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Japan’s top court rules state not liable for Fukushima disaster福島第1原発事故、最高裁は国の責任認めず

© KYODO
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Japan’s top court on June 17 dismissed claims that the government should pay damages in cases involving around 3,700 people whose lives were seriously affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, absolving the state of responsibility for mass evacuations in the crisis.

The decision by the Supreme Court’s Second Petty Bench was the first for the top court and covered four lawsuits filed in Fukushima, Gunma, Chiba and Ehime prefectures. Around 30 such lawsuits have been filed across Japan by people who had to evacuate from their homes or whose lives were greatly impacted by the earthquake–and-tsunami-triggered disaster.

The ruling leaves Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, solely responsible for slightly over \1.4 billion in damages in the four lawsuits. The top court finalized the utility’s liability in March for the first time.

The ruling marks a major milestone, 11 years after the massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami in the Tohoku region triggered the world’s worst nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and will inevitably set a precedent for future cases.

Plaintiffs and supporters who had gathered in front of the Supreme Court in Tokyo expressed their anger over the decision.

“This is absolutely unacceptable. Can you really read out this ruling in front of the people of Fukushima?” shouted Izutaro Managi, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs. (Kyodo)

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