned to their former communities.

The distinctions have had “particularly severe impacts on those in poverty, those with no livelihoods, the elderly and persons with disabilities,” Jimenez-Damary said at a press conference to announce the preliminary findings from her Sept. 26 to Oct. 7 official visit to Japan.

Japan distinguishes between evacuees depending on whether they are registered as residents in areas subject to evacuation directives due to being uninhabitable and people who chose to leave over radiation concerns.

Individuals from outside the specified zones and relocated following the disaster became ineligible for Fukushima prefectural government support from March 2017, a decision that met with protest.

A human rights lawyer with decades of experience, Jimenez-Damary told reporters that a desire to return did not define evacuees and described conversations she had with displaced people on her visit to Japan and elsewhere, saying, “When I ask if they want to return, they say yes, but when I ask can you return, they say we cannot.”

Since the disaster, the government has raised the safe annual limit of radiation exposure from 1 millisievert per year to 20, an amount said to especially present risks to vulnerable people, such as children and women of reproductive age.

In 2018, the United Nation’s then special rapporteur on hazardous substances, Baskut Tuncak, said it was “disappointing” that Japan had not returned the levels to what they consider acceptable despite recommendations by the organization in 2017. Jimenez-Damary renewed calls for its review in her preliminary statement.

Data from the Reconstruction Agency states that as of Aug. 1, around 32,000 internally displaced people are living in 878 municipalities across Japan’s 47 prefectures, down 2,841 people from the totals recorded on April 8 this year. At its peak, around 470,000 were displaced in the wake of the disaster.

Jimenez-Damary said the issue “needs to be resolved because it is not clear how many are in evacuation” when asked whether the government’s estimate of the number of internally displaced people reflects the reality. The human rights expert added that she is “definitely recommending” that evacuees be heard by the government.

The findings from Jimenez-Damary’s visit to Japan, which brought her into contact with governments, support organizations and displaced people, will be presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2023.

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

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.

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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