On the symbolic second anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, 1,650 residents and evacuees filed lawsuits on March 11 against the central government and Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said this was the first lawsuit related to the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in which the central government was named as a defendant.
The plaintiffs are demanding compensation to return their lives to their previous state before March 11, 2011.
The lawsuits were filed at district courts and a branch of a district court. According to lawyers, the plaintiffs are seeking a total of about 5.3 billion yen ($55.2 million) in compensation and expenses to restore their previous lives.
"We have not seen any sincere effort by the central government and TEPCO to help us," said Takashi Nakajima, 57, the owner of a supermarket in Soma and the head of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit submitted to Fukushima District Court. "Rebuilding of the disaster-stricken areas can only begin after the courts determine the responsibility of the defendants."
Lawyers for the four lawsuits are cooperating and coordinated the filing on the same date. The lawyers are arguing that the central government should also be held responsible because it promoted nuclear energy as national policy and because it was in a position to oversee TEPCO in its operation of the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
A total of 800 individuals were included in the lawsuit filed with the Fukushima District Court. The plaintiffs were residents of the prefectures of Fukushima, Miyagi, Yamagata, Tochigi and Ibaraki at the time of the nuclear accident. They are seeking to have radiation levels where they formerly resided returned to the levels prior to the nuclear accident. They are also seeking monthly compensation of 50,000 yen per plaintiff.
The lawsuit with the largest number of plaintiffs, 822, was filed with the Iwaki branch of the Fukushima District Court in the southern part of the prefecture. All the plaintiffs are residents of Iwaki, and they are seeking monthly compensation of 80,000 yen per child and 30,000 yen per adult.
Eight evacuees now residing in Tokyo filed their lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court, while the 20 evacuees now living in Chiba Prefecture filed their lawsuit with the Chiba District Court.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said there was the strong possibility that additional related lawsuits would be filed in the future.
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