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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fukushima Prefecture Bar Association also referred to the government’s interim guidelines, which serve as the standard for compensation for damages, and called for a review of the guidelines according to the actual conditions of the damage in the future.
https://newsdig.tbs.co.jp/articles/tuf/99511?display=1&fbclid=IwAR1My4O3GcaHfiS3tUv-gwAaC2TiRnu0VK5ZeY4UQ8t-Sv7CL5Ig4bwuLBc

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

VOX POPULI: Nuclear power in Japan may be a mistake we are doomed to repeat

A huge tsunami is seen approaching the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on March 11, 2011. (Provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

July 7, 2022

The Supreme Court was extremely lenient with the government in its June 17 verdict concerning the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe of 2011.

Multiple high courts had already ruled that the government was liable for damages for failing to order Tokyo Electric Power Co. to take sufficient preventive measures against a potentially disastrous tsunami.

The top court, however, overturned all these rulings.

Explaining the reason, the presiding justice noted to the effect that the tsunami turned out to be “simply too massive.”

The gist of his argument was that since the accident would have occurred anyway even if the government had ordered TEPCO to install a seawall, his court could not hold the government responsible as a nuclear safety regulator.

What an utterly magnanimous ruling for a government that failed to do its part. This is akin to giving someone a pass because they are too inexperienced or immature to be treated seriously.

I could not possibly support this ruling. However, trying to go along with the court’s reasoning just for the sake of argument, the conclusion to be drawn is the government was never capable of regulating a nuclear power plant at all.

Ultimately, any discussion of nuclear power boils down to whether humans are ever capable of being a party to handling it.

Radioactive nuclear waste must be kept isolated for an utterly mind-boggling period of 100,000 years. We have also learned that once a nuclear accident occurs, we cannot even go near the accident site, let alone control it.

For some years after the Fukushima disaster, the idea of ending nuclear power generation was a major issue in national elections.

A decade has elapsed, however, and the issue is hardly “hot” in the July 10 Upper House election. In fact, the recent rise in energy prices has given a boost to advocates for a greater reliance on nuclear energy.

If radioactive nuclear waste could talk, it must be scoffing at our forgetfulness and taunting us: “You will never be able to measure us by your yardstick.”

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14663000?fbclid=IwAR1pCtdJyb7SsLiSqUJpYRkdPsO1Z7wB3ZhRVS9Aiiq-eXPdYKNMVm0PJtI

July 10, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Supreme Court Ruling Rejects National Government Responsibility for Fukushima Evacuees

by Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center · Published July 4, 2022

By Fukutake Kimiko (Head attorney for the Chiba Prefecture nuclear power plant victims lawsuit)

On June 17, 2022, the Supreme Court of Japan put an end to the four lawsuits filed by the evacuees of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Gunma, Chiba, and Ehime prefectures. The sole point of dispute in these lawsuits was whether the Japanese government, which did not exert regulatory authority on the utility company, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), for the implementation of measures against tsunamis, is liable to compensate for damages according to Paragraph 1, Article 1 of the Law Concerning State Liability for Compensation. The top court absolved the government.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster occurred when external power supply to the station was lost due to the earthquake, activating the emergency power supply system, which was then crippled by the tsunami that flooded the station above ground level. The loss of emergency power made reactor core cooling impossible, causing core meltdown and the discharge of huge volumes of radioactive substances. The plaintiffs claimed that, firstly, the loss of emergency power supply and consequent disaster had been foreseeable because it was possible to tell that tsunamis would flood the station above ground level, at which the reactor building and turbine building were situated, since the height and impact of tsunamis were calculated based on the Long-term Assessment released in 2002 by the governmental Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion. The second claim was that the disaster might have been prevented if the main buildings and main equipment rooms had been provided with measures to make them watertight, in addition to seawalls.

On the other hand, the government claimed that, firstly, the Long-term Assessment was not knowledge that could have been accepted as a just set of opinions sufficiently accurate and reliable to be incorporated into nuclear regulation, and that, secondly, even if tsunami countermeasures had been taken in response to the calculations based on the Long-term Assessment, tsunamis were calculated to arrive from the south, prompting a seawall to be built to the south of the station, such that the seawall would have had no effect against the tsunami experienced in this lawsuit, because the size and directions of the actual tsunami waves were completely different.

