Published: Tue, October 10, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Fukushima court rules Tepco, govt liable over 2011 disaster

Fukushima court rules Tepco, govt liable over 2011 disaster

In holding the government and TEPCO liable in the class-action lawsuit, the Fukushima district court ordered payments totaling almost $4.5 million to about 3,800 plaintiffs - roughly $1,184 per person.

A Japanese court yesterday ordered the government and the operator of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant to pay ¥500 million (US$4.5 million) to thousands of area residents and evacuees who were demanding compensation for their livelihoods lost in the 2011 nuclear crisis.

"The government's inaction in exercising its regulatory authority (to order Tepco to take safety measures) was extremely unreasonable", the judge said. The district court turned down that request.

Cases have revolved around whether the government and TEPCO, both responsible for disaster prevention measures, could have foreseen the scale of the tsunami.

Both Tepco and the government argued that quake predictions made by the government's own research unit were too vague and that they could not have taken appropriate measures to guard against the flooding that occurred.

The Fukushima District Court's ruling was the third.

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Among some 30 lawsuits filed nationwide by over 10,000 people, three rulings have been handed down so far and two of them - the latest ruling by the Fukushima court and one handed down by the Maebashi District Court in March - recognized that both the state and Tepco are liable for damages.

The plaintiffs, who included Fukushima residents who were not told to evacuate, will each receive up to 360,000 yen, according to the verdict.

The government and Tepco, for their part, claimed the assessment was not established knowledge, and that the tsunami could not have been foreseen.

In its defense, the government said that before the meltdowns, it did not have the power to force Tepco to take protective anti-flooding measures and was only authorized to do so by legislation passed after the accident.

The Fukushima district court's verdict was the second time the government has been ruled liable for the meltdown in eastern Japan, the world's most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

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