Japan court orders Fukushima operator to pay voluntary evacuees
Japan court orders Fukushima operator to pay voluntary evacuees

The Kyoto District Court ruled Thursday that the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) [official website], which operated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, was liable to voluntary evacuees in the sum of USD $1 million for failing to take adequate measures to protect the plant from the tsunami.

Presiding Judge Nobuyoshi Asami noted [Asahi report] a 2002 government “long-term assessment,” which outlined the possibility of a powerful earthquake and tsunami striking the plant. The judgment was the fifth in a series of lawsuits [JURIST report] over Fukushima that acknowledges TEPCO’s responsibility. It was also the third to recognize the Japanese government’s responsibility.

The plaintiffs sought compensation for two years of harm and psychological suffering due to abandoning their homes. All but one of the 174 plaintiffs in the case evacuated the area voluntarily. The ruling only awarded compensation to 64 of the plaintiffs.

In 2012, Japan’s Parliament issued a damning report [report, PDF] calling Fukushima a “man-made disaster.” Furthermore, the report concluded that the disaster was the result of the government and TEPCO’s collusion that “failed to correctly develop the basic safety requirements – such as assessing the probability of damage, preparing for containing collateral damage from such a disaster, and developing evacuation plans for the public in the case of a serious radiation release.”