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Gov't, TEPCO again ordered to pay damages to Fukushima evacuees

Plaintiffs' attorneys hold banners reading "Victory" on March 16, 2018 after the Tokyo District Court ordered the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay damages to residents who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture due to the March 2011 triple-meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A Japanese court on Friday ordered the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to pay damages to residents who fled Fukushima due to nuclear meltdowns at a power plant in 2011.

The Tokyo District Court ordered the state and Tepco to pay a combined 59 million yen ($556,000) in damages to 42 people, mostly those who evacuated voluntarily from Fukushima Prefecture to destinations including Tokyo and Aichi prefectures.

A total of 47 people were seeking some 630 million yen in total for the psychological damage they have suffered.

It is the sixth ruling among some 30 similar lawsuits filed against the state and the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant, and the fourth to hold both liable.

The plaintiffs said the state and the utility should have foreseen a massive tsunami triggering a nuclear accident, but failed to take measures to prevent it.

The state and Tepco argued they could not have foreseen the tsunami.

On March 11, 2011, a major earthquake struck northeastern Japan and tsunami waves engulfed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant located on the Pacific coast, disabling emergency generators needed to operate pumps to cool its reactors. Three reactors suffered meltdowns, causing hydrogen explosions and the release of radioactive materials.

The government issued evacuation orders for people in highly contaminated areas near the plant, but people living outside the designated areas also fled the prefecture without state instructions.

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