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“I started prioritizing treatment over my dreams for the future”: Public testimony of a young woman diagnosed with thyroid cancer after Fukushima disaster 

by Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center · March 2, 2023

On January 27, 2022, a group of six young men and women from Fukushima Prefecture filed a class action lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), claiming that the thyroid cancer they had developed was linked to their exposure to radioactive contamination from the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011. The plaintiffs, who were aged 6 to 16 at the time of the disaster, are among the growing number of young people from Fukushima Prefecture who have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer or suspected thyroid cancer. According to the legal counsel, this rate of diagnosis—293 cases as of April 2022—is many tens of times higher than would be expected; pediatric thyroid cancer is very rare. Despite this, the Japanese government and TEPCO continue to deny the possibility of a causal connection between radiation exposure from the nuclear accident and rising cancer rates, instead claiming that an excess of cases has only been detected due to large-scale screening with advanced technology. For more detail and background on the 311 Children’s Thyroid Cancer Trial, read lead attorney Ido Kenichi’s statement here.

The first oral arguments were heard on March 26, 2022, at the Tokyo District Court. The following is the public testimony of one plaintiff, a young woman in her 20s, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when she was in high school. She describes the sobering trajectory of her life after diagnosis, from traumatic surgery and treatment to interrupted dreams of college graduation and employment. A recording of her testimony (in Japanese) can be heard on the website of Our Planet TV here.

Translated by Elicia Cousins

“It was my middle school graduation ceremony that day. “This is it, isn’t it!” My friends and I sat around chatting and taking lots of pictures with our digital cameras. I think it was snowing a bit at that time.

When the earthquake hit, I was video chatting with another friend about the graduation ceremony. At first, we casually noted that an earthquake was happening, but then the shaking suddenly got stronger and a ballpoint pen fell onto my head from somewhere. “Oh no!” (Yabai!) I heard someone say, and the call dropped.

My house is going to get crushed, I thought. The shaking continued for what felt like a hellishly long time.

I became aware of the nuclear accident when the actual explosion happened. I heard a rumor that radiation would turn the sky pink, but because that didn’t happen, I didn’t develop a sense of crisis.

March 16 was the day that that high school entrance exam results were posted. The trains were stopped because of the earthquake, so I heard the results at my middle school instead. I walked to school, and after seeing the results, I stood outside talking to my friend for a long time before walking back home again. I had no idea that radiation levels were very high that day.

My thyroid cancer was detected through the prefectural health survey.

I still have a very clear memory of the moment I found out. That day, I was wearing new clothes and sandals. My mom drove me to the examination.

There were several doctors involved in the examination process. Did the exam take a long time? Or was it quick? Now I’m not so sure. I can’t be certain, but I think that the moment the doctor took the ultrasound scan of my neck, their face clouded a bit. The examination was extensive.

People who had been called up after me were already finished with their exams. “You’re the only one who took longer,” my mom said. “Maybe you have cancer,” she joked as we left the venue. In that moment, I never suspected that I’d need a more detailed follow-up examination.

There were a lot of people at the hospital where I got my next examination. This time, I started to feel a bit uneasy. I got a blood test and another ultrasound. Something was wrong after all. Even I had realized that much. It was then decided that I’d need to do a fine needle aspiration cytology test. At that point, I was pretty sure that I had thyroid cancer.

In my case, the cluster of cells that needed to be sampled had hardened, so it was difficult to extract the sample. The terror of having a long needle going into my neck only grew, as did the feeling of just wanting to get it all over with. It finally worked after the third try.

Ten days later, the examination results came out. The results from that cytology test. Once again, there were a lot of people at the hospital. I found out that I had thyroid cancer.

But the doctor didn’t actually say that I had thyroid cancer, and instead told me in a roundabout way by explaining that I’d need surgery. I’ll never forget the shock of being told, “If you don’t get surgery, you’ll only live until age 23.”

The night before the surgery, I couldn’t sleep at all. I was filled with worry, and even though I felt like crying, there were no tears. But I thought, if this is what it will take to heal… so I went ahead with the surgery.

Things were way worse after the surgery.

When I came to, I felt fatigued and feverish. The anesthesia didn’t work well for me, I often threw up in the middle of the night, and I felt sick and nauseous. To this day, I can clearly remember how excruciating that experience was. I sometimes have nightmares about the surgery, hospitalization, and treatment.

After the surgery, my voice was gone, and I could hardly speak for three months.

I ended up enrolling at a university in a neighboring prefecture rather than my top choice school in Tokyo, partly because my family was worried about my illness. But I couldn’t even go to that school for very long, because my thyroid cancer came back.

