Court dismisses damages suit against kindergarten by families of children killed by tsunami


The Sendai District Court in Miyagi Prefecture has turned down a suit for damages filed against a kindergarten by the families of two children who died when the tsunami engulfed the kindergarten in the town of Yamamoto.

The families had filed the 88 million yen damages suit against the kindergarten, claiming staff were negligent in not moving the children to higher ground immediately after a tsunami warning was issued. Fuji TV reported that the children were told to wait in the school yard for further instructions for more than an hour after the alert.

The tsunami hit the school, which was on flat land about a 1/2/ kilometers from the coast, 75 minutes after the quake struck.

Presiding Judge Maki Yamada dismissed the family's lawsuit on Monday, pointing out that there was no way for anyone to know at the time how big the tsunami was or that it would reach the kindergarten.

The ruling is the second case involving kindergarten children who died in the tsunami.

Last September, a court in Miyagi ordered a kindergarten in Ishinomaki to pay 170 million yen in damages to parents of four children who died after being put on a bus that drove toward the incoming tsunami.

In that case, staff at Hiyori Kindergarten, which sits on a hill, sent children home on a route that took them toward the sea. Five children and one woman were killed when the bus was engulfed by the huge waves that swept over the seaside road as the bus was trying to turn around. The driver survived the tsunami.

The kindergarten had argued it was impossible to know there would be such a big tsunami and the decision to send children home had been sound.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

I wonder, 6 months on, if those families who received cash payouts from the Ishinomaki kindergarten feel any better; any sense of release. And do the rest of the adults involved feel any less horrible.

I don't know the geography around this school, but seeing as most coasts got the brunt of the tsunami around 30 minutes after the quake, and it took 75 minutes for that one to get hit, I'm guessing they got caught in backwash from upstream rather than from the ocean-side. If that's what happened here, as it did in some places, it may have been that the area was never considered an "inundation area", which would explain the ruling.

I do wish JT would give us more of the judges opinions so we didn't have to assume and argue here.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Such a hard decision. It's really a no-win situation. This kindergarten waited for further instructions. Should they have sent the kids home? Maybe. But would they still be alive today? Who knows.

The bus driver one - that's a no-win situation either. I mean, he was instructed to drive the kids home. The kindergarten probably decided the kids should be with their family. What if they kept the kids and went a different direction? Would they still be alive? Maybe. Maybe not. What if they went a different direction but the kids died anyway? Then they'd be sued for not sending the kids home. Either way, the driver has to live with this for the rest of his life.

Both situations are very, very sad. I can't even imagine what they are going through...All I can do is pray that their hearts heal.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I really don't like this, if there was a warning to move to high ground, listen and follow it, don't think, just do, you are not an expert in tsunami's listen to what the professionals are telling you.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The story is incomplete - for the bus incident, the school rules were that the children were to wait at the school for their parents. The principal ignored the rules, put the kids on the bus, and they died.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's very pathetic for the innocent children to face that fate. My condolence to the affected families.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A master once said that to me, the problem with comprehension is, it often comes too late, this devastating tragedy is still claiming victims, I wish these families closure, and would in a instance share whatever I have, but I feel it would not relieve their distress.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites