Fukushima: residents suffering from thyroid cancer demand justice
Sylvie Claire / January 27, 2022
Several people, suffering from thyroid cancers, have launched a class action lawsuit to seek justice following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.
The young plaintiffs, now aged 17 to 27, were all minors and resided in Fukushima Prefecture (northeast Japan) at the time of the nuclear disaster.
With this class action before a Tokyo court, the first of its kind initiated by residents according to their lawyer, they are seeking a total of 616 million yen in damages from Tepco, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
The causal link between radiation exposure at Fukushima and the development of thyroid cancer has never been officially recognized by the Japanese authorities. A UN report published last year also noted that no adverse effects on the health of residents have been documented.
But the plaintiffs' lawyers point out that their cancers are not hereditary and that it is very likely that they were caused by their exposure to radiation.
The plaintiffs were diagnosed with thyroid cancers between 2012 and 2018. Four of them had the gland completely removed and will have to undergo hormone therapy for life, the attorney said.
On March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake off the northeast coast of Japan triggered a massive tsunami that caused the cores of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant to melt, releasing large amounts of radiation into the air, which settled on the ground and in the water.
Several people who subsequently worked on the dismantling site of the plant developed cancers after being exposed to radiation, which were recognized as an occupational disease, and they received compensation from the Japanese government.
A Tepco spokesman said the operator would respond honestly to the lawsuit filed Thursday, after reviewing the plaintiffs' claims in detail.