TEPCO told to pay 27 million yen to family of Fukushima evacuee who killed himself


FUKUSHIMA–Tokyo Electric Power Co. has been ordered to pay 27 million yen ($219,500) in compensation to the bereaved family of a male evacuee who committed suicide after being displaced due to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Presiding Judge Naoyuki Shiomi of the Fukushima District Court ruled on June 30 that the main reason Kiichi Isozaki, 67, from Namie, near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, killed himself was “stress related to the nuclear accident.”
It was the second time a court in Japan has deemed that the Fukushima accident was responsible for an evacuee’s suicide.
Shiomi ruled that Isozaki lost the “foundation of his life” when he had to evacuate from his hometown, where he had spent most of his life and enjoyed fishing and home gardening after retirement.
The judge concluded that the prolonged evacuation and economic insecurity about his future added to his anxiety and triggered depression.
Isozaki’s 66-year-old wife, Eiko, and two other family members sued the utility, demanding 87 million yen in compensation.
Isozaki and his family fled from their home on March 12, 2011, the day after the nuclear crisis unfolded at the plant following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, according to a court statement.
They took refuge in a shelter set up at a high school gym in Koriyama, also in Fukushima Prefecture, about 60 kilometers from their home, on March 13.
Isozaki complained about being unable to sleep there and also lost his appetite.
About a month later, the family moved to an apartment in Nihonmatsu in the same prefecture.
Isozaki’s health began deteriorating again around the middle of June, and he often expressed a desire to return home.
His body was discovered in a river in Iitate, a village in the prefecture, in July. Police believe that he jumped from a nearby bridge.
The central issue of the lawsuit was whether his suicide was related to the nuclear accident.
Isozaki committed suicide after developing depression while evacuating from the area of the nuclear accident,” one of the family members testified in court.
But TEPCO claimed, “Isozaki was already suffering anxiety and stress since he had diabetes.”
In the first compensation judgment, the utility was ordered to pay about 49 million yen to the family of an evacuee from Kawamata who killed herself in July 2011. The ruling was made by the same court last August.
The evacuee, 58, had set herself ablaze while on a visit back to her home.
On that occasion the utility decided not to appeal the ruling, and senior TEPCO officials apologized to the family of the deceased.
Source : Asahi Shimbun

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