Tokyo, Jan. 19 (Jiji Press)–Six people are set to sue Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. <9501> over thyroid cancer that they claim they developed due to exposure to radioactive substances released from the 2011 triple reactor meltdown at its stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, their lawyers said Wednesday.
The plaintiffs, who were 6 to 16 years old at the time of the nuclear accident and lived in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Fukushima, home to the plant, will seek 616 million yen in total damages.
This is believed to be the first lawsuit involving Fukushima residents suing TEPCO over thyroid cancer in connection with the nuclear accident.
The six plan to file the suit with Tokyo District Court on Jan. 27, the lawyers told a press conference.
They currently live in Tokyo, neighboring Kanagawa Prefecture and Fukushima. Four of them have had their entire thyroid glands removed, the lawyers said. Some have undergone multiple surgeries because of cancer metastasis or recurrence, they said.
A health survey by the Fukushima prefectural government, which covered some 380,000 people aged 18 or younger at the time of the nuclear accident, showed in October last year that 266 people had cancer or suspected cancer.
Some experts have pointed out the possibility of overdiagnosis, or the discovery of cancers that do not require treatment. The lawyers claimed that the plaintiffs have developed cancer due to the nuclear accident and needed to undergo surgeries.
A review committee on the prefectural health survey has said that the thyroid cancer apparently has nothing to do with the nuclear accident.
Kenichi Ido, a former judge who leads the lawyers, criticized the Japanese government for determining that there is no health damage from the nuclear accident.
Lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai said that “there is strong social pressure to believe that cancer is not caused by the accident, so it took a lot of courage for the six plaintiffs to file the lawsuit.”