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Prosecutors set to rule on Fukushima indictments against TEPCO execs

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Japanese prosecutors must decide this week whether to charge Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) executives for their handling of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, in a process that could drag the operator of the stricken nuclear plant into criminal court.

Come on. The J-prosecutors are all part of J-Inc., just like big business and the politicians/bureaucrats. Anyone who thinks they'll allow TEPCO to become a public spectacle simply does not understand how Japan works. Although I would absolutely love to be wrong.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

I'm with Jerseyboy. This headline should read "Prosecutors set to exonerate TEPCO execs from any responsibility for their own profiteering and negligence"

5 ( +10 / -5 )

This is just public appeasing lip service! They are being prosecuted for the wrong things. They should be prosecuted for failing to install upgrades and employ safety measures outlined by the previous safety standards which caused the meltdowns. The tsunami just showed how laxed they were on improvements on 40 year old reactors that were only built to last 30 years. The tsunami did not cause the meltdowns. TEPCO officials did!

7 ( +9 / -2 )

“How can you prove one person, Katsumata for example, is liable or guilty, when such a big organization was behind such a large accident?”

How can you entertain the idea of leniency for the head of the organization behind such a large accident?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Prosecutors set to rule that No one at TEPCO was responsible for this disaster. The prosecutors won't do anything to upset Abe's plan to restart nuclear plants. So the corruption continues in Japan, from the lowest to highest levels of government. Everyone that supports this criminal behavior needs to be voted out of office. I pray that the public takes action and does the right thing!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The Japanese prosecutor's decisions are too often slanted in the government's favor.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

First, understand this, people. The bar for proving criminal negligence, in a normal system, is fairly high and really I just don't see TEPCO's executives legally "qualifying" for it. If it is proven, it is more political than because TEPCO's executives are really that culpable.

This is all just politics by the anti-nuclear lobby that's not aware that Japan, with its already shaky economy, is bleeding every day the plants don't start.

-14 ( +0 / -14 )

Unlikely to goto jail? and why is that?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Please! At WORST, and it's a big if, one or two of these guys will get a suspended sentence and MAYBE a month's pay cut by 10% (while they have gotten golden parachutes already).

2 ( +4 / -2 )

A link to the documentary film about those who evacuated Fukushima, which is a related article also posted today:

http://nuclearnation.jp/en/

0 ( +1 / -1 )

They are guilty of gross negligence resulting in an enormous disaster that affects millions of people. Their internal study indicated in 2006 that they could be hit by a large tsunami. They willfully chose not to spend the 8 billion yen to make defensive improvements. But I agree with the other posters - nothing will happen. Not least because the gov and METI are also to blame for lax regulatory standards.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

its all politics but needs to be done in order to make public the farce that is tepco.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

what a load of BS, most theyll get is a slap on the hand and 10% salary deducted for 6 months.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

This is a general problem with corporate capitalism and corporate governance not just in Japan but elsewhere. If it is a private owner, it is easier to assign responsibility and find direct negligence. But corporate managers, who are actually responsible and receive big salaries and bonuses to supposedly take responsibility, are able to hide behind systems with bureaucratic layers where they can shuffle responsibility down the line, thus avoiding punishment.

Since this was not an accident, but a man-made disaster, it is only fair to the victims and their families that leaders of the company and even regulators be found criminally negligent and receive some kind of punishment. Yet sadly, neoliberal capitalism aims at creating vastly unfair and unequal societies, so we shouldn't hold our breaths for a socially acceptable outcome in this case.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"The judicial review is unlikely to see TEPCO executives go to jail," NOT going to happen, money wins again. The shadow bosses call the shots pure and simple. If it was a foreign company providing the service the executives would be behind bars by now.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

No doubt we'll see a "our actions were deeply regrettable" style statement post-verdict - the verdict being nothing more than a slap on the wrist of course. Now, if only the judges could finally make an example of these ciminals...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Wish Japan Today would do a poll to vote whether Tepco executives and their amakudari officials who drew salaries (kickbacks in reality) in return for guarding Tepco interests should go to jail or just get a slap on their wrists. I'm almost sure I speak for the rest of the populations when I say they should spend the rest of their lives in jail and in shame.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

They are guilty of gross negligence resulting in an enormous disaster that affects millions of people. Their internal study indicated in 2006 that they could be hit by a large tsunami. They willfully chose not to spend the 8 billion yen to make defensive improvements. But I agree with the other posters - nothing will happen. Not least because the gov and METI are also to blame for lax regulatory standards.