The recurrence was detected at the very first health checkup I had after enrolling in college, and I had no choice but to quit. I hadn’t healed after all. And the cancer has even metastasized to my lungs. The feelings were unbearable. I didn’t heal. I didn’t know where to channel my emotions. This time, I really might not be able to live much longer, I thought.

Since I now knew how difficult surgery was, I became depressed thinking about having to go through it all over again. The second surgery ended up taking longer than expected, and because the cancer had metastasized to my lymph nodes quite a bit, the cut on my neck got bigger.

Once again, the anesthesia didn’t sit well with me and I threw up in the middle of the night. Having to suction phlegm out of my chest was particularly painful. After the second surgery I lost all sensation around my clavicle, and it still feels strange whenever I touch that area.

I’ve had people say some shockingly heartless things about my surgical scars. Like when someone asked if they were the result of a suicide attempt. People have said things that never would have crossed my mind. These surgical scars will never go away. Now I always pick clothing that will cover them up.

After the surgery, I had to get isotope treatment for the lesions caused by the lung metastasis. This is a treatment where you take concentrated radioactive iodine pills in order to expose the cancer cells to radiation.

I did outpatient treatment for the first and second round. For this treatment, since you’re ingesting radioactive iodine, you end up becoming an exposure risk to the people around you. After I got my dosage at the hospital I’d go home and isolate myself, but I was worried about exposing my family to radiation. I drank the iodine twice, but the cancer didn’t go away.

For the third round I needed to take a larger amount of iodine, so I had to stay at the hospital. My room at the hospital was at the end of a long, white hallway and through several doors. There were yellow and red signs pasted everywhere, warning of radiation. It was a hazardous area despite being inside a hospital. As for the room itself, you can only bring in previously approved items. That’s because anything you bring in becomes contaminated.

Nurses don’t come into that hospital room. The doctor just comes in once a day to do an examination. I felt bad that the doctor had to come in knowing that they’d be exposed to radiation. I didn’t want anyone to have to sacrifice themselves because of me.

Two or three doctors came into my room with the medicine. The medicine was in a cylindrical plastic case.

Drinking the medicine was a race with time. One doctor took the white capsule out with tweezers, placed it in a paper cup, and handed it to me.

They then immediately left the room, closing the lead door behind them and then instructing me through the speakerphone to drink the medicine. I quickly gulped down the medicine with some water.

After I swallowed, they checked the inside of my mouth through the door. They then held a radiation-monitoring device over my stomach to confirm that the capsule got there, and then I was instructed to lay down on the bed. The doctor then told me over the speakerphone to change the orientation of my body every 15 minutes.

As for food, I was first shown a meal on the TV screen in order to make sure that I could eat all of it without leaving anything on my plate. They didn’t want to give me any more than I could eat, so as to minimize the amount of contaminated waste.

That night, a wave of nausea suddenly came over me. I felt so sick. The feeling wouldn’t go away so I panicked and pressed the button to call the nurse, but the nurse didn’t come. I thought I’d better not throw up on the bed, so I rushed to the bathroom.

When I later told the nurse that I’d thrown up, they just prescribed some anti-nausea medicine. By then it was already past 2am, and I couldn’t sleep very well.

The next day onward, I completely lost my appetite, and I usually had them bring me just medicine and not meals. I threw up once or twice on the second day too.

Until then, I’d almost never thrown up in my life. I ended up bursting a blood vessel in my eye because of the strain of throwing up, and my eye became bright red. Through the door, the nurse checked my condition, and prescribed some eye drops.

I felt sick for the rest of the time I spent in that room. I was just waiting for the time to pass.

In that room, there was a square radiation monitoring device attached to the wall near the ceiling. It looked like an air conditioner. On the bottom right of the device was a display window that would show the radiation measurement. When I stepped closer to it, the number would shoot up, and when I stepped away the number would go down again.

I spent three days like this, and finally it became time to leave. I had to throw away everything I’d been wearing, like my pajamas, into a garbage can made of lead. I changed into the clothes I’d stored in a locker, opened the lead door, and walked with the nurse down the long hallway and through multiple doors.

After this treatment, one of the side effects I had to deal with was that I couldn’t produce saliva normally. It became difficult to swallow food with a low water content, and my sense of taste changed.

That hospitalization experience was the harshest yet. I don’t want to have to go through it again.

I went through such a painful experience, and yet the treatment didn’t work that well. It didn’t do what it was supposed to, and I ended up feeling like it was all a waste. Before, I was motivated to get treatment with the assumption that it would cure me. Now, I just think, I hope this treatment at least slows down the progression of my illness.

