FUKUSHIMA -- Mikio Watanabe, 61, and his family are poised to file a lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) on May 18 demanding about 72.5 million yen in compensation for his wife's suicide soon after the outbreak of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, it has been learned.
Along with three other family members, Mikio Watanabe plans to bring the case to the Fukushima District Court on May 18. Watanabe and his family argue that the Fukushima nuclear disaster led his wife, Hamako, to suffer depression and commit suicide at the age of 58. According to a group of lawyers supporting victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, it will be the first lawsuit to be filed over suicides related to the nuclear crisis.
According to the group of lawyers, on the morning of July 1, 2011 Hamako committed suicide by pouring gasoline over her body and setting herself on fire at a garbage incinerator near her house, to which she made a temporary visit with Mikio from their apartment that the local government had rented for them in the city of Fukushima.
The couple had taken shelter at their relatives' homes and gymnasiums in Fukushima Prefecture since March 15, 2011. They then returned to their home once, but because the Yamakiya district, about 40 kilometers northwest of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, where their home was located, was designated as a planned evacuation zone in April last year, they moved to the rented apartment in the city of Fukushima in June after a few months of waiting.
During this period, Hamako's place of work was closed down and she had to live apart from her 37-year-old eldest son and other relatives, and she started to show symptoms of insomnia and had a poor appetite. The group of lawyers says, "Because she was deprived of the basics of life such as her residence and job, she suffered an extremely heavy psychological burden." Thus the group of lawyers says that's why she started to develop depression. Therefore, they argue that there are causal relations between the nuclear disaster and her depression and her suicide.
Her husband, Mikio, said, "The accident changed everything in our lives. I decided to go to court because I thought no more victims should cry themselves to sleep."
On the planned lawsuit, an official of the public relations department at TEPCO only said, "We are not aware of it. Therefore we would like to decline comment."
May 10, 2012(Mainichi Japan)