Supreme Court shies away from delivering a clear judgment about foreseeability

Concerning the tsunami calculations, the Supreme Court stated: “The fault model of the Meiji Sanriku Earthquake was applied to the areas closer to the Japan trench, such as the areas off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture. Many numerical calculations performed with the conditions of this fault model varied within the ranges that were deemed reasonable, using the design tsunami height evaluation methods available from tsunami evaluation technology. The highest possible tsunamis on the east face and southeast face of the station were calculated. The calculations included sufficient safety margins to meet the worst-case scenario foreseeable at that time. Thus, the calculations were reasonable.”

The Supreme Court did not examine the Long-term Assessment closely nor take it affirmatively; it stated that the calculations based on the Long-term Assessment were reasonable. However, the court did not clearly put aside the Long-term Assessment. The court statement can be understood to mean that the Assessment was reliable.

However, to determine foreseeability, it is not sufficient to consider only natural phenomena, namely, from what directions and at what heights tsunamis would arrive. What also needs to be considered is whether it was possible to foresee that, when a tsunami arrived above ground level, seawater could enter the buildings and rooms where critical facilities were placed through openings such as doors, pipe penetrations and air intakes, possibly submerging and crippling the emergency power supply. Sato Kazuo, former chairman of the Nuclear Safety Commission wrote in Logic of Nuclear Safety [in Japanese]: “Danger indicates the possibility of generating circumstances where human life, health, or assets may be significantly damaged.”

The Supreme Court wrote: “If the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry had exerted regulatory authority, a seawall or similar construction designed to prevent the flooding of the station would have been installed to protect against tsunamis of the scale similar to those calculated in the Long-term Assessment.” It sounds as if the Supreme Court recognized the foreseeability of only natural phenomena.

Supreme Court adopts the seawall as the sole point of contention

The Supreme Court further stated, “Prior to the accident examined in this lawsuit, the basic countermeasure for the protection of nuclear facilities from tsunamis in this country was to build seawalls or the like to prevent seawater from entering the premises of the nuclear facilities in which safety equipment or the like are situated, to prepare against premise flooding due to tsunamis… Such an idea that installing seawalls or the like is not sufficient was not dominant, and in no other respects was the above-mentioned measure taken as insufficient as a tsunami countermeasure to protect nuclear facilities under the knowledge available before the accident examined in this lawsuit. Therefore, it is impossible to reasonably determine that the implementation of other measures was probable or that such other measures should have been taken in addition to the seawalls or the like designed to prevent the flooding of the premises examined in this lawsuit in the case of tsunamis of a scale similar to that of the accident, even if the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry had exerted the above-mentioned regulatory authority before the accident.”

At the same time, however, a flooding accident had already been experienced at the Blayais Nuclear Power Plant in France. In response to the accident, watertight defense efforts were being made for critical equipment rooms in addition to the construction of seawalls. At Tokai Daini Nuclear Power Plant (Ibaraki Prefecture) and Hamaoka Nuclear Power Station (Shizuoka Prefecture), watertight defense efforts were already made for part of the buildings and critical equipment rooms. The safety philosophy of multiple protection, which demands multi-layer safety measures, was widely accepted around the world. A single measure is no longer regarded satisfactory for critical equipment such as the emergency power supply; multi-layer, diverse, and independent safety measures are demanded. The Supreme Court judgment is a sign of acceptance of the poor operation of the regulatory organization in Japan.

Supreme Court excessively emphasizes that the actual tsunami and earthquake were greater than the tsunami calculations

The Supreme Court stated, “The scale of earthquake predicted in the Long-term Assessment was around 8.2 in tsunami magnitude, and the flooding depth around the main buildings was estimated to be about 2.6 meters or less. The calculated tsunamis were higher than the station ground level on the southeast face, while on the east face, the calculated tsunamis did not exceed the ground level; namely, even if a tsunami of the same scale as calculated had arrived at the station examined in this lawsuit, it was not foreseen that seawater might enter the site from the east face.” The court examined in detail the tsunami experienced in this lawsuit, stating, “The epicentral area ranged about 450 kilometers north and south, and about 200 kilometers east and west. The maximum slippage was 50 meters or more. The magnitude of the earthquake experienced in this lawsuit was 9.0, and the tsunami magnitude was 9.1; the earthquake was the largest in Japan’s seismic monitoring history. With the arrival of the tsunami experienced in this lawsuit, volumes of seawater entered the station premises not only from the southeast face but also from the east face. The flooding depth near the main buildings due to the tsunami was a maximum of about 5.5 meters.” This finding is not wrong. However, it is not relevant to discuss the cause of the disaster based only on the scale of the earthquake (whether the tsunami magnitude was 8.2 or 9.1), the direction of tsunami arrival (whether from southeast or from east), or flooding depth (whether about 2.6 meters or less, or a maximum of about 5.5 meters). The real issue is whether tsunamis might arrive above the station ground level, whether seawater might enter the main buildings, whether emergency power supply might be flooded and crippled, and whether the danger of reactor core meltdown might be possible or probable. Because the tsunami calculations obtained based on the Long-term Assessment indicated that such a danger was possible, the danger did exist if the actual tsunami were as great as or greater than the calculations. As the dissenting opinion by Judge Miura points out, “In this lawsuit, the bottom line must not be overlooked while too much attention is paid to the scales and details of the earthquake or tsunami experienced in this lawsuit.”

