TEPCO Held Liable for Fukushima Disaster

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From Majia’s Blog
The Japan Times is reporting that TEPCO was found liable for the Fukushima disaster in a case brought by citizens whose lives were terribly upended by the Daiichi meltdowns and spent fuel pool fire:
Government, Tepco ordered to pay ¥500 million in damages for Fukushima disaster. Kyodo [The Japan Times] https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/10/10/national/crime-legal/court-orders-tepco-government-pay-damages-fukushima-disaster/#.WdzdCjvdnFI
…[in] the second ruling of its kind in a series of group lawsuits filed nationwide. The Fukushima District Court ordered the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to pay ¥500 million to about 2,900 of the 3,800 plaintiffs…. In the ruling, presiding Judge Hideki Kanazawa concluded that the government and Tepco are both to blame for failing to take steps to counter the risk of a huge tsunami caused by an earthquake, as they were able to foresee the risk based on an assessment issued in 2002.
TEPCO was responsible in many ways for the Fukushima disaster, but culpability extends beyond this single corporation and the government responsible for its regulation. I’ve explained in my post “nuclear governmentality” that the nuclear apparatus is unified by a set of common logics, technologies, protocols, authorities and value orientations that are global in operation (http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2017/09/nuclear-governmentality.html).
CULPABILITY and LIABILITY
Reactors 1 through 5 at the Fukushima Daiichi site were based on General Electric’s Mark I design. This design was declared flawed by two engineers from General Electric who resigned in 1975 after expressing concerns about potential containment failures, particularly in loss of cooling accidents. You can read more here:
Fukushima: Mark 1 nuclear reactor design caused GE scientist to quit in protest. (2011, March 15). ABC the Blotter. Available http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/fukushima-mark-nuclear-reactor-design-caused-ge-scientist/story?id=13141287
General Electric’s poor reactor design likely contributed to the explosions that occurred at the Daiichi complex. Reactors like the ones that melted down in Fukushima are still operating in the US and elsewhere.
The nuclear industry is rendered immune from its culpability by limits on liability and by seemingly unconditional governmental support (a finding explained by the “security” logic of nuclear governmentality).
In Japan, the Atomic Energy Basic Law passed in 1955, the same year the LDP was formed, focused nuclear liability on plant operators (such as TEPCO), thereby absolving designers (e.g., GE). The law allowed for use of nuclear power for energy and created the Japanese Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute. It dictated control over fissile materials, measures for patented inventions, and radiation protections.
Article 21 of the law dictated compensation for nuclear accidents, although the law has been criticized for not specifying level of governmental responsibility.
The government of Japan has ultimately assumed responsibility for TEPCO’s liabilities, although the corporation operates as a stand-in. TEPCO returned to profitability in 2013 having externalized most of its losses in a state-sponsored plan to offload liabilities:
 K. Ohira and M. Fujisaki (31 July 2012) ‘Taxpayers, Electricity Users Finance TEPCO Bailout’, The Asahi Shimbun, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201207310068
TEPCO’s 2016 Annual Report (http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/corpinfo/ir/tool/annual/pdf/ar2016-e.pdf) describes how the company has been dis-assembled into holding companies in its efforts toward renewed profitability.
A rational assessment of cost and benefits must also address the risks posed by nuclear power.  The existence of an international nuclear liability convention points to the potential cataclysmic risks from nuclear power hazareds and demonstrates how decision-makers limit economic liability for the nuclear complex, allowing it to externalize full costs.
The Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC),[i] limits international liability for nuclear disasters by offering a uniform and limiting set of compensation standards for victims of nuclear disasters in impacted countries not the origin of the disaster. The convention also exonerates manufacturers, placing liability exclusively on operators.
The convention essentially limits only the liability, but not the incalculable risks, from nuclear accidents. The externalities of international nuclear disasters are therefore primarily assumed by the exposed individuals. Although fixed costs and liabilities cannot be provided, it is possible to address actual and potential liabilities and risks from nuclear power.
In 2012 Japan expressed interest in joining the CSC after a February visit by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy, Daniel Poneman.[ii] During the visit, a Japanese prime ministerial envoy “secretly promised” to Poneman that Japan would resume its pluthermal nuclear program, raising considerable controversy in Japan when leaked because of the dangers of plutonium enriched MOX fuel, as subsequently reported by The Mainichi :
A Japanese prime ministerial envoy secretly promised to the United States that Japan would resume its controversial “pluthermal” program, using light-water reactors to burn plutonium, according to documents obtained by the Mainichi.
