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Anger at acquittals of TEPCO execs in Fukushima case

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By Miwa Suzuki

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The Japanese "justice" system demonstrating yet again that those quotation marks are well deserved.

24 ( +26 / -2 )

No one is officially recorded as having been killed by the nuclear accident itself, but tens of thousands of people were ordered to evacuate, with many more fleeing of their own accord, afraid of radiation that rendered whole towns off-limits.

And the government will do whatever it can to ensure that no one is found to have died by a direct result either. It's far too easy to lay the blame on "mother-nature" than to accept the fact that TEPCO screwed up!

24 ( +26 / -2 )

Their anger should go towards the government and nuclear regulatory agency who let them run the plant on minimal safety standards. The plant was at government safety standards. Therefor, there is no way to indict anyone from TEPCO.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Their anger should go towards the government and nuclear regulatory agency who let them run the plant on minimal safety standards. The plant was at government safety standards. Therefor, there is no way to indict anyone from TEPCO.

Meeting minimum governmental standards can be evidence that negligence did not occur, but it's not always conclusive. It depends on the jurisdiction.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

There is no evidence of negligence here. Tepco met government standards and no one could have forseen a tsunami of that size. It was a natural disaster. I get that people are upset but we don't always have to find someone to lynch when misfortune befalls us. If an airplane gets struck by lightning and crashes into your home, you can't sue the airline. Sometimes things happen and there is no one to blame.

-18 ( +4 / -22 )

 no one could have forseen a tsunami of that size.

HAAAA HAAAA HAAAA HAA HAAA HAAA HAAA HAAA HAA HAAH HA.

14 ( +18 / -4 )

let's quit TEPCO and use Tokyo gas electric

6 ( +9 / -3 )

I think these people just want someone to blame. Next they'll be blaming the tsunami

-23 ( +3 / -26 )

Where was the anger before the disaster?

Culpability...everyone was happy running their a/c off the plant before, nevermind the destruction elsewhere, all as a result of the same magnitude 9 earthquake (biggest ever in the recorded history of Japan).

Should Abe have been indicted as well?

Not a single prosecutor would take the case on because it was manifestly hopeless. How would a court appointed prosecutor change any of the facts?

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

re: the case turned on a narrow question: whether the executives would have been able to predict the risks of a tsunami engulfing the plant and should have ordered better safety measures as a result.

Not true, there were ample warnings from well and respected researchers provided to TEPCO execs. They assumed the risks rather than spend more money. The prosecutor was to share in the blame as much as TEPCO. He simply failed to state supporting information to warrant criminal sentencing and a guilty verdict. Unfortunately he was the wrong person assigned as where was the Minister of Law in all of this. He should have appointed the best in such a magnitude of a case.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Not true, there were ample warnings from well and respected researchers

Tsunami defense infrastructure standards are set by the national government throughout Japan. Where's the evidence the 3 execs culpably ran the plant not to standards set by the government?

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

JGov messed up. They should have drug this out for 30 years or so. 8 years is too short of a time period for people to forget all of the information that poured out after the "accident". ;l

https://news.usc.edu/86362/fukushima-disaster-was-preventable-new-study-finds/

This report as well as many others like it (not going to link them all) all refer to Tepco's own people warning that the plant wasn't adequately protected from disaster.

The 8.8 quake in Chile in 2010 should have been a decent enough warning that stuff happens.

The (sorry not familiar with the Japanese term) warning posts placed by Japanese saying "yeah, a long time ago the sea rushed as far as way the hell up here" should have been the very first and most reliable warning given to ANYONE in those areas.

These folks SHOULD be outraged. With the amount of nuclear power in Japan, even people NOT directly affected by Fukushima Daiichi, should be outraged as Japans government, regulators, and utility industry apparently have no remorse whatsoever about ruining peoples lives. If it can happen to them (residents of Fukushima) it can happen to you.

What happened in 2011 wasn't due to ignorance, it was due to willful stupidity. Willful stupidity in this case is called gross negligence. Gross negligence. Let that sink in. These people had had plenty of warnings.

