Fukushima residents to be paid out by state
TOKYO: A Japanese court yesterday ordered the state and operator Tokyo Electric Power to pay compensation to those who had been forced to leave their homes in Japan’s worst nuclear disaster, in Fukushima six years ago, local media reported.
The ruling is the first to recognise the state’s responsibility in law suits for damages filed by evacuees following the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in 2011.
Maebashi District Court, north of Tokyo, recognised that the state and the operator were liable for negligence in the nuclear accident, Kyodo News agency reported.
The court said the nuclear disaster had been “preventable”, adding that the state should have used its regulatory powers to make Tokyo Electric take anti-tsunami measures.
The court also criticised the operator for having placed more priority on saving money than on safety.
The state and the operator are to pay 38.55 million yen (R4 336 185) to a total of 137 evacuees who live in Gunma prefecture, Kyodo reported, citing the court.
“It is extremely significant that ( a court) has acknowledged the state’s responsibility,” the lawyers for the plaintiffs said.
The for mer Fukushima residents filed the suit with the court, demanding about 1.5 billion yen in compensation as they had lost their livelihoods and suffered emotional distress, the report said.
The state and the operator had argued it was impossible to prevent the disaster even if they had taken some measures.
The gover nment’s top spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, told a news conference: “We will consider how to respond after carefully examining the ruling.”
In March 2011, the plant suffered meltdowns at three of its six reactors, spewing radioactive materials into the environment, after it was hit by a powerful earthquake and resulting tsunami.
The nuclear emergency prompted hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes, while the operator was struggling to bring the plant under control.
Nearly 80 000 people have been unable to return home in areas surrounding the crippled facilities owing to radiation contamination. – dpa