FUKUSHIMA – A criminal complaint was filed by 13,000 people nationwide Thursday against 33 senior officials of Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the government’s now-defunct Nuclear Safety Commission over the meltdown disaster at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant that was triggered by the March 11, 2011 megaquake and tsunami.
In the complaint filed with prosecutors, the 13,000 demanded that the accused be investigated and charged with professional negligence resulting in death and injury.
The complaint was the second filed, following one made in June by 1,300 people mainly from Fukushima Prefecture.
Among the accused was Tsunehisa Katsumata, who was Tepco chairman at the time the crisis erupted.
The plaintiffs blame their exposure to radiation on the officials. Their complaint also focuses on people who died, for whatever reason, while working at the stricken nuclear plant, and local residents who committed suicide after being forced to evacuate.
In the earlier complaint, Tepco and the nuclear commission officials were accused of neglecting to take antidisaster measures, despite the frequency of earthquakes in Japan and the tsunami threat that experts pointed to.
The Fukushima District Public Prosecutor’s Office accepted that complaint in August.
The Tokyo, Kanazawa and Nagoya district public prosecutor’s offices have also accepted similar complaints.
Katsumata, who served as Tepco president between 2002 and 2008, resigned as Tepco chairman last June, while the Nuclear Safety Commission was succeeded by the independent Nuclear Regulation Authority, in September.
According to the Penal Code, those who fail to exercise due care and thereby cause the death or injury of another face up to five years in prison or a fine of up to ¥1 million.
It has been widely reported that Tepco was well aware of the tsunami threat at Fukushima No. 1 but failed to boost the plant’s defenses. Two workers were found drowned, apparently by the tsunami, in a reactor building basement. Other workers dealing with the subsequent meltdown crisis have died, but to date no fatalities have been directly attributed to radiation exposure.