Court reduces compensation for residents forced to leave their homes near Fukushima
Faced with claims for damages from residents of the village of Miyakoji, a court in Koriyama only ruled against TEPCO, the company that ran the plant, not the Japanese government. In Shimane Prefecture, local authorities decided to restart a local nuclear plant. By 2030 the Japanese government wants 20 per cent of the country’s electricity needs to be met by nuclear plants.
Tokyo (AsiaNews) – The Koriyama branch of the Fukushima District Court issued a ruling last week in connection with the many legal cases associated with the tragic accident at the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, on 11 March 2011.
The less than satisfactory verdict, which came last Thursday, involved residents of Miyakoji, a village located just 20 km from the plant.
In the weeks following the nuclear disaster, residents were evacuated from their homes. Eventually, 525 residents decided to take legal action against the government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) that operated the Fukushima plant.
Each plaintiff demanded 11 million yen (US$ 83,000) in compensation for psychological harm. The total amount came just under six billion yen (US$ 45.3 million).
The court ruling left them disappointed. In his verdict, the presiding judge recognised the right of residents to receive compensation for the emotional suffering caused by prolonged evacuation and radiation exposure anxiety, setting the figure for individual compensation at 2 million yen (US% 15,000) for a total of about 1.2 billion yen (US$ 9 million).
The court also limited the blame to TEPCO, not the government. The magnitude of the natural disaster was too great to be predicted.
“Even if the government had exercised its regulatory authority and had TEPCO take countermeasures, it could not have been possible to prevent the tsunami from triggering the accident,” the judge said,
Moreover, considering that evacuees received from TEPCO a monthly sum of 100,000 yen each until August 2012, the ruling set the total payment for the utility company at 73.5 million yen (US$ 555,000) for all 525 plaintiffs.
During the press conference that followed the ruling, Miyakoji residents said that they are considering an appeal. But theirs is bout one of multiple legal battles currently underway in Japan seeking justice for what happened at Fukushima 11 years ago.
Some 30 legal cases have been brought by evacuees of other areas around Fukushima and a few months ago the Supreme Court ruled in support of their right to compensation.
Meanwhile, nuclear power remains a very sensitive issue in Japan, arousing strong emotions and reactions in the population.
Perception of nuclear power drastically worsened after the Fukushima disaster, but some surveys conducted this year suggest greater acceptance of it.
The complexity of the issue has become clear in the past week. While a district court blocked the reopening of a nuclear power plant in Hokkaido at the request of residents, concerned about their safety, in Shimane prefecture, the governor decided to restart a local plant even though it is located less than 10 km from the capital, home to almost half a million people.
Despite the antagonistic feelings nuclear power generates in the population, the Japanese government has no doubts about it. By 2030, it expects 20 per cent of the country ‘s electricity to be of nuclear origin.