Q1: What is the purpose of the Class Action against Nuclear Reactor Builders (hereinafter “CAANRB”) ?
A1: The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident, which began on March 11, 2011, dispersed radioactive damage to a level we had never experienced before, striking fear in people the world over. Today, numerous damage suits are instituted against TEPCO.
However, aside from us, there is no damage suit against nuclear reactor builders. We believe that, in addition to the operator (electric power company), nuclear reactor builders should be liable for damages caused by nuclear power plant accidents just as auto makers are asked to be liable for damages from asthma caused by car exhaust gas rather than the drivers and car owners.
But the nuclear reactor builders (nuclear reactor manufacturers) have hardly been even the target of any blame from those who suffer damages. This is due to the Compensation for Nuclear Damage Act (Atomic Energy Damage Compensation Law) (hereinafter “AEDCL”) which concentrates the responsibility for any damage only on the operators (Legal Channeling of Liability). Furthermore, nuclear reactor builders take advantage of it, exporting nuclear power plants overseas for further profit gains.
Legal Channeling of Liability no doubt creates the irrational structure in which priority rests on the protection of the nuclear industry. We are committed to bringing forth this case as a means to amend such an irrational protection structure for the nuclear industry. This is the first concrete step in eliminating nuclear power plants from the world.
Q2: What is the reason for endeavoring to take nuclear reactor builders to court even though AEDCL prescribes clearly that nuclear reactor builders bear no responsibility?
A2: We should try to place the blame squarely on TEPCO. Incidentally, the 120 billion yen damages mentioned in this case are already short, and even if they are increased ten-fold, it would not matter. The structure for compensation is that the government continues to support TEPCO and will not let it go bankrupt. In Japan, we have the AEDCL which enshrines Legal Channeling of Liability (AEDCL Article 13). This determines that one trade association (TEPCO) take responsibility in the event of an accident. The AEDCL prescribes that “this law plans to protect the victims” but the essence thereof is to promote nuclear power and “the sound development of the nuclear industry.” AEDCL Article 4, Clause 1 stipulates that “the entities other than the nuclear trade association will not be blamed for damages caused by a nuclear power plant” and Article 4, Clause 3 again expressly states that nuclear reactor builders are indemnified. This establishes a structure whereby the nuclear reactor builders can export nuclear power plants overseas without any criticism against them. In addition, TEPCO’s compensations to the victims come from ratepayer fees, while the government’s compensations come from our taxes. This system is common throughout the world in countries where nuclear reactor builders produce and/or export nuclear power plants.
We, the CAANRB, in union with the people of the world, will clarify that the nuclear reactor builders are also responsible for nuclear accidents, by bringing the case before the court against nuclear reactor builders. If we win in this legal suit, we will be that much closer to the day when the system protecting the nuclear industry collapses and when we can all enjoy a nuclear free world.
Q3: How are the objections against exporting nuclear power plants and this CAANRB suit related to each other?
A3: The “Legal Channeling of Liability” determined in AEDCL establishes a structure in which nuclear reactor builders are indemnified, and are allowed to export nuclear power plants overseas, without accepting any criticism. This, naturally, increases their profits.
If the judicial decision is such that nuclear reactor builders are also deemed responsible when they cause a nuclear accident, this will surely put an end to nuclear reactor builders producing dangerous nuclear power plants for export overseas. No enterprise will produce and export nuclear power plants at the risk of bankruptcy from damages in the event of serious nuclear accidents.
Q4: I can’t accept that the amount claimed is only 100 yen.
A4: The amount demanded in our suit is 100 yen per one plaintiff for consolation money, the claim for split action. Of course, this does not mean that the damages for the victims of Fukushima nuclear accident are 100 yen. The charges can be 1 yen or 10,000 yen. The point at issue is definitely the existence of responsibility for nuclear reactor builders. This CAANRB seeks a court ruling that the nuclear reactor builders are responsible for the accident.
Q5: Why is this case not limited to Japanese residents? Why can non-Japanese residents also participate in CAANRB as plaintiffs?
A5: In the event of a nuclear power plant accident, the damage is universal, thus the people around the world are also victims. There is no border for radioactivity. The CAANRB office made arrangements so that everybody who listened to or watched media reports of the nuclear power plant accident and suffered mental or psychological anguish could participate in this suit. Showing that not only the people of Japan but people from around the world are interested in this suit and sympathize with our cause empowers our CAANRB suit greatly.
We hope that your participation in this case as overseas plaintiffs leads to the abolition of nuclear power plants throughout the world.
Q6: In addition to Toshiba Corporation, Hitachi, Ltd. and General Electric Company, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is also a nuclear reactor builder. Why does the CAANRB not include Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in its list of defendants?
A6: This CAANRB is a case against the nuclear reactor builders who were responsible for the serious Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. We removed Mitsubishi Heavy Industries from the target list because it does not produce the nuclear reactors of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. If we win in this CAANRB case, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will also quit building nuclear reactors and stop exporting them.
Q7: For what will you use the CAANRB plaintiff membership fee of 2,000 yen, supporter membership fee and other funds raised for this campaign?
A7: We use the funds to create, pack and mail brochures; to put together venue costs for orientation meetings; to contact our members; to provide part of the travel expenses for lawyers; to publish CAANRB newsletters, and so on. Our accountant will report details thereof after the audit. Incidentally, all of our lawyers work for our suit pro bono. All of us CAANRB office members are also working on as unpaid staff.
Q8: Is it in fact true that the overseas plaintiffs for CAANRB are exempted from the membership fee?
A8: We make it a rule to allow this exemption because of high remittance fees if overseas plaintiffs were to remit the plaintiff membership fee to Japan where the CAANRB headquarter resides. We also exempt Japanese living abroad for the same reason. Fukushima resident members of CAANRB are also exempted from plaintiff membership fees.
Q9: What is the area of responsibility for CAANRB plaintiff members? And in the event of our losing this case, must CAANRB participants pay additional costs?
A9: No additional cost will arise in the event of our losing this suit.
Incidentally, this case may become a long term case if it proceeds to the Supreme Court.
Q10: Will there be cases when CAANRB participants may observe this suit and/or testify in court?
A10: The CAANRB plaintiff members are expected to observe in court as much as possible. But in principle, they will not be requested to testify in court.
Q11: The application period for new CAANRB plaintiff members seems to be finished. How can I support the case?
A11: The CAANRB office has completed the process of accepting new plaintiff members for the first institution of this case on January 30, 2014, and for the second institution on March 10, 2014. We are now recruiting CAANRB supporter members from around the world who can help back us up. For details, please see “Recruitment for Supporters” on the CAANRB website.
Q12: Where can we get information on the progress of this CAANRB suit?
A12: Please refer to this CAANRB website for progress in the case. CAANAB office members will continuously update the information. We will also notify those of you on the CAANRB mailing list of the suit’s progress by mail. Furthermore, we will publish CAANRB magazines annually to send to plaintiff members, supporter members of CAANRB, and those who have made donations to CAANRB.
Q13: If we have any other questions on the CAANRB suit, whom do we contact?
A13: Please fill the CONTACT form on this CAANRB website and we will respond via email.