The secret promise was made by Hiroshi Ogushi, then parliamentary secretary of the Cabinet Office, to Daniel Poneman, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, during Ogushi’s visit to the United States on behalf of then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in September last year. The revelation comes as Japan’s pluthermal project remains suspended in the wake of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster due to safety concerns. The fact that a Japanese official promised to the U.S. to implement such a controversial project without a prior explanation to the Japanese public is expected to stir up controversy.[iii]
Poneman advocating running Japan’s Rokkasho reprocessing plant, which had drawn safety concerns when, as mentioned previously, Japanese scientists announced finding a potentially active fault running through the site.[iv]
At a July 2012 press conference, Poneman implicitly endorsed plutonium-enriched MOX fuel production at Rokkasho as an important tool for reducing climate change and reducing Japan’s excessive plutonium stockpiles:
“Obviously what is done in the long term at Rokkasho is a decision for the Japanese people, the Japanese government to make,” Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman said during a July 2012 press conference in Tokyo.
He added that “to the extent that there would be paths forward for Rokkasho” that could avoid increasing Japan’s stockpile of plutonium, “that would be a good thing.” Poneman coupled this, however, with a public pitch for letting Japan use nuclear power to reduce carbon emissions, acknowledging that it is an important tool “for our friends and colleagues in Japan … who are very worried about climate change.”[v]
MOX fuel increases likelihoods of risks because of the increased heat and radiological contamination produced by its fissioning. Despited acknowledged risks, demonstrated empirically with the explosion at Fukushima Unit 3, Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission endorsed continuing fuel recycling.
The Rokkasho plant construction is still underway, although also still delayed, as reported recently here http://fissilematerials.org/blog/2017/10/rokkasho_plant_is_facing_.html
Despite this setback, Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission remains a cheerleader for plutonium production at the very troubled Monju reactor, as part of the “national energy mix”:
Associated Press (15 September 2017). Bucking public sentiment, Atomic Energy Commission backs nuclear power for national energy mix (Sep 15, 2017 ) https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/09/15/national/commission-supports-nuclear-power-japans-energy-needs-despite-shift-public-opinion/#.WcE9ucbdnc
The report also endorsed continuing the government’s ambitious pursuit of a nuclear fuel cycle program based on plutonium, despite a decision last year to scrap the experimental Monju reactor, the centerpiece of its plutonium fuel program, following decades of poor safety and technical problems. Japan faces growing international scrutiny over its plutonium stockpile because the element can be used to make atomic weapons.
Nuclear governmentality, the logic and code of conduct of the nuclear apparatus, operates autopoietically, closed to negative feedback.
Individual authorities within this apparatus are rewarded for their role reinforcing and extending nuclear governmentality.
Poneman’s role as a nuclear industry advocated was solidified when Poneman left the Department of Energy in 2015 to take on the role of CEO at Centrus Energy, formerly USEC, an enrichment processing facility.
The U.S. based Center for Public Integrity noted the nuclear industry’s revolving door relationship with the Department of Energy (DOE), observing that during Poneman’s approximate five year tenure at the DOE he approved or advocated hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts and subsidies to USEC.[vi]
U.S. pressure is just part of the big picture at Rokkasho and with nuclear in general in Japan. Nuclear energy and enriched fuel are part of Japan’s national security strategy, as has been publicly acknowledged by LDP representatives. Nuclear power is the gateway to nuclear weapons and rising geopolitical tensions breed anxious warriors. Unwavering support for nuclear power tends to coincide with nuclear-based conceptions of state security. Consequently, the nuclear energy complex is closely coupled in important ways with the military complex….
REFERENCES
[i] T. Nakagawa (3 February 2012) ‘Japan Wants in On Nuclear Accident Compensation Pact’, The Asahi Shimbun, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201202030021, date accessed 5 February 2012.
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] “Japan made secret promise with U.S. to restart pluthermal nuclear program,” The Mainichi (June 25, 2013): http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130625p2a00m0na006000c.htm.
[iv] K. Hasegawa ‘Quake Risk at Japan Atomic Recycling Plant’, Pys.Org December 19 2012, http://phys.org/news/2012–12-quake-japan-atomic-recycling-experts.html#jCp, date accessed 25 December 2012.
[v] Douglas Birch and R. Jeffrey Smith “Japan’s Well-Placed Nuclear Power Advocates Swat Away Opponents,” NBC (March 12, 2014 ) http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/fukushima-anniversary/japans-well-placed-nuclear-power-advocates-swat-away-opponents-n50396
[vi] Douglas Birch, (2015, May 13) Former Energy Department official wins huge pay raise after moving to firm with deep ties to DOE” Center for Public Integrity (May 13, 2015): http://www.publicintegrity.org/2015/05/13/17265/former-energy-department-official-wins-huge-pay-raise-after-moving-firm-deep-ties.
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Japan court shocks nuclear industry with liability ruling

