Thousands sue nuclear giants over Japan Fukushima disaster

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A class action lawsuit against nuclear suppliers General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi has ballooned to more than 4,000 claimants who are seeking damages over the Fukushima atomic disaster, the lead lawyer said on Wednesday.

The claimants, hailing from Japan and 32 other countries including the United States, Germany and South Korea, want the US and Japanese nuclear power plant suppliers to pay compensation, lawyer Akihiro Shima told media in Tokyo.

His comments came one day after the third anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in a generation.

The filing — which asks for a largely symbolic 100 yen ($1) per claimant — was described by Shima as the first lawsuit to be brought against nuclear power-plant suppliers over the 2011 accident.

It alleges that the firms did not make necessary safety updates to the stricken site, which was swamped by an earthquake-sparked tsunami. Embattled plant operator Tokyo Electric Power is facing massive lawsuits and compensation costs.

“General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi failed to implement safety improvements to the four-decades old boiling water reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant,” a statement issued Wednesday alleged.

“The lawsuit is intended to bring attention to the system that protects the nuclear industry around the world,” it added.

The lawsuit was first filed in Tokyo District Court in January with just over 1,000 claimants, but many more have joined as word has spread.

Under Japanese law, nuclear plant suppliers are usually exempt from damage claims in the event of an accident.