National / Crime & Legal

Tokyo High Court slashes damages to Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuees

JIJI

The Tokyo High Court on Tuesday ordered ¥1 million in additional damages be paid each to some 300 evacuees from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, down by two-thirds from the amount awarded by a lower court ruling.

The total amount of additional compensation Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. must pay was reduced to about ¥360 million from the ¥1.1 billion awarded by the Tokyo District Court in 2018.

The nuclear accident occurred at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant operated by Tepco, after it was affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In their petition, the plaintiffs, including former residents of the Odaka district in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, sought additional damages of ¥10.9 billion in total.

The ruling was the second by a high court on a collective damages lawsuit filed by those displaced by the nuclear accident, following one issued by Sendai High Court last week.

On Tuesday, presiding Judge Wataru Murata said Tepco must pay additional damages on top of the ¥8.5 million it paid per person based on estimates calculated under government-set interim standards.

The additional damages have to be paid to compensate for the loss of hometowns, as “the foundations of residents’ lives have changed greatly and have yet to be restored,” Murata said.

But the amount of the additional damages should be reduced because individual circumstances of the evacuees should not be taken into account, Murata said, denying the need for such consideration as had been recognized by the lower court.

“The reduction is unavoidable, also considering that returning to hometowns is possible,” the judge concluded.

Plaintiff Isao Enei criticized the latest ruling at a news conference, saying that actual circumstances in areas hit by the nuclear disaster were completely ignored.

“There is no point in filing a collective suit if individual damages are ignored. The ruling is inconceivable,” said Junichiro Hironaka, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

Coronavirus banner