Suicides among the elderly are relatively high in Japan, with WHO statistics showing that in 2009, suicides in the 75+ age group accounted for over 10% of the total number of suicides.
But when a 102-year old man committed suicide in Fukushima the day after his village was declared part of the evacuation zone in April 2011, his family did not see his death as being a straightforward suicide. So now they are suing TEPCO, the beleaguered company who ran the Fukushima nuclear plant, for 60,000,000 yen — that’s almost $500,000.
But what price will a court put on a 102 year old life? And what difference will all that money make to the family’s grief? Netizens aren’t quite sure.
From Yahoo! Japan:
102 Year Old man Commits Suicide, Family Sue TEPCO For Compensation
On July 27, it was revealed during an interview with the legal team representing the family of Ogikubo Fumio, that three of Ogikubo’s relatives, who had been preparing to sue TEPCO would lodge a case with the Fukushima district court on July 29 asking for around 60000000 yen in compensation from the company, claiming that the reason that 102 year old Ogikubo Fumio committed suicide in Iitate Village in April 2011 was because of the nuclear accident. This is the fourth case where a family have sued TEPCO claiming that the cause of suicide for a family member was the nuclear accident.
The family members who are bringing the suit are Ogikubo Mieko (62), the wife of Fumio’s eldest son, Ichio (deceased), and Fumio’s two grandchildren.
According to Ogikubo Mieko and the legal team, at dawn on April 12 2011, the day after he discovered that his village had been designated as part of the planned evacuation zone, Fumio committed suicide by hanging himself at his home.
Fumio is said to have had no physical handicaps, and was a happy, healthy individual who was even able to prepare his own meals and dress himelf. On April 11, the day before he committed suicide, he mentioned as he saw on the news that his village was to be part of the evacuate zone that “I suppose I’ll have to leave here. But this is where I want to be. I guess I’ve lived a little too long, huh”.
Ogikubo Mieko stated that “Had there been no nuclear accident, then I can’t help but think that he’d still be here, healthy. Precisely because he was elderly meant that every second was precious to him. I want to get justice for him”.
Comments from Yahoo! Japan:
碓井 真史: (Professor at Niigata Seiryo University Graduate School (Psychology))
When compared with the death of a young person, we feel that with the death of an elderly person they have at least “lived a full life”. However, even if someone dies at 100, the family of the deceased will wish that the person had been able to live a year, even six months more. If the person commits suicide following an incident and does not die from illness, then the family feel this all the more. For the elderly, sudden changes in their environment, such as moving home, cause far greater stress than they do for young people. Suicide among the elderly is frequently a suicide of realization. If their remaining years are going to make them suffer psychologically, then they feel that they’d rather die now. They also feel the burden of being a nuisance to those around them.
The compensation paid out in cases of elderly deaths where the person was in their 70s or 80s is higher than ever before (in a traffic accident, it is around 20000000 — 30000000 yen). In a judgement from June where a 67 year old man had committed suicide following the nuclear accident, TEPCO was ordered to pay around 27000000 yen in compensation from a suit asking for 87000000 yen. Looking at things like this, it does not seem so nonsensical to ask for damages of 60000000 yen in this case; however, what will the court think of a 102 year old life?
His son’s wife…
Sorry, but it doesn’t seem like they’ll be able to earn 60000000 yen from a 102 year old, and I feel somewhat uncomfortable that you get a high amount of damages when they consider age.
Usually this kind of article wouldn’t have a comments section. Is Yahoo trying to cause trouble and get people saying stuff like “Why they hell are people suing for 60000000 yen in damages for a 102 year old”?
This happened four years ago so why now?
And why, even though the guy’s son is also dead, is the son’s wife doing it??
Is it just me who thinks this seems like this is a ruse for the victim industry of a certain country?
It’s tragic that he committed suicide but they are going way overboard with 60000000 yen.
It’s wrong to go shouting the odds about stuff like this, but personally, I think that to be 102 and to be able to decide how you go is not so bad.
102 years old…I don’t think it would be at all strange to call his relatives money-grabbing bastards.
Looks like the old boy had anticipated that he’d bring in a good income.
Do they want money that much?
Isn’t he the oldest suicide in history?
Sorry, but this just seems like they’re in it for the money.
60000000 yen??? Way too dumb. Is this a victim business…?
If the old man had left something written somewhere saying “please sue TEPCO for me” then I guess…but even if you assume that someone would make 3,000,000 yen a year, then after 20 years that would be 60000000 yen…and this eldest son’s wife who’s suing, she’s going to be over 80 in 20 years’ time…I guess that her plan is that if she gets that much then she’ll be able to live out the rest of her days with no worries…but she shouldn’t think like that.
I mean of course she wants to get justice for the old man, but I don’t think she can get justice through money.
Well they’ve discovered an amazing trade there. The very thought of it is something gangsters would do.
Well these days it seems that people will sue for anything.
It’s not that I don’t get how they must feel, but this is going too far.
His son’s wife? She’s not even a blood relation. And the grandsons are just doing as they’re told I guess.
Is this a business?
Umm, TEPCO can’t keep on paying out, it’s not like they have an inexhaustible supply of money!