The operator of Japan's disaster-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant were sued by six young people on Thursday over claims that exposure to radiation after the plant's multiple meltdowns caused them to develop thyroid cancer.
They filed their lawsuit at the Tokyo District Court.
On March 11, 2011, when a huge earthquake-triggered tsunami led to one of the world's worst nuclear crises at the Fukushima plant, the plaintiffs, who are now aged between 17 and 27, were living in the Fukushima area.
The group's lead lawyer Kenichi Ido told local media that they filed a class-action lawsuit against the plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) on Thursday afternoon.
According to local reports, the plaintiffs are seeking compensation totaling 616 million yen (5.35 million U.S. dollars).
An expert panel compiled by the local government has said there is no causal link between radiation exposure from the disaster and thyroid cancer, while a report by the United Nations has said that the disaster had not directly affected the health of locals a decade after the incident.
Meanwhile, the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation concluded that the reason why a higher rate of thyroid cancer was being detected among children was probably due to more advanced diagnostics.
Ido maintains, however, that none of his plaintiffs' cancers were inherited and thus it is more than likely that exposure to radiation in the Fukushima region after the meltdowns was the cause of the thyroid cancers.
"Some plaintiffs have had difficulties advancing to higher education and finding jobs, and have even given up on their dreams for their future," Ido was quoted as saying.
The plaintiffs were aged between six and 16 at the time of the meltdowns and were diagnosed with thyroid cancer between 2012 and 2018.