FUKUSHIMA--More than 1,000 people filed a criminal complaint against officials of Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the government, saying they should be held responsible for the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
The complaint was filed with the Fukushima District Public Prosecutors Office against 33 individuals--15 TEPCO officials and 18 government and other officials--on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in deaths and injuries and other charges.
“There will never be a genuine rehabilitation of Fukushima unless those responsible are called to account,” Ruiko Muto, 58, who leads the 1,324 complainants, told reporters.
The complainants, from children to those in their 80s, all lived in Fukushima Prefecture when the TEPCO-operated plant was crippled by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.
They said the officials failed to take safety precautions, causing residents to be exposed to radiation, which they define as “injuries.”
The “deaths” mainly refer to those who died during evacuation.
The TEPCO officials named in the complaint include those in the company’s previous and new management, such as Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, and those in charge of safety measures.
Nobuaki Terasaka, former director-general of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Haruki Madarame, chairman of the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan, and Shunsuke Kondo, chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, were also named in the criminal complaint.
In addition to not taking adequate safety measures, the complainants said the officials failed to release evacuation information appropriately, which led to residents’ exposure to radiation.
The complaint does not cover politicians, such as former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, “to prevent legal and political responsibilities from being mixed up,” according to a lawyer for the complainants.
TEPCO declined to comment, saying it does not have the knowledge about the content of the complaint.
Criminal complaints have been filed with the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office and other organizations, but many investigative officials say it will be difficult to bring charges.
For example, it will be difficult to win recognition that the complainants were “injured” because the health impact of low-dose exposure has yet to be scientifically clarified.
In addition, investigators must establish the cause-and-effect relationship between the accident and the damage.
They also must show that TEPCO and the government were able to predict the accident and its damage, as well as show that measures were available to prevent such damage.
One complainant, a woman in her late 30s who evacuated from Fukushima city, has lived with her two young daughters in a condominium in Yamagata since June.
She commutes to her workplace in Fukushima via Shinkansen, while her husband comes from Fukushima on weekends to meet her and their children.
“I hope what the government and TEPCO did and failed to do before the earthquake and tsunami struck will be made clear during a trial,” she said. “I want to prove that the accident was a man-made disaster and abolish nuclear power plants in Japan, particularly for children with a future.”
The woman said that the prefectural government and the governor should have filed a complaint, saying many residents are suffering from damage from the accident.
Kiyoshi Maeda, a 45-year-old post office worker, has evacuated with her wife and two daughters to Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture.
He had built a new home in Okuma town, Fukushima Prefecture, 4 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 plant about a year before the earthquake and tsunami.
“The accident must not have occurred if the government and TEPCO, which promoted nuclear power generation, had had the slightest sense of humility,” Maeda said. “Many academics had pointed out risks (of tsunami and accidents), but the government and TEPCO did not take them seriously and failed to take countermeasures.”
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