Japanese government responsible for Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan court rules

Japanese government liable for negligence in Fukushima disaster

In a First, Japanese Court Blames Government in Fukushima Disaster

VICTIMS of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown disaster won a long-awaited victory over the Japanese government and the plant operator yesterday.

The ruling said the government should have used its regulatory powers to force the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), who were also held liable, to take adequate preventive measures.

"Tepco has so far paid more than ¥7 trillion ($62 billion) in compensation to people who lived near the plant and is still struggling to figure out how to clean up the stricken reactors", according to The Wall Street Journal. That apocalyptic forecast came true, with a wave around that height hitting the nuclear power plant in 2011, triggering the reactor meltdowns.

The court sided with the plaintiffs, giving significant weight to the report's conclusions and stating that Tepco had put economic expediency ahead of safety.

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.

Meanwhile, in its long-term estimate, unveiled in 2002, the government said that the probability of an natural disaster 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.

Around 30 similar suits have been filed in at least 20 district courts across Japan, lawyers said. Both the government and TEPCO attacked the reliability of the 2002 and 2008 studies, calling them unscientific and at odds with the opinions of other experts. "Regarding today's judgment given at the Maebashi local court today, we would like to consider how to respond to this after examining the content of the judgment".

The March 11, 2011, meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi, which is on the eastern coast of Japan, occurred when 32-foot waves breached the power station's protective sea walls, flooding buildings and destroying diesel-powered electricity generators that were created to keep critical systems functioning in a blackout.

The water overwhelmed reactor cooling systems and sent three into meltdown, spewing radiation over a wide area in Japan's worst post-war disaster and the world's most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

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