Photo/Illutration Kazuyoshi Takahara, representative of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Rehabilitation Headquarters, center, apologizes to plaintiffs for the 2011 nuclear disaster at its office in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 5. (Yukiko Sakamoto)

FUTABA, Fukushima Prefecture--Tokyo Electric Power Co. apologized to a group of plaintiffs who won a damages suit against the utility for the first time under the name of its president.

“We sincerely apologize to you for upending your lives and causing irreparable mental and physical damage with the nuclear disaster,” TEPCO President Tomoaki Kobayakawa said in the statement.

The apology was read by Kazuyoshi Takahara, representative of the utility’s Fukushima Revitalization Headquarters in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, to some of the plaintiffs who visited on June 5. He bowed after reading the statement.

Kobayakawa was not among the TEPCO officials who received them.

The apology followed the Supreme Court’s decision in March that upheld the Sendai High Court's order for the utility to pay more compensation to the victims than outlined in the central government’s guidelines.

Naoko Kanai, who heads the group’s secretariat, said, “I would like to accept the apology and want to believe the words reflect the company’s determination to make efforts to restore the lives of the residents.”

But Tomio Kokubun, a deputy leader of the plaintiff group, blasted the absence of the TEPCO president when offering the apology.

"It shows a lack of common sense, given that the company caused an accident of such magnitude," he said.

The group of 216 plaintiffs sued the company for the “loss of their hometowns” after they were ordered to evacuate when the triple meltdown unfolded in March 2011 following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

The lawsuit was among about 30 similar lawsuits brought against TEPCO.