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Ruling against Tepco sets high bar for nuclear safety

Ruling against Tepco sets high bar for nuclear safety

The ruling came on behalf of 137 evacuees seeking damages for the emotional distress of fleeing their homes as radiation spread from the nuclear plant.

Tepco and the government contested that claim, saying that a number of scholars disputed the report's conclusions and arguing that the document was insufficiently scientific.

While the court ordered those amounts to be revised upward based on individuals' circumstances, just 38.55 million yen ($342,131) in damages were awarded to 62 of the 137 plaintiffs - less than 3% of the roughly 1.5 billion yen sought.

In the ruling, the Maebashi District Court ordered the government and TEPCO to pay a total of some ¥38.55 million to residents of Gunma Prefecture who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture following the meltdowns at the plant triggered by a 9.0-magnitude quake and ensuing tsunami.

"The government is authorised to order (Tepco) to take such measures and it was possible to prevent the accident", the court said.

"The government and TEPCO could have foreseen the tsunami and avoided the accident", the plaintiffs said, also noting that the power supplier discussed the risk of losing all power at its nuclear plants with nuclear authorities.

A series of group lawsuits have been filed in 18 different prefectures in Japan by refugees from Fukushima.

The IOC and Tokyo organizers have been eager to use the games as a symbol of recovery from the 2011 disaster that hit Japan's northeastern region including Fukushima, 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Tokyo, where entire communities fled after meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant.

Six years on, there are still some 120,000 people living as refugees due to the disaster, including 80,000 from Fukushima, according to government data.

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