FUKUSHIMA, Japan (REUTERS) – A court has ruled that Fukushima nuclear operator Tokyo Electric was responsible for a woman’s suicide following the March 2011 disaster and must pay compensation, in a landmark ruling that could set a precedent for other claims against the utility.
The civil suit by Mikio Watanabe claimed that Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc (Tepco) was to blame for the July 2011 death of his wife Hamako, 58, who doused herself in kerosene and set herself on fire after falling into depression.
The district court in Fukushima ruled in favour of Watanabe, a court official told reporters. Kyodo news reported that Tepco was ordered to pay 49 million yen (S$589,470) in compensation. Watanabe had sought about 91 million yen in damages.
The court decision is the latest blow for the utility, which was bailed out with taxpayer funds in 2012 and expects to spend more than US$48 billion (S$60 million) in compensation alone for the nuclear disaster
The triple nuclear meltdowns forced more than 150,000 people from their homes, about a third of whom remain in temporary housing.
Tepco has settled a number of suicide-related claims through a government dispute resolution system, but has declined to say how many or give details on how much it has paid.