Thursday, July 6, 2017

Criminal Trial Begin For Ex-Tepco Executives Six Years After 3.11 Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

On Friday, June 30th, the Tokyo District Court held the first hearing of the criminal trial against former Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) executives over the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. The trial comes six years after the disaster, which resulted in the loss of livelihoods and assets for many of Fukushima’s residents, including those forcibly ordered to leave their homes. Given the massive scale and widespread impact of the disaster, it seemed an immediate investigation by police and public prosecutors was in order. Instead, Japanese law enforcement agencies—as if under orders from pro-nuclear forces within the government—did not pursue the matter despite public calls for an investigation. Without any recourse, survivors of the nuclear disaster took to filing several class-action lawsuits against Tepco. The prosecutors continued, however, to refuse pressing criminal charges against Tepco executives, ignoring the violation of basic human rights of Fukushima’s residents. After a prolonged battle to bring the case to court, the survivors’ grievances were finally accepted by the committee for inquest of prosecution, which oversees cases dropped by prosecutors, and prompted a criminal trial that will determine whether ex-Tepco executives are liable for professional negligence in the 2011 disaster (TERAHIMA Shigehiro).



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