FUKUSHIMA – Residents near Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant sued the government and Tepco in a spate of lawsuits Monday, complaining they were exposed to radiation and forced to evacuate following Japan’s worst nuclear disaster in 2011.
The suits, which demand the government and Tepco pay compensation and restore conditions to their original form before the crisis, coincided with the second anniversary of the massive earthquake and tsunami that triggered the meltdowns at the facility.
The suits were filed with the Fukushima District Court, its branch in Iwaki, and in the Chiba District Court. A similar suit was set to be filed with Tokyo District Court later Monday.
Damages sought in the four class-action suits, involving some 1,650 plaintiffs, are expected to reach at least ¥5.3 billion.
A total of 800 former residents of Fukushima, Miyagi, Yamagata, Tochigi and Ibaraki prefectures at the time of the accident are party to the suit filed with Fukushima District Court. About 10 percent of them are people who were ordered to evacuate.
They are demanding the government and Tepco reduce the radiation to levels recorded before the crisis and pay ¥50,000 per head each month until those conditions are met.
It is the first time the government has faced a collective lawsuit over a nuclear accident the plaintiffs’ lawyers said. They said the central government became a target because nuclear power generation was promoted as a state policy.
“The group hopes that the suit will lead to a program to aid not only the plaintiffs but all nuclear disaster victims” throughout Japan, lawyer Izutaro Managi told a news conference.
In the suit filed with the court’s Iwaki branch, 822 residents of the city in Fukushima Prefecture, demanded that the central government and Tepco lower radiation to pre-accident levels and pay monthly compensation of ¥30,000 per adult and ¥80,000 per child.
A total of 20 people from eight households who fled from Fukushima to Chiba, in the suit filed with the Chiba District Court, are seeking some ¥1 billion, including ¥32 million in consolation money per person and around ¥36 million per household for home damage.
Eight people who voluntarily evacuated to Tokyo were to file a suit with Tokyo District Court later Monday demanding the central government and Tepco pay ¥12 million per head.
NRA issues trust vows
On the second anniversary of the meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power complex, the Nuclear Regulation Authority renewed its resolve to become an organization that can be trusted by the public.
“Today is a day to confirm the starting point of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which was newly created by reflecting on the accident,” NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka told organization staffers.
The NRA was launched last September.
Due to widespread contamination by radioactive substances released from Tepco’s nuclear power complex, more than 150,000 people from Fukushima Prefecture are still living as evacuees both inside and outside the prefecture.