Supreme Court judges that seawall installation is the only measure, taking account of tsunami calculations only

The Supreme Court wrote: “A seawall or the like designed to protect the station examined in this lawsuit from tsunamis of the same scale as the tsunami calculations would be highly likely to serve mainly to prevent the entry of seawater from the southeast face of the station; even taking into account the possibility that seawalls would be designed to include a given degree of margin, it would not have served to prevent the ingress of a great amount of seawater into the station at the arrival of the tsunami.” The court also stated: “It is highly likely that such a large amount of seawater would have entered the main buildings, flooded and crippled emergency power supply, caused the nuclear reactor facilities to black out, and generated an accident of the same scale of the disaster experienced in this lawsuit.” In conclusion, the Supreme Court denied the causal link between the lack of exertion of regulatory authority and the occurrence of the disaster, stating. “Under the factual conditions presented in this case, a factual relation cannot be found to exist between the lack of exertion of the abovementioned regulatory authority by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry and the occurrence of the accident examined in this lawsuit or similar accident.” The court judged that the government is not liable to compensate for damages according to Paragraph 1, Article 1 of the Law Concerning State Liability for Compensation.

Dissenting opinion by Judge Miura acutely reveals the truth

The Supreme Court Petty Bench consists of five judges, but Otani Naoto, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, does not participate in the examination of individual cases. The four judges who conducted this case were Kanno Hiroyuki (former judge), Miura Mamoru (former prosecutor), Kusano Koichi (former attorney), and Okamura Kazumi (former prosecutor, attorney, and government official).

Besides the fact-finding section, the majority opinion (by judges Kanno, Kusano and Okamura) consists of only six pages, denying the liability of the government. On the other hand, the dissenting opinion (by judge Miura) is 29 pages long, and clearly states that the government is liable: “The government and the utility company, TEPCO, are held liable for damages to the plaintiffs, and it is reasonable to understand that the two are under non-authentic joint obligations (meaning that both parties are liable, but that releasing one party from liability does not automatically release the other party from the same liability).” The dissenting opinion is summarized below:

  1. In the Technical Standards based on the Electricity Business Act, “the cases where nuclear reactor facilities and the like may be damaged by tsunamis,” are cases where, in consideration of the severest foreseeable tsunami conditions, the safety functions of nuclear reactor facilities and the like may be crippled by tsunamis, which should be assessed appropriately by means of numerical calculations and other relevant means, based on the latest scientific and expert knowledge, and in consideration of the uncertainty of various factors from a conservative (safer) point of view, to encompass tsunamis that may occur, however rarely, during the service period of the facilities.
  2. The Long-term Assessment was conducted to evaluate the occurrence of future earthquake activity in the area ranging from the offshore area of the Sanriku Coast (extending from Aomori to Miyagi Prefectures in northern Japan) to the offshore area of the Boso Peninsula (in Chiba Prefecture in the south), as part of a comprehensive evaluation of earthquakes, to promote the improvement of earthquake disaster prevention measures. The basic reliability of the Assessment can be secured in that the Assessment was conducted by appropriate methods using previously established scientific and expert knowledge. The Assessment is reasonable for use as the basis of the determination of technological standards.
  3. At that time, in Japan and in other countries, watertight defense measures were known to be implemented in nuclear reactor facilities. Technological knowledge for the prevention of flooding for doors, openings, penetrations and the like is available. It can be considered that, if watertight defense measures or other relevant measures were taken, it might have effectively protected the emergency power supply examined in this lawsuit against the tsunami.

Let’s overturn the Supreme Court majority opinion

The majority opinion of the Supreme Court bailed out the delinquent national government, ignoring the fact that regulatory administration can be effective only when the government exerts regulatory authority at the right time and in the right situations. We might say that the judicial system has managed to come down to a very low level here.