After becoming ill, I’ve started prioritizing cancer treatment over my dreams for the future. Because of treatment, I’ve given up on everything—college, the studies I’d been focusing on in order to pursue the career I wanted, and even going to concerts I’d been so excited for.

Of course, I didn’t actually want to give up on college. I wanted to graduate. I wanted to graduate and start working in a field I’m good at. I wanted to do the job hunt process (shukatsu) as a new graduate. I wanted to be carefree and chat with my friends, asking each other, “how was shukatsu?” I wanted to experience college life. These are all dreams that didn’t come true, and it’s hard to let them go.

The friends I went to middle and high school with have already graduated college, started working, and are leading stable new lives. I can’t help but look at them with envy. It’s hard, because I don’t want to feel this sort of resentment toward them.

It’s painful to see medical students at the hospital who are about the same age as me. I end up thinking, I should be a college student too.

Every time I go to the hospital, I think, I hope the tumor marker value hasn’t gone up. But lately, the value is higher every time, and I get crushed—what did I do wrong? Why is the number higher?

My overall health has been declining, and I struggle with sore shoulders, lower back pain, fatigue, and hands and feet that quickly go numb. I’m not sure if it’s because of the excessive amount of medicine I have to take, but I sometimes get heart palpitations or feel like I’m suffocating. The area of my neck where I got surgery also cramps very easily, and when that happens, I have to just endure the pain until it subsides.

I feel bad whenever I think about how much I’ve burdened my family and how much I’ve made them worry because of my illness. I don’t want to cause them any more pain.

I want to return to my old body. But as much as I pray for that, I will never get it back.  Through this trial, I hope that thyroid cancer patients are able to get proper compensation.”



March 5, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , | Leave a comment

Plaintiffs’ Opinion Statement: “Recurrence is always in the back of my mind,” Defense Objects to Estimation of Radiation Exposure

Defense lawyers make an appeal in front of the Tokyo District Court before the opening of the trial.

January 26, 2023
On January 25, the fourth oral argument was held at the Tokyo District Court in a lawsuit filed by seven men and women aged 18-28 who lived in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the accident, claiming that they developed thyroid cancer as a result of the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Two of the plaintiffs, a man and a woman, made statements, claiming that the recurrence of the accident was always on their minds.

 The plaintiffs, a man in his 20s who was a junior high school student and a woman in her 20s who was an elementary school student at the time of the accident, made statements on the day. The man has repeatedly suffered recurrences of cancer and has undergone a total of four surgeries and isotope therapy, in which radioactive iodine is administered internally to destroy cancerous tissue when the cancer spreads.

 After the second surgery, in which her thyroid gland was completely removed, she lost her voice and became anxious, even thinking that it might be easier to just die. He confessed that he had made up his mind to “value my own will from now on. I am prepared for a recurrence of cancer, but I want to look only forward. I want to see if my illness is recognized as an effect of radiation exposure.

 Two years ago, a health survey conducted by the Fukushima prefectural government found that she had thyroid cancer, and she underwent surgery. After the surgery, she became emotionally unstable, and she was “on the edge mentally” as she raised her voice to her family. If this continues, I will end up in a state of ambiguity for a long time. Why were we forced to stand (in court)? I hope you will understand at least that much.

 TEPCO claims that the plaintiffs were exposed to an estimated 10 millisieverts or less of radiation to the thyroid gland based on a report issued by a United Nations scientific panel, and that since the risk of developing thyroid cancer does not increase below 100 millisieverts, their cancer was not caused by the nuclear accident.

 In response, the defense submitted a written opinion by Professor Emeritus Shinichi Kurokawa of the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK), who analyzed data from monitoring posts in Fukushima City from March 15 to 16, 2011, and found that the thyroid exposure of a one-year-old child was approximately 60 millisieverts from breathing alone. He claimed that the Science Commission’s radiation exposure estimate was “a drastic underestimate and irrational.

 The next argument date is set for March 15. Two more plaintiffs are scheduled to present their opinions. (Tetsuya Kasai)

February 4, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , | Leave a comment

Scope of Fukushima nuclear accident compensation expanded

A gate leading to a “difficult-to-return zone” is closed by a government official in a town in Fukushima Prefecture in May 2013.

December 21, 2022

Psychological damage stemming from the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant accident is being recognized by a government panel as eligible for compensation.

This policy was included in interim guidelines being compiled for the first time in nine years by the Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation on Tuesday.

