Photo/IllutrationPlaintiffs celebrate the Fukushima District Court's ruling against the government and TEPCO on Oct. 10. (Toshiyuki Hayashi)

FUKUSHIMA--A court here on Oct. 10 held the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. responsible for the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and ordered them to pay compensation to about 2,900 evacuees.

The Fukushima District Court, in awarding 500 million yen ($4.4 million) in total damages, acknowledged that the two defendants failed in their responsibility to prevent the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that struck in March 2011.

The 3,800 plaintiffs, most of whom were residents of Fukushima Prefecture, had sought a total of about 16 billion yen in compensation, arguing that the nuclear disaster deprived them of their daily lives in their hometowns.

The plaintiffs also demanded TEPCO, operator of the nuclear plant, and the government restore their living environments to pre-disaster levels. The district court turned down that request.

About 30 similar group lawsuits have been filed throughout the country in relation to the nuclear accident.

The Fukushima District Court’s ruling was the third. The Maebashi District Court on March 17 also ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and held both TEPCO and the government responsible.

The Chiba District Court on Sept. 22, however, held only TEPCO accountable for the disaster.

Of the 3,800 plaintiffs in the lawsuit at the Fukushima District Court, about 10 percent were living in areas where government evacuation orders were issued.

Most of the remaining plaintiffs were residents in other parts of Fukushima Prefecture where evacuation orders were not issued. Some of the plaintiffs lived in the neighboring prefectures of Miyagi, Ibaraki and Tochigi.