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Once the nuclear crisis is brought under control, should TEPCO executives face criminal charges at some point in the future?

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Why wait for the future? The investigation should begin now before they have months to make documents and other evidence vanish. The investigation should also focus on TEPCOs political donations and other "contributions" it made over the years to the LDP and other parties. The treatment of its past and present workers, especially those risking their lives at this very moment should be looked into as well!

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It's difficult to define criminal negligence in this case. Also, if cost-cutting, payoffs, etc, happened before the current execs had their jobs, then how do you prove their culpability. It has been my experience, working with many Japanese companies over the years, that quite often middle-level management do not inform the CEO or president of "shady" dealings. Quite often, the top management don't even know what's going on until the crisis erupts. Then they find themselves bowing at press conferences.

In TEPCO's case, any criminal investigation will be complicated by the utility's long history of cozy ties with the LDP.

In summary, I think it will be difficult to prove criminal negligence, without a whistleblower.

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Yeah, let's start the blame game. We should blame destructive tsunami on some 60 year old exec!

They should be invstigating the power plant, whether any laws were broken and whether all standards were maintained. If no, the person running that plant should go to jail. there is no point going after senior execs in tokyo headquarters.

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of course not, lend them to China

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CEO means CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, and that position takes CHIEF RESPONSIBILITY. This is why the Sarbanes-Oxley law was enacted; so that all executives sign-off on all policies, thus preventing them from shirking their duties. J-SOX also exists therefore if the CEO and other top executives do not take responsibility for this disaster, who should?

If the courts determine that criminal acts were committed by the company then the company must face those charges. As a court cannot "throw a company in prison", they need to choose individuals who represent the company. That would be the CEO and other top management.

The US is trying very hard to make pharmaceutical top management responsible for their companies criminal activities in this same way. Someone needs to take the responsibility.

With CEO and COO comes great reward; however with great reward there is also great responsibility attached.

What bothers me more is that the government is considering raising the unit rate for energy so that more revenue will go to Tepco to help them pay for the rebuilding of the Tohoku. Paying higher taxes, and raising the sales tax is a way for the government to offset what Tepco can't pay for the recovery costs, and I have no qualms with that; however increasing Tepco's profits through the consumer pocket is not a reasonable (IMHO) path to take.

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If they broke the law, yes. Anyway, it is almost certain that there will be some form of punishment levied against them - someone will have to be blamed for this.

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J-SOX also exists therefore if the CEO and other top executives do not take responsibility for this disaster, who should?

Yes, but that is only a financial law. Probably doesn't include engineering items. TEPCO have been found guilty before and reprimanded. In this case I can't see where they have been negligent. I would say they are not.

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Two of the whistle blowers have spoken and written in detail on TEPCO activities, including forging test data, covering up the malformation of a reactor containment vessel, editing damage/ fault videos, falsifying welding tests, etc.. One admitted to taking part in the covering up.

The problem is that many of these activities occurred up to 40 years ago, and the people involved are probably dead or out of TEPCO, and much of the documentation is gone. Charges would rely on hearsay or depositions, and long-termers here would have little faith in the Japanese Justice system accepting material that would disrupt their own establishment.

A criminal prosecution, though satisfying to a growing public clamour for punishment, would achieve little, other than to prevent the same mistakes happening again (hopefully) gaining greater regulatory oversight of the power industry (possibly), splitting of regulatory functions from production and promotion functions (if amakudari is really stopped), and revealing both the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power to this island.

But this is Japan, and the government and bureaucrats are not accustomed to real change, nor listening to the will of an increasingly apathetic people. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose - the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Two of the whistle blowers have spoken and written in detail on TEPCO activities, including forging test data, covering up the malformation of a reactor containment vessel, editing damage/ fault videos, falsifying welding tests, etc.. One admitted to taking part in the covering up.

Yes, but this is old news and not relevant to the current crisis.

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Criminal damage resulting from negligence would be one charge, corruption, bribery and a stream of other charges to follow but ignorance, obstinance and stupidity are things they can't be legally chraged with unfortunately.

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Wanderlust - You make it sound like we live in a doomed nation, of backward-minded people who are mindless, and completely apathetic to improvement. That is just so not true.

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ABSOLUTLEY!!!!