Court sends a shockwave through Japan’s nuclear establishment with ruling on Fukushima accident.

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A writing inside Ukedo elementary school, damaged by the March 11, 2011 tsunami, is seen near Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Namie town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, March 1, 2017.

Japan’s atomic power establishment is in shock following the court ruling on Friday that found the state and the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant liable for failing to take preventive measures against the tsunami that crippled the facility.

The reason for the shock is the ruling has wide-ranging implications for Japan’s entire nuclear power industry and the efforts to restart reactors throughout the country.

Judges in the Maebashi District Court in Gunma prefecture ruled that Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) and the government were aware of the earthquake and tsunami risks to the Fukushima Daiichi plant prior to the 2011 triple reactor meltdown, but failed to take preventative measures.

The decision was welcomed by the 137 Fukushima citizens who filed the lawsuit in 2014. What needs to be remembered is a further 28 civil and criminal lawsuits in 18 prefectures across Japan are pending. They involve more than 10,000 citizens and include a shareholder claim seeking compensation of 5.5 trillion yen (US$49 billion).

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Map of Japan’s nuclear plants

Tepco is already a de facto bankrupt, has been effectively nationalized and now faces the unprecedented challenges of how to remove three melted reactors at the Fukushima plant.

Six years after the disaster it still faces unanswered questions about the precise causes of the accident, questions that have generated public opposition to Tepco restarting reactors at another plant in Kashiwazki-kariwa in Niigata prefecture, on the opposite coastline to Fukushima.

Beside the court ruling being yet another blow to Tepco’s efforts to recover from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the judgement will be highly disruptive to plans by the government and utilities to restart nuclear reactors in Japan.

In the court ruling, the judges found that science-based evidence of major risks to the nuclear plant was “foreseen” but ignored and not acted upon by Japan’s government and Tepco.

The evidence included a 2002 government assessment that concluded there was a 20% risk of a magnitude 8 or greater earthquake off the coast of northeastern Japan within 30 years. This includes the sea bed area off the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Further, the plaintiffs cited a 2008 internal Tepco report ‘Tsunami Measures Unavoidable’ which included the likelihood of a potential 15.7 meter tsunami hitting the Fukushima nuclear site.

The court ruled that if the government had used its regulatory powers to make Tepco take countermeasures, such as installing seawalls, against such an event, the nuclear disaster could have been avoided.

While the judges in Gunma prefecture have concluded that ignoring evidence of risk can have devastating consequences, that does not seem to be the approach of the nuclear utilities or the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA).

