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The Waseda Project: Namie Legal Defense Team
- Takao Suami (Professor of Law at Waseda Law School in Tokyo)
- Haruka Adachi (Attorney at law)
- Eri Osaka (Professor of Law at Toyo University)
In the annals of the history of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the experience of Namie is a cautionary tale for nuclear energy, and a tragedy for the people in this town located nearby the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. At the height of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the citizens of Namie were evacuated into the path of the nuclear plume and were thereafter scattered to languish in shelters outside the exclusionary zone, and still have not returned to their homes. Having been misinformed of the magnitude of the disaster at the most crucial time, haphazardly evacuated into the most highly radioactively contaminated area and now struggling to hold their community together in the face of economic hardship and the recalcitrance of government and nuclear industry officials, the town administration has turned to legal means to redress their suffering. For this event, the legal defense team that is negotiating an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) case on behalf of the Namie citizens will discuss the implications of this historic case for Japanese law and the nuclear industry.
Panel I – Takao Suami: Waseda Law School and Namie Town in Fukushima
Almost five years after the unprecedented earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11, 2011, many people in the affected areas are still suffering and striving to regain their normal life back. Within the Tohoku region, Fukushima’s situation is the most serious. Unlike other parts of the region, Fukushima has been widely and terribly contaminated by high-level radioactive substances released into the air by the meltdown of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant. From March 2012, a group of Japanese professors from the Waseda Law School in Tokyo has been providing legal assistance to the town hall of Namie, which is one of the local governments in the evacuation zone around the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. The Waseda project is a test case about how a Japanese law school can assist disaster victims. Through this project, these professors have found a couple of interesting phenomena about the role of law and lawyers in the Japanese society.
Panel II – Haruka Adachi: Activity of the Attorney Team for Namie Town ADR
Namie Town is located on the coast of Fukushima, where the entire population was forced to evacuate due to the radioactive fallout caused by the F1 blast. The Waseda Project attorney team filed an ADR against TEPCO at the end of 2013, in which 15,788 residents (73.7% of the total population) have become applicants. The ADR center proposed reconciliation agreement on March 20, 2014. However, TEPCO has yet to accept the Center’s proposal and has expressed their refusal repeatedly even until now.
Panel III – Eri Osaka: Fukushima Nuclear Damage Compensation System: Present Situation and Challenges
The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster caused severe damage to individuals and their communities. Expecting the massive compensation claims by the victims, the Government set up the Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation and the Dispute Settlement Center for Nuclear Damage Compensation for the purpose of promoting direct claim against TEPCO and ADR based on the committee’s compensation guidelines, while financially supporting TEPCO not to be bankrupt. Under the current no-fault nuclear damage compensation system based on the Act of Compensation for Nuclear Damage, TEPCO has paid out nearly six trillion yen to 2 million individuals and 393 thousand corporations and sole proprietors as of Feb. 2016. However, a considerable number of victims have been criticizing the system. Some filed Group ADRs to challenge the compensation guidelines. Others filed lawsuits to pursue the fault liability of TEPCO and the Government. Professor Osaka will discuss these ongoing issues on the Fukushima nuclear damage compensation system.
Professor of Law at Waseda Law School in Tokyo
Takao Suami is Professor of Law at Waseda Law School in Tokyo where he teaches European Union Law, International Business Transactions and Professional Responsibility. He was in charge of the Civil Justice Clinic and the first director of the Waseda Law School, Legal Clinic L.P.C. He was a Visiting Professor at Duke Law School in Durham, NC in 2007, and also a Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in Philadelphia, PA.
Attorney at law
Haruka Adachi is an attorney at law who graduated from Waseda Law School. She is a member of the attorney team for Namie Town ADR. The Great East Japan Earthquake and F1 blast occurred when she was a first-year law school student.
Professor of Law at Toyo University
Eri Osaka is a Professor of Law at Toyo University where she teaches Environmental Law, Torts, and Contracts. 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 publications include “Corporate Liability, Government Liability, and the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster,” 21 Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal 433 (2012). She received her LLM from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and joined the Penn Law SJD program in 2015. She also received her BA and MA in Law from Waseda University. Her dissertation project will explore disaster compensation from comparative perspectives.