Bosses dodging fallout from Fukushima
Executives from the nuclear power company at the centre of the 2011 Fukushima disaster won’t face charges.
The move has fuelled speculation about close links between Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) executives, the Japanese government and regulators.
“There is not enough evidence to suggest that TEPCO executives could have predicted or could have avoided (the accident),” a statement from Ryoichi Nakahara, deputy chief prosecutor of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor's Office, says.
It is the latest move in a tussle between legal authorities and the angry Japanese public over who should take responsibility deadly meltdowns in 2011.
Many believe that the top people at TEPCO are too cosy with the government groups meant to be scrutinising them.
In 2013, prosecutors declined to charge dozens of TEPCO and government officials accused of ignoring the risks of natural disasters and nuclear power, and failing to respond appropriately.
The current case actually comes from a citizens’ panel which last year ruled three former TEPCO executives, including former chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, should be indicted over their handling of the disaster.
The panel ruled that Katsumata and former executive vice-presidents Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro failed to protect the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant despite repeated warnings of the dangers.
But the prosecutors’ response to the panel found that TEPCO’s managers could not have predicted the combined effect of the tsunami and 9.0-magnitude earthquake, and could not have protected the plant.
The issues goes back to the panel, and if eight of its eleven members vote in favour then court-appointed lawyers would be forced to make an indictment.
Campaigners want around three dozen company officials to be held accountable for their perceived failures.