Family of nuke crisis suicide victim to sue Tepco for damages

JIJI

The family of a woman who committed suicide amid the Fukushima No. 1 plant nuclear disaster intends to demand around ¥72.5 million in damages from Tokyo Electric Power Co., sources said Wednesday.

The family claims Hamako Watanabe, 58, set herself on fire last July due to her depressed state while living as an evacuee after her home in Kawamata, Fukushima Prefecture, was designated as a preparatory evacuation zone, the sources said.

According to a lawyer group representing victims of the nuclear crisis, this would be the first time a family has sued Tepco over a suicide related to the nuclear crisis.

Mikio Watanabe, the victim’s 61-year-old husband, plans to file a lawsuit with the Fukushima District Court on May 18 claiming his spouse set fire to herself and died July 1 after returning to Kawamata to clean up their home, according to the sources.

Although she didn’t leave a suicide note, the woman was allegedly suffering from depression and sleep disorders due to stress from repeated evacuations of the town.

The family notified Tepco on April 20 of its intention to seek compensation over her death through a lawyer.

In a letter dated May 1, the utility replied that it would consider the matter after first studying the specific details of the incident and the woman’s physical and mental health at the time.

An official at Tepco’s support division in Fukushima declined comment further Wednesday.