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Japan Gov’t liability denied for nukes damages, Tepco to pay minimal damages to evacuees

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Satoshi Abe (standing), head of the plaintiffs’ legal team, speaks at a news conference following the Yamagata District Court ruling in the city of Yamagata, northern Japan, on Dec. 17. 2019.
TEPCO ordered to pay minimal damages to Fukushima evacuees; Japan gov’t liability denied
 
December 18, 2019
YAMAGATA — The Yamagata District Court on Dec. 17 ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to pay a total of 440,000 yen in damages to five plaintiffs who evacuated due to the March 2011 triple-meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, while also absolving the Japanese state of liability.
Not only did the ruling dismiss the plaintiffs’ damages claims against the central government, the compensation amount falls far short of the more than 8-billion-yen (about $73 million) total sought by the 734 people in 201 households who were party to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs, who evacuated from Fukushima to neighboring Yamagata Prefecture in northern Japan following the nuclear disaster, have stated they will appeal.
The ruling was the 13th by a district court in similar cases filed across the country. Among those, 10 lawsuits were filed against the government and TEPCO, and the state was found liable in six of them.
Regarding the plaintiffs beyond the five granted compensation, Presiding Judge Nobuyuki Kaihara stated that “the consolation money sought does not exceed what they have already been paid by Tokyo Electric,” among other reasons for denying them damages.
The decision went on to say that “there was a limit” to what degree the tsunami that disabled the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s cooling systems could have been predicted, and therefore the Japanese state was not liable to pay the nuclear disaster evacuees compensation. The court also found that though TEPCO was liable for some damages, “we cannot conclude that the company committed gross negligence. Practically speaking, it is difficult to say that the firm could have implemented rational controls (at the plant) to prevent an accident.”
The plaintiffs’ suit had demanded 11 million yen in compensation per person — the highest of any nuclear disaster evacuee civil suit in Japan save one filed with the Fukushima District Court. More than 90% of the households that were party to the Yamagata lawsuit had lived in the city of Fukushima and other parts of the northeastern prefecture not covered by mandatory evacuation orders.
“The ruling was a result that betrayed our expectations,” commented Satoshi Abe, who led the plaintiffs’ legal team. Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulation Authority secretariat refrained from comment on the case, while TEPCO stated that it would “examine the content of the ruling and consider a response.”
Court denies state liability for nuke damages
December 18, 2019
YAMAGATA (Jiji Press) — The Yamagata District Court rejected Tuesday the claim that the government is liable for damages over the March 2011 accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Meanwhile, the court ordered TEPCO to pay a total of ¥440,000 in compensation to five plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by 734 people of 201 households who evacuated to Yamagata Prefecture after the nuclear accident.
About 90% of the plaintiffs, who sought some ¥8,074 million in total damages, are evacuees from outside areas for which a government evacuation order was issued following the triple meltdown accident at the plant, stricken by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The ruling marked the 10th of its kind for collective lawsuits against the government and TEPCO over the nuclear accident. This is the fourth time that state liability for damages has been denied.
The plaintiffs said the government and TEPCO could have predicted a tsunami that would lead to a nuclear accident on the basis of a long-term assessment to forecast the scale and probability of earthquakes. The assessment was disclosed by a government organization in 2002.
The accident could have been avoided if the government and TEPCO had set up coastal levees and made the emergency power system watertight, the plaintiffs also said.
But Presiding Judge Nobuyuki Kaihara rejected the claim of government liability for compensation. “Although there was a foreseeability [of the accident], we can’t help saying that there was a limit to it,” he said.
The court ordered TEPCO to pay some compensation under the law to compensate for nuclear-related damages.
“I wanted [the court] to understand our hardship,” said a female plaintiff who evacuated with her three children from Fukushima Prefecture, which hosts the crippled nuclear power plant
 

December 24, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima: Japan court finds government liable for nuclear disaster

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December 13, 2019

A Japanese court has ruled for the first time that the government bears partial responsibility for the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The court was responding to a case brought by a group of evacuees who had been forced to flee their homes.

It ruled that the disaster could have been averted if government regulators had ordered plant operator Tepco to take preventive safety measures.

The government and Tepco were both ordered to compensate the evacuees.

Around 80,000 people were forced to flee their homes when three reactors failed at the plant after a tsunami that struck six years ago.

It was the world‘s most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

The district court in Maebashi, north of Tokyo, ruled in favour of 137 evacuees seeking damages for the emotional distress of fleeing their homes.

The parties were told to pay a total 38.6m yen ($341,000, £275,000) in compensation, far below the 1.5bn yen the group had sought.

A number of legal cases have already been filed against Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power) relating to the disaster, but this is the first time a court has recognised that the government was liable for negligence.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government‘s top spokesman, declined to comment but said the ruling would have no impact on the country‘s nuclear power policies.

