Skip to main content

Japanese kindergarten ordered to pay $1.8 million over tsunami deaths

By Peter Shadbolt, CNN
updated 12:55 AM EDT, Wed September 18, 2013
Police officers search for tsunami victims two years after the disaster in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture on March 11, 2013.
Police officers search for tsunami victims two years after the disaster in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture on March 11, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kindergarten ordered to pay $1.8 million to parents from four families
  • Sendai District Court told that staff sent children home on a bus straight into tsunami
  • Five children and one staff member on the bus were killed in the disaster in March 2011
  • The verdict is the first of its kind in Japan and is expected to affect other cases

(CNN) -- In the first ruling of its kind in Japan, a court has ordered a kindergarten to pay almost $2 million to the parents of four of five children who were killed after staff put them on a bus that drove straight into the path of an oncoming tsunami.

Sendai District Court ordered Hiyori Kindergarten to pay 177 million yen ($1.8M) to the parents of the children killed in the aftermath of the 2011 mega-quake that measured 9.0 on the Richter scale, according to court documents.

Chief judge Norio Saiki said in the verdict that staff at the kindergarten in Ishinomaki city, which suffered widespread destruction in the March, 2011, disaster, could have expected a large tsunami from such a powerful quake.

He said the staff did not fulfill their duties by collecting sufficient information for the safe evacuation of the children.

Concerns of water contamination in Japan
Sailboat hits Japanese tsunami debris

"The kindergarten head failed to collect information and sent the bus seaward, which resulted in the loss of the children's lives," Saiki was quoted as saying on public broadcaster NHK.

In the verdict he said the deaths could have been avoided if staff had kept the children at the school, which stood on higher ground, rather than sending them home and to their deaths.

The court heard how staff placed the children on the bus which then sped seaward. Five children and one staff member were killed when the bus, which also caught fire in the accident, was overtaken by the tsunami.

The parents had initially sought 267 million yen ($2.7 million) in damages. Local media reports said the decision was the first in Japan that compensated tsunami victims and was expected to affect other similar cases.

Ishinomaki was one of the worst-hit cities in the earthquake and tsunami which hit on March 11, 2011, killing 15,883 people.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:49 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
updated 2:12 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
updated 10:44 AM EDT, Sat September 20, 2014
 Tennis Player Li Na attends the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party as guests enjoy Ciroc Vodka presented by Dubai Duty Free at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 19, 2014 in London,
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
Jenson Button has some of quickest reactions ever shown at an advanced sports lab.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT