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2022 June 15 - 21 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Top court unfairly denies state responsibility for damages caused by 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident

June 18, 2022
The Supreme Court on June 17 made an unfair judgement, denying that the state has the responsibility to compensate evacuees of the Fukushima nuclear disaster eleven years ago.

This was the first decision the top court handed down concerning class-action lawsuits which a total of about 3,700 evacuees filed in Fukushima, Gunma, Chiba, and Ehime prefectures.

Out of four judges, three judged that the government is not responsible. They said even if the government had the Fukushima nuclear power plant operator TEPCO take tsunami-resistant measures based on the government's earthquake predictions, a similar accident may have occurred. The court rejected the plaintiffs' argument that strict measures should have been taken to prevent the reactor buildings from being flooded.

Nakajime Takashi, 66, who heads the Fukushima plaintiffs said, "This was an irresponsible judgement. As I had no way of taking refuge, I decided to stay in Fukushima. I live in fear of radiation sickness following the nuclear accident with a life of hardships on my shoulders. I hoped that the court ruling would relieve my agony and I would become positive regarding the rest of my life. Now, I'm sure that another accident will occur again."

Tanji Sugie, 65, in the Gunma lawsuit said she wanted the top court to hold the government responsible in addition to TEPCO to ensure full support in accordance with each evacuee's situation. She added, "I never expected to hear such an unfair court decision."

Komaru Tetsuya in his 90s, a plaintiff in the Chiba case, said, "The decision is very disappointing. Both the government and TEPCO have kept saying for 40 years that nuclear reactors are safe. The court issued the ruling, giving priority to the government position."

Watanabe Hiroshi, 43, who represents the plaintiffs in the Ehime case said, "The over-reliance on the state nuclear policy and safety myth of nuclear power led to the accident. Nevertheless, the top court placed responsibility only on TEPCO and passed over state responsibility. I cannot accept this outcome."
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