Anti-nuclear sentiment runs high in Japan, but the government has been resolute in restarting reactors that were closed in the aftermath of the disaster.

https://stockdailydish.com/fukushima-japan-court-finds-government-liable-for-nuclear-disaster/

December 17, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Court absolves government of blame in nuclear disaster

hkjml.jpgPlaintiff Takahiro Kanno, left, speaks about the verdict in Chiba’s Chuo Ward on March 14.

 

March 15, 2019

CHIBA–A district court here on March 14 absolved the central government of responsibility but ordered the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to pay compensation to nine of 19 plaintiffs who evacuated to Chiba.

The Chiba District Court ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay a total of about 5.1 million yen ($45,630) to nine plaintiffs who evacuated out of radiation fears following the nuclear accident triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

The 19 plaintiffs were from six households who voluntarily evacuated from Fukushima to Chiba Prefecture. The plaintiffs sought a total of 247 million yen from TEPCO and the central government.

While the presiding judge ordered TEPCO to pay compensation to nine plaintiffs from four households, it denied the central government’s responsibility.

Read more :

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903150041.html

March 18, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Study to emphasize individual solutions to big issues as a way to reduce support for government efforts

To emphasize individual solutions to big issues is for sure needed, but it should never be used to discharge corporations and government from their own responsibilities

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Emphasizing individual solutions to big issues can reduce support for government efforts

Following the shutdown of the Fukushima power plant, which endured one of the worst nuclear accidents in history in 2011 due to a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami, Japan began a national initiative that encouraged saving electricity. This created an opportunity for Seth Werfel, a graduate student in political science at Stanford University, to investigate how recognition of individual efforts to improve energy usage might affect support for government-based solutions.

He found that the more people said they curbed energy use on their own, the less they supported a tax increase on carbon emissions.

“At first, I thought this result was counterintuitive because you’d expect people who took those actions to support government action as well,” said Werfel, whose work was published today in Nature Climate Change. “But it is intuitive, just not obvious. When the surveys made people feel like they’d done enough, they said that the government shouldn’t make them do more.”

Although his study was focused on an environmental issue, Werfel said other research suggests this reaction could be highly pervasive, affecting many other issues. He also found that the loss of support for government actions among the people who reported their personal efforts occurred regardless of political ideology.

How surveys changed support

Taking advantage of the energy-saving initiative, Werfel surveyed about 12,000 people in Japan. All surveys included a question about the extent to which people supported a government tax increase on carbon emissions. Half of the surveys contained a checklist that respondents used to indicate energy-saving actions they performed. On average, people who received the checklist surveys were about 13 percent less likely to support the government tax than people who did not receive a checklist.

People who performed the checklist tasks also indicated on the accompanying survey that they felt that individual actions were more important than those of the government for achieving energy sustainability, and that conserving energy and protecting the environment shouldn’t be a top national priority.

Werfel then sent checklist surveys to about 200 respondents who had been in non-checklist groups. Compared to how they responded in the initial, non-checklist survey, the respondents who checked the most boxes in the list of energy-saving actions in this second survey exhibited the greatest increase in their opposition to government actions. Werfel said this seems to indicate that people who perform more of these types of actions are more likely to see individual contributions as sufficient progress toward energy-saving goals.

Additional surveys showed that a checklist containing only one very easy individual action did not affect people’s support of the carbon tax. However, people were 15 percent less likely to support the tax if they checked a box stating that they thought recycling was important – an effect that was largest among people who said they cared most about the environment. Werfel stressed that this, as with all of these results, should lead people to not assume anything about the behavior of any one person.

“It would be way too strong to say these findings apply to someone who spends their life being environmentally conscious and advocating for government support of pro-environment initiatives,” he said.

Werfel also tested whether making people feel morally good about themselves made them more likely to oppose government action, but the results of that survey were inconclusive.

Striking a balance between pride and complacency

Werfel said he believes this phenomenon likely impacts issues beyond environmentalism, such as disease prevention, economic inequality and homelessness, a hypothesis he is currently investigating. Given the evidence so far, Werfel cautions that we should be more aware about the potential downsides of celebrating every individual and private sector contribution we see as benefitting the greater good.

“Sometimes there’s a danger to thinking you’ve done enough,” said Werfel. “We spend a lot of time encouraging people to do these things at home – to care about them and announce that they’ve done them – and there could be some backfire effect.”

More information: Seth H. Werfel. Household behaviour crowds out support for climate change policy when sufficient progress is perceived, Nature Climate Change (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3316

https://phys.org/news/2017-06-emphasizing-individual-solutions-big-issues.html#jCp

 

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June 13, 2017 Posted by | environment | , , | 1 Comment

Opposition lawmakers slam reconstruction minister

 

Japan’s opposition parties are criticizing Reconstruction Minister Masahiro Imamura for remarks he made about evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture. He suggested they were responsible for their decision to abandon their homes following the nuclear accident in 2011 because they weren’t instructed to do so by the government.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Imamura quarreled with a reporter who asked whether the government is dodging its responsibility to support the voluntary evacuees. Imamura later apologized for his behavior.

