A Japanese court has ruled that the Governments negligence contributed to the triple meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011 and has awarded damages to evacuees.
The court ruling on Friday said that the disaster could have been averted if the government had used its regulatory powers to force the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), who were also held liable, to take adequate preventive measures.
The Maebashi district court was responding to a case brought by evacuees who had been forced to flee their homes and is the first of 30 lawsuits to be brought by former Fukushima residents.
The BBC reports:
It ruled that the disaster could have been averted if government regulators had ordered plant operator Tepco to take preventive safety measures.
The government and Tepco were both ordered to compensate the evacuees.
Around 80,000 people were forced to flee their homes when three reactors failed at the plant after a tsunami that struck six years ago.
It was the world’s most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
The district court in Maebashi, north of Tokyo, ruled in favour of 137 evacuees seeking damages for the emotional distress of fleeing their homes.
The parties were told to pay a total 38.6m yen ($341,000, £275,000) in compensation, far below the 1.5bn yen the group had sought.
A number of legal cases have already been filed against Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power) relating to the disaster, but this is the first time a court has recognised that the government was liable for negligence.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, declined to comment but said the ruling would have no impact on the country’s nuclear power policies.