• Kyodo

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The central government and the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant have appealed a court ruling that found them negligent for taking insufficient measures to deal with March 2011 quake and tsunami.

The state and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. respectively filed an appeal Thursday with the Tokyo High Court over the Maebashi District Court’s decision on March 17, the first ruling of its kind since the devastating disasters triggered a triple core meltdown at the plant.

Apart from finding the government and Tepco negligent, the district court awarded ¥38.55 million ($340,000) in damages to 62 people who fled Fukushima Prefecture, including some who voluntarily evacuated.

The lawsuit was filed by 137 plaintiffs who sought a combined ¥1.5 billion in damages for emotional distress.

The district court had rejected arguments made by the state and Tepco that it was impossible to prevent the accident even if they had taken preparatory measures.

An official of the Nuclear Regulation Authority said at a news conference that the court’s decision about whether the tsunami could have been foreseen and the accident averted was “unacceptable.”

Separately, a Tepco official said the utility decided to appeal after “comprehensively evaluating” the ruling, but declined to elaborate. The official said Tepco’s arguments will be made known at the high court.

The plaintiffs had claimed the state and Tepco could have foreseen a tsunami over 10 meters high hitting the plant based on a 2002 government estimate that there was a roughly 20 percent chance of a magnitude-8 tsunami-triggering earthquake occurring within the next 30 years.

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