Fukushima residents call for criminal charges against nuclear officials

An aerial view of the quake-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in the town of Futaba, Fukushima prefecture last March.

Story highlights

  • An unusual criminal complaint singles out TEPCO executives and public officials
  • It is filed by more than 1,000 Fukushima residents
  • Prosecutors will assess the complaint before deciding whether to bring charges
  • TEPCO says it has not yet received the complaint

The executives of the Japanese utility that owns the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and a number of the country's government officials should go to jail, according to a complaint filed by more than 1,000 local residents on Monday.

A total of 1,324 people lodged the unusual criminal complaint with the Fukushima prosecutor's office, naming Tsunehisa Katsumata, the chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and 32 others.

The complaint argues that the 33 TEPCO executives and government officials are responsible for causing the nuclear disaster that followed the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and exposing the people of Fukushima to radiation.

A spokesman for TEPCO said the company had not received the complaint yet and therefore couldn't immediately comment on the matter.

The Fukushima prosecutor's office will assess the complaint and decide whether it will bring criminal charges against the 33 people it names.

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"The Fukushima nuclear accident is the worst corporate crime in Japan's history and caused significant damage to the life, health and assets of the people of Fukushima and the rest of Japan," the group said on its website, dubbed the Plaintiffs Against the Fukushima Nuclear Plant.

The written complaint, filed with the Fukushima District Public Prosecutors Office, also named former TEPCO president Masataka Shimizu

The written complaint says the officials failed to prepare for the disaster, despite the number of earthquakes in Japan and the threat of a tsunami to Fukushima.

They also say the delay of data on the spread of radiation from the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information, or SPEEDI, caused further exposure of the community to radiation. The complaint accuses the executives and government officials of professional negligence resulting in death and injury.

"We lost our homeland, filled with beautiful nature, and our irreplaceable community. We shoulder the heavy burden of a divided local community and we are sitting in the midst of a suffering which shall never end," said the group.

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