Yet another high court has found the central government as responsible as Tokyo Electric Power Co. for not taking steps to prevent triple fusion at the nuclear power plant Nr. 1 of Fukushima in 2011.
The Tokyo High Court ruling on February 19 was based on the release of a report indicating the possibility of a major tsunami hitting the Fukushima area.
He determined that the central government ‘s failure to act on the report’ s findings was illegal and ordered him and TEPCO to pay a total of about 280 million yen ($ 2.7 million) to the 43 plaintiffs now living in Chiba Prefecture.
The plaintiffs moved to the prefecture near Tokyo after being forced to evacuate after the nuclear accident caused by the Great Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
The Chiba District Court ruled in September 2017 that only TEPCO was legally liable to pay the compensation, so the plaintiffs appealed to the high court.
About 30 lawsuits have been filed around Japan seeking damages from TEPCO and the central government from plaintiffs who argue their lives were thrown into turmoil after being forced to evacuate due to the nuclear accident.
Of the 14 decisions already handed down in district courts, there is a division even if the central government was responsible.
The February 19 ruling was the third by a high court. Sendai Supreme Court in September 2020 found central government responsibility, but another presiding judge at Tokyo Supreme Court ruled in January that it did not recognize responsibility from the central government.
The Supreme Court is expected to finally make a decision covering all high court cases.
At issue once again was the reliability of a long-term assessment of the probability of major earthquakes issued by the science ministry. Earthquake Research Incentive Headquarters in July 2002. The report stressed that Fukushima Prefecture could be hit by a massive tsunami.
While the Chiba District Court ruled that the accuracy of the assessment was not very high, the Tokyo Supreme Court ruled that there was a reasonable level of scientific reliability that was equal to the findings of the Japanese Society of Civil Engineers (JSCE).
This was extremely different from the Tokyo High Court ruling in January, which found discrepancies between the assessment and the JSCE findings.
The latest ruling went on to say that the central government, armed with that information, could have about a year after the report was released to instruct TEPCO to implement measures to prevent an accident.
The Supreme Court went on to point out that the construction of a coastal embankment and the waterproofing of important equipment at the nuclear plant could have been carried out in the seven and a half years preceding the earthquake and tsunami disaster. If those steps had been taken, the total loss of electricity needed to cool nuclear reactors would have been avoided.
Given these factors, the high court said the failure of central governments to exercise their regulatory authority was an illegal action.
In calculating the compensation, the Tokyo High Court agreed with the Chiba District Court and acknowledged the psychological stress suffered, as well as the effect of the loss of livelihood on the part of the deportees.
In addition to compensation lawsuits, criminal charges were filed against the three former TEPCO executives, but the Tokyo District Court in September 2019 ruled that they were not innocent. This decision has been appealed to the Tokyo High Court.
(This article was compiled from reports by Eri Niiya and Senior Staff Writer Eisuke Sasaki.)
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