A Japanese court has ordered the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to pay damages to the family of a woman who killed herself after being forced to flee the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.
The court awarded the family of Hamako Watanabe 49 million yen ($472,000) in a case that could influence future outcomes of other victim lawsuits against the nuclear operator, BBC reports.
Watanabe and her husband Mikio were evacuated because of radioactive contamination in June 2011, three months after the failure of several nuclear reactors at the Fukushima power plant in the Futaba district in Japan. Their home in Kawamata town was about 40 kilometers away from the site of the meltdown, which occurred when a 9.0-magnitude undersea earthquake triggered a tsunami that flooded cooling systems at the plant, resulting in the worst nuclear disaster in Japan’s recent history.
When Watanabe, 58, was allowed to return briefly to the family home after they were moved into an apartment in Fukushima city, she doused herself in gasoline and set herself on fire.
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Mikio and the couple’s three children sued TEPCO for 91 million yen in damages, on the grounds that the forced evacuation, and subsequent uncertainty about her future, caused her depression. The chicken farm where she and her husband worked also closed, BBC says.
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