Ms. Sugie Tanji (left), a plaintiff in the Gunma lawsuit against the victims of the nuclear power plant accident, said, “I want to clarify the cause of the nuclear power plant accident.

June 12, 2022

◆The opportunity to prevent the accident “was there time and time again.”
 Before 6:00 p.m. on June 10, Tanji Sugie, 65, was holding a microphone in front of JR Maebashi Station.
 I want to clarify the cause of the accident, and I don’t want to see anyone shed tears the same way again.”
 This is the 483rd time for the campaign to call for nuclear power plant phase-out, which started every Friday since November 2012. She will not stand in front of the station on the 17th, the next time. On that day, the final verdict in her own trial will be handed down by the Supreme Court.
As one of the evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture to Gunma Prefecture following the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, she filed a lawsuit in September 2001. She wanted the Supreme Court to recognize that not only TEPCO but also the national government was responsible for the accident, which was one of the worst in the world.
 She argued that the government could not have prevented the accident even if it had taken countermeasures, even though it had many, many opportunities to prevent the severe accident. It was most upsetting to me that they didn’t even try and it was all for naught.”
 She went to every court hearing and traveled to various locations to support the lawsuits of other evacuees. She was not paid for her transportation or time off work. At home, she has piles of books and other materials related to the nuclear power plant that she has read.
 I studied, listened to others, and communicated. I have never had such intense days. I have no regrets. But I wonder if this is the life I wanted.

◆word like abuse I cried and shouted alone.
 If the accident had not occurred that day, she would be living with her husband Mikio, 68, in Okinawa. They were on their honeymoon in Okinawa, where Mikio continues to work as a home appliance repairman and a tourist guide. They used to talk about the future together, but now they only think about the past, “Those were the days….
 Mikio’s business was going well as he repaired word processors sent by customers all over Japan when the nuclear power plant accident occurred. In July 2011, Mikio moved from his home in northern Iwaki City, 35 km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, to Maebashi City. It was a “voluntary evacuation” from outside the government’s evacuation zone. About half of the plaintiffs are also voluntary evacuees.
 They were forced to evacuate for their own reasons, such as fears about radiation and not being able to raise their children safely. Despite this, the voluntary evacuees were labeled as “having fled without permission.
 At one point, I was even heckled with the comment, “The trial is hindering the reconstruction of Fukushima. I cried and screamed alone in the car many times,” she said. Even so, she continued to lead the group of plaintiffs. Four of the plaintiffs have died, and some are suffering from terminal cancer. I didn’t give up because I was frustrated.

◆There is still work to be done even after the trial is over.
 The Supreme Court’s unified decision on the government’s responsibility will have a tremendous impact on about 30 other lawsuits. I’m scared. I can’t sleep when I think about it. I can’t sleep when I think about it,” she said. I can’t sleep thinking about it. But I want them to accept responsibility.
 We need to create many measures so that the victims of the nuclear accident can live in peace. It is our responsibility as adults living after the nuclear accident”. Even after the trial is over, there is still work to be done. It will be a while before I can discuss the future with Mikio. (Shinichi Ogawa)

Gunma Lawsuit On September 11, 2013, 137 residents and their families who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture to Gunma Prefecture due to the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station filed a lawsuit against the government and TEPCO, seeking compensation. The court ordered TEPCO and the government to pay a total of 3.855 million yen. However, on January 21, 2009, the Tokyo High Court (Presiding Judge Satoshi Adachi) reversed itself and denied the government’s responsibility. It ordered TEPCO alone to pay a total of 119.72 million yen. TEPCO’s liability was confirmed on March 2, 2010, when the Supreme Court’s Second Petty Bench (Hiroyuki Kanno, Chief Justice) rejected TEPCO’s appeal.