It will significantly expand the scope of compensation for people affected by changes to their livelihood due to a long period of evacuation from areas around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The guidelines set the standards for compensation from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. following the nuclear accident at its plant.

As part of the revisions to the guidelines, rulings in lawsuits filed by evacuees will also be applied to non-plaintiffs.

The new guidelines recognize psychological damage caused by changes in living conditions of people who not only lived in the “difficult-to-return zones,” but also those who live in other evacuation-designated zones. This means additional compensation of up to ¥2.5 million each for about 30,000 people living in “restricted residence zones” and about 40,000 residents of “evacuation order cancellation preparation zones.”

For people who used to live within a 20-kilometer radius of the plant, an additional ¥300,000 is set to be paid on the grounds that they were forced to endure harsh evacuation conditions.

As for former residents of Fukushima City and other areas that are not included in evacuation zones but were subject to voluntary evacuation, the new guidelines raise the amount of compensation. An adult who is not pregnant will be eligible for ¥200,000, up from ¥80,000.

“We don’t think of these guidelines as caps on compensation,” TEPCO President Tomoaki Kobayakawa said to reporters at the of Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry. “We would like to respond sincerely to the matter.”

Kobayakawa indicated that TEPCO would continue to provide compensation to the southern part of Fukushima Prefecture, which is not included in the guidelines.

The latest revision is expected to cost TEPCO additional compensation of ¥500 billion.


January 5, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2022, Fuk 2023 | , | Leave a comment

A book titled “Fukushima Daiichi NPP Accident Nakadori Litigation” (published by Sakuhinsha, Inc.).

The book is a compilation of the eight years leading up to the victory against TEPCO. “I hope the younger generation will read it so that it will not fade away.

November 27, 2022
A book titled “Fukushima Daiichi NPP Accident Nakadori Litigation” (published by Sakuhinsha, Inc.) summarizes the history of the lawsuit by 52 men and women of the “Nakadori ni Ikiru Kai” (represented by Fumiko Hirai) living in Fukushima City and Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture, who claimed they suffered psychological damages from the nuclear accident and sought payment of approximately 100 million yen from TEPCO (in March this year, the plaintiffs were declared winners by the Supreme Court). On March 26, the plaintiffs gathered in Fukushima City for a party to celebrate the publication of the book and to express their gratitude. The book is based on the plaintiffs’ tearful statements, which they rewrote and reworked many times to complete the book, and is filled with the history of their claims of emotional distress caused by the risk of radiation exposure and radioactive contamination. One of the plaintiffs said, “I hope the younger generation will read this book. One of the plaintiffs said, “I really want the younger generation to read this book. I hope the younger generation will read this book so that the nuclear accident will not fade away.

[“For Your Later Use”].
 The completed book is 472 pages in a 466-size format. It consists mainly of statements submitted by the plaintiffs to the Fukushima District Court along with their complaint, and includes a chronology of events since March 2014, the complaint, a statement of opinion (excerpts) requesting termination through settlement, and a summary of the appeal trial decision (Sendai High Court, January 2021). The book is as thick as a dictionary and not inexpensive, but it is truly a compilation of the “Nakadori Ikiru Kai” (Association for the Living of Nakadori). The book will be available in bookstores from the 30th of this month.
 Hiroko Sato, one of the plaintiffs, writes in her introduction, “This book is a compilation of the experiences of the ‘Nakadori Ikiru Kai’ (Association for Living in Nakadori).
 This book is a record of our fight in court to prevent people from saying that there was no damage caused by radiation from the nuclear accident, because we wrote statements about our grief, suffering, and anxiety caused by the accident.
 The 20 plaintiffs who gathered for the first time in many years on that day also commented that they could not read the statements without tears.
 I joined the trial because I thought it was important for ordinary housewives to speak out. The reality was harsh, and the process of writing the statements was especially difficult. There were times when I thought about quitting because it was so hard. When I read the book again, I could not read it without tears, because it describes everyone so nakedly, and I wondered how each and every one of them had suffered so much.
 I was surprised to see how much each and every one of you had suffered. I think this book is about that. We will not pretend that what happened did not happen. We will not put a lid on the painful feelings we had. That was important.
 I want the younger generation to read this book. I want the younger generation to read this book. I want them to understand that when an accident occurs at a nuclear power plant, it is so difficult and changes the lives of so many people. I want them to read this book so that they will not let the accident fade away.
 The psychological damage caused by low-dose radiation exposure continues to this day. We hope that many people will become aware of our lawsuit, which has caused us great emotional distress as a result of the nuclear accident, and that they will change their minds about restarting nuclear power plants. I believe this book has that kind of power. I am proud to be one of the main characters in this book.”
 I am proud to be one of the main characters in this book. I am glad that it became a book. It is good timing to publish the book at a time when the government is trying to restart the nuclear power plants.

