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Japanese government and TEPCO ordered again to pay compensation to Fukushima victims

Staff Writer |
A Japanese court on Wednesday ordered the government and the operator of the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant to pay compensation to a group who were adversely affected by the 2011 nuclear disaster.

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The order to pay a total of 419 million yen (3.78 million U.S. dollars) in damages to 152 of the 175 plaintiffs was handed down by the Yokohama District Court to the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO).

The plaintiffs had initially sought a combined 5.4 billion yen (48.75 million U.S. dollars) in damages, arguing that the nuclear disaster that saw many of them forced to evacuate from Fukushima Prefecture to areas in Kanagawa Prefecture, had caused them to lose their livelihoods and inflicted mental injuries on them.

The district court's presiding Judge Ken Nakadaira ruled that the utility and government were culpable because the disaster could have been predicted based on a projection made in 2009 of a tsunami hitting the area and knocking out power supply.

Nakadaira said it was possible that steps could have been put into place by the end of 2010 that would have ensured that core meltdowns in reactors at the Fukushima plant were avoided and thus the release of massive amounts of radioactive materials into the ground, air and sea also avoided.

The judge blasted the government for judging prior to the disaster that the utility's measures to protect against a possible tsunami were appropriate.

On the government's part, Nakadaira said its actions, or lack thereof, were a serious "mistake and failure." He also added that the government not asserting its regulatory authority over TEPCO was illegal.

The order by the Yokohama District Court marks the eight such decision against Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and the fifth against the government.

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