The civil suit by Mikio Watanabe claimed that Tokyo Electric Power
Co Inc <9501.T> (Tepco) was to blame for the July 2011 death of his
wife, Hamako, 58, who doused herself in kerosene and set herself on
fire after falling into depression.
The district court in Fukushima ruled in favor of Watanabe, a court
official told reporters. Kyodo news reported that Tepco was ordered
to pay 49 million yen ($472,000) in compensation. Watanabe had
sought about 91 million yen in damages.
The court decision is the latest blow for the utility, which was
bailed out with taxpayer funds in 2012 and expects to spend more
than $48 billion in compensation alone for the nuclear disaster.
The triple nuclear meltdowns forced more than 150,000 people from
their homes, about a third of whom remain in temporary housing.
"We would like to deeply apologize again for the disruption and
concern that the Fukushima Daiichi accident caused to many people,
first and foremost the people of Fukushima," Tepco said in a
statement following the verdict.
"We understand that there has been a verdict handed down in this
case. We will study the verdict and respond in a sincere way," it
"We pray that Hamako Watanabe has found peace."
Tepco has settled a number of suicide-related claims through a
government dispute resolution system, but has declined to say how
many or give details on how much it has paid.
Watanabe, who had declined to settle out of court, told Reuters
after the verdict: "I am satisfied with the decision." He said he
believed his wife was satisfied, too.
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Toru Takeda, 73, a retired high school teacher from a nearby town,
traveled from his temporary home in Yamagata in north Japan to hear
the verdict. Takeda has filed a lawsuit against Tepco over his
inability to return to his home.
"Our verdict will come next month from the same court, so, of
course, we welcome this outcome," he told Reuters.
Tepco's shares and debt, which have been battered in the wake of the
Fukushima crisis and prolonged cleanup, have held largely steady in
recent weeks and showed little reaction to the verdict. Tepco shares
were down 0.5 percent at 383 yen in afternoon trade in Tokyo.
(1 US dollar = 103.8200 Japanese yen)
(Additional reporting by Kaori Kaneko, Osamu Tsukimori and Hideyuki
Sano in TOKYO; Editing by Edmund Klamann, Chris Gallagher and Jeremy
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