National / Crime & Legal

Court turns down damages suit over quake-caused land liquefaction in Chiba Prefecture

Kyodo

The Tokyo District Court on Wednesday turned down a damages suit against the nation’s biggest real estate developer and other defendants over the liquefaction of residential land in Chiba Prefecture caused by the deadly March 11, 2011, earthquake.

Thirty-six residents of Urayasu were suing for ¥840 million in damages from Mitsui Fudosan Co. and other parties.

In rejecting their demand, presiding Judge Toshiyuki Matsumoto said the defendants can’t be expected to have anticipated that such a huge quake would occur, or that the ground would liquefy.

The residents’ representatives said they can’t accept the ruling, as their claims were completely dismissed.

Mitsui Fudosan issued a comment saying its arguments were supported.

The ruling is believed to be the first in a series of damages lawsuits on land liquefaction currently pending.

Mitsui Fudosan in 1981 launched the sale of 70 houses in Urayasu, a 20-minute train ride from central Tokyo and home to the Tokyo Disney Resort complex.

Matsumoto also said the housing project was finished in 1982, and the plaintiffs’ right to seek damages from the developer expired 20 years later.

The land liquefaction caused some houses to tilt and land in some locations to sink.

Three and a half years after the earthquake, the city’s water and electricity supplies have been restored, but only 30 percent of its roads and 60 percent of the sewage systems have been repaired.

Authorities have recommended that concrete barriers to reinforce the soil be erected in areas susceptible to liquefaction. But such projects, even with government subsidies, would still require homeowners to pay ¥1 million to ¥2 million each, and consent from all landowners is needed for the project to go ahead.

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