asahi shinbun, compensation, evacuation zone, fukushima, legal, nuclear radiation, psychosocial, relocation, tepco, welfare

Court sets precedent by ordering TEPCO to pay provisional compensation, asahi, 5/26/14

KYOTO–A court here ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay provisional compensation to a man who took it upon himself to flee Fukushima Prefecture after the nuclear disaster even though he did not live in a compulsory evacuation zone.

It is the first such court order since the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, according to TEPCO, which operates the facility.

The man filed his lawsuit with the Kyoto District Court in May 2013. He sought total compensation from TEPCO of 130 million yen ($1.27 million), on grounds he had become unable to work, because he developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Last December, he filed for a provisional disposition with the court, demanding TEPCO pay 600,000 yen in provisional compensation each month. The man argued that he could not survive without the provisional compensation.

“A path has been opened for evacuees who are not well off financially to keep fighting against TEPCO while securing funds with which to get by on,” said Kenichi Ido, the plaintiff’s lawyer.

In the ruling dated May 20, the court concluded that the plaintiff, now a resident of Kyoto, developed PTSD because of the disaster.

It ordered TEPCO to pay the man 400,000 yen each month for one year, starting in May.

According to the ruling, the figure was based on the man’s income prior to the disaster, and other factors.

The man, who is in his 40s, lived in Fukushima Prefecture with his family and ran a company. His home was located in a voluntary evacuation zone.

He moved to Kanazawa in mid-March, just days after the disaster triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, and relocated to Kyoto the following May.

Before the ruling, TEPCO argued that the utility has no obligation to pay compensation to evacuees who fled Fukushima Prefecture of their own volition and became incapable of working as a result of the disaster under guidelines issued by the science ministry’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation.

But the court pointed out the guidelines stipulate that such instances be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Although TEPCO declined to comment on the ruling, it said it will respond sincerely after carefully examining the decision.

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About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.

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