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Payouts for nuclear disaster in urgent need of revamp

The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant

May 12, 2022

The government’s committee overseeing compensation for victims of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has begun considering whether existing guidelines for payouts should be revised upward.

Established in the aftermath of the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the guidelines have long been denounced as woefully inadequate in light of the impact of the unprecedented accident. The committee’s decision comes far too late. Many victims are now advanced in years and there is no time to waste in revamping the guidelines.

The criteria for amounts to be paid out were drawn up in August 2011 by the government’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation as “interim guidelines.” To expedite payments, the panel set general rules concerning eligibility based on categories of damages.

The guidelines, last reviewed in December 2013, are supposed to indicate minimum amounts of compensation for different types of damages. The utility is supposed to determine the actual sums to be paid after considering the special circumstances of individual victims.

Thirty or so group lawsuits have been filed by victims asserting that estimates of damages based on this method were insufficient. The plaintiffs are also seeking to hold the government liable for damages.

More than 10,000 people are involved in these legal actions. A series of rulings by district and high courts since 2017 granted higher damages to the plaintiffs than the estimates based on the guidelines. Seven of the rulings against plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. were finalized by the Supreme Court this spring.

The cases deal with different issues. Some supported the argument that all plaintiffs in a certain area should be compensated for mental stress due to their “loss of homes,” meaning they were deprived of their livelihoods and community life. These rulings represent judicial recognition of certain kinds of damages common to many local residents that are not covered by the guidelines. The guidelines should at least be changed to address these issues. Fukushima Prefecture and other local administrative authorities have urged the central government to review the criteria based on the court decisions.

In a belated move, the committee decided to analyze the rulings and identify types of damages not covered by the guidelines. This is a necessary process, but more needs to be done. The panel should confront the diverse and complicated realities resulting from years of living in forced evacuation.

Many victims have not filed lawsuits despite their unhappiness with damage payments offered by TEPCO. The plaintiffs of the rulings contend that the amounts granted by the courts are still insufficient. The committee should listen to the opinions of the victims and local administrations involved and examine a broad range of cases. It should not hesitate to make necessary adjustments to the guidelines in line with the realities.

This problem is an acid test for TEPCO’s commitment to supporting victims of the disaster. The company has consistently refused to pay compensation beyond the amounts based on the guidelines in both class action lawsuits and in mediations by a government dispute-settlement body. It has apparently decided to wait for the committee’s decision. As the company responsible for the disastrous accident, TEPCO’s stance toward the issue raises serious doubt about its awareness of its obligation to make genuine efforts to provide relief to victims.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which is effectively the primary shareholder of the utility under state control, must instruct the company to address the problem with sincerity.

The central government and TEPCO should not forget that they bear the grave responsibility to make all possible efforts to fully compensate victims for damages caused by the nuclear disaster.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14619116

May 15, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan gov’t, TEPCO ordered to pay $2.63 mil. over Fukushima nuclear crisis

Plaintiffs’ lawyers hold banners in front of the Tokyo High Court on Feb. 19, 2021, that say they have won a damages suit against the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. over the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

February 19, 2021

TOKYO (Kyodo) — A Japanese high court on Friday overturned a lower court decision that dismissed the state’s responsibility in the 2011 nuclear crisis, ordering both the government and the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s operator to pay damages to 43 people who had to evacuate from their hometowns as a result.

The Tokyo High Court ordered the state to cover the total damages of 278 million yen ($2.63 million) together with Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., following the precedent set by the Sendai High Court last September.

It marked the third high court ruling among 30 similar lawsuits filed across the country, and the second in which both the state and the utility were ordered to pay damages over radioactive contamination following the meltdowns at the plant.

Presiding Judge Yukio Shiraishi said it was “extremely unreasonable” for the government not to use its regulatory power to force the operator widely known as TEPCO to take preventive measures against the tsunami that triggered the world’s worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

If it had done so, “the impact of the tsunami would have been significantly reduced, and the facility would not have lost all power,” he said.

The court also ruled that the evacuees should be compensated for their mental distress, in addition to the 100,000 yen per month to be awarded to them as consolation for prolonged evacuation.

In a lawsuit filed with the Chiba District Court, 45 people collectively sought around 2.8 billion yen in damages from the government and the plant operator after they were forced to move from Fukushima Prefecture to Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo.

In 2017, the district court told TEPCO to pay a total of 376 million yen to 42 of the evacuees, but cleared the state of liability, prompting the plaintiffs to appeal the decision.

The focal point of the lower court case was whether the government and utility were able to foresee the huge tsunami that hit the coastal plant on March 11, 2011, and take preventive measures beforehand based on the government’s long-term earthquake assessment that was made public in 2002.

The Chiba court ruled that both the state and TEPCO could have predicted the tsunami, but the accident may have been unavoidable even if preventive steps had been taken.

In contrast with Friday’s ruling, the district court ruled the government’s failure to exercise regulatory power to force TEPCO to take preventive measures was “not unreasonable.”

In January, the Tokyo High Court also deemed the government was not responsible for the nuclear disaster in a suit filed by plaintiffs who evacuated to Gunma Prefecture, eastern Japan, and elsewhere. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210219/p2g/00m/0dm/001000d

February 21, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , , | 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

Ex-Tepco execs’ lawyers make final plea for acquittal over negligence in Fukushima nuclear crisis

The trial, which began in June 2017, ended on Tuesday. The court is expected to deliver its sentence on September 19.

March 12, 2019
Lawyers for three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. called for their acquittal in their final defense plea on Tuesday in a negligence case stemming from the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011.
The defense team said that it was impossible for them to foresee the massive tsunami that engulfed the Fukushima No. 1 power plant and caused fuel meltdowns following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked the coastal Tohoku region.
The day after the nation marked the eighth anniversary of the March 11, 2011, disasters, the lawyers for Tsunehisa Katsumata, 78, Tepco chairman at the time of the crisis, and Ichiro Takekuro, 72, and Sakae Muto, 68, both vice presidents, told the Tokyo District Court they “do not recognize any predictability in the disaster.”
The three men have been indicted for allegedly failing to take measures against the massive tsunami and causing the deaths of 44 hospital inpatients and injuries to 13 others during the evacuations prompted by fuel meltdowns and hydrogen explosions at the plant.
Court-appointed lawyers acting as prosecutors have called for five-year prison terms for the three, claiming they could have prevented the nuclear disaster had they fulfilled their responsibilities in collecting information and taking safety measures.
Read more :
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/12/national/crime-legal/ex-tepco-execs-lawyers-make-final-plea-acquittal-negligence-fukushima-nuclear-crisis/?fbclid=IwAR2diwN8B9xxWiBJU5dy6WbXrgx8tSoW32lwWTqR5Vi6gRuwf04Pmi8Ziq8#.XIhZmMn7Tcs

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