Published: Sat, March 18, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Japanese government responsible for Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan court rules

Japanese government responsible for Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan court rules

Some 15,000 people were killed and 200,000 displaced six years ago after the natural disaster and tsunami, which swamped the Fukushima Daiichi plant, causing meltdowns at three reactors.

A number of legal cases have already been filed against Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power) relating to the disaster, but this is the first time a court has recognised that the government was liable for negligence.

The ruling can have an impact on about 30 collective lawsuits and criminal trials involving former TEPCO officials. Holdings were negligent in preparing measures to guard against the major tsunami that set off meltdowns at the plant, rejecting the argument that the event could not have been anticipated.

The plaintiffs claimed that the Japanese government should have foreseen the tsunami based on a government estimate in 2002 that there was a 20 percent chance of a magnitude-8-level quake occurring within the next 30 years.

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The question was whether such efforts could provide the corals any resistance to bleaching, or just help them recover. The study , published in Nature , found it was much greater in scope and severity than the two previous major events.

But the court ruled that the disaster could have been averted if government regulators had ordered TEPCO to take preventive safety steps, Kyodo News reported.

While the court ordered those amounts to be revised upward based on individuals' circumstances, just 38.55 million yen ($342,131) in damages were awarded to 62 of the 137 plaintiffs - less than 3% of the roughly 1.5 billion yen sought.

The government and TEPCO, however, denied the possibility of foreseeing such a disaster. The government argued that the damaging power of the quake could not have been predicted. The case decided Friday involved 76 citizens from the evacuation zone and 61 who were termed voluntary evacuees.

TEPCO said no decision had yet been made on whether to appeal the ruling, adding that it would consider how to respond after examining the decision.

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