Fukushima res­i­dents to be paid out by state

Saturday Star - - WORLD -

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

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