But the opposition Democratic Party’s Diet affairs chief, Kazuya Shimba, pounced on his remarks on Wednesday. He said they were out of bounds and showed a total lack of sympathy for the displaced. Shimba said it angered him to think how much Imamura has hurt them.

He said the minister was unqualified for his job, and an apology wasn’t good enough.

Keiji Kokuta of the Japanese Communist Party took issue with Imamura’s response to a question about whether the evacuees had only themselves to blame if they weren’t able to return to their hometowns. Kokuta said Imamura’s response amounted to saying, “Basically, yes.”

He said this shows a lack of understanding of such issues as reconstruction and voluntary evacuation.

Seiji Mataichi of the Social Democratic Party issued a statement calling Imamura’s words careless, abusive, and totally unacceptable. He urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to dismiss him.

But Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga defended Imamura, saying he would continue to carry out his duties as reconstruction minister.

He told reporters on Wednesday that Imamura meant it was up to each evacuee to decide where and how to live.

Suga stressed that the central government will offer strong support to those affected by the nuclear accident in cooperation with the Fukushima Prefectural Government.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170405_35/

April 5, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Reconstruction Minister Says Government Has No Responsibility to 3/11 Voluntary Evacuees

Masahiro Imamura, minister in charge of rebuilding from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, is surrounded by reporters in Tokyo on April 4 as he explains his remarks about Fukushima residents who fled on a voluntary basis.

3/11 ‘voluntary evacuees’ are on their own, says angry minister

The minister in charge of rebuilding Fukushima Prefecture after the 2011 nuclear disaster unfolded stormed out of a news conference after he faced repeated questions on the government’s responsibilities to locals who choose not to return home.

Masahiro Imamura said that the central government is no longer responsible for those people from areas not under evacuation orders at the news conference on April 4.

When a journalist pressed Imamura on the issue, the minister snapped at him saying, “You are rude and should never come to another news conference,” before pounding a desk, shouting “Shut up!” and abruptly leaving the Q&A session.

Imamura later apologized to reporters for becoming “emotional,” but did not retract his earlier remark, saying he made an “objective statement.”

Asked about the government’s responsibility for providing assistance to the so-called voluntary evacuees at the news conference in Tokyo, Imamura said: “They are responsible for their lives. They can file a lawsuit or do other things (if they disagree with the central government’s position).”

He added that the central government had done all it could to help, and that those who would not return to their homes in Fukushima Prefecture should take full responsibility for their actions.

Voluntary evacuees refer primarily to mothers and children from Fukushima Prefecture who fled to faraway regions even though they were not forced to evacuate.

The number of such people totaled 30,000 across Japan as of last October, according to the Fukushima prefectural government.

Concerns about their well-being have been mounting since the central and prefectural governments stopped funding free housing to those evacuees at the end of last month.

Support groups said the end of the free housing assistance could lead to a division among Fukushima people.

Locals who fled on a voluntary basis are eligible to receive limited support from the central government and compensation from Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, compared with their peers from the designated evacuation zone.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201704050057.html

 

EN-467042-thumbx300Masahiro Imamura, minister in charge of Tohoku reconstruction, apologizes Tuesday for yelling at a freelance journalist during a news conference.

Fukushima disaster reconstruction minister apologizes over outburst at journalist

Masahiro Imamura, minister in charge of reconstructing the disaster-hit Tohoku region, apologized Tuesday for raising his voice to a freelance journalist at a news conference over demanding questions on the government’s support for Fukushima evacuees.

Imamura was repeatedly asked how the central government planned to help those who voluntarily evacuated from areas near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant even though their towns and places of residence had not been designated by the state as mandatory evacuation zones.

On March 31, the Fukushima Prefectural Government terminated its financial assistance for housing for about 26,000 such “voluntary evacuees.”

Many of those evacuees, however, have no intention to or are unable to return to their hometowns in the prefecture because of concerns over radiation, financial difficulties or other reasons.

Imamura maintained that it is the Fukushima Prefectural Government, not the central government, that should extend direct assistance to those evacuees and that Tokyo is ready to support the prefectural government.

The journalist, whose name is not known, continued to call on Imamura to give “a responsible answer.” Imamura eventually demanded he leave the news conference at the Reconstruction Agency in Tokyo.

I’m doing my job in a responsible manner. How rude you are!” Imamura shot back.

You should retract what you’ve just said. Get out!” the minister shouted.

Never come here again!” he also said. The minister ended the news conference by leaving the room.

Later that day, Imamura faced reporters and apologized for his “emotional” outburst at the journalist over his questions and said he will not repeat the behavior.

But he didn’t apologize for his explanation of the central government’s policy on volunteer evacuees. During the news conference, Imamura argued “voluntary evacuees” should bear “self-responsibility for their own decisions” on whether they will return to their hometowns nor not.

You should file a lawsuit (against the state) or do whatever you like,” Imamura also said during the news conference.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/04/national/politics-diplomacy/fukushima-disaster-reconstruction-minister-apologizes-outburst-journalist/#.WOThu1LpOis

April 5, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment