Сourt rules on Fukushima nuclear disaster
Tokyo District Court ruled on Wednesday that four former managers of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) must pay ¥13.32 trillion ($97 billion) in damages to the company over the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, local media outlets report.
According to the Japan Times, the lawsuit was filed by a large group of shareholders against five senior TEPCO executives. The plaintiffs argued that they had failed to take adequate measures to mitigate the fallout from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami which led to three reactor meltdowns.
Only four of the defendants were found liable, including Tsunehisa Katsumata, the former chairman; Masataka Shimizu, the TEPCO chief executive and president from 2008 to 2011; and two former vice presidents, Ichiro Takekuro, and Sakae Muto.
The only person found not to have been at fault was Akio Komori, who was the director of the Fukushima plant in 2011.
The ruling said that TEPCO’s steps to brace for the tsunami “fundamentally lacked safety awareness and a sense of responsibility.” The court also said that the disaster might have been avoided if the company’s management had performed some construction work to prevent flooding in certain areas.
“All technology is at risk for human error. But nuclear power plants can cause irreparable damage to human lives and the environment,” the plaintiffs said after the court delivered its verdict. “Executives for firms that operate such nuclear plants bear enormous responsibility, which cannot compare with that of other companies.”
Although the defendants were ordered to pay a good deal of compensation, three of them, including Katsumata, Takekuro, and Muto, had already been cleared of criminal responsibility by the same court in September 2019.
The Fukushima nuclear accident took place in 2011 after the 9.0-magnitude Tohoku earthquake and a subsequent devastating tsunami hit the plant. This led to a catastrophic meltdown, becoming the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl incident.