Photo/Illutration Plaintiffs head to the Supreme Court on June 17 to hear the ruling about compensation obligations related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. (Yosuke Fukudome)

The Supreme Court on June 17 ruled the central government was not obligated to compensate people who fled from their homes following the 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The decision confirmed that nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. alone was required to compensate the evacuees.

The ruling by the Second Petty Bench covers four separate lawsuits and will likely affect others awaiting a ruling by the top court.

A total of 32 lawsuits involving around 12,000 plaintiffs have been filed by evacuees seeking compensation from TEPCO and the central government.

The June 17 ruling covers lawsuits submitted in district courts in Fukushima, Gunma, Chiba and Ehime prefectures.

The Supreme Court decision finalized high court rulings in March that ordered TEPCO to pay additional compensation totaling about 1.45 billion yen ($10.8 million) to about 3,700 plaintiffs.

High court rulings were divided on the central government’s responsibility. Rulings in the Fukushima, Chiba and Ehime lawsuits found the central government was liable, but the state was not obligated to pay compensation in the Gunma lawsuit.