An architect has been found guilty of professional negligence related to the collapse of a parking lot ramp in western Tokyo during the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011.
The Tokyo District Court’s Tachikawa branch on Monday sentenced Naoki Takagi, 69, to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, in connection with the collapse of the ramp at the Costco store in Machida, which resulted in the deaths of two people and injuries to six others.
In handing down the ruling, presiding Judge Hiromi Abe said Takagi “failed in his duty to properly inform the director in charge about his design.”
Takagi’s original design included a connection between the slope and building that was sufficiently resilient. However, the structure was not built according to his structural calculations and as a result it couldn’t withstand a strong earthquake.
Takagi said he plans to appeal the ruling.
He was indicted by prosecutors in December 2013 for what they said was his failure to properly check the ramp’s design.
Takagi expressed his frustration at a news conference after the ruling, saying, “I could not have foreseen that my design was not carried out the way I had planned it.”
While the prosecutors sought an 18-month prison term, Takagi’s counsel denied any negligence, arguing that the ramp collapsed because it wasn’t built according to his calculations.
During changes in the design from December 2001 to January 2002, the connecting portion between the ramp and building was found to be at risk of collapse in the event of an earthquake, but Takagi failed to call attention to that, according to the ruling.
The court said other people, including the director in charge of construction, are also at fault.
In addition to the tsunami that devastated wide areas of northeastern Japan, the magnitude-9.0 earthquake affected other parts of the country, including Tokyo.