February 28, 2016 – Three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. will be indicted Monday for allegedly failing to take measures to prevent the tsunami-triggered crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, a lawyer in charge of the case said Friday.
The three, who will face charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury, are Tsunehisa Katsumata, 75, chairman of TEPCO at the time, and two former vice presidents — Sakae Muto, 65, and Ichiro Takekuro, 69.
Prosecutors decided not to indict the three in September 2013, but the decision was overturned in July 2015 by an independent committee of citizens that mandated the three be charged on the grounds they were able to foresee the risks of a major tsunami prior to the disaster.
Source close to the matter said the three will be indicted without being taken into custody.
But the trial to look into the criminal responsibility of the then key TEPCO figures is unlikely to start by the end of the year, as preparations to sort out evidence and points of issues apparently require a considerable amount of time, they said.
At the six-reactor plant located on the Pacific coast, tsunamis triggered by the massive earthquake on March 11, 2011, flooded power supply facilities and crippled reactor cooling systems. The Nos. 1 to 3 reactors suffered fuel meltdowns, while hydrogen explosions damaged the buildings housing the No. 1, 3 and 4 units.
The Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution has said the former executives received a report by June 2009 that the plant could be hit by tsunami as high as 15.7 meters and that they “failed to take pre-emptive measures knowing the risk of a major tsunami.”
It also blamed the three for the injuries of 13 people, including Self-Defense Forces members, when hydrogen explosions occurred at the plant and the death of 44 hospital patients who evacuated amid harsh conditions.
A group of Fukushima citizens and other people filed a criminal complaint in 2012 against dozens of government and TEPCO officials over their responsibility in connection with what became one of the world’s worst nuclear crises.
But as prosecutors decided not to file charges on them, including then Prime Minister Naoto Kan, the group narrowed down its target and asked the committee to examine whether the prosecutors’ decision was appropriate.