TEPCO has been ordered to pay Mikio Watanabe (pictured) nearly 500,000 US dollars in compensation for the suicide of his wife, Hamako (58 years), after they were forced to leave their home and livelihoods in Kawamata town (40 km from the reactors) due to contamination from the ongoing Fukushima catastrophe. They evacuated three months after the accident began when it was realized the contamination levels in their area were too high for living and working.
Her family claimed "the evacuation was responsible for a deterioration of Mrs Watanabe's mental state because she did not know when she could return home, according to Kyodo news agency. The chicken farm where she and her husband were working also closed."
TEPCO has been settling such damage claims out of court, but this case marks the first time a court has rendered a verdict. More cases like this are expected.
"Dozens of Fukushima residents are reported to have killed themselves since the disaster...
Tens of thousand fled their homes and businesses because of radioactive contamination, with the majority still unable to return home." BBC
" '"It is well assumed that the stress caused by sudden loss of the base of her life against her will and unknown future in evacuation was unbearable for her,' according to the court ruling." CNN
Indeed, the ongoing nuclear power catastrophe has set up a dichotomy of lose-lose situations: suffering radiation health damage if one is allowed to stay in a contaminated area, and suffering the stress of having to evacuate and being forced into an uncertain future.
No word on whether TEPCO is planning to appeal.