Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

plaintiffs

Plaintiffs gathered outside the courthouse in Japan on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. (Photo: Lisa Torio/@liisabobisa/Twitter)

Court Awards Fukushima Residents Measly $3,200 for Nuclear Disaster That Made Area Unlivable

Japanese government and TEPCO ordered to pay only fraction of damages sought

Jessica Corbett

In the largest of about 30 lawsuits related to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, a district court in Japan on Tuesday ordered the Japanese government and an electric utility to pay nearly 500 million yen ($4.4 million) in damages—but with thousands of plaintiffs, each of them will only receive a few thousand U.S. dollars, at most.

"The plaintiffs, who included Fukushima residents who were not told to evacuate, will each receive up to 360,000 yen," or about $3,200, the Guardian reports. "The court rejected a demand for monthly compensation of 55,000 yen until radiation at the plaintiffs' homes has fallen to pre-disaster levels."

Only about 2,900 of the 3,800 Fukushima Prefecture residents who filed the class action suit against Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) and the government will be eligible to collect damages, according to the Japan Times. Of those 3,800 plaintiffs, the Asahi Shimbun reports "only about 10 percent were living in areas where government evacuation orders were issued."

Not only is the financial reward a fraction of the 16 billion yen the plaintiffs sought, but the court also declined to require TEPCO to restore the levels of radioactivity at residents' homes to what they were before the March 2011 disaster—when a magnitude 9 earthquake led to a tsunami that flooded the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing three reactors to melt down. 

"The plaintiffs argued the government and TEPCO failed to give adequate attention to studies that said a major tsunami could occur in the area of the plant," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"One 2002 study by the government's Earthquake Research Promotion Unit said there was a 20 percent chance of a magnitude 8 tsunami-triggering earthquake in the area off Fukushima within 30 years," the Journal notes. "Another study by TEPCO's senior safety engineer in 2007 found there was about a 10 percent chance that a tsunami could breach Fukushima Daiichi's defenses within 50 years."

"The accident, triggered by total loss of power, could have been avoided," said Judge Hideki Kanazawa.

In a statement, the plaintiffs and their attorneys said the ruling "legally determined the negligence of both the government's nuclear policy and TEPCO, which supported a 'nuclear myth' that put a priority on economic interests rather than on safety."

Only a few of the 30 similar suits filed by some 12,000 Fukushima residents have been decided so far.

"This is the second court ruling that fixed the government's responsibility after a Maebashi district court decision in March," Reuters reports. "All the three district court decisions so far have ordered TEPCO to pay damages. Only the Chiba court decision last month did not find the government liable for compensation."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Manchin Threatening Key Climate Provision: Reports

"To take it out is to decide that climate change isn't a problem."

Andrea Germanos ·


'Make a Gesture of Humanity': Pope Francis Urges Pharma Giants to Release Covid-19 Vaccine Patents

"There are countries where only three or four percent of the inhabitants have been vaccinated."

Andrea Germanos ·


Manchin Fumes After Sanders Op-Ed in West Virginia Paper Calls Out Obstruction of Biden Agenda

"Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for this legislation," wrote Sanders. "Two Democratic senators remain in opposition, including Sen. Joe Manchin."

Andrea Germanos ·


US to Offer 'Condolence Payments' to Relatives of 10 Civilians Killed in Drone Strike

The Pentagon statement follows a call for President Joe Biden to "show real concern for civilians by taking more meaningful steps to prevent civilian casualties as a result of all U.S. lethal operations."

Andrea Germanos ·


New Filing Reveals Sinema Pads Campaign Coffers With More Pharma and Finance Funds

"This is what someone who's bought and paid for looks like."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo