SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The fallout from Japan's nuclear disaster has hit home as the former Japanese prime minister and U.S. Sailors file a lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Company.
In 2011, with more than 5,000 sailors on board, the San Diego-based USS Ronald Reagan was deployed to provide aid after a tsunami hit Japan and also set off meltdowns at a nuclear plant. The USS Reagan sailed through a nuclear plume and crews had to spend hours decontaminating the vessel.
Sailors now say they are suffering from radiation exposure.
"Honestly, I just want to feel better," said Chad Holt, who served on the USS Ronald Reagan.
Recently, former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi listened to 10 sailors talk about health issues since "Operation Tomodachi." The sailors said they're honored to have another advocate on their side.
"A lot of people, they can't physically see something wrong with you. They think there is nothing wrong with you. That is not the case what we are living with on a daily basis," said Daniel Hair, who is now retired from the Navy.
For years, Koizumi supported nuclear power, but when he retired he became an advocate of independence from nuclear energy.
"I realized this is something that can't be skipped over, can't be ignored any longer. The three claims of being safe, cheap and clean were all lies," he said.
More than 400 sailors and service members are charging Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, of not being truthful about the level of radiation in the atmosphere after the disaster.
Medical experts believe there is no direct connection between the radiation exposure and the illnesses presented by the sailors.
The Navy would not comment pending litigation, but a judge has ruled in favor of the sailors. TEPCO has filed an appeal with the 9th Circuit Court.