TEPCO executives acquitted in Tokyo District Court over Fukushima Nuclear Plant crisis
Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The brutal earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011, triggered the devastating tsunami that killed just below 18,500 people. Another horrendous consequence was the Fukushima reactor crisis after the tsunami devastated this nuclear plant.
Of course, in terms of death then this belongs to the tsunami. However, in relation to the environment then the radiation leak remains a major problem today, despite the passing of eight years. Equally, nobody is sure about the long-term impact of the crisis on the health of people caught up in the crisis. After all, clusters of cancer and other health problems may show up in the future to a degree that is unimagined.
Hence, many people affected by the crisis had hoped that people responsible for the widespread negligence would be held accountable. Yet, in the years following little was done to prosecute anyone and proposed criminal charges were dropped on two occasions against TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co.) executives. At the same time, no political accountability was forthcoming centrally or locally.
However, the tenaciousness of people affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis eventually led to a court case. This began in the middle of 2017. However, the verdict announced acquitted all three executives despite the obvious failure of TEPCO – and others in the chain.
Voice of America stipulates, “Prosecutors had accused former TEPCO chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and former vice presidents Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro of professional negligence for failing to act on studies that showed Fukushima could be at risk from the threat of a tsunami. The trio was also accused of causing the deaths of more than 40 people who died after having been forced to evacuate the area near the plant.”
The BBC reports, “The accident led to a complete shutdown of all nuclear reactors in the country. Despite widespread anti-nuclear sentiment, several reactors have since resumed operations after passing special safety checks.”
Sadly, like Saki Okawara notified AFP, if nobody is held accountable then “Japanese society’s culture of no-one taking responsibility will continue.”
Meanwhile, in 2019, the government of Japan is still debating what to do when the storage space of contaminated water runs out in 2022. It seems that some seek to dump the contaminated water into the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. However, no firm decision is forthcoming and international pressure may ensue – along with internal pressure from Japanese fisherman groups in the area blighted by the nuclear crisis.
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