• Kyodo

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A total of 32 residents and owners of homes in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, on Thursday sued real estate developer Mitsui Fudosan Co. for about ¥700 million in liquefaction damages related to the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11.

The lawsuit said that liquefaction, a seismic phenomenon that occurs when vibrations cause soil to effectively liquefy, caused homes and buildings to tilt, gardens and parking lots to cave in or rise up, and water and gas mains to rupture at Park City Town House III, a housing complex designed by the company.

Mitsui Fudosan refrained from commenting on the suit because it has not confirmed its content.

The plaintiffs want compensation to cover work needed to strengthen the land and base of the complex, repairs on their homes and payment for suffering.

Kinichi Kosugi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said this is the first lawsuit filed by a group of citizens so far over liquefaction damage related to the March 11 temblor. Several people are expected to join the suit.

The plaintiffs noted that no major liquefaction damage was observed in other nearby public housing developments or within Tokyo Disneyland’s theme park area in the city, both of which underwent enhancements around 1977 to 1980. Tokyo Disneyland did take liquefaction damage from the March 11 quake, but it was limited to its parking lot.

The plaintiffs said they bought or inherited their housing units between 1981 and 2005. They said the area where their dwellings are situated was recognized in prefectural and municipal surveys as being at high risk of liquefaction but that Mitsui Fudosan did not formally inform them of this before they decided to acquire the properties.

“Mitsui Fudosan was evidently aware the land was highly prone to the danger of liquefaction. Selling (the properties) without adequate measures constitutes an unlawful act,” the plaintiffs said.

At a news conference, one of the plaintiffs, Satoru Ueno, 72, said he believes this is a man-made disaster. “Mitsui Fudosan’s only response so far is to say they bear no responsibility whatsoever. I would like to clarify (the firm’s level of liability) in the trial.”

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