The majority opinion of the Supreme Court includes incorrect factual findings, judgment failures and contradictions. The second lawsuit of the Chiba plaintiff group is pending at the Tokyo Hight Court. We intend to make the best efforts possible to present further assertions and proofs needed to turn the dissenting opinion of the Supreme Court decision into a majority opinion. We thank you for your continued support.

July 10, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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

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


 At a press conference held in Tokyo after the filing of the appeal, Yoko Okawa, a lawyer representing the victims, said, “The Supreme Court decision does not deny the reliability of the long-term assessment itself. (I think it will be difficult to maintain the first instance judgment (in the compulsory prosecution trial).
https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/185181?fbclid=IwAR145ECCoVfFcDpLgGRvYoU3UR_rCgo__ugf4oCr6wOlgBVYaGvDzQtgXfE

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

Plaintiffs slam Supreme Court ruling

June 17, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Japan’s top court says government not responsible for Fukushima damage

An aerial view shows the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following a strong earthquake, in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo on March 17, 2022.

TOKYO, June 17 (Reuters) – Japan’s government is not liable for damages demanded by people whose lives were devastated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the country’s top court said on Friday, the first such ruling in a series of similar cases.

The ruling’s effect as a precedent will be closely watched, media said.

A massive tsunami set off by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off Japan’s northeastern coast on March 11, 2011 struck the Fukushima Daiichi power plant of Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), causing the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Plaintiffs demanded damages from both Tepco and the country in several class-action lawsuits, and in March the Supreme Court upheld an order for Tepco to pay damages of 1.4 billion yen to about 3,700 people.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno declined direct comment when asked about the ruling at a news conference, though he said he was aware of it.

“Regardless of the ruling, we will stay close to those affected by the disaster and keep on doing our utmost for Fukushima’s reconstruction and revival,” he said.

An aerial view shows the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following a strong earthquake, in Okuma town
An aerial view shows the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following a strong earthquake, in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo on March 17, 2022.

TOKYO, June 17 (Reuters) – Japan’s government is not liable for damages demanded by people whose lives were devastated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the country’s top court said on Friday, the first such ruling in a series of similar cases.

The ruling’s effect as a precedent will be closely watched, media said.

A massive tsunami set off by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off Japan’s northeastern coast on March 11, 2011 struck the Fukushima Daiichi power plant of Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), causing the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Plaintiffs demanded damages from both Tepco and the country in several class-action lawsuits, and in March the Supreme Court upheld an order for Tepco to pay damages of 1.4 billion yen to about 3,700 people.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno declined direct comment when asked about the ruling at a news conference, though he said he was aware of it.

“Regardless of the ruling, we will stay close to those affected by the disaster and keep on doing our utmost for Fukushima’s reconstruction and revival,” he said.

About 470,000 people were forced to evacuate in the first days after the disaster, and tens of thousands remain unable to return even now.

Lower courts had split over the extent of the government’s responsibility in foreseeing the disaster and ordering Tepco to take steps to prevent it.

https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japans-top-court-says-govt-not-responsible-fukushima-damage-media-2022-06-17/

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

Commentary] Class Action Lawsuit over Nuclear Power Plant Accident: One Dissenting Opinion What are the Key Points of the Supreme Court Decision?

June 17, 2022
We will explain the points of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the 17th regarding the nuclear power plant accident.

First, TEPCO, which has been awarded compensation, made the following comment: “As a party to the accident, I would like to reiterate my sense of responsibility and pain. The company issued an apology, saying, “As a party to the accident, we are once again acutely aware of our responsibility and deeply apologize to the plaintiffs.”

The government then commented, “We will continue to face up to the threats posed by nature, and we will work tirelessly to review our regulations.

The most significant aspect of today’s decision was the finding that the accident could not have been avoided even if the government had mandated TEPCO to take tsunami countermeasures.

The reasons given were that “the tsunami that actually came in was much larger than expected” and that the tsunami “came in from the east as well as the southeast side of the plant,” as had been assumed.

Of the four judges, only Judge Mamoru Miura acknowledged the government’s responsibility and wrote a dissenting opinion.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs have criticized the Supreme Court’s decision, saying that “the process that led to the conclusion of the court’s decision does not face the damage at all.

As for the future impact of the ruling, about 30 cases are still ongoing regarding the damage caused by the nuclear power plant accident. I think it is very significant that the Supreme Court has reached a unified judgment on the responsibility of the government.

