TOKYO: Hundreds of survivors of the Fukushima nuclear crisis filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government Monday as the country came to a standstill to remember those killed in the disaster two years ago.
A group of 800 residents from across the north-east are demanding that the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company, operators of the damaged nuclear plant in the region, restore the area to its pre-disaster state. Each claimant - ranging from babies to pensioners - is seeking pounds 384 ($559) in compensation for every month since the disaster.
The new lawsuit coincided with the nation pausing in silence at 2.46pm in memory of the 19,000 lives lost on March 11 2011, when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit Japan's Pacific coastline. The Fukushima nuclear plant's cooling system was knocked out, resulting in a triple reactor meltdown.
Two years on, a 19-mile exclusion zone remains in place and as many as 160,000 residents have been told that they may never be able to go home.
Makoto Matsukawa, 59, a farmer, is among those suing. "We have no hope for the future," he said. "We're angry at the government for failing to help us. Many people have suffered, with suicide, depression and financial problems. We want our lives back to how they were before the disaster."
The Daily Telegraph