The Fukushima District Court on Tuesday ordered the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO), operator of the stricken Daiichi nuclear facility in the prefecture, to pay damages related to the 2011 nuclear disaster.
The court in Japan's northeastern prefecture, that hosts TEPCO's Daichi nuclear complex, ordered the government and the embattled utility to pay damages to around 3,800 plaintiffs who were affected by the earthquake-triggered tsunami disaster in 2011.
The earthquake-triggered tsunami knocked out the Daiichi plant's key cooling and backup systems, leading to multiple core meltdowns and massive amounts of radioactive materials to be leaked from the battered complex into the environment.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster still ranks as the worst since Chernobyl in 1986.
The ruling on Tuesday marks the third against TEPCO and the number of plaintiffs involved was the most among 30 similar suits filed also seeking damages from the utility and the state.
Evacuees have comprised the majority of the plaintiffs in previous cases, however in this case more than 80 percent of the claimants did not flee their homes as a result of the nuclear crisis.
They claimed the government was liable as it could have foreseen that a sizable tsunami could have struck the Pacific Ocean-facing Daiichi facility, based on an evaluation made in 2002.
Thereafter, the government could have made TEPCO take preventative measures that could have averted the disaster.
The plaintiffs also argued that radiation levels at places of residence in Fukushima Prefecture should be reduced to pre-disaster levels.
Monthly compensation of 50,000 yen (440 U.S. dollars) has been sought by the plaintiffs until the radiation levels return to 0.04 microsievert per hour, the same as levels before the nuclear crisis.