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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 August 27 - September 2  > Court acknowledges Fukushima nuclear crisis as cause of evacuee’s suicide
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2014 August 27 - September 2 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Court acknowledges Fukushima nuclear crisis as cause of evacuee’s suicide

August 27 & 29, 2014
The Fukushima District Court on August 26 acknowledged that the Fukushima nuclear disaster had driven a woman to suicide and ordered TEPCO, the operator of the nuclear power plant, to pay the bereaved family approximately 49 million yen in compensation.

This is the first court ruling that recognizes a causal link between a victim’s suicide and the nuclear accident as well as the serious psychological damage caused by that disaster. It was also the first time that a court held TEPCO responsible for evacuees’ mental stress.

Watanabe Hamako, 58 years of age at that time, committed suicide after suffering from serious depression following her forced evacuation from her home in Fukushima in the wake of the nuclear accident.

Her husband Mikio, 64, at a press conference after the court ruling said, “Tears welled up in my eyes when I heard the decision. May she now rest in peace.”

His counsel said that the ruling is very significant and issued a statement calling on TEPCO as the perpetrator “to take the ruling seriously, offer a sincere apology to the bereaved family, and immediately pay compensation in accordance with the court order”.

* * *

Two days later, Mikio, his lawyers, and supporters visited the TEPCO head office in Tokyo to demand that TEPCO President Hirose Naomi decide not to appeal the court ruling and swiftly comply with the court order to pay compensation to the family.
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