Over the last four years, the NRA has demonstrated a tendency to ignore evidence of risks to nuclear plants that have made applications to restart reactors shut down after the Fukushima disaster, and to bend to the demands of the nuclear power companies and the government.

A total of 26 reactors have applied for NRA review, of which seven have passed and four more will likely be approved this year.

In each case, the NRA has failed to apply a robust approach to assessing risks. It has chose to screen out seismic faults that threaten nuclear plants, failed to follow recommendations from international safety guidelines, and accepted selective evidence on volcanic risks.

In the case of the three forty-year old reactors at Takahama and Mihama, the NRA approved the reactors, while granting the utility an exemption from demonstrating that the reactors primary circuit can meet the 2013 post Fukushima revised safety guidelines, until a later date.

All of these safety issues have the potential when things go wrong — see Fukushima — to lead to severe accidents, including reactor core meltdown.

District courts have issued injunctions against reactor restarts in Fukui prefecture, and in a historic ruling in March 2016 a court in Shiga prefecture ordered the immediate shutdown of the Takahama 3 and 4 reactors.

An appeal court is scheduled to rule on the above in the coming weeks and while it is anticipated that the reactor owner Kansai Electric will likely win, the prospects of further legal action remains.

Next month, for example, the former deputy chair of the NRA, Kunihiko Shimazaki will testify in a lawsuit against the operation of the Ohi reactors owned by Kansai Electric in western Japan.

Shimazeki, emeritus professor of seismology at Tokyo University and the only seismologist to have been an NRA commissioner, has challenged the formulas used by the regulator in computing the scale of earthquakes, which he believes underestimates potential seismic impact by factor of 3.5.

Last July the NRA dismissed Professor Shimazeki’s evidence.

Six years after the start of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, only 3 of Japan’s reactors are currently operating out of the 54 available in 2011.

For any business that runs the risk of its principal cash-generating asset being shut down at any point and for an extended period through legal challenges, the future does not look bright — unless you are granted approval to disregard the evidence.

The utilities are hemorrhaging money and therefore run the risk of following the same path as Tepco prior to 2011 in prioritizing cost savings over safety.

Such an approach directly led to the bankruptcy of Tepco, one the worlds largest power companies, and liabilities of at least 21 trillion yen.

The nuclear industry and current government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe understand that to allow robust evidence of safety risks, in particular seismic, to determine the future of operation of reactors would mean the end of nuclear power in Japan.

Citizens from Fukushima with their lawyers and now supported by the judges, have moved Japan one step closer to that eventual scenario.

Shaun Burnie is a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany. He has worked on nuclear issues worldwide for more than three decades, including since 1991 on Japan’s nuclear policy. sburnie@greenpeace.org

http://www.atimes.com/article/japan-court-shocks-nuclear-industry-liability-ruling/

Japanese Govt. and TEPCO Found Liable by Court for Fukushima Disaster

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People pray for victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami near Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

Japan govt & Tokyo power firm liable for ‘preventable’ Fukushima meltdown – court

People pray for victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami near Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

Negligence by the government and Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) contributed to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, a court in Japan has ruled, saying the catastrophe could have been avoided, and marking the first time the state has been held liable.

The district court in Maebashi, north of Tokyo, said the government and plant operator were to blame for failing to prepare anti-tsunami measures.

The judge awarded a total of 38.55 million yen (US$340,000) in damages to some 62 plaintiffs who evacuated to Gunma Prefecture after the disaster began to loom large at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported

A group of 137 plaintiffs had argued the authorities and TEPCO failed to prevent the triple meltdown at the plant, and demanded 11 million yen ($97,108) each in compensation, the newspaper said, adding that the court accepted most of the arguments about the dramatic lack of anti-tsunami measures.

The plaintiffs highlighted the fact that in May 2008, three years before the disaster, plant operator TEPCO received an estimate of a tsunami as high as 15.7 meters that could hit the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, Asahi Shimbun reported. That apocalyptic forecast came true, with a wave around that height hitting the nuclear power plant in 2011, triggering the reactor meltdowns. A huge tsunami knocked out the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, spewing radiation and forcing 160,000 people to flee their homes.

