The No. 1 and No. 2 reactor buildings of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture

Jan 19, 2022

Six people are set to sue Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. over thyroid cancer that they claim they developed due to exposure to radioactive substances released from the 2011 triple reactor meltdown at its stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, their lawyers said Wednesday.

The plaintiffs, who were between the ages of 6 and 16 at the time of the nuclear disaster and lived in Fukushima Prefecture, home to the plant, will seek ¥616 million in total damages.

This is believed to be the first lawsuit involving Fukushima Prefecture residents suing Tepco over thyroid cancer in connection with the nuclear disaster.

The six plan to file the suit with Tokyo District Court on Jan. 27, the lawyers said during a news conference.

They currently live in Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture and Fukushima Prefecture. Four of them have had their entire thyroid glands removed, the lawyers said. Some have undergone multiple rounds of surgery because of cancer metastasis or recurrence, they said.

A health survey by the Fukushima prefectural government, which covered some 380,000 people age 18 or younger at the time of the disaster, showed in October last year that 266 people had cancer or suspected cancer.

Some experts have pointed out the possibility of overdiagnosis, or the discovery of cancers that do not require treatment. The lawyers claimed that the plaintiffs developed cancer due to the nuclear disaster and needed to undergo surgeries.

A review committee on the prefectural health survey has said that the thyroid cancer apparently has nothing to do with what happened at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in March 2011.

Kenichi Ido, a former judge who leads the lawyers, criticized the Japanese government for determining that there has been no health damage from the disaster.

Lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai said that “there is strong social pressure to believe that cancer is not caused by the accident, so it took a lot of courage for the six plaintiffs to file the lawsuit.”