A federal court of appeals in San Francisco ruled Friday that U.S. servicemen who were among those who provided aid to Japan following the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 can go through U.S. courts to pursue lawsuits against Japan and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) on health issues related to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Generating Station.
Lawsuits filed hinge on whether or not the government of Japan and Tepco did or did not fully disclose everything they knew about the accident at the nuclear power plant and the risks of radiation exposure that was undertaken U.S. Navy personnel who were sent there to help.
The Great East Japan Earthquake killed nearly 16,000 people and caused about 100,000 residents to flee from their homes, some because of evacuation orders that were associated with the triple meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear facility, which has been called the worst nuclear power accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
A Japanese district court in March ruled that the government of Japan and Tepco could have done more to prevent the accident by shoring up defenses against the tsunami event that followed the 9.0-magnitude earthquake.
The monetary award ordered along with that ruling came out to a modest $335,000 or about $5,400 per plaintiffs. There were 62 plaintiffs in that case, which hinged on prevention, not how much the government or Tepco knew and did not divulge after the earthquake struck.
The immediate impact of the ruling Friday is that U.S. residents do not have to go to Japan to have their lawsuits heard in court.
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