If the utility had installed emergency diesel electric generators on higher ground, the measure could have prevented the nuclear disaster, the court ruled on Friday.

Citing a government estimate released in July 2002, the court said that “TEPCO was capable of foreseeing several months after (the estimate) that a large tsunami posed a risk to the facility and could possibly flood its premises and damage safety equipment, such as the backup power generators,” the Japan Times reported

Meanwhile, in its long-term estimate, unveiled in 2002, the government said that the probability of an earthquake striking in the Japan Trench off the coast of northeastern Japan, including the sea area off the Fukushima No. 1 plant, was “about 20 percent within 30 years,” the Asahi Shimbun paper said

The lawyers for the plaintiffs welcomed the Friday court ruling, saying “It was extremely significant that (a court) has acknowledged the responsibility of the state,” Kyodo news agency reported

Around 30 similar suits have been filed in at least 20 district courts across Japan, lawyers said.

However, Takehiro Matsuta, one of the plaintiffs who evacuated from the city of Koriyama in central Fukushima Prefecture, called the damages “disappointing.” His child, who was three years old at the time of the nuclear disaster, received no compensation whatsoever.

My wife and I are struggling every day, but it’s my child who suffers the most,” the 38-year-old father said, as cited by the Japan Times. 

The ruling was one big step for my family, for those who evacuated from Fukushima to Gunma, and for tens of thousands of earthquake victims nationwide,” he said.

Both the government and TEPCO argued that the long-term estimate and the May 2008 tsunami study were not credible enough, continuing to insist that the massive tsunami was unexpected.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, told a press conference on Friday that the officials “will consider how to respond after carefully examining the ruling.”

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered a blackout and subsequent failure of its cooling systems in March 2011, when it was hit by an earthquake and a killer tsunami that knocked out the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, spewing radiation and forcing 160,000 people to flee their homes. Three of the plant’s six reactors were hit by meltdowns, making the Fukushima nuclear disaster the worst since the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986.

https://www.rt.com/news/381154-tepco-government-liable-fukushima/

 

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Supporters of plaintiffs seeking compensation for Fukushima evacuees unfurl banners in front of the Maebashi District Court in Gunma Prefecture announcing the court’s decision Friday.


In first, government and Tepco found liable for Fukushima disaster

Maebashi, Gunma Pref. – A court in Japan has ruled for the first time that the government and the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were responsible for failing to take preventive measures against the March 11, 2011, quake-triggered tsunami that killed scores and forced tens of thousands from their homes.

Friday’s stunning ruling by the Maebashi District Court was the first to recognize negligence by the state and Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. It called the massive tsunami predictable and said the major nuclear disaster could have been avoided.

The district court ordered the two to pay damages totaling ¥38.55 million to 62 of 137 plaintiffs from 45 households located near the plant, which suffered a triple meltdown caused by the tsunami, awarding ¥70,000 to ¥3.5 million in compensation to each plaintiff.

The plaintiffs had demanded the state and Tepco pay compensation of ¥11 million each — a total of about ¥1.5 billion — over the loss of local infrastructure and psychological stress they were subjected to after being forced to relocate to unfamiliar surroundings.

Citing a government estimate released in July 2002, the court said in the ruling that “Tepco was capable of foreseeing several months after (the estimate) that a large tsunami posed a risk to the facility and could possibly flood its premises and damage safety equipment, such as the backup power generators.”

It pointed out that the state should have ordered Tepco to take bolstered preventive measures, and criticized the utility for prioritizing costs over safety.

Of the plaintiffs, 76 who lived in evacuation zones were forced to move, while another 61 evacuated voluntarily even though their houses were located outside evacuation zones. The ruling was the first of 30 similar class-action suits filed nationwide involving more than 10,000 plaintiffs.

About 80,000 citizens who had lived in Fukushima reportedly left the prefecture after the March 2011 disaster.

