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Residents in Ibaraki Pref. to sue gov't over damage from 2015 river flooding

In this Sept. 10, 2017 file photo, Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Keiichi Ishii, right, and others unveil a monument dedicated to victims of the September 2015 flooding of the Kinu River during a ceremony in Joso, Ibaraki Prefecture. (Mainichi)

JOSO, Ibaraki -- Residents of areas hit by the flooding of the Kinu River in September 2015 are set to launch a damages suit, claiming that the national government failed to properly manage the waterway.

About 20 households in the Ibaraki Prefecture city of Joso and other areas affected by the disaster, who will file their suit with the Shimotsuma branch of the Mito District Court on Aug. 7, held a rally to launch their group of plaintiffs on July 16. They are expected to demand a total of over 100 million yen in compensation for damages to their homes, furniture and other household items and the impact of the flood on their business activities, as well as their mental suffering.

At the time of the disaster triggered by torrential rain, water overflowed from the Kinu River in the Wakamiyado district of Joso and breached the dike in the city's Misakamachi district.

According to attorneys for the residents, the overflow occurred in a privately owned land lot. There is no manmade dike there and a small sand hill was used as a natural dike.

The attorneys claim that since the national government, which manages the Kinu River, did not designate the area as a zone where excavation needs government permission, the government was unable to prevent a private business operator from conducting excavation work at the land lot to install solar panels in spring 2014. Moreover, the lawyers contend that the central government had neglected to improve the dike where it was breached by the swollen river even though the dike was not high enough.

In the disaster, an area about 40 square kilometers in size, or one-third of the city of Joso, was flooded, destroying 53 houses, while partially or largely damaging some 5,000 others. A total of 14 residents lost their lives, including 12 who died from disaster-related causes.

(Japanese original by Tetsu Miyata, Tsukuba Bureau)

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