Sat, Feb 09, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Fukushima victims to file class-action lawsuit next month

AFP, TOKYO

People whose homes or farms were hit by radiation from the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant will file class-action lawsuits next month to seek damages from the Japanese government, lawyers said yesterday.

At least 350 residents are to file a case with Fukushima District Court on March 11 this year, the second anniversary of the disaster, the lawyers said, describing it as the largest class action on the issue against the state.

The plaintiffs, who are also scheduled to sue plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), plan to seek ¥50,000 (US$538) in compensation for every month they have been displaced by the disaster.

They also intend to ask the court to issue an order forcing both the government and TEPCO to reduce radiation levels in the area to those of before the accident.

The world’s worst nuclear crisis in a generation began when a huge tsunami, sparked by a magnitude 9 earthquake, crashed into the Fukushima Dai-ichi power station and swamped cooling systems.

Reactors went into meltdown, spewing radiation and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people.

“The government promoted nuclear power as a national policy and has been closely involved with it,” lawyer Izutaro Managi said.

“Being fully aware of the danger of losing power due to a tsunami, the government neglected its duty of preventing such an event,” he said. “This is a suit to recover a Fukushima with neither radiation nor nuclear power.”

Several other similar class-action suits will be also filed separately on March 11 with the Tokyo District Court, against both the government and TEPCO, other lawyers said.

In July last year a parliamentary report said Fukushima was a man-made disaster caused by Japan’s culture of “reflexive obedience” and not just by the tsunami.

Japanese police have reportedly questioned a former head of the nuclear safety body and TEPCO executives regarding possible criminal charges over the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

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