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Japanese court rules against nuclear operator in suicide suit

Published on Aug 26, 2014 8:40 PM
Mikio Watanabe, holding a portrait of his late wife Hamako, walks into the Fukushima District Court in Fukushima. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (REUTERS) - The operator of Japanese nuclear reactors that melted down in 2011 is responsible for the suicide of a woman who became depressed after the accident and it must pay 49 million yen (S$590,000) in compensation, a court ruled on Tuesday.

The surprise ruling could set a precedent for more claims for compensation in connection with the triple nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant north of Tokyo, which forced more than 150,000 people from their homes. About a third of them are still in temporary housing.

The lawsuit by Mikio Watanabe blamed Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc (Tepco) 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 couple was forced to flee from their home in the town of Yamakiya, 50km from the plant as it spewed radiation into the air after it was hit by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

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