• Kyodo

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The operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex has decided not to appeal a court decision last month ordering the utility to pay damages over a suicide case linked to the nuclear disaster.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Friday that it decided not to appeal so it can settle the lawsuit as soon as possible.

The Fukushima District Court ordered Tepco on Aug. 26 to pay ¥49 million in compensation to relatives of Hamako Watanabe, who burned herself to death at age 58 after she was forced to evacuate her home in 2011 because of radiation released by the nuclear crisis.

Watanabe’s husband and three other relatives sought ¥91 million, citing her mental anguish after being forced to live as an evacuee.

It was the first ruling in which compensation has been sought from Tepco over a suicide linked to the man-made disaster, in which three reactor cores suffered meltdowns, causing massive explosions that tainted much of eastern Japan with radiation.

Acknowledging that the suicide had causal links with the disaster, the court ruled that Watanabe’s mental anguish was “huge,” citing the despair she felt in the face of an uncertain future as an evacuee and the fact that she chose to die in the place where she was born and raised.

According to the court, Tepco should have been able to foresee that displaced residents, subject to stress, might commit suicide in the wake of a nuclear accident.

More than three years after the disaster, many Fukushima residents continue to live as evacuees.

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