A group of residents from a village in Fukushima Prefecture has filed a lawsuit to seek compensation for radiation exposure. They say the exposure was caused by the government's botched initial response to the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in March 2011.
The 29 plaintiffs filed suit with the Tokyo District Court on Friday, seeking damages worth 200 million yen, or about 1.9 million dollars, from the government and the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company.
The plaintiffs are from Iitate Village, most of which is more than 30 kilometers from the plant. Residents there were initially told they did not need to evacuate. But about one month later, the village was designated as an evacuation zone, prompting all residents to flee.
The plaintiffs say the government's failure to inform them of rising radiation levels in the early stages deprived them of their chance to evacuate and left them exposed.
They also say the subsequent village-wide evacuation caused them to lose their homes and farms, destroyed their community and robbed them of their hometown.
The plaintiffs' lawyers say the mass lawsuit is thought to be the first seeking compensation for radiation exposure in the early stages of the nuclear accident.
The leader of the plaintiffs, Kanno Hiroshi, says he has developed illnesses over the past decade, and that worries over the effects of radiation will never fade. He says he wants to hold the government and the plant operator accountable.