Business

Government of Japan, Tepco pulled up over Fukushima nuke disaster

Government of Japan, Tepco pulled up over Fukushima nuke disaster

The Maebashi District Court [official website, in Japanese] ruled that the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) [official website] are liable for professional negligence in their security maintenance at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The judge awarded a total of 38.55 million yen (US$340,000) in damages to some 62 plaintiffs who evacuated to Gunma Prefecture after the disaster began to loom large at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported. (Damages in Japanese civil cases tend to be much smaller than those in the U.S.) TEPCO is already paying compensation of ¥100,000 per month to victims who were forced to evacuate the area around the plant. It has always been criticised for ignoring the threat posed by natural disasters to Fukushima.

Workers stand outside reactor 4 as they continue the radiation decontamination process at the embattled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The court sided with the plaintiffs, giving significant weight to the report's conclusions and stating that Tepco had put economic expediency ahead of safety.

According to reports in the Japanese media, the ruling by a district court in Maeshiba was the first to find TEPCO and the government negligent for the nuclear disaster. 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 quake striking the area over the next 30 years.


One of the plaintiffs who had voluntarily left the city of Iwaki was awarded about 200,000 yen in damages for the 10-day period right after the March 2011 meltdowns.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government's top spokesman, told a press conference on Friday that the officials "will consider how to respond after carefully examining the ruling".

It will be the first research reactor in Japan to go back online under stringent regulations introduced by the government in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident that was triggered after the massive quake and tsunami, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The water affected the cooling systems of the reactor and three went into meltdown, emitting radiation over a vast area, triggering the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.


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