This is not a "shoganai" situation. This most certainly could have been helped. All citizens of Japan should be up their government's ass about this.(my opinion)

At this point, as a non Japanese, I feel about the only thing I can do is boycott the Olympics. Really they should have bailed on the hosting and focused on their disaster. Olympics are almost never profitable. Money squandered at the expense of taxpayers for a small group of athletes to showcase their skills on a generally larger stage than their own individual sport could ever afford them. Someday the abandoned facilities will need to be repurposed or destroyed at yet further cost, yet JGov refuses to provide even a modicum of safety for their own populace? Regulators and politicians bought off for peanuts by a utility. A utility now owned in good part BY the govt. Maybe instead of cash for the games, they could have provided cash for the utilities to upgrade? Maybe instead of all the taxpayer funded cleanups and buyouts that are costing the future of Japan, you could've taken charge of this industry with a carrot and stick approach? You need to fix this stuff. Make it happen. If you can't, we'll subsidize the work to be done with a favorable repayment schedule. Now you have no excuses.(Seen a lot of concrete poured around Japan, shame they didn't pour it in front of seaside nukes).

Okay... Whew! Rant over. For those who may be concerned, I'm not actually against the Olympics. Although I would prefer them to be hosted perpetually in Greece(at least the summer games). Might help that country out, and could keep infrastructure costs down for the venues(maintenance versus new construction, reuse them ffs). I'm American and dear lord is this country a steaming pile of mess. I do not intend this post to be bashing Japan itself. I'm not a nuclear hater. I believe that it very well was the better alternative when it became instituted many many years ago. I DO believe that there are alternative approaches that can be used for power generation, that can lessen the load/impact that nuclear has. I also believe they should be investigated and implemented whenever/wherever possible.

To anyone living in Japan... Good luck!

10 ( +13 / -3 )

"This shows Japanese courts don't stand for people's interest. This can't be true."

yeah. it is

8 ( +11 / -3 )

They had received many recommendations for safety upgrades. They were advised to move the backup generators onto the top of the reactor housings and to waterproof all electrical systems by a French team in 2001. However, due to the low standards set by the governing body it was ignored. Of course, Japan has a long history of large tsunamis and there has been a spate of large tsunamis all over the world in the last 30-40 years. Unfortunately, the TEPCO executives did nothing wrong, hence their acquittal. It is the governing body that is to blame for not insisting in higher standards of safety. However, how can one prosecute 'law makers' for not making laws stringent enough?

10 ( +12 / -2 )

I don’t know what the surprise is? It was all expected. Ever since AIG and the crash, all big companies get away with everything. Look at the recent Johnson and Johnson ruling over the opioid crisis. Their stock price went up because they were fined far less than expected and they weren’t punished.

All the drug companies just got a slap on the wrist.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

TEPCO isn't a private company by no mean, it's a part of governmental industry function leaded by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry(Keizai Sangyosho). Abe govt. supports Nuke plants and that's political plot behind the scene. I remember some news how those TEPCO executives were having a elite (extravagant) life with politicians showing arrogant behaviors at that time of babble economy. It can't be ending up this way. They don't deserve acquittals and have to be charged again, the right prosecution without any political or bureaucratic interference. Japan judicial system is still stagnated and involved in politics of plutocracy (supported by government).

7 ( +7 / -0 )

And, as per usual, pictures absolutely disprove the oft repeated ignorant beliefs that Japanese people do not voice their opinions in public or care little about political activities.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

As George Carlin once said "its one big exclusive club, and we're not in it."

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Kharma won't just effect itself. It needs hands.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Man while bullions are spent on mindless "Olympics" while others are still in trailers looking home.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

"This shows Japanese courts don't stand for people's interest. This can't be true."*

Was there ever any doubt?

8 ( +8 / -0 )

As I said yesterday, the system does not sentence itself. Japan Inc is part of the ruling power of Japan and energy companies as well as the construction companies are basically the government. They rule the country because the so-called Japanese leaders and politicians of this country are directly linked (often financially) to those companies. Tepco (and many other Japanese companies) were caught with gigantic scandals several times before the disaster and never, never anyone was prosecuted for these crimes. So this outcome is absolutely not surprising.

What makes me boiling are those people crying now. This apathetic population who has refused to fight for a true democracy in their country can't now cry and pretend to be surprised that their country is managed by a mafia.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Late nights hostess bars brown envelopes throw in some golf and its all sorted welcome to Japan...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@ramses68....great post mate.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

oldman_13 - And, as per usual, pictures absolutely disprove the oft repeated ignorant beliefs that Japanese people do not voice their opinions in public or care little about political activities.

