TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant = March 2012 photo

April 15, 2022
On March 15, the Supreme Court Second Petty Bench (Chief Justice Hiroyuki Kanno) heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by residents who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture to Chiba Prefecture following the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, seeking damages from the government and TEPCO. The Supreme Court is expected to render a unified judgment on the state’s responsibility by this summer. The Supreme Court is expected to render a unified judgment on the state’s responsibility this summer. The date of the judgment will be set at a later date.
 This is the first time for the Supreme Court to hear arguments in class action lawsuits of the same type filed in various regions. The others are scheduled for May 22 in Gunma, May 25 in Fukushima, and May 16 in Ehime. At the high court stage, the court decisions in Chiba, Fukushima, and Ehime recognized the government’s responsibility, while Gunma denied it, leading to a split conclusion.
 On May 15, the plaintiffs also made statements. Tetsuya Komaru, 92, who evacuated from Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture, to Chiba Prefecture and now lives in Yokohama, said, “My ancestral home, my house, fields, and forests were contaminated, and I lost everything I had built up over my life. I want the Supreme Court to clearly recognize the government’s responsibility without being beholden to the government.
 In their arguments, the government argued that the government’s “long-term evaluation” of earthquake forecasts, which was a point of contention in the first and second trials, “was not considered a view that should be incorporated into nuclear power regulations at the time. As for tsunami countermeasures, the government argued that “even if countermeasures had been taken, the accident could not have been prevented because the tsunami was completely different from what had been anticipated.
 The residents pointed out that “the long-term assessment is scientific knowledge with a rational basis. If the government, which has regulatory authority, had instructed TEPCO to take countermeasures and had constructed seawalls and made the reactor buildings watertight, the accident would likely have been avoided, they said.
 Last month, the Supreme Court upheld a second trial ruling that ordered TEPCO to pay compensation in an amount that exceeded the “interim guidelines,” the government’s standard for compensation for all cases. A total of 1.43 billion yen was ordered to be paid to approximately 3,700 plaintiffs. (Keiichi Ozawa)
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