Any study can point out a chance of something happening (in fact, that's kind of their job), but the balancing of safety concerns vs economics is within the range of business decisions, and it is unfair and political to claim criminal negligence just because a decision doesn't work out. Already IMO the current persecution is more political than real and not really in the overall benefit of Japan.

Generally, to prove criminal negligence, they'll at the very least have to be acting against the regulatory standards at the time, and they almost certainly hadn't done that. It isn't politics that will liberate them, but the normal legal process.

In fact, I'm skeptical about political influences having been involved in the prosecutor's decision to not prosecute. To put it bluntly, given the witch hunt atmosphere in Japan, a "prosecute" approach will very much be in the interests of the Japanese government, so they can be seen to be taking a "tough, uncompromising stance.". But it just ain't gonna work out.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Any study can point out a chance of something happening (in fact, that's kind of their job), but the balancing of safety concerns vs economics is within the range of business decisions, and it is unfair and political to claim criminal negligence just because a decision doesn't work out.

But in this case, there was evidence of said tsunamis happening in the past, and with the potential for disaster (that was eventually realized) was too huge to ignore for the sake of profits. This is what should make it criminal negligence. Though I'm skeptical that it ever will.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

But in this case, there was evidence of said tsunamis happening in the past, and with the potential for disaster (that was eventually realized) was too huge to ignore for the sake of profits. This is what should make it criminal negligence. Though I'm skeptical that it ever will.

First, as a logical principle, whether you know of something happening in the past should not affect your assessment of probability. For example, the probability of winning a lottery is 1/1,000,000. What is the probability of you winning the next round because someone you know, or even you personally had won it before? It is still 1/1,000,000, isn't it?

If it is assessed that the magnitude of the disaster is so large that risks cannot be accepted, then it should be written in the safety standard. The old one, not the one written in a panic immediately after a disaster.

If safety is free, companies will always choose maximum safety. The problem is that it is not - safety is almost always bought at increased cost. More training. Higher walls. More backups, tougher lines. Larger reserves. Armoring the reactor in triple shells. Reactors must be replaced every 10 years to ensure incoporation of the latest tech. Needless to say, this cost trickles down to the electrical consumers and has a ripple effect on the economy. In other words, every time one insists on a safety standard, he is trading off reducing a risk by definitely putting a small dent in the economy as a whole. Every bit of un-needed safety costs all of Japan to no gain.

As a result, there will always be a compromise between safety and economy, and after haggling (in the appropriate bureaucratic and scientific language) between all the interested parties, the agreed lines are drawn up as a bunch of regulatory standards and documents. And the standard is, as long as you follow those standards, you are considered to be duely diligent - and if you don't you are not.

To do excessive Monday morning quarterbacking after the disaster will be to violate this prized principle. What is the point of standards if you don't get any protection by following them? If standards can't be counted upon, the only way out for corporations is to quit, or incorporate every possible protection, The people will be pleased until they realize all the costs of such protection is passed to them. Already, Japan is paying by the nose every month for excessive nuclear-phobia.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Hmm should they charge them? Hmmmmm YES!!!!!! It's was their job to make sure things where on the up and up ans safety precautions were being upheld. We all know now they were not!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Totally agree with strangerland and Zichi. Zichi, I read somewhere that their first study (following the enormous tsunami in Southeast Asia in 2004) concluded there could be a 15 meter tsunami at Daiichi. A later study (I think it was 2008) concluded that they could build a sea wall adequate to withstand such a tsunami for 8bn yen (about $80 million). Seeing as the cost has turned out to be 1,000 or 10,000 times larger (or more) it would seem that from a cost/benefit analysis this is a no-brainer. Unless you assume that if it happens you can just evacuate from Tokyo (like the CEO of TEPCO apparently did) and then get re-assigned in some other cushy job and hide behind the corporate veil. Shimazaki, I agee that the regulator is also culpable here, including government officials. That is why nothing is going to happen.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Kazuaki Shimazaki is correct for the criminal liability, you need to show proof beyond a reasonable doubt. What we see many of these post are emotional judgments based on hindsight.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

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