Tokyo court clears former Tepco executives of negligence over Fukushima disaster

TOKYO (Reuters) – A Tokyo court cleared on Thursday three former Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) executives of negligence for the 2011 Fukushima disaster, the one prison case to come up out of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Women maintain banners studying “Everyone is not guilty, unjust sentence” in entrance of Tokyo District Court in Tokyo, Japan on this photograph taken by Kyodo September 19, 2019. Mandatory credit score Kyodo/by way of REUTERS

Former Tepco Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and one-time executives Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro had been all discovered not responsible by the Tokyo District Court. Dressed in darkish fits and ties the defendants sat in silence as Presiding Judge Kenichi Nagafuchi learn the judgment.

A girl sitting within the public gallery, the place about 100 folks had been seated, shouted “unbelievable”, on listening to the decision. Outside the court had been displaced residents and protesters.

The trial, which began in June 2017, was carried out by state-appointed attorneys after prosecutors determined to not carry expenses. Legal consultants had stated it was unlikely the three former executives of Japan’s largest energy supplier could be discovered responsible, given prosecutors had determined to not take the case to trial.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station, situated about 220 km (130 miles) northeast of Tokyo, was rocked by a magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011, sparking three reactor meltdowns and prompting Japan to close down its whole fleet of nuclear reactors.

More than 160,000 residents fled close by cities within the aftermath as radiation from the reactors contaminated water, meals and air.

Lawyers performing as prosecutors stated the three executives had entry to information and research anticipating the danger to the world from a tsunami exceeding 10 meters (33 ft) in peak that would set off an influence loss and trigger a nuclear disaster.

Judge Nagafuchi dominated that to carry the executives liable for prison negligence the prosecuting attorneys needed to show it was attainable to foretell tsunamis.

Nagafuchi stated that, whereas the executives could have been conscious of the danger of a significant tsunami earlier than the disaster, it was not established that they might have accomplished preventative measures in time.

A fee appointed by Japan’s parliament concluded in 2012 that Fukushima “was a profoundly manmade disaster – that could and should have been foreseen and prevented, (while) its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response.”

In 2016, the federal government estimated the full value of plant dismantling, decontamination of affected areas and compensation could be 21.5 trillion yen ($199 billion), or a couple of fifth of Japan’s annual finances.

Prosecutors cited inadequate proof when declining to carry expenses, however a civilian judiciary panel twice voted to indict the executives, overruling the dedication to not go to trial.

Citizen judiciary panels, chosen by lottery, are a not often used function of Japan’s authorized system launched after World War Two to curb bureaucratic overreach.

Reporting by Tim Kelly; Writing by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Christopher Cushing

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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