Japan elects not to prosecute former TEPCO executives and government officials for handling of Fukushima disaster

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Prosecutors in Japan have decided not to indict more than forty former executives of the Tokyo Electric Power Company and government officials for their handling of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.  The prosecutors said on Monday that TEPCO and those who worked for the utility cannot be held criminally responsible because they were unable to predict the real dangers of such a massive earthquake and tsunami, but did not comment on how they were allowed to ever operate nuclear facilities in the first place if they were incapable of predicting disasters that they had been warned about many times.

It is not hard to find people in Japan who disagree with the prosecutor’s decision.  Toshitsuna Watanabe is the mayor of Okuma Town in Fukushima Prefecture, one of the towns which has been evacuated due to high radiation levels; he is just one of the people living in Japan who feel that the delayed responses during the early stages of the accident allowed the damage to worsen.

The residents of Fukushima who filed the criminal complaints still have recourse available; they plan to take the matter up before a prosecution inquest panel, which is comprised of randomly-selected citizens.  Among the 40-some people included in the complaint are former TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, former TEPCO President Masataka Shimizu, former head of the Nuclear Safety Commission Haruki Madarame, and politicians Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano and former industry minister Banri Kaieda.

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