The substance of the damages in dispute differs from case to case, so it does not mean that the trials will end immediately, but the impact will not be small

The conclusion drawn 11 years after the disaster. It is likely to have an impact not only on the plaintiffs in this case, but also on other trials and future nuclear policy.
https://newsdig.tbs.co.jp/articles/tuf/73310?display=1

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

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

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

June 17, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

The focal point of the four suits was whether the government and Tepco were able to foresee the huge tsunami that hit the seaside plant on March 11, 2011, and take preventive measures beforehand, with conflicting claims made by the parties regarding the government’s long-term earthquake assessment made public in 2002.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 17, 2022
The Supreme Court has refused to recognize the government’s responsibility in four class action lawsuits filed by approximately 3,800 people in Fukushima and other prefectures against Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the national government over the nuclear accident. Eleven years have passed since the earthquake and the nuclear accident. We caught up with each of the plaintiffs on the day that marked a major milestone.
https://newsdig.tbs.co.jp/articles/tuf/73210?display=1&fbclid=IwAR1NlC9yQdyN-k6f41FHUGE1FLAIqhrqEv6vbJuaoQ6YPzbJn3Oonbs54Ic

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

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

April 25, 2022 Plaintiffs entering the Supreme Court.

June 17, 2022

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

A series of small episodes

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

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

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

Shigeaki Konno

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sendai High Court judges visit Ms. Konno’s home

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

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

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

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

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

A Pregnancy Full of Anxiety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I may never be able to return to my home.

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

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

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

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

 Konno-san said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 17, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The judgments so far are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What is a “long-term assessment?”

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

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

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

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

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

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


Evacuee Class Action Lawsuits Filed in 33 Cases Nationwide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


More than 30,000 people still living in evacuation shelters

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

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

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

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

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


Plaintiffs who continue to live in evacuation shelters are

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Possible Influence on the Way Victims’ Relief is Provided

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 In March, prior to the ruling, the Second Petty Bench of the Tokyo District Court had already rejected appeals by both the plaintiffs and the defendant regarding the amount of damages. With this decision, TEPCO’s liability and the amount of compensation are now fixed.
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June 18, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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

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


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

 Ehime Lawsuit Residents who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture to Ehime Prefecture due to the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant filed lawsuits one after another since March 2014, and two lawsuits were filed in Ehime Prefecture. Five people have filed lawsuits against the government and TEPCO, demanding compensation. On March 26, 2007, the Matsuyama District Court of the first instance (Judge Keiko Kuboi) ordered the government and TEPCO to pay a total of 27.43 million yen. On September 29, 2009, the Takamatsu High Court (Ryuichi Kamiyama, presiding judge), the court of second instance, also ordered TEPCO to pay a total of ¥2,743,000. The second trial court, Takamatsu High Court (Judge Ryuichi Kamiyama), on September 29, 2009, also found the government liable and ordered TEPCO to pay a total of 46.21 million yen, saying that the government’s failure to take tsunami countermeasures “deviated from acceptable limits and was extremely unreasonable. TEPCO’s liability was confirmed by the Supreme Court’s Second Petty Bench (Hiroyuki Kanno, Chief Justice) on March 30, 2010, rejecting TEPCO’s appeal.
https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/183388?fbclid=IwAR2EfW4MVn87SSkDINOkofLDs2dIjjic2zddRor_oH4gNikPc8hTNIeAHJ8

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

The Supreme Court will make its first ruling on the government’s liability for the nuclear power plant accident on June 17

My father was killed by the nuclear power plant. It is impossible that the government is not responsible for the accident,” said Kazuya Tarukawa, a plaintiff.

June 14, 2022
On May 17, the Supreme Court of Japan will make its first ruling on whether the government is liable for damages in four lawsuits brought by Fukushima Prefecture residents who evacuated from their homes following the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant (a total of 3,700 plaintiffs). The plaintiffs have been pursuing legal responsibility on the grounds that the government spread the myth of nuclear power plant safety before the accident, but after the accident, the government has been evading the issue, claiming that the accident was “unforeseen. The decision of the judiciary’s “last resort” will attract a great deal of attention because it will affect similar lawsuits that are currently being heard in the first and second courts.
The peasants of Fukushima are finished,” said his father, who took his own life.

 The farmers of Fukushima are finished. The farmers of Fukushima are finished. On March 12, 2011, a hydrogen explosion occurred at a nuclear power plant that had been inundated by the massive tsunami triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Kazuya Tarukawa, 46, a farmer in Sukagawa City, Fukushima Prefecture, still vividly remembers the words of his father Hisashi as he watched the TV news broadcast footage of the explosion. Twelve days later, Hisashi took his own life at the age of 64.

