Damages Ruling Fixed over Child Deaths in March 2011 Tsunami


Tokyo, Oct. 11 (Jiji Press)--Japan's Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal against a high court ruling that ordered local authorities to pay damages over the deaths of elementary school children in the March 2011 massive tsunami.

This is the first top court-fixed ruling acknowledging flaws in prior disaster prevention measures among lawsuits filed over the tsunami from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck on March 11, 2011.

The Supreme Court's First Petty Bench has not released details of its ruling, dated Thursday, that dismissed the appeal filed by Miyagi Prefecture and Ishinomaki, a city in the northeastern Japan prefecture. Still, the finalized ruling is expected to have repercussions on schools across the country as it suggests that school operators have a major responsibility for safety management.

In the lawsuit filed by bereaved relatives of 23 students of now-defunct Okawa Elementary School in the city, Sendai High Court in April 2018 ordered the city and prefectural governments to pay a total of 1,436 million yen in damages. Seventy-four students and 10 staff members of the school were killed in the tsunami.

Sendai District Court found in October 2016 that the school staff could not necessarily have predicted tsunami damage to the school in advance, noting that the school was not included in areas with risks of flooding on a tsunami hazard map created by local authorities. The court thus did not recognize a flaw in the municipally run school's antidisaster measures.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press