The Supreme Court of Japan affirmed a ruling ordering utility Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) to pay 1.4 billion yen ($12 million) in damages to around 3,700 people whose lives were ruined by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, marking the first time such a decision has been made.
What’s going on: The average settlement of around 380,000 yen ($3,290) for each plaintiff covered three class-action lawsuits, among more than 30 filed against the utility, according to public broadcaster NHK.
- The court rejected Tepco’s appeal and found it irresponsible in taking preventive measures against a tsunami of that size.
- The court has yet to rule on the government’s role, which is also a defendant in the claims, and will hold a hearing next month to determine its liability, according to NHK.
- The extent of the government’s responsibility in foreseeing the disaster and forcing Tepco to take actions to avert it has divided lower courts.
What happened: In March 2011, a large tsunami caused by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off Japan’s northeastern coast damaged Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi power facility, causing the biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
- Approximately 470,000 people were forced to flee in the first few days, and tens of thousands have yet to be reunited with their families.