Passivity toward negligence

Tokyo

Congratulations to The Japan Times for the editorial insight and courage to print William Pesek’s March 10 article, “>Japan’s nuclear mobsters don’t share tsunami pain.” I also want to congratulate Pesek on his analysis and evaluation of the causes and responsibilities for the catastrophe of March 11, 2011, and its handling. I share many of Pesek’s views on accountability.

I would first like to emphasize the need to investigate, without any further delay, suspicions of at least criminal negligence in the thousands of deaths, health damage or the risk of future health damage to a very large number of people, and property damage of huge proportions in the private sector and in the public sector at all levels. It is up to Japan’s legal system to determine who is responsible for what damage, and whether he or she should be punished by criminal law, civil law (compensation) or both.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s view, as cited in the article, that no individual can be held responsible for the nuclear fallout is legally irrelevant because he is not a judge charged with overseeing this case. Still, his expressed view could be counterproductive because, as far as I know, neither the police nor prosecutors have yet started any proceedings or investigations against any possible suspects, and may feel encouraged by Noda’s statements to continue their incomprehensible passivity.

For example, why was there only a wall to protect reactors at Fukushima against a six-meter-high tsunami when there are records of a 12-meter tsunami in the area? Who was responsible for that decision? Why did supervisory authorities still permit the construction and operation of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant? Who was responsible for granting that permission? These questions should give a sufficient prod to police or prosecutors to start investigations.

I have lived in Tokyo since 1967, worked as Far East correspondent for the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and am a lawyer by training.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

gebhard hielscher