Group to monitor trial of former TEPCO executives to clarify truth about Fukushima disaster

From Asahi Shimbun

By MASAKAZU HONDA/ Staff Writer

January 27, 2016

Lawyers, journalists and scientists will form a group to help expose the truth and spread details about the Fukushima nuclear disaster during the criminal trial of three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co.

“We will encourage the court to hold a fair trial while transmitting information regarding the trial across the nation,” said an official of the planned organization, whose name is translated as “support group for the criminal procedure on the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.”

Tsunehisa Katsumata, former chairman of TEPCO, the operator of the crippled plant, and two former vice presidents, Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro, face mandatory charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury.

Although the trial is still months away, 33 people are now setting up the group, including Ruiko Muto, who heads an organization pursuing the criminal responsibility of TEPCO and government officials for the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Tetsuji Imanaka, an assistant professor of nuclear engineering at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, and Norma Field, a professor emeritus of East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago, have also joined.

Three reactors melted down at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11, 2011. A number of hospital patients died in the chaotic evacuation.

About 14,000 residents of Fukushima Prefecture filed a criminal complaint against TEPCO executives, government officials and scientists in 2012, saying they were aware of the dangers to the Fukushima nuclear plant from a tsunami, but they failed in their responsibility to take proper countermeasures.

Tokyo prosecutors twice decided not to indict the three former TEPCO executives. However, the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, a panel of citizens, decided to forcibly indict the three in July last year.

“It has been almost five years since the disaster, but many details, including their foreseeability of the tsunami, remain unclear,” said science writer Takashi Soeda, one of the group’s co-founders. “As TEPCO has not unveiled a sufficient amount of information even in inquiries conducted by the Diet and the government or in civil lawsuits, the truth must be uncovered through the legal force of a criminal trial.”

Five lawyers appointed by the Tokyo District Court will act as prosecutors in the trial.

Legal experts expect the lawyers will indict the former TEPCO executives and release a statement naming the victims around March 11, the fifth anniversary of the triple disaster that still haunts the Tohoku region.

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Charges near for former TEPCO executives over Fukushima nuclear disaster

From Asahi Shimbun

February 26, 2016

Lawyers on Feb. 29 are expected to indict three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. on charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury in connection with the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The indictment mandated by a citizens panel will be filed at the Tokyo District Court by lawyers serving as prosecutors.

Tsunehisa Katsumata, a 75-year-old former TEPCO chairman, and two former vice presidents, Sakae Muto, 65, and Ichiro Takekuro, 69, led the utility when the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, triggered the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The indictment will say the three former executives were aware that such a large tsunami could strike the coast of the Tohoku region, but they did not take measures to protect the nuclear plant.

The indictment will also argue that their failure to carry out their professional duties led to the deaths of patients at hospitals in mandatory evacuation zones as well as injuries to other residents during the evacuation.

A criminal complaint was filed against the three former executives by residents and citizens groups.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office in September 2013 decided not to indict the former executives, saying it was difficult for TEPCO to forecast such a large-scale natural disaster hitting the nuclear plant.

However, the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution in July 2014 overrode the prosecutors’ decision, and sent the case back to them for a further look.

But the prosecutors again decided not to indict the three.

The citizens panel in July 2015 again overrode the decision, saying the three former executives should face mandatory indictment and be tried in court.

Court-appointed lawyers will serve as the prosecutors in the trial.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201602260087

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