On April 28, the Tokyo High Court handed down its verdict on the late Mitsuaki Nagao's claim for damages against Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). Nagao's family had appealed a May 23, 2008 decision by the Tokyo District Court (see NIT 125 and NIT 127).
Tokyo High Court Judge Kaoru Aoyagi took less than a minute to dismiss the appeal, saying only, "The case is dismissed. Court costs are awarded against the plaintiff." The three judges then stood up and walked out, as if they were fleeing the scene of a crime. The plaintiff's supporters were left to read the written text to discover the reasons for the verdict.
The High Court accepted the diagnosis that Nagao suffered from multiple myeloma. In so doing, it overturned an appalling judgment by District Court Judge Hidetaka Matsui and totally refuted the claims of TEPCO and its multiple myeloma expert, Dr Kazuyuki Shimizu. On four occasions Shimizu presented written opinions which distorted international diagnostic standards in order to avoid the multiple myeloma diagnosis.
However, the High Court jumped to the conclusion that there was not a high probability that Nagao's condition was caused by his exposure to radiation while working in nuclear power plants. It accepted that there was epidemiological evidence in Nagao's favor, but said that there were views both for and against this evidence and that the causes of multiple myeloma are unclear. It also said that in Nagao's case it was possible that the cause of his condition was old age.
Nagao's family has decided to fight on. They appealed to the Supreme Court on May 7. CNIC hopes to keep NIT readers informed of developments.
Mikiko Watanabe (CNIC)