Kan, Tepco execs won’t face negligence charges

Kyodo, JIJI

Prosecutors do not plan to indict former Prime Minister Naoto Kan and executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. over the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear meltdown calamity that started on March 11, 2011, investigative sources said Friday.

The prosecutors decided, based on the testimony of tsunami experts, that the government and Tepco could not have foreseen the monster waves that hit the complex after the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, due to the lack of “unified knowledge” on the height of tsunami.

Earlier reports, however, said both Tepco and the Nuclear Safety Commission were well aware of the tsunami threat years before 3/11.

Residents’ groups across the country, mainly in Fukushima Prefecture, had filed complaints against about 40 people on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in injuries. They included Kan, Tsunehisa Katsumata and Masataka Shimizu — the then chairman and president of Tepco — and Haruki Madarame, then chairman of the now-defunct Nuclear Safety Commission.

The prosecutors have asked Kan to explain the government’s response to the disaster, they said.

Kan, 66, who was prime minister from June 2010 through September 2011, is expected to submit documents to the prosecutors arguing that he is not criminally responsible for the disaster, his aides said.

Katsumata, 73, was Tepco president between 2002 and 2008 and chairman between 2008 and 2012. He left Tepco’s board of directors in June 2012.

Shimizu, 69, was Tepco’s president between June 2008 and June 2011, while Madarame headed the Nuclear Safety Commission between April 2010 and September 2012.

The residents plan to ask an 11-member independent judicial panel to seek indictments against the government and Tepco officials if the prosecutors decide not to file criminal charges.

The complainants accused Kan of failing to order Tepco to take prompt venting measures to lessen the pressure within the reactor containers that led to hydrogen explosions.

  • Steven R. Simon

    Simon says that the TEPCO executives should all be indicted for professional negligence and let the chips fall where they may in open court.