In addition to execs(from the last few decades) also include politicians & beaurocrates, there are tons of guilty parties!!

While prosecution wud be difficult & take decades in & of itself, I say list the scum, then confiscate portions of their pensions, bonuses & assets to put towards paying for this mess.

This problem is institutional & pervasive in Japan in ALL of industry, this where I have been ranting about Japan fixing itself or continuing to rot, it doesnt look like Japan is seriously considering a new start, so far clearly they are looking to continue as they have to present, that is a recipe for slow steady rot, Japanese derserve better but they have to bloody start to demand it or its back to the usual rot!

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DISCLAIMER: Japanese management system is unlike other companies.

My perspective would be different, since I have studied Japanese Corporate Management. That said, TEPCO is a very well run company b/c I knew what would happen almost as soon as the Tsunami inundated the nuclear reactors. It was a waiting game until the power was restored to the Control Rooms so that actual evaluation of TEPCO President's quality of management could be accessed. Ideally, I knew if TEPCO was well managed, the outcome would be positive. TEPCO was/is well run by analyzing the progression records AFTER TEPCO personnel re-entered the Control Rooms. Legal claims may be issued due to other matters, but TEPCO did do what I expected of a well run Japanese Corporation.

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Correction:

"It was a waiting game until the power was restored to the Control Rooms so that actual evaluation of TEPCO President's quality of management could be ASSESSED."

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Hell yes.

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Yes!!! Especially since we're dealing with Tepco. They have done dirty stuff before.

If top heads don't role, they should shut down all nuclear power plants because this sort of incident will repeat itself.

I would include any government person who looked the other way, rather than doing their job.

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apec

sorry, if tepco was so well run they wudnt have had the problems they have since 3/11. They do because of poor, criminally negligent management.

If you have studied J-mgt like you say you would realize just how poorly a lot of things are done here & how corrupt it is too boot, yes you may have nailed their responce but that doesnt = good management, not by a long shot

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I have consistently bashed TEPCO management over their handlin of this whole mess, but, I honestly think that criminal charges are a little too extreme. My reasoning is that the decision process that led to the approval of the construction standards for Fukushima #1 happened 40 years ago. It is highly unlikely any of the top group of current management had any role in that process. Also, the management of TEPCO probably got by without making upgrades to the safety systems there in recent years due to the way-too-cozy relationships that exist here between companies and their respective ministries. Remember, this is Japan Inc., so TEPCO was not pushed by the government to make safety improvements, or plan for the "what-ifs". How do you indict TEPCO and not the heads of the nuclear ministry? Finally, while I believe, as the NY Times stated, that the handling of this crisis by TEPCO has been a "cascade of stupidity", I do not believe that is criminal. Again, remember, companies like TEPCO do not pick their top executives because they are the best and brightest or for expected leadership skills in a time of crisis. They get picked by the boards because they have not upset the corporate WA during their career. So how do you indict someone for simply being a product of the system?

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if tied to the falsifying of safety reports, all their assets should be taken by the JP government. The initial poor designs standards would have been passed by government of the day - so I think they can not be charged for that, but making false safety reports to save money is very different.

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The Tepco executives will face the same future as the executives who blew up Lehman Brothers. The answer is that the world wants justice but nothing happened to them.

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To GW,

There is more going on than what is reported. There are groups that do need Japan, Inc. myth destroyed since the early 1990's. In some ways, the that policy has institutionalized itself. Been exposed to info.

TEPCO will probably fair better than FEMA did after the Katrina Disaster.

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And what would those charges be? Failure to secure the backup generators against demons? Or criminal negligence of policing the earth's crust? Sure if there is proof of some fraud or gross negligence that could have prevented the power outage, but to suggest that they be individually or personally responsible for the events that caused the failure sounds like a witch hunt. Other reactors have leaked water due to earthquakes much smaller than this one, and to say that they should have known that there would be a world record magnitude quake and that they should have been able to prevent leaks, would be to say that everyone else has to live up to much higher standards than are in effect. So, really, I would have to say "NO" to that question. And, I ask you, What will be achieved if charges were filled? To discredit or to dismantle TEPCO for someone else's financial gain? If electricity were nationalised and an accident happened, who would sue who?

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So how do you indict someone for simply being a product of the system?

