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The Hiroshima High Court on Monday upheld a lower court ruling that former top executives of Chubu Electric Power Co. do not have to return some 6.3 billion yen paid to fishermen as compensation for a planned nuclear plant that has since been put on hold.

The ruling came in response to an appeal filed by 16 shareholders of the Hiroshima-based utility who had maintained that the three former executives, including Chubu Electric Chairman Shitomi Takasu, hurt the firm by paying the compensation despite knowing the Kaminoseki Nuclear Power Plant plan would fall through.

The plan was for two light-water reactors to be built in Kaminoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, with a total output of some 1.37 million kw.

However, because the purchase of land owned by a local shrine for the No. 1 reactor has been delayed, Chubu Electric said in March that it would push back construction by a year, to fiscal 2008 for the No. 1 reactor and to fiscal 2011 for the No. 2 reactor.

In handing down Monday’s ruling, presiding Judge Yoshiro Kusano said the executives were not wrong in determining the land could be obtained.

“The utility’s signing of a fisheries compensation agreement was not illegal, even though some fishery cooperatives were opposed,” he added.

Chubu Electric signed compensation agreements with a committee that represented eight local fishery co-ops that were expected to be affected by the construction of the nuclear plant. Based on the pact, a total of 6.065 billion yen was paid out in May 2000.

In January 2003, the Hiroshima District Court rejected the plaintiffs’ demand and ruled that the executives had acted properly, as it could not be said that the nuclear plant could not be built. The court also ruled that the compensation payment had been endorsed by Chubu Electric’s board.

The plaintiffs, who at the time numbered 17, then appealed to the high court. One has since died.

During the appeal litigation, the plaintiffs argued that some fishery co-ops did not take part in the compensation agreement and so it was impossible to secure government authorization for construction of the power plant.

The former executives maintained that the lawsuit was based on the antinuclear positions of the plaintiffs as individuals.

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