Fukushima disaster: Tepco to blame, not Japan govt

A damaged reactor building at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant operated by Tepco.
A damaged reactor building at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant operated by Tepco.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TOKYO • A Japanese court ruled yesterday that the plant operator, not the government, was responsible for the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, ordering the former to pay damages.

The district court in Chiba near Tokyo said the government "was able to foresee" but "may not have been able to avoid the accident" caused by the tsunami that smashed into the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, the water overwhelmed reactor cooling systems, sending three into meltdown at the plant in eastern Japan.

Radiation was spewed over a wide area, leaving vast swathes of land uninhabitable in Japan's worst post-war disaster and the world's most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Chiba court judge Masaru Sakamoto turned down the demand of 42 plaintiffs for the government to pay compensation. But the court ordered operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) to pay a total of 376 million yen (S$4.5 million), much less than the the 2.8 billion yen plaintiffs had sought.

Around 12,000 people who fled over radiation fears have filed group lawsuits against the government and Tepco.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2017, with the headline 'Fukushima disaster: Tepco to blame, not Japan govt'. Print Edition | Subscribe