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Plaintiffs appeal ruling in Fukushima nuclear disaster damages suit

In this March 11, 2011 file photo, waves are seen washing over a 10-meter-high breakwater and approaching the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. (Photo courtesy of Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Lawyers representing approximately 3,800 people suing the state and operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex for damages over the 2011 tsunami-triggered disaster appealed a lower court ruling Monday in hopes of securing greater compensation.

    In its Oct. 10 ruling, the Fukushima District Court ordered the state and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to pay 500 million yen ($4.4 million) to about 2,900 of the 3,800 plaintiffs, an amount less than was sought by the disaster victims.

    Also on Monday, the central government and Tepco filed an appeal to the same Sendai High Court arguing they should not be held liable for damages.

    Izutaro Managi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the lower court ruling "clearly acknowledged the liability of the state" over the disaster but said that the "level and scope of compensation is insufficient."

    "We will seek compensation that better matches the actual damage" from the disaster, he said.

    Managi said that the compensation awarded to the victims in the lower court ruling was far less than the maximum 200,000 yen per person sought by the plaintiffs.

    The ruling did not accept claims by some of the plaintiffs, including those in western Fukushima Prefecture, the lawyer added when explaining the reason for the appeal.

    The Fukushima District Court ruling was the second of its kind in a series of group lawsuits filed nationwide where the state and Tepco were found liable and ordered to pay damages over the world's worst nuclear crises since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

    The court concluded that the state and Tepco failed to take steps to mitigate the risk of the tsunami damage caused by a powerful earthquake on March 11, 2011, even though they were able to foresee the possibility of such a disaster based on a quake assessment issued in 2002.

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