Simple indict the criminals throughout the system as I suggested at 1250! It needs to happen, otherwise NOTHING will change, we will get a fluster of "activity" checking plants country wide & 2-3yrs from now it will be back to ignoring & coverups!

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apec,

I dont want the myth of Japan Inc destroyed I want the REAL Japan Inc dismantled & re-worked minus thieving, wasting, amakudari etc

Its gotta happen, if it doesnt Japan just continues its downward slide!

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Correction:

"TEPCO will probably FARE better than FEMA did after the Katrina Disaster."

"Its gotta happen, if it doesnt Japan just continues its downward slide!"

The downward slide involves more than Japan. It is a reflection of what is happening to others, but this is hush-hush.

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No. The LDP cronies who sanctioned the build should be.

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If they did something that looks illegal, sure.

I have not seen anything that they have done so far that is illegal, but maybe prosecutors can find something.

The tsunami killed 15,000 people, so if we are going to put every contractor up and down the coast in jail just because tsunamis wiped out structures, then prisons are going to get pretty full.

Just to emphasize what a bunch of ingrates we are, lets make sure we let them finish cleaning everything up before putting them in the slammer, shall we?

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Why? Have they done something illegal?

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I was blissfully unaware that ineptitude was a criminal offence in Japan. If that is the case, when can we expect the Kan administration to be indicted...?

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Capital punishment will show other companies that they cannot get away with this sort of criminal negligence.

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Absolutely, yes! In China the president would have already been shot. I'm not advocating that kind of punishment at all, and am against the death penalty, but Japan always swings to the other extreme of actually PROTECTING criminals like he heads of TEPCO. Shimizu will simply resign and get a large 'golden parachute' while TEPCO tries to find ways to avoid damage suits and recompense, and starts building new reactors.

Moderator: Calling the president of TEPCO a criminal is libelous. Please do not post such remarks again.

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NO NO NO PROSECUTE NATURE IF YOU CAN CATCH IT

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I don't really see where Smith called him a criminal. Just saying. Was something deleted?

should they face charges? is the question. Smith says yes.

and then he says Japan always protects white collar criminals. I am inclined to agree.

I have been personally burned by high level white collar crimes in Japan, and yes, the perps do consistently walk. But then, that happens a lot in the US too.

Just to present my unpopular opinion, I see TEPCO had violations in 2002, 2006 and then another. It is all beside the point. I don't see what they credibly should have done before 3.11 that would have made any difference, and their performance after 3.11 has been stellar. Stupendous. They are even retaining financial responsibility, which is certainly not necessary at a time like this. But they do it. They won't give up until they clean up.

The question is "Once (it) is brought under control...". My my. Only recently, the question was "IF..." Who brought us from there to here? TEPCO. Just TEPCO.

The guy will be pilloried and ruined to appease everyone in the shame olympics that is sure to follow all of this, but you know, this was a meteor strike of a situation. Nobody was prepared. You weren't prepared. The SDF wasn't. DMAT teams weren't. Are we going to prosecute everybody?

And if you think an IAEA warning means something, take a look at a nuclear reactor now operating in Azerbaijan (?). It is on the National Geographic website. Have a look. It will curl your hair. See what reckless disdain for safety really means.

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They should and they won't.

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Thought that the executives had already done their obligatory "regretful apology" on the air. Hope the masses weren't expecting more than that from these jokers.

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I don't think they should. The reason is purely practical.

We all know that, if they go to trial, they'll tick all the formulaic boxes for tears, appropriately-worded expressions of sorrow, deep bows and so on, and will be found innocent of any wrongdoing. These are up-the-ladder Japanese men we're talking about, not some philipino punk with a trace of meth in his flat.

In the very unlikey instance that they are found guilty, they'll be punished with a suspended sentence in view of the sincerity of their expression of regret.

In the meantime, millions of yen of Taxpayer money will have been pissed away in futile legal fees, when it could, should - but won't - be spent rebuilding the lives of the survivors.

Just insist on resignation and financial penalty and get the guilty out of my sight.

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So every CEO of every company that had buildings that did not withstand the 9.0 quake and 100 foot tsunami will be charged if people got hurt? Why stop with TEPCO.. I mean all the other buildings that fell over from the water and killed people have owners who can be sued. To boot I dont think anyone has died form radiation to date.

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