The district court in Fukushima has judged that the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant crippled by nuclear catastrophe in 2011 must compensate relatives of a 102-year-old man who committed suicide rather than evacuating his home following the disasters.
Plant operator TEPCO has been ordered to pay ¥15.2 million (US$143,400) in damages to the family of Fumio Okubo, who was the oldest resident of Iitate, a village located 40km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, where multiple explosions and reactor meltdowns occurred following a massive earthquake and tsunami that hit the area in March 2011.
In the aftermath of the nuclear disaster — the second worst in history after Chernobyl in the Ukraine in 1986 — around 150,000 residents were ordered to evacuate their homes. Residents in Iitate — which was one of the villages most highly contaminated by the nuclear disaster — were not instructed to flee until a month later. Unable to face the prospect of evacuating, Okubo ended his life, the court decided.
According tot he lawyer for Okubo's family, the Fukushima District Court said the suicide was a result of “strong stress” caused by the evacuation order and and Okubo’s concerns that he would be a burden to his family.
“It is significant that the court recognised the eldest man in the village who would have lived out his final days in his homeland was hit by such a terrible tragedy,” he added.
According to local news, the family had originally demanded compensation worth almost four times the amount that was settled on by the court, but there is no plan for an appeal.
TEPCO, which says it will consider the ruling before deciding on further action, has already been ordered to pay damages in relation to two other suicides by Fukushima residents who killed themselves after evacuating their homes in the radiation-contaminated region.