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Japan's government found liable for Fukushima disaster

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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.

MAEBASHI, Japan (Kyodo) - A district court on Friday found negligence by the central government and plant operator contributed to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in March 2011.

The two parties have been ordered to pay [BBC report] a total of Dollars $341,000 to 62 out of 137 evacuees who sought damages for emotional distress.

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.

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

The government and TEPCO, however, denied the possibility of foreseeing such a disaster.

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The court ordered Tepco and the government to pay between $621 and $31,000 to 62 plaintiff.

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

While courts have ruled in favour of plaintiffs and awarded damages arising from the disaster, it was the first time a court has recognised that the government was liable.

The ruling was the first among a series of lawsuits filed by people who were forced to leave after three reactors melted down at the plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., in the days after a massive natural disaster and then tsunami struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.

They added that it is hoped that the location of the events will ensure that the plight of the people of Fukushima remains in the global spotlight, as well as give hope to and encourage the people who live in the disaster-hit prefecture.

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