We will not be forgotten.
 Fumiko Hirai (Fukushima City), who has been leading the way as the representative of the association, reiterated her thoughts at the time she started preparing for the trial, “If we keep quiet, it will be pretended that it never happened. Ritsuko Ueki (Fukushima City), who played a central role in the sponsorship, proudly stated, “The main characters of this book are the plaintiffs. Her husband Shozo, who had fought with her as a plaintiff, suddenly became ill in July and passed away in August. Although the shock still brings tears to her eyes, Ms. Hirai and the plaintiffs were united to the end.
 Two other plaintiffs who attended the publication commemoration also lost their husbands.
 One of the plaintiffs had not told her husband that she was participating in the trial.
 She said, “I didn’t tell my husband because I thought he wouldn’t get the message. I thought he wouldn’t understand, so I didn’t tell my husband.
 Another plaintiff lost her husband last December. She shed tears, saying, “My husband always said to me, ‘Do your best.
 I don’t know how many tears I shed during the long, long process of the trial. Some were tears of joy. No, there were more tears of frustration.
There were more tears of frustration. Lawyers for TEPCO denied all of the plaintiffs’ claims, dismissing them as having no health or psychological damage caused by radioactive contamination. In his ruling, however, Hisaoki Kobayashi, the presiding judge of the Sendai High Court, took a swipe at TEPCO, stating that “it can be said that the plaintiffs were actually exposed to radiation far exceeding conventional assumptions,” and that “the fear and anxiety [about radiation exposure] is not something as light as the ‘vague sense of anxiety’ claimed by the appellant [TEPCO]. The court stated in its decision that “the fear and anxiety of radiation exposure is not as light as the ‘vague sense of anxiety’ claimed by the appellant (TEPCO).
 Attorney Kichitaro Nomura, who represented the plaintiffs in winning the lawsuit, said in front of the plaintiffs, “From the time I filed the lawsuit, I had been thinking that I would like to publish a book after this lawsuit was concluded in a good way. Everyone followed my lead. I am deeply moved by the results of their efforts to write statements and to overcome the questioning of the plaintiffs. I am deeply moved. This was a major trial in my career as a lawyer. The hurdle is high, but if you read the contents of the book, I think you will find something that will resonate with you. He then introduced a comment from Professor Kageura Kyo of the University of Tokyo. He said that he had asked Professor Kageura to comment on the obi, but he was unable to do so due to poor health.
 He said, “Be aware of the fact that it is ‘my’ own damage. I think this is an extremely important point, not only in litigation, but also as a sovereign in a democratic society. In that respect, I thought this lawsuit was very important in that it was not only a victory against TEPCO, but also in that the individual dignity confirmed in the lawsuit led to a reaffirmation of our existence as sovereigns in a democratic society more generally.
 I think the lawsuit was a confirmation of the principle that all citizens are respected as individuals at all levels, including the fact that Mr. Nomura was the only lawyer against the five TEPCO lawyers, and one of the concrete ways to realize that principle.

TEPCO rejected the settlement recommendation.
 Preparation for this lawsuit began in the spring of 2014; it was filed against TEPCO in Fukushima District Court on April 22, 2016.
 The plaintiffs were 1) initially exposed to radiation due to the spread of radioactive materials following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in March 2011, 2) faced with the decision of whether or not to evacuate to avoid exposure to radiation, 3) unable to take appropriate measures to prevent exposure to radiation due to lack of timely and accurate information from TEPCO, 4) family division and separation caused by the voluntary evacuation, and 5) the future health problems of their children and grandchildren. (6) A sense of loss regarding their garden and vegetable garden after the decontamination process.
 The first oral argument was held in August 2016, and the plaintiffs themselves began questioning in February 2018.
 In December 2019, the Fukushima District Court recommended a settlement at the request of the plaintiffs, but TEPCO refused. After stating that “it is reasonable,” the amount of the approved amount was calculated in consideration of the individual circumstances of each plaintiff. The court ordered TEPCO to pay between 22,000 yen and 286,000 yen (a total of 1,234,000 yen) to 50 of the 52 plaintiffs.
 The plaintiffs accepted the judgment, but TEPCO appealed. The appeal hearing at the Sendai High Court will conclude with the first oral argument in September 2020. In January 2021, the High Court ruled that “as in the original trial, the plaintiffs’ legally protected rights were infringed upon with regard to the mental distress they suffered from March 11, 2011, the date of the accident, to December 31 of the same year, exceeding the acceptable limit of social life, and that they incurred increased living expenses during the above period. The court ordered TEPCO to pay compensation, stating that “it is reasonable to award compensation in the amount of 300,000 yen, taking into consideration the fact that the plaintiffs’ living expenses increased during the above-mentioned period. 
 TEPCO filed a “petition for appeal and acceptance of appeal” to the Supreme Court, but in March of this year, the third Petty Bench of the Supreme Court unanimously decided by five judges that “the case will not be accepted as an appeal hearing. The decision of the Sendai High Court, which recognized the plaintiffs’ emotional damages, became final. The decision came after eight years, including the period of preparation prior to the filing of the lawsuit, and eleven years since the nuclear accident occurred.