I believe that the ruling saying both the government and Tepco were equally responsible is an important judgment,” Katsuyoshi Suzuki, the lead lawyer for the defense said at a news conference following the ruling. “But thinking about the psychological distress (the plaintiffs faced) after being forced to evacuate from their homes, I think the amount is not enough.”

Takehiro Matsuta, 38, one of the plaintiffs who evacuated from the city of Koriyama, hailed the ruling, but called the damages “disappointing.”

The ruling was one big step for my family, for those who evacuated from Fukushima to Gunma, and for tens of thousands of earthquake victims nationwide,” he said.

But called the payout “disappointing,” as his child, who was 3 years old at the time of the nuclear disaster, was not granted compensation. “My wife and I are struggling everyday, but it’s my child who suffers the most.”

The group of lawyers for the plaintiffs, which have had suits filed since September 2011, claimed that the Fukushima disaster resulted in serious human rights violations by forcing victims to relocate after the crisis caused widespread environmental damage.

The plaintiffs argued that Tepco could have prevented the damage if it had implemented measures, including the building of breakwaters, based on its 2008 tsunami trial calculation that showed waves of over 10 meters could hit the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Those calculations took into account the 2002 estimate by the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion, which concluded that there was a 20 percent chance of a magnitude-8 earthquake rocking areas off Fukushima within 30 years.

However, the government and Tepco have argued that the massive tsunami was unexpected, claiming that there were different opinions among scholars over the long-term evaluation. Both attacked the credibility of the study, calling it unscientific.

The government also objected to the ruling, saying that because it had no authority to force Tepco to take such preventive measures as argued by the plaintiffs, it bore no responsibility.

According to the defense, a number of other class suits are inching closer to rulings, with one in the city of Chiba scheduled for Sept. 22 and another in the city of Fukushima involving 4,000 plaintiffs expected by the year’s end.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/17/national/crime-legal/first-government-tepco-found-liable-fukushima-disaster/#.WMwqEqKmnIV

Makers of Fukushima reactor not liable: court

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TOKYO – A Japanese court on Wednesday turned down a class-action lawsuit seeking damages from nuclear plant makers Toshiba, Hitachi and GE over the Fukushima meltdown disaster, the plaintiffs, one of the companies and a report said.

About 3,800 claimants in the suit, hailing from Japan and 32 other countries including the United States, Germany and South Korea, had sought largely symbolic compensation from the nuclear power plant manufacturers.

Under Japanese liability law, nuclear plant providers are usually exempt from damage claims in the event of an accident, leaving operators to face legal action.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers, however, had argued that that violated constitutional protections on the pursuit of happy, wholesome and cultured livelihoods.

But the Tokyo District Court ruled that the law “is not unconstitutional”, according to lawyers for the plaintiffs.

“We knew it was difficult to win under the current legal system in Japan, but it’s clearly wrong that nuclear (plant) manufacturers don’t have to bear any responsibility for an accident,” Masao Imaizumi, 73, one of the plaintiffs, told AFP.

“If they are spared responsibility, it could lead to disregard for product quality,” he said, adding that the plaintiffs will appeal.

Toshiba welcomed the decision.

“The company recognises the verdict as an appropriate ruling handed out by the court,” it said in a statement.

Hitachi and GE’s Japan office could not be reached for comment.

Japan’s Jiji Press also reported that the suit was rejected.

The suit — which sought just 100 yen (96 US cents) per claimant — was the first to be brought against nuclear power-plant suppliers over the accident, Akihiro Shima, lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, said previously.

The suit was first filed in January 2014 with just over 1,000 claimants, but more joined and the number nearly quadrupled.

The plaintiffs had alleged that the companies failed to make necessary safety updates to the Fukushima reactors, swamped on 11 March 2011 by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake-sparked tsunami that lead to the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Embattled plant operator Tokyo Electric Power is already facing massive lawsuits and compensation costs.

https://www.enca.com/world/makers-of-fukushima-reactor-not-liable-court