Wow! You draw this conclusion based on a photograph of a handful of retirees and mothers who are protesting in a population of 126 million? Amazing!

2 ( +5 / -3 )

This is why TEPCO was so desperate in being acquired by the government in the first place, so no one would ever go to jail

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Ashcner Castillo

Man while bullions are spent on mindless "Olympics" while others are still in trailers looking home.

Trillions have been spent on the Tohoku reconstruction. Trillions on the nuclear disaster.

The numbers of nuclear evacuee's living in temporary accommodation have been reduced to 11,000 people mostly older people who have been offered other homes but have refused them.

TEPCO still need to make compensation payments to many of the people and business,

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Did not everyone see this verdict coming from a mile away?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Well, what a remarkable surprise. The Old Boys' Club living by a different set of rules to everybody else. in Japan - whoever would have imagined?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

And, of course, when the lawsuits start being filed as a result of TEPCO releasing the stored radioactive water waste....

The courts will absolve TEPCO and the J government of any liability....

4 ( +4 / -0 )

“If an airplane gets struck by lightning and crashes into your home, you can't sue the airline. Sometimes things happen and there is no one to blame.”

But what if an airplane crashed after having been given the all clear to fly by an airworthiness maintenance engineer who hadn’t been keeping up to date with the latest mandated airworthiness directives. Or, perhaps came to grief because it collided with a truck that had been inadvertently parked on the runway.

A nuclear reactor is inherently potentially dangerous and it was the responsibility of those in charge to do far more to minimize the risks than they apparently did and for that they must be held accountable. It is fallacious of them to argue that nobody could have foreseen the known risk associated with tsunamis in an area which has a history of devastating ones.

You can bet that one of the first things those in positions of power did was to destroy evidence which might incriminate them. We need a whistleblower to come forward and expose their self-serving deception.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

oldman_13: And, as per usual, pictures absolutely disprove the oft repeated ignorant beliefs that Japanese people do not voice their opinions in public or care little about political activities.

An unjust verdict connected to the deaths of thousands of people in Japan, and we have a photo of about 10 people.

China enacts a bill on Hong Kong that would result in an unfair law, and there are millions taking to the streets.

...what point were you trying to make, again?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

But what if an airplane crashed after having been given the all clear to fly by an airworthiness maintenance engineer who hadn’t been keeping up to date with the latest mandated airworthiness directives. Or, perhaps came to grief because it collided with a truck that had been inadvertently parked on the runway.

There was no "latest mandated airworthiness directive". At best there were reports and internal research which might eventually form the basis of an updated "mandated airworthiness directive".

There is no such thing as perfect safety, and safety does not come for free. The balancing line is calculated by the government and laid out as government standards after consultations with industry (to determine the possibilities and costs of safety measures), external experts (to identify the potential risks of NOT implementing extra safety measures), and the Customers (to determine their willingness to suffer extra burdens in pursuit of safety).

Once the line is set, industry should be able to rely on the line. Unlimited liability is severely detrimental for business.

It is fallacious of them to argue that nobody could have foreseen the known risk associated with tsunamis in an area which has a history of devastating ones.

The usual minima for negligence is failure of a duty of care, not mere foreseeability.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

People are shocked at this?

I am shocked at you being shocked.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I called the outcome correctly. If your mega rich, you don't go to jail. Again I'm proven right. A court appointed prosecutor for a case of this magnitude should have gotten better prosecution. The people lost in this case.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm shocked, stunned and surprised by this verdict. Said no one ever.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The path to the criminal trial was fraught, with prosecutors twice declining to bring the case to court, citing insufficient evidence and a slim chance of conviction.

What an absurd reason.

These faint hearted prosecutors deserve to refund their taxpayer funded salaries and look for another job as it is crystal clear they are scared of challenges.

It is like athletes refusing to compete because they have a slim chance of winning.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

“There was no "latest mandated airworthiness directive". At best there were reports and internal research which might eventually form the basis of an updated "mandated airworthiness directive".

