Tepco in landmark evacuation payout

A policeman stands guard at one of the entrances to the 20km evacuation zone surrounding the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant on March 09, 2012 in Minamisoma in Fukushima Prefecture,Image copyright
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The mandatory evacuation zone was set at a 20km of the plant but many others outside that zone chose to leave their homes

A court in Japan has ordered the operator of the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant to compensate a couple who fled radiation, even though they lived outside the evacuation zone.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) will pay 30m yen ($265,000; £185,00) for financial losses and poor health.

It is thought to be the first time Tepco has been found liable to pay damages for a voluntary evacuation.

In 2011 the plant suffered multiple meltdowns after a quake and tsunami.

After that people who lived within 20km (12 miles) of the plant were ordered to evacuate, but thousands of others voluntarily left their homes and businesses over fears of radiation

Analysts say Thursday’s ruling could pave the way for many more compensation claims from such evacuees.

Depressed and stigmatised

In April 2014 some residents started to return to their homes in the exclusion zone, but many areas remain ghost towns with their former residents in temporary housing.

The sum awarded to the couple, who have not been named but are in their 40s, is also far greater than the 11m yen proposed by a government-established centre to mediate settlements for compensation cases.

According to the written submission, the husband became depressed and developed pleurisy after the evacuation and their children were stigmatised for their association with the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Tepco has already been embroiled in a number of compensation claims. In 2011, the government ordered Tokyo Electric to pay 1m yen to every family within 30km of the plant.

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