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

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident Survivors Urge Diet Members to Provide Adequate Relief in Light of Policy to Revise Compensation Standards

Plaintiffs appealed their plight as evacuees at a meeting held at the House of Councillors building in Nagata-cho, Tokyo, on March 24.

November 24, 2022
On November 24, the National Liaison Group of Plaintiffs in Lawsuits Against Nuclear Power Plants, consisting of victims of the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, held a meeting at the Diet to demand that the interim compensation standards established by the government’s Nuclear Damage Dispute Review Board be revised to provide adequate relief to the victims of the accident.
 The plaintiffs, who are engaged in class-action lawsuits against the national government and TEPCO in various parts of Japan, submitted their requests to the offices of members of the Diet at both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors.
 The CALI decided to review the guidelines on the 10th of this month in response to a series of court decisions ordering TEPCO to pay more compensation than the interim guidelines. In addition to the review of the guidelines to match the actual damage, the request also called for the government to consider building new nuclear power plants and extending their operating periods, and to oppose the discharge into the ocean of water treated to purify contaminated water generated at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
 At the rally following the request, lawyer Guntaro Managi, who serves as the secretary general of the legal team for the Fukushima lawsuit, criticized the government’s response, saying, “The review of the guidelines is too little too late. Hiroshi Murata, 79, an evacuee from Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture, who has been living in Yokohama, said, “The guidelines were created immediately after the accident, and it was not assumed that the evacuation would last this long. The guidelines were created immediately after the accident and were not based on the assumption that evacuees would have to live for such a long time. They should be revised in their entirety, not just partially. (Kenta Onozawa)

November 27, 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We will win.

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

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

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

Plaintiffs Gathered from Across Japan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dedicatedly Going Around to Council Members

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the outcome of the request?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joint Demand” by Plaintiffs’ Groups Nationwide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 12, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 11, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

Court orders TEPCO to pay 73.5 million yen over Fukushima crisis

From front right, reactors No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. are seen in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Feb. 13, 2021.

June 2, 2022

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Kyodo) — A Japanese court on Thursday ordered the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to pay a total of 73.5 million yen ($566,000) in compensation to current and former residents of Tamura City in the west of the complex hit by the March 2011 disaster for emotional distress.

But the 525 plaintiffs, who sought 11 million yen per person in damages from both Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and the Japanese government, are considering appealing the ruling, some of them said in a press conference.

The Koriyama branch of the Fukushima District Court recognized the plaintiffs’ claim that they were anguished by losing previous joy, such as picking nearby wild plants and forging community ties, but dismissed the case against the state.

Presiding Judge Yohei Motomura noted that a government organization’s assessment released in 2002 of danger posed by possible quake-induced tsunami for the nuclear complex lacked accuracy, but it was still difficult for the state to foresee the magnitude of tsunami that hit the plant.

“Even if the government had exercised its regulatory authority and had TEPCO take countermeasures, it could not have been possible to prevent the tsunami from triggering the accident,” the judge said, awarding 2 million yen to each plaintiff.

Given that the plaintiffs had received compensation in the form of a monthly consolation fee of 100,000 yen from TEPCO through August 2012, the court ruled that most of the damages awarded in its ruling have already been paid.

A devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan’s northeast on March 11, 2011, triggered reactor meltdowns at the nuclear complex and sent plumes of radioactive material in the air.

Some areas of Tamura sit within a radius of 20- to 30-kilometers from the plant and were designated as emergency evacuation preparation zones the next month in the event of a worsened situation. The designation was lifted in September 2011.

Similar cases have been filed across Japan accusing the company and government of negligence over safety concerns about the plant.

