Lectures

Lecture on “Liability and Compensation over the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster,” October 30, 2015

Eri Osaka
Professor of Law, Toyo University
145 Boalt Hall, 1:00-2:00 pm

coffee and tea will be served

The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster resulted in widespread and long-term damage. Expecting a huge number of compensation claims, TEPCO set up its own compensation claims process and the Government offered compensation guidelines and ADR system. However, a fair number of victims have chosen litigation. Unlike the other two routes, they can argue TEPCO’s negligence under fault liability provision of the Civil Code in addition to non-fault liability provision of the Nuclear Damage Compensation Act, and the liability of the Government under the State Compensation Law.

Other than individual lawsuits, more than twenty group lawsuits have been filed in various district courts; most of them led by experienced lawyers who have been active in public interest litigation. They are trying to use litigation as a vehicle to change compensation policy, to achieve true “build back better,” and to improve disaster risk management in the future. Some lawsuits also seek injunctions requiring TEPCO and the Government to reduce radiation levels in the affected areas.

Professor Eri Osaka will discuss these compensation actions and the challenges of litigation. One of the challenges is the difference among types of plaintiffs. Some are evacuees subject to the government evacuation order, others are “voluntary” evacuees. The plaintiffs are developing a new compensation theory to apply to each group: compensation for pain and suffering caused by loss of homeland (furusato soushitsu isharyo). They claim that their rights to live quiet life (heion seikatsu ken) in their local community have been violated.

*  *  *

Eri Osaka is a Professor of Law at Toyo University, Tokyo, Japan, where she teaches Environmental Law, Torts, and Contracts. She joined the University of Pennsylvania Law School SJD program in 2015. She is a 2000 graduate from Penn Law LLM program under the Fulbright Graduate Student Program, and also holds a BA and an MA in Law from Waseda University, Japan.

Her research interests lie in the legal response to mass toxic torts including environmental pollution and asbestos disaster. Since the Fukushima Nuclear Accident, she has been studying the legal issues on the victim compensation and recovery.

Her representative publications include: “Environmental and Worker Safety Law in Japan: Recent Changes, the Impact of Reform Laws and Movements, and the Prospects for the Future” (The Japanese Legal System: An Era of Transition, Ginsberg and Scheiber, eds. 2012); “Corporate Liability, Government Liability, and the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster” (Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal, 2012); and “Reevaluating the Role of the Tort Liability System in Japan” (Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law, 2009).

fukushima