Though it should not be necessary to make clear that it was intended metaphorically, it’s understandable that a non native speaker such as yourself (HK wasn’t it?) unfamiliar with the subtle nuances of English, might have thought otherwise. You can be assured that if a smoking gun had existed, in the form of compromising paperwork or an email trail, it would long ago have been excised from the record. FYI, there are indeed safety directives and recommendations issued by reputable bodies, including for such facilities as the one at Fukushima. It was negligence plain and simple that these were not acted upon, let alone canvassed with an open mind.

“The balancing line is calculated by the government and laid out as government standards after consultations with industry (to determine the possibilities and costs of safety measures), external experts (to identify the potential risks of NOT implementing extra safety measures), and the Customers (to determine their willingness to suffer extra burdens in pursuit of safety).”

It is laughable in the extreme for you to be suggesting that safety not profit was the primary concern. Or, that the corporate stooges with responsibility for delivering on budget and on time would’ve countenanced dissenting opinion. It sounds like the kind of thing you might read as small print on a prospectus for TEPCO investors as advised by Enron.

“The usual minima for negligence is failure of a duty of care”

You've nailed it there!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Truth be told, We need the nuclear energy.

Because other sources of energy is on lack and expensive.

That is why the government was extremely hesitant about making the next move.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Boooooooooooooooooooo.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I thought we'd see suspended sentences, not clear out acquittals. This is beyond disgraceful, even for Japan, where courts always side with politicians and big business anyway. The people quoted in the story are right -- the system does NOT care about the people, and this is further proof.

What's more, is it any wonder that now people are questioning Japan's readiness in an emergency like what happened in Chiba? TEPCO said all power would be restored as of... what... two weeks ago on the Wednesday? When the people responsible never get punished, is it any surprise that the same thing, with the same company, happens again? Get ready if, gods forgive, something happens before or during the Olympics! It'll be absolute chaos. And the government will say, "Who could have known?" and, "We could not have foreseen this!"

6 ( +7 / -1 )

" Sometimes things happen and there is no one to blame." Not on this forum...

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

As long as corporate / national culture ascribes no responsibility in incidents like this there never will be guilty parties. If you’re on top of the system then you’re almost guaranteed protection. You’d have to do something graver than be negligently responsible for some thousand deaths. That area of the country is known for its periodic major tsunamis. We’ve seen this in the news. The court ignores these facts.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

As long as corporate / national culture ascribes no responsibility in incidents like this there never will be guilty parties. If you’re on top of the system then you’re almost guaranteed protection.

I totally agree with that, but it's no different in any Western country there are two sets of laws in all of Europe and the US, the 1% get Just Us and the rest follow the law, fasten your seat belt, or else Justice will rain down on you hard.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

@oyatoi Today 02:01 pm JST

Though it should not be necessary to make clear that it was intended metaphorically,

I can see it is a metaphor. My point is that your metaphor was inappropriate by making an equivalence between a fully prepared and mandatory governmental act and the research that might lead to such an act.

You can be assured that if a smoking gun had existed, in the form of compromising paperwork or an email trail, it would long ago have been excised from the record.

In other words, no such thing was presented to the court. As far as the law is concerned, such paperwork does not exist.

It is laughable in the extreme for you to be suggesting that safety not profit was the primary concern.

As a corporation, its goal is to make money. As such, as long as it complies with the minima set by the government, it may focus the rest of its efforts on profit. It is one of the reasons the government acts as a go between.

You've nailed it there!

Which as far as a corporation is met when they met the governmental requirements. If they must plug someone for criminal negligence, the correct target is the heads of the governmental team who wrote and reviewed the norms active as of 2011, not the corporate heads.

The only ways I see heads of corporation being proper criminally liable even if they met the governmental norms is if for example you can prove they for example bribed the people writing the norms to make them looser.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

TEPCO disaster could have been avoided if proper safety construction measures been followed. The disaster inconvenienced traumatized killed people animals plant life polluted the ocean earth and air. Dumb USA selflessly spent multi millions of dollars and military manpower in Operation Tomodachi. TEPCO execs should be executed or life in prison. Will USA never wake up? They ain't our tomodachi.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

RIDICULOUS!! Japan is at the meeting points of MANY tectonic plates. Most importantly, there are only two areas in the world where 9+ quakes are expected, Chile and Japan, because both nations are in a subduction zone.

The world geo survey proves this, you can look up the facts and see the plate maps, plate tectonics means the land and sea floor on each plate, or worse, at the meeting point of plates, means will cause big quakes, particularly in subduction areas.

