TEPCO apologizes to family of centenarian over suicide after nuke mishap

6 April 2018

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) apologized on April 5 to the family of a man who killed himself at the age of 102 following forced evacuation from his home after the 2011 nuclear accident at the utility’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Three senior TEPCO officials visited the home of Fumio Okubo in Iitate village, Fukushima Prefecture, and offered an apology to Mieko Okubo, 65, the wife of his second son. She was the plaintiff in a ruling handed down on Feb. 20 by the Fukushima District Court that linked Fumio’s suicide to the nuclear disaster and ensuing mandatory evacuation from Iitate. The court ordered TEPCO to pay his family 15.2 million yen in damages.

Michitaka Kondo, deputy representative of TEPCO’s Fukushima Revitalization Headquarters and deputy head of its Fukushima main office, and two other officials carried a basket of flowers with them as they entered Okubo’s house. “We profoundly regret forcing Fumio-san to make such a heart-wrenching decision and we are terribly sorry. We will reflect on ourselves,” Kondo told Mieko as he bowed before her after offering incense in the family's Buddhist altar room.

Holding a portrait of the deceased with both hands, Mieko said quietly: “I think grandpa (Fumio) must be glad to have you come all the way to Iitate where he lived until after turning 100.”

(Translated by Kyodo)