National / Crime & Legal

Government and Tepco again ordered to pay damages to Fukushima evacuees

Kyodo

Following a similar ruling on Thursday, a court on Friday again ordered the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to pay damages to residents who fled Fukushima due to the nuclear meltdowns at a power plant in 2011.

The Tokyo District Court ordered the state and Tepco to pay a combined ¥59 million ($556,000) in damages to 42 people, mostly those who evacuated voluntarily from Fukushima Prefecture to destinations including Aichi Prefectures and Tokyo.

A total of 47 people were seeking some ¥630 million in total for psychological suffering.

Friday’s ruling was the sixth among some 30 similar lawsuits filed against the state and the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant, and the fourth to hold both liable.

The plaintiffs said the state and the utility should have foreseen a massive tsunami triggering a nuclear accident and failed to take measures to prevent it.

The state and Tepco argued they could not have foreseen the tsunami.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the Pacific coast of the Tohoku region. The resulting tsunami engulfed the Fukushima No. 1 plant, disabling emergency generators needed to operate pumps to cool its reactors. Three reactors suffered meltdowns, causing hydrogen explosions and the release of radioactive materials.

The government issued evacuation orders for people in highly contaminated areas near the plant, but people living outside the designated areas also fled.