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Govt, TEPCO ruled liable for N-crisis for 1st time

Jiji Press MAEBASHI (Jiji Press) — A district court handed down on Friday a ruling recognizing for the first time ever the national government’s responsibility for compensation to evacuees from the March 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

In the ruling, the Maebashi District Court ordered the government and TEPCO to pay a total of some ¥38.55 million to residents of Gunma Prefecture who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture following the meltdowns at the plant triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

In the damages suit, in which the plaintiffs demanded a total of about ¥1.5 billion in compensation, presiding Judge Michiko Hara recognized that the state and TEPCO could have foreseen the tsunami.

The ruling can have an impact on about 30 collective lawsuits and criminal trials involving former TEPCO officials.

A focal point in the Maebashi suit was whether the government and TEPCO showed negligence by not taking measures to prepare for the earthquake and tsunami.

According to the ruling, the government could have foreseen the tsunami and should have exercised its authority to put restrictions on TEPCO by August 2007 at the latest.

The 137 plaintiffs claimed that TEPCO predicted in 2008 that the plant could be hit by tsunami as high as 15.7 meters, based on a government report.

“The government and TEPCO could have foreseen the tsunami and avoided the accident,” the plaintiffs said, also noting that the power supplier discussed the risk of losing all power at its nuclear plants with nuclear authorities.

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