Category: government

Japanese Court Opens Government and TEPCO to Further Fukushima Claims | World News

TOKYO (Reuters) – A Japanese appeal court on Wednesday ruled that the state and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) could have taken steps to prevent the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and are therefore liable for compensation claims.

The ruling by the Sendai High Court, which upholds a lower court decision, means the government and TEPCO must pay 1.01 billion yen ($9.6 million) to 3,550 plaintiffs forced to flee their homes after a magnitude 9 earthquake triggered a tsunami that devastated the country’s northeast and crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The ruling could open up the government to further damage claims because thousands of other residents evacuated as reactors at the coastal power station overheated and released a radioactive cloud. While some people have returned home, areas close to the plant are still off limits.

The court said that the government could have taken measures to protect the site, based on expert assessments available in 2002 that indicated the possibility of a tsunami of more than 15 metres, said NHK, which aired footage of the plaintiffs celebrating outside the court after the ruling.

The government has yet to say whether it will appeal against the decision in Japan’s Supreme Court.

“We will consider the ruling and take appropriate action,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at a news briefing after the ruling.

Officials at TEPCO were unavailable when Reuters tried to reach them outside regular business hours.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by David Goodman)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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India freezes Amnesty International bank accounts after reports critical of government

New Delhi — Global human rights organization Amnesty International has halted operations in India, accusing the government of an “incessant witch-hunt” and “constant harassment” over its reports criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. 

Indian authorities froze Amnesty’s bank accounts earlier this month for allegedly receiving foreign funds illegally, a charge the rights group denies. The organization said it had been forced to lay staff members off and pause its work in India because it could not access its funds. 

India Amnesty International
Amnesty International India employees work at their headquarters in Bangalore, India, in a February 5, 2019, file photo.  

Aijaz Rahi/AP


“India’s stature as a liberal democracy with free institutions, including media & civil society organizations, accounted for much of its soft power in the world. Actions like this both undermine our reputation as a democracy & vitiate our soft power,” Shashi Thraoor, a member of the opposition Indian National Congress party, said on Twitter about the government’s action against Amnesty.

“Guilty unless proven otherwise”

Amnesty’s bank accounts were frozen just days before the Indian government tightened up laws on foreign funding for non-governmental organizations. 

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) 2020, approved by India’s Parliament last week, gave the government sweeping new powers to cancel FCRA certificates issued to non-profit groups, prohibited the transfer of foreign funds to any other organization, put a cap on administrative expenses at 20%, and requires organizations to have a bank account in Delhi, among other restrictions. 

Major non-profit groups and social workers in India see the new law as a crackdown by the government, and warn it could cripple them as the Asian nation grapples with major economic, social and health challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic.  


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The Population Foundation of India (PFI), a non-profit that has promoted family planning, women’s empowerment and literacy in India for 50 years, warned that the new laws “will kill collaboration and cooperation amongst NGOs.” The organization said the government appeared to be “looking at all foreign contributions with suspicion,” which it said could damage India’s global reputation as a free democracy. 

“These amendments also assume that NGOs that are receiving foreign funds are guilty unless proven otherwise,” said Poonam Muttreja, executive director of the PFI. “We are here because of the failure of the executive and government, because they do not do their jobs and we come in to fill the gaps.”

“This is the worst possible time to hamper civil society… just when this country needs its entire civil society to work together with the private sector and the government to address the multiple problems that confront us,” the Voluntary Action Network India (VANI), an alliance of more than 550 non-profit groups in the country, said during a press conference last week


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Indian government data show there are more than 20,000 non-profit groups registered to receive foreign grants under the FCRA. Many of these organizations have worked for years with smaller

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