【PART 2】 The Mystery of Fukushima: Why Japan Cannot Stop Nuclear Power Plants?

 

5】 The “governing act doctrine” is also used for lawsuits over NPPs

 

I cannot think of any explanation for these ridiculous judgments other than the “governing act doctrine.” This conclusion is based on my examination of stacks of studies regarding cases about U.S. bases in Okinawa. When you read the verdict by the Sendai High Court, you can see that someone involved tried to write a “proper verdict.” I can’t otherwise explain why someone added that “there is no need to take any administrative measures” when “there is fear of serious damage to the lives, bodies and health of people, especially children.”

So far, residents have won in only three lawsuits involving NPPs.

The first, the only judgment by a High Court ruling in favor of residents, was written by Chief Judge Kazuo Kawasaki, a judge at the Kanazawa branch of the Nagoya High Court at that time. This ruling invalidated an NPP construction permit.(*1)

In answer to a question by an Asahi Shimbun reporter, Judge Kawasaki stated that there were some people who thought the “governing act doctrine” should be applied to the cases on NPP, though he didn’t think so. (Nuclear Power Plant and Judge – Kentaro Isomura/ Eiji Yamaguchi by Asahi Shimbun Publisher)

The next ruling, by Chief Judge Kenichi Ido of the Kanazawa District Court, was the first verdict by a district court in favor of the residents. It stopped the operation of an NPP.(*2) Judge Ido is currently working with attorney Toshio Yanagihara on the mass evacuation lawsuit.

The third ruling in favor of the residents, by Chief Judge Hideaki Higuchi of the Fukui District Court, granted an injunction blocking the restarting of the operation of Ohi NPP units three and four. This was on May 21, 2014.(*3)

This judgment gave great courage to people. Under the Abe administration’s overwhelming promotion of the restarting of NPP operations, it had become difficult for people to express anxiety and resentment toward NPPs. This verdict, however, especially in making reference to the case of Chernobyl, expressed such emotions in a logical and dignified way.

The ruling states, “It is not just an optimistic but an ungrounded view that any earthquake greater than the size of standard seismic motion, which is set at 700 gal at the maximum by Kansai Electric Power (KEPCO), would not hit the Ohi NPP in earthquake-prone Japan,” and “This court thinks that it is not legally correct to argue over the rights that affect a great number of people’s lives and how high or low electricity charges are on the same footing, nor to judge if the argument is right or not (as KEPCO did).”

This was an outstanding judicial decision. It restored our belief in a Japanese administration of justice that was not yet dead. Unfortunately, however, there is little possibility — within the current legal structure — that it will affect policies of the government or even KEPCO. People know well that it will be reversed by the Supreme Court.

 

*1 ・・・ Second trial over Monju NPP in 2003. At the Supreme Court two years later, the residents lost against Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corp.
*2 ・・・ First trial over Hokuriku Electric Power Co. and Shika NPP unit two in 2006. The residents were defeated at the appeal trial three years later.
*3 ・・・ First trial over injunction blocking the restarting of the operation of Ohi NPP units three and four in 2014.