Japanese Court Awards Damages to Fukushima Residents

  • Japanese Court Awards Damages to Fukushima Residents

Japanese Court Awards Damages to Fukushima Residents

VICTIMS of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown disaster won a long-awaited victory over the Japanese government and the plant operator yesterday.

"The government is authorised to order (Tepco) to take such measures and it was possible to prevent the accident", the court said.

It was the first time that a court determined that both the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, and the government bore responsibility for the nuclear disaster that followed a devastating quake and tsunami in March 2011. But the court found that government experts had in fact concluded in a 2002 report that there was a 20% chance of a magnitude 8.0 or greater natural disaster striking the area over the next 30 years.

While the court ordered those amounts to be revised upward based on individuals' circumstances, just 38.55 million yen ($342,131) in damages were awarded to 62 of the 137 plaintiffs - less than 3% of the roughly 1.5 billion yen sought.

Tepco has always been criticized for ignoring the threat posed by natural disasters to the Fukushima plant.

Tepco, which faces a ¥21.5tn bill for decommissioning the plant and compensating evacuees, said it would respond after studying the ruling.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered a blackout and subsequent failure of its cooling systems in March 2011, when it was hit by an natural disaster and a killer tsunami that knocked out the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, spewing radiation and forcing 160,000 people to flee their homes.

The Fukushima nuclear plant was hit by an natural disaster and then a tsunami in 2011, causing a meltdown and radiation leaks.

The judgement on Friday is the first time that the government was held liable for the disaster even though many other lawsuits were filed in connection to other aspects of the disaster.

Around 80,000 people were forced to flee their homes when three reactors failed at the plant after a tsunami that struck six years ago.

The ruling echoed the conclusion reached by an independent parliamentary investigation, which described the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown as a "man-made" disaster caused by poor regulation and collusion between the government, Tepco and the industry's then watchdog, the nuclear and industrial safety agency. This was because the court acknowledged to some extent the rationale behind the government-set "interim guidelines" for TEPCO's compensation payment standards.

"They effectively betrayed the nation's right to be safe from nuclear accidents".