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

Fukushima District Court Orders TEPCO to Pay Compensation, Finding No Liability on the Part of the State

Plaintiffs’ lawyers hold up a paper that reads, “The government denies its responsibility for compensation,” after the ruling in the nuclear power plant lawsuit.

June 02, 2022
525 residents of the former emergency evacuation preparation zone in the Miyakoji district of Tamura City, Fukushima Prefecture, have filed a lawsuit against the government and TEPCO, claiming that they lost community ties and suffered emotional distress as a result of the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. On April 2, the Koriyama Branch of the Fukushima District Court ruled in a lawsuit filed by 525 residents of the former emergency evacuation preparation zone in the Miyakoji district of Tamura City, Fukushima Prefecture, seeking a total of approximately 6 billion yen in damages from the government and TEPCO. The judge, Yohei Motomura, ordered TEPCO to pay approximately 7,350,000,000 yen in compensation. The court did not find the government liable.

Judge Motomura awarded approximately 1.2 billion yen in compensation to the residents for the anxiety caused by exposure to radiation and the emotional distress caused by the long-term evacuation. He calculated the amount of compensation by subtracting approximately 1.13 billion yen that the residents had already received. The court did not find that the government had foreseeability.

 According to the complaint, the plaintiffs had been enjoying gathering wild vegetables and mushrooms for their livelihood, but the nuclear power plant accident caused them to lose their connection to the natural environment of the area.

 After the verdict, Nobuyuki Imaizumi, 74, a plaintiff, said, “I have been working for eight whole years, and it is very disappointing that the government is not found responsible. As long as there are plaintiffs, we will fight until the end. Plaintiffs’ attorney Hiroyasu Hayashi expressed his intention to appeal, saying, “Given the current amount of money, there will be an extremely large number of plaintiffs who will appeal.

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

Cancer patients forced to testify anonymously in Fukushima nuclear disaster case

The plaintiffs are facing a backlash as they argue that the 2011 disaster is the cause of their ill health.

Screening of local children has revealed unusually high levels of thyroid cancer

29 May 2022

A court in Japan this week began hearings against the operator of a Fukushima power plant over cases of thyroid cancer in children allegedly linked to the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Six people are seeking Y616 million (£3.8 million) in damages from Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), claiming they were exposed to radiation after a massive tsunami destroyed the plant’s cooling systems and caused three of the six reactors to suffer meltdowns. 

The people – all aged between 6 and 16 at the time – have been living with the effects of that day ever since. 

Four had their thyroid removed entirely and will need to take hormone medication for the rest of their lives. The other two had portions of their thyroids removed. One of the plaintiffs said the cancer has spread to their lungs. 

“Because of the treatments, I could not attend university, or continue my studies for my future job, or go to a concert. I had to give up everything”, testified one woman who is now in her 20s. “I want to regain my healthy body, but that’s impossible no matter how hard I wish.”

Their stories are compelling, but the four women and two men are having to testify anonymously in the landmark case – in part because many people simply do not believe them. 

Doctors in Fukushima have screened hundreds of thousands of people for thyroid cancer in the years since the disaster

A culture of discrimination and misunderstanding around cancer in Japan that dates back to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings of 1945 has meant they have become the target of insidious online abuse.

Some have suggested they are exaggerating or making their illnesses up. Others have accused them of damaging the reputation of Fukushima, which has tried hard to rehabilitate its image since the disaster. 

One message posted on the site of a local Fukushima website said the plaintiffs’ parents were to blame because they failed to evacuate the children immediately after the disaster.  

Another message said the people “appear to be annoyed that they cannot live perfect lives”.

A third person said the case was being encouraged “by an anti-Japanese, leftist group”. 

The plaintiffs involved hope that this case will finally put all that to bed. 

Their lawyers will argue that screening of 380,000 local children since 2011 has identified around 300 cases of thyroid cancer. That incidence rate of 77 cases per 100,000 people is significantly higher than the typical one or two cases per million and can only be linked to radiation from the accident, they say. A similar pattern was seen among children following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine.

Japanese police wear suits to protect them from radiation as they search for victims after the disaster

“The doctor told my father that the cancer was highly malignant and had spread widely. He said it appeared to be less than five years old,” one man told local media before the hearing.

TEPCO has always maintained that there is no link between the leak of radiation from the plant and the spike in cancer cases, adding that tests of 1,080 children from three cities around the plant showed no one received more than 50 millisieverts of radiation, the annual limit for nuclear workers.

Their lawyers are set to argue that the high rate of thyroid cancers in Fukushima is the result of overtesting. 

