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Tepco settles suit over suicide of Fukushima dairy farmer

Kyodo

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has agreed to make a payment to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of a dairy farmer who committed suicide after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, the family’s lawyers said.

The settlement was reached Tuesday in the Tokyo District Court. The exact sum was not disclosed, though the family had been seeking around ¥128 million in damages.

Tepco, operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, agreed to give money to the family of Shigekiyo Kanno, who died at age 54, but rejected the family’s request for an apology in the settlement document.

The Kanno family’s lawyers said they agreed to settle the case because Tepco “can be seen to have acknowledged the causal connection” between the suicide and the nuclear disaster, and because the settlement payment reached a level acceptable to the family.

According to the suit, Kanno owned around 40 dairy cows in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, about 50 km from the nuclear complex. Milk shipments were suspended following the nuclear disaster triggered by the earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.

He had to give up most of his herd and was also worried he would not be able to repay his loans.

He committed suicide in a barn in June 2011 while his wife, Vanessa, and their two sons were in the Philippines, her home country. He left messages on the barn wall that said, “If only there was no nuclear power plant” and “I no longer have the spirit to work.”

In May 2013, his wife and children filed a lawsuit seeking damages over Kanno’s death, saying he killed himself in despair over the future.

Vanessa Kanno, 37, said in a statement Tuesday: “I am not fully satisfied with the content of the settlement, but I’ve decided to resolve the issue to return to a peaceful life as soon as possible. I never want this kind of sad thing to happen again” to anyone else.

Tepco issued a statement that said, “We mourn the loss of Mr. Kanno from the bottom of our heart.”