Three Tokyo Power executives found not guilty in Fukushima nuclear disaster

This Sept. 30, 2017 aerial photo shows the reactors of No. 6, right, and No. 7, left, at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, Niigata prefecture. Japanese nuclear regulators say two reactors run by the utility blamed in the Fukushima plant meltdowns have met their safety standards, saying the operator has since taken sufficient measures at another plant it owns. The Nuclear Regulation Authority unanimously approved Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, a draft certificate for No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at the plant in northern Japan operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. under stricter standards set after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. (Kyodo News via AP)
This Sept. 30, 2017 aerial photo shows the reactors of No. 6, right, and No. 7, left, at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, Niigata prefecture. Japanese nuclear regulators say two reactors run by the utility blamed in the Fukushima plant meltdowns have met their safety standards, saying the operator has since taken sufficient measures at another plant it owns. The Nuclear Regulation Authority unanimously approved Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, a draft certificate for No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at the plant in northern Japan operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. under stricter standards set after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. (Kyodo News via AP)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — The only criminal prosecution related to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster ended today with the Tokyo District Court deciding that the three former executives from Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) are not guilty.

The verdict means that no individuals are criminally liable for one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters since Chernobyl.

The defendants, former Tepco Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and vice-presidents Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro, were prosecuted for professional negligence resulting in death.

The prosecutors initially refused to bring charges. However, in an effort of the citizens, lawyers appointed by the court decided to indict them in 2016, saying that they could have prevented the disaster and thus seek a five-year jail term for each.

According to Bloomberg, the defense argued that it was impossible to predict how severe the tsunami would damage the plant, saying the executives estimated the wave would be 13 meters higher.

However, appointed lawyers pointed out other Tepco officials had already alerted that the wave could be as high as 15 meters.

The court said in a statement: “If you had to consider every possibility associated with tsunamis and be required to take necessary measures, it would be impossible to operate nuclear power plants.”

A magnitude 9 earthquake struck Japan on March 11, 2011, triggered a large-scale tsunami that engulfed the nuclear plant, knocking vital cooling systems down and causing the three reactor cores to meltdown.

Forty-four patients in a nearby hospital died because the high-radiation caused the emergency crews couldn’t rescue them.

By Carol Kan