The company’s attempts to discredit them has added fuel to widespread hostility towards the plaintiffs.

“The people of Hiroshima were shunned by the rest of Japan after the atomic bombing of the city in 1945 because they did not understand about radiation and they feared they could catch it as a disease,” Chisato Kitanaka, an associate professor of sociology at Hiroshima University told The Telegraph. 

“We cannot say that people do not lack information on the Fukushima case, but these people are still being singled out. They attack because they prefer to believe TEPCO or because they support the government’s plan to restart the nation’s nuclear reactors.” 

In a separate case, earlier this year Japan’s Supreme Court upheld an order for TEPCO to pay damages of 1.4 billion yen (£9.5 million) to about 3,700 people whose lives were devastated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, in the first decision of its kind.

June 5, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Cancer patients seek damages from Fukushima nuclear plant

Lawyer Kenichi Ido, second left, sitting among other lawyers representing plaintiffs who were children in Fukushima at the time of the 2011 nuclear disaster and later developed thyroid cancer, speaks during a news conference after a trial in Tokyo, Thursday, May 26, 2022. A Tokyo court began hearing a case Thursday seeking nearly $5 million in damages for six people who lived as children in Fukushima and developed thyroid cancer after its 2011 nuclear disaster. (AP Photo/Mari Yamaguchi)

By Mari Yamaguchi Associated Press

May 26, 2022

A Tokyo court has begun hearings in a lawsuit seeking nearly $5 million in damages for six people who were children in Fukushima at the time of its 2011 nuclear power plant disaster and later developed thyroid cancer

TOKYO — A Tokyo court began hearings Thursday in a lawsuit seeking nearly $5 million in damages for six people who were children in Fukushima at the time of its 2011 nuclear power plant disaster and later developed thyroid cancer.

The plaintiffs are suing the operator of the nuclear plant, saying radiation released in the accident caused their illnesses.

It is the first group lawsuit filed by Fukushima residents over health problems allegedly linked to the disaster, their lawyers say.

One plaintiff, identified only as a woman in her 20s, testified from behind a screen that she had to give up plans to attend university because of repeated operations and treatments.

“Because of the treatments, I could not attend university, or continue my studies for my future job, or go to a concert. I had to give up everything,” she said. “I want to regain my healthy body, but that’s impossible no matter how hard I wish.”

She and the five other plaintiffs are seeking a total of 616 million yen ($4.9 million) in damages from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings for allegedly causing their cancers.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami destroyed the Fukushima plant’s cooling systems, causing three reactor cores to melt and release large amounts of radiation. Critics say the plant operator should have known that a large tsunami was possible at the site.

The plaintiffs, who were 6 to 16 years old at the time of the accident and lived in different parts of Fukushima, were diagnosed with thyroid cancer between 2012 and 2018, their lawyers said.

The plant operator told the court that they were not exposed to enough radiation to cause cancer, citing tests of 1,080 children from three cities around the plant that showed about 55% were not exposed and none received more than 50 millisieverts, the annual limit for nuclear workers.

An increase in thyroid cancer was found among children following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine.

The Fukushima prefectural government tested 380,000 residents aged 18 or younger at the time of the accident for thyroid cancer. About 300 were diagnosed with cancer or suspected cancer.

That occurrence rate, about 77 per 100,000, is significantly higher than the usual 1-2 per million and can only be linked to radiation from the accident, the plaintiffs’ lawyers said.

Prefectural officials and experts have said the high level of thyroid cancer found in Fukushima is due to an overdiagnosis, which might have led to unnecessary treatment.

Kenichi Ido, one of the lawyers, said none of the cases involve an overdiagnosis and that the plant operator should be held accountable for radiation exposure unless it can prove otherwise.

The plaintiff who testified Thursday said she walked from home to her high school five days after the tsunami, just as the reactors were undergoing meltdowns.

Three other plaintiffs who attended the hearing were also behind a partition to protect their privacy because of criticism on social media accusing them of fabricating their illnesses and hurting the image of Fukushima, the lawyers said.

Ido said many people with health problems feel intimidated to speak out in Fukushima and that he hopes the lawsuit will prove a correlation between radiation and the plaintiffs’ cancers “so that we can have a society in which people can talk freely about their difficulties.”

The government was slow in responding to the crisis, and evacuations in many places were delayed due to a lack of disclosure of what was happening at the nuclear plant. Residents who fled in their cars clogged roads and were stranded for hours outside while radiation spread from the damaged reactors. Some residents headed to evacuation centers in the direction of the radiation flow.

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