MADRID, 17 (EUROPA PRESS)
Japan's Supreme Court on Friday rejected lawsuits seeking recognition of the State's responsibility in the 2011 nuclear disaster following the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that affected the Fukushima-1 power plant, which caused a massive evacuation of the population due to the risk of radiation.
The Supreme Court's decision affects four class-action lawsuits involving about 3,700 people affected by the disaster who had demanded that the state pay compensation for the disaster, according to the Japanese news agency Kiodo. The lawsuits were filed in Fukushima, Gunma, Chiba and Ehime prefectures.
The ruling thus leaves Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) solely liable to pay the 1.4 billion yen (about 9.9 million euros) claimed in damages in the four lawsuits, after the Supreme Court itself determined in March for the first time its responsibility in this case.
The lower courts had so far been divided on the extent of the state's liability in the disaster, the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl plant, since it acts as the company's regulator.
The central point of the lawsuits was whether the government and TEPCO were able to foresee the possibility of a tsunami hitting the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant, as happened on March 11, 2011, and to take preventive measures. Thus, they cited as evidence a 2002 government assessment that envisaged a 20 percent chance over the next 30 years.
In fact, based on this document, a TEPCO subsidiary claimed in 2008 that a tsunami of up to about 16 meters could reach the plant, so the plaintiffs considered that this was an avoidable event if the government had exercised its regulatory powers over the company to take measures before the earthquake finally took place.
For their part, the Government and TEPCO argued during the trial that these estimates were not settled knowledge and added that, even if they had foreseen such a tsunami and taken measures, they could not be held liable, given that the scale and direction of the tsunami were different than expected.
The Fukushima-1 plant was prepared for an earthquake, as Japan sits on a fault line, but not for a tsunami, so the scourge of the sea caused several hydrogen explosions that caused the cores of some of its reactors to partially melt, resulting in the release of a large amount of radioactive particles into the atmosphere.