Six people launched a class action lawsuit in Japan on Thursday to seek recognition of the link they believe existed between their thyroid cancer and their exposure to radiation after the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011.
The young plaintiffs, now aged 17 to 27, were all minors and lived in the department of Fukushima (northeast of Japan) at the time of the nuclear disaster.
With this class action in a Tokyo court, the first of its kind initiated by residents according to their lawyer, they are seeking a total of 616 million yen (4.8 million euros) in damages from Tepco, l operator of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
The causal link between exposure to Fukushima radiation and the appearance 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 the inhabitants have been documented”.
But lawyers for the plaintiffs point out that the cancers of these are not hereditary and that it is very likely that they were caused by their exposure to radiation.
Some of them “had difficulty continuing their studies and finding a job, and even had to give up on their dreams,” Kenichi Ido, one of their lawyers, told AFP.
The plaintiffs were diagnosed with thyroid cancer between 2012 and 2018. Four of them underwent total removal of this gland and will have to undergo hormone treatment all their lives, said the lawyer.
On March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake off the northeast coast of Japan triggered a huge 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 told AFP that the operator would respond “honestly” to the lawsuit filed on Thursday, after considering the plaintiffs’ claims in detail.