TEPCO would have been well aware of these facts, of course. Japan leads the world in technology for skyscrapers to survive big quakes.

But, somehow. the goverment and TEPCO couldn't have expected a big quake and tsunami.... RUBBISH!!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Wow! You draw this conclusion based on a photograph of a handful of retirees and mothers who are protesting in a population of 126 million? Amazing!

And yet, even if one Japanese person out of 127 million commits a hateful act, people like you are quick to tar the entire group

Double standards and hypocrisy as per usual.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

And yet, even if one Japanese person out of 127 million commits a hateful act, people like you are quick to tar the entire group

This does nothing to refute your assertion that the "pictures absolutely disprove the oft repeated ignorant beliefs that Japanese people do not voice their opinions in public or care little about political activities."

Smooth critical discourse skills.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

What is more frightening than an earthquake and tsunami?

It is knowing that there are nuclear reactors placed at risk of rupture and destruction.

Somehow, unbelievably that link is not obvious to the ruling powers in Japan...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

And yet, even if one Japanese person out of 127 million commits a hateful act, people like you are quick to tar the entire group

This does nothing to support your assertion that, "pictures absolutely disprove the oft repeated ignorant beliefs that Japanese people do not voice their opinions in public or care little about political activities."

3 ( +3 / -0 )

""This shows Japanese courts don't stand for people's interest. This can't be true."" time to wake up and smell the bull folks, jinc is a business and looks after its own, end of.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Kazuakishimazaki: “As long as it complies with the minima set by the government, it may focus the rest of its efforts on profit. It is one of the reasons the government acts as a go between. If they must plug someone for criminal negligence, the correct target is the heads of the governmental team who wrote and reviewed the norms active as of 2011, not the corporate heads. The only ways I see heads of corporation being proper criminally liable even if they met the governmental norms is if for example you can prove they for example bribed the people writing the norms to make them looser.”

In the fantasyland of your imagination, companies and governments work in tandem, honorably working for the good of their respective constituencies. Fukushima’s fire and brimstone denouement exposes this rose colored glasses view as a complete sham. Make no mistake, it is corporations and governments in the dock, caught out corruptly colluding with each other to condone unacceptably low (read cheap) safety standards in a region where tsunamis are endemic and now evade responsibility for the results of their venality.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/06/tepco-will-someone-turn-lights/352260/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What can I say.... "Welcome to Japan" ?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Kazuaki Shimazaki:

Some excerpts from the article which I linked in my previous post, completely undermining your misguided defence of TEPCO, as some sort of exemplary paragon of corporate responsibility and your starry eyed delusion that corporate-government moral hazard is unimportant. It wasn’t for nothing that the unholy alliance between this corrupt company and the public officials they corrupted has been dubbed the Nuclear Mafia. Read the article and you will understand why BOTH the company and its official enablers should be in the dock.

“TEPCO has become a symbol of everything that is wrong with the nation of Japan: cronyism, collusion, corruption, and weak regulation. Originally a public utility until it went private in 1951, it has enjoyed over half a century of lax government regulation. Despite its many accidents, TEPCO has managed to shield itself over the years from rigorous investigation and censure. It has done so by wining and dining the Japanese media, spending the equivalent of $294 million in advertising, and hiring retired National Police Agency bureaucrats and former METI officials as “special advisors.” Using political connections, threats, and a complacent press, they have managed to stay in business.”

“In 2000, Kei Sugaoka, a Japanese-American engineer who had worked at the Fukushima reactor one site, blew the whistle on TEPCO’s decades of cover-ups and dangerous practices in a letter to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). As an inspector for GE which helped build the plant, he stated: “I was performing a visual inspection on the steam dryer (a critical part of the nuclear reactor) at the Fukushima site Unit One for TEPCO. The dryer was inspected and found cracked to the condition to where it was required to be replaced by a new one at an extensive cost. Then, the most damning evidence: “We submitted (video) tapes to TEPCO for METI, edited with visual cracking intentionally omitted per TEPCO request.. Sugaoka refused to comply with the request to edit the tapes himself, noting that this was a criminal offense. “I wasn’t willing to lie. That made me a troublemaker. Lying was standard practice at TEPCO, and maybe for most of the nuclear industry. “

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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