Akihiro Suzuki addresses a briefing session of the plaintiffs’ lawyers after the courtroom closed at 3:20 p.m. on January 28, 2022 in Sapporo.

January 28, 2022
On January 28, the Sapporo High Court heard oral arguments in an appeal by evacuees from Fukushima and other prefectures who sought compensation of approximately 1.36 billion yen from the government and TEPCO in the wake of the 2011 accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The plaintiffs, who are evacuees, gave statements and expressed their anguish that has not healed even 11 years after the accident.

 If it hadn’t been for the nuclear accident, my eldest son probably wouldn’t have gotten this disease.

 Akihiro Suzuki, 61, a current member of the Akahira City Council in Hokkaido, made this appeal in court. Akihiro Suzuki, 61, a current member of the Akahira City Council in Hokkaido, told the court that his eldest son, 26, was diagnosed with malignant lymphoma last March and is currently undergoing hospital treatment in Sapporo. I have been blaming myself every day for the impact on my health caused by the delay in evacuating, and I spend my days hoping that my eldest son will be released from his suffering and recover his health,” he said.

 According to Mr. Suzuki, at the time of the accident, he learned about the nuclear accident on the radio from his home in Fukushima City, where the power was out. He was most concerned about the health of his sons, who were in their second year of high school and eighth year of junior high school at the time.

 I thought about evacuating immediately, but gasoline was not available, so I was able to temporarily evacuate to Niigata about two weeks after the disaster. In September 2011, she and her second son evacuated to Hakodate, Hokkaido, where her eldest son had moved to school earlier.

 In 2004, they moved to Akabira City. Her eldest son found a job at an IT company in Osaka, and her second son started working at a directly managed farm of a food company in Hokkaido. 19 years later, she ran for the Akadaira City Council, hoping to “bring in some fresh air,” and was elected.

 Although he and his wife, who works at a high school in the Tokachi region of Hokkaido, were not expected to live together, he began to think that they had achieved a soft landing in the face of the many hardships faced by evacuees. It was just then that my eldest son became ill.

 After the onset of his illness, he underwent anticancer drug treatment for six months and recovered to the point where he could be said to be in remission. However, in December, he found out that the disease had recurred. Seeing her eldest son suffer from hair loss and nausea due to the side effects of the medication “tore my heart to pieces,” she said.

 I have always thought that I exposed my sons to radiation while I was still in Fukushima City. He was reluctant to stand up in court, but decided to give his opinion, saying, “Eleven years have passed since the accident, and I don’t want the world to forget the voices of the evacuees.

 In an interview after the court session, Mr. Suzuki said, “Will I be stuck in the disaster of the nuclear accident forever? In a world where the memory of the accident is fading, I want people to understand that the accident is by no means over,” he said quietly.

 The majority of the plaintiffs who have appealed to the court are “voluntary evacuees” who were not subject to the government’s evacuation order. As a result, only a little less than 40% of the 253 plaintiffs were eligible to receive compensation, and the amount was only about 53 million yen. (Shigeto Nakazawa)