Court upholds depth-charge ruling

The Tokyo High Court on Monday upheld a lower court ruling ordering the government to pay compensation following the explosion of a former Imperial Japanese Navy depth charge that injured five workers in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in 2000.

But the high court ruled there had been negligence on the part of the plaintiffs and reduced the amount of compensation from about 160 million yen to about 118 million yen.

The plaintiffs — a wrecking company, the five injured workers and another company — had demanded 465 million yen in compensation from the government and a subcontractor that had brought the depth charge to the demolition company to be scrapped.

In December, the Yokosuka branch of the Yokohama District Court ruled that only the government was liable in terms of paying compensation, a ruling that the government quickly appealed.

But the high court rejected the government’s appeal, concluding that the explosion could have been foreseen as the detonator remained intact, Presiding Judge Kazuyoshi Harada said in handing down the ruling.

In acknowledging the plaintiffs’ negligence, however, he said it is a “common” practice to remove dangerous objects, such as gasoline tanks, before scrapping an item.