A Japanese court has ruled for the first time that the government bears partial responsibility for the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The court was responding to a case brought by a group of evacuees who had been forced to flee their homes.
It ruled that the disaster could have been averted if government regulators had ordered plant operator Tepco to take preventive safety measures.
The government and Tepco were both ordered to compensate the evacuees.
Around 80,000 people were forced to flee their homes when three reactors failed at the plant after a tsunami that struck six years ago.
It was the world’s most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
The district court in Maebashi, north of Tokyo, ruled in favour of 137 evacuees seeking damages for the emotional distress of fleeing their homes.
The parties were told to pay a total 38.6m yen ($341,000, £275,000) in compensation, far below the 1.5bn yen the group had sought.
A number of legal cases have already been filed against Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power) relating to the disaster, but this is the first time a court has recognised that the government was liable for negligence.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, declined to comment but said the ruling would have no impact on the country’s nuclear power policies.
Anti-nuclear sentiment runs high in Japan, but the government has been resolute in restarting reactors that were closed in the aftermath of the disaster.
Fukushima: Japan court finds government liable for nuclear disaster}