A file photo of the Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Photograph:( AFP )
The plaintiffs, now aged between 7 and 27, were living in the Fukushima region when a huge earthquake on March 11, 2011, triggered a tsunami that caused the nuclear disaster
Six Japanese youth sued the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant alleging that they developed thyroid cancer after being exposed to the radiation following the plant’s meltdown in 2011.
On Thursday their lawyers marched into the Tokyo District Court, where dozens of supporters were gathered, to file the first-ever class-action lawsuit over health issues against plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).
The plaintiffs, now aged between 7 and 27, were living in the Fukushima region when a huge earthquake on March 11, 2011, triggered a tsunami that caused the nuclear disaster.
All of them underwent surgery to remove parts or all of their thyroid glands, their lawyer said.
The group is seeking a total of 616 million yen ($5.4 million) in compensation.
A UN experts panel concluded last year that the disaster had not led to any direct health problems for the population. And a World Health Organisation report from 2013 said the disaster would not cause any observable increase in cancer rates in the region.
But in 2018, the Japanese government announced that one worker had died after exposure to radiation and agreed that his family should be compensated.
However, the complainers claim that the cancer was probably caused by exposure, as none of them had any family history of thyroid cancer.
TEPCO spokesman Takahiro Yamato told AFP that the company will deal with the legal complaint "sincerely, after paying attention to the details of the demands and claims".
The meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, after which larger numbers of thyroid cancers were detected.
The 2011 disaster in northeast Japan left around 18,500 people dead or missing, with most killed by the tsunami.
(With inputs from agencies)