Hisashi was the seventh generation of the family to protect the 4.5 hectares of fields. His second son, Kazuya, took over at the age of 30 and worked hard growing rice and other crops while watching Hisashi’s back. Sukagawa City is located approximately 65 km southwest of the nuclear power plant, and although the government did not issue an evacuation order, radiation levels rose at the time due to the spread of radioactive materials.

 Mr. Kushi focused on cabbage production, and his commitment to organic cultivation was highly praised, and the cabbage was adopted as a food ingredient for local school lunches. However, the day before his death, a fax arrived at his home from a local agricultural organization informing him that cabbage shipments had been suspended due to the nuclear accident. At the time of his death, there were approximately 7,500 cabbage plants in the field, fresh and waiting to be harvested. I made a mistake by letting you take over the farm,” Hisashi told Kazuya. Those were Hisashi’s last words to Kazuya.

In accordance with the government’s compensation guidelines, TEPCO has compensated the farmers to a certain extent for the damage caused by harmful rumors and other factors related to the nuclear accident. TEPCO also acknowledged the causal relationship between the nuclear accident and Kushi’s death and paid him a settlement. However, the government has not acknowledged its legal responsibility and is proceeding with the restart of nuclear power plants. No settlement has been reached,” Kazuya said. Kazuya became a member of the plaintiffs’ group that filed a lawsuit for damages with the Fukushima District Court in March 2001, hoping to clarify the government’s responsibility.

 In the lawsuit, the government claimed that it “could not have prevented the accident caused by the tsunami. Kazuya was furious, saying, “If no advance countermeasures can be taken, the nuclear power plant should never have been allowed to operate. In October 2005, the district court ruled that both the government and TEPCO were responsible for the accident, and in September 2008, the second trial court, the Sendai High Court, increased the amount of compensation, sternly condemning the government for “acquiescing to TEPCO’s report and not fulfilling the role expected of a regulatory authority.

Kazuya was unable to hear the Supreme Court’s ruling on September 17 due to his busy farming season, but he said, “There is no such thing as absolute safety, but the government made the power company operate the nuclear power plant. It is impossible for the government not to be responsible. If my father were still alive, he would have become a plaintiff with the same feelings. I look forward to a verdict that will give us a good report,” he says.

Focus is on the government’s “failure to exercise its regulatory authority
There are about 30 class action lawsuits filed by evacuees over the nuclear power plant accident in Japan (more than 12,000 plaintiffs), including four cases in which the Supreme Court will issue a ruling on March 17. Twenty-three judgments have been issued so far, with 12 of the 23 cases finding the government liable and the remaining 11 cases refusing to do so. The Supreme Court’s decision will set the direction for future decisions by the first and second instance courts.

The focus will be on whether the government’s exercise of its regulatory authority over TEPCO was appropriate. The Supreme Court has ruled in past pollution lawsuits that the government is liable for compensation when the government’s failure to exercise its regulatory authority “deviates from the permissible limits and is extremely unreasonable. In determining “reasonableness,” the first and second courts in this case focused on two points: (1) whether a giant tsunami could have been foreseen, and (2) whether the accident could have been avoided. The Supreme Court is expected to follow the same approach in reaching its conclusion.

 The plaintiffs claim that the government could have foreseen the tsunami based on the “long-term assessment” of earthquake forecasts released by a government research institute in 2002, and the government argues that the long-term assessment was unreliable. As for the possibility of avoiding the accident, the plaintiffs claim that the accident could have been avoided if a seawall had been built and the buildings had been “watertight,” which would have prevented water from entering the buildings. The government, on the other hand, claims that the actual tsunami could not have been prevented even if a seawall had been built based on the assumptions at the time and that the method of “watertight” had not been established.
https://mainichi.jp/articles/20220614/k00/00m/040/146000c?fbclid=IwAR0pQ2Xy0aAv7Q736vK3zdkznorMdbyF5NI7b9gPa_rRrNcUHM_Syhbb5yk

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

Evacuees from nuclear disaster await Supreme Court ruling

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

June 14, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NO LONGER ABLE TO FARM

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

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

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

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

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

The Tokyo High Court overturned it in 2021, however.

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

His house was ruined by wild boars and overgrown grass.

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

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

TEARS FROM THE VICTIMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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