original article: http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201602290064
Three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. will finally have to explain in court their actions–or inaction–in relation to the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant five years ago.
Court-appointed lawyers serving as prosecutors filed indictments at the Tokyo District Court on Feb. 29 against the three former executives on charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury.
Former TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 75, and two former vice presidents, Sakae Muto, 65, and Ichiro Takekuro, 69, are accused of failing to implement safety measures despite being aware of the possibility that such an accident could unfold at the utility’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
The indictment says the three knew beforehand that a tsunami exceeding 10 meters could hit the plant, flood a reactor building, cause a loss of electric power, and lead to an explosion. But they still did not take adequate measures to safeguard the plant.
The Fukushima No. 1 plant is located 10 meters above sea level.
A tsunami greater than 10 meters did hit the plant site following the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. The waves flooded reactor buildings, knocked out power and caused hydrogen gas explosions.
A number of patients at hospitals in the vicinity of the stricken nuclear plant died or were injured in the subsequent evacuation. The indictment said the three former executives should be held criminally responsibility for these deaths and injuries.
The three former executives are expected to plead innocent at their trial.
However, the trial is expected to bring into the open internal TEPCO documents that have not been released until now.
After a criminal complaint was submitted by residents and citizens groups, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office decided in September 2013 not to indict the former executives, citing the difficulty in predicting such an accident.
However, in July 2014, the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution 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.
In July 2015, the inquest committee handed down a second decision stating the three former executives should be indicted because “they bore the obligation to hold a high level of attention in order to prepare against the remote chance of an accident.”
Before they submitted the indictment to the court, the five court-appointed lawyers serving as prosecutors read over the former executives’ responses to questioning by prosecutors.
TEPCO issued a statement on Feb. 29 saying it would refrain from commenting on a legal case.