FUKUSHIMA – Officials of the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant apologized Thursday to the family of a 102-year-old man who killed himself in the face of an evacuation order amid the 2011 nuclear crisis.
The apology was issued after a court recognized the causal relationship between the suicide and the nuclear disaster and ordered Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (Tepco) to pay damages to the family.
“We are tormented by the fact that your father, who was doing really well for his age of over 100, was forced to make that painful decision,” Michitaka Kondo, a senior official at Tepco’s Fukushima main office said at the family’s residence.
Fumio Okubo was found to have hanged himself at his home in the village of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, on April 12, 2011, about a month after the quake and tsunami disaster triggered the nuclear accident, and a day after he learned the government was going to issue the evacuation order to the village.
Mieko Okubo, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and the 65-year-old wife of Okubo’s second-eldest son, said the family’s “wish was fulfilled” by the apology. She added that the family would now like to live peacefully.
On Feb. 20 this year, the Fukushima District Court ordered the utility to pay ¥15.2 million in compensation to Okubo’s family. According to the court ruling, Okubo had never lived outside his hometown.
The ruling was finalized as neither the plaintiffs nor the defendant appealed.