Japanese gov't, TEPCO again ordered to pay damages to Fukushima evacuees

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TOKYO, March 10 (Xinhua) -- The Sapporo District Court on Tuesday ordered the Japanese government and the operator of the disaster-hit Fukushima nuclear plant to pay 52.9 million yen (508,000 U.S. dollars) in damages to 89 people who fled to Hokkaido in the wake of the 2011 nuclear crisis.

The ruling by the district court in Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido marked the seventh such ruling in which both the state and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) were ordered to pay compensation to evacuees from Fukushima.

Of the 11 suits filed against both the government and the utility, seven have resulted in damages being paid by both parties, while four concluded with the plaintiffs being awarded damages by TEPCO alone.

In the case concluded Tuesday, 257 plaintiffs initially had sought a combined 4.24 billion yen (40.62 million U.S. dollars) from the government and the state.

Of the plaintiffs, the majority of them were living in Fukushima City and areas that were outside those given evacuation orders at the time of the earthquake-triggered nuclear disaster in Macro 2011.

After the ruling was handed down, TEPCO reportedly offered the plaintiffs a "heartfelt apology for causing great trouble and worries to those affected in Fukushima and other areas."

The plaintiffs had argued in the case that TEPCO had not taken the necessary measures to prevent the nuclear crisis from happening despite being able to predict that such an eventuality could occur at the still-crippled plant, and that the government had failed to enforce safety measures.

Following evacuating in the wake of the disaster, the plaintiffs said they had suffered psychologically owing to concerns that they had been exposed to radiation that had damaged their health and their ability to live normal lives had been adversely affected.

While TEPCO offered an apology Tuesday, the government denied any culpability for the disaster, the worst nuclear travesty since Chernobyl in 1986, saying that there was no way it could have predicted the plant would have become flooded by the tsunami. Enditem

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