Japanese prosecutors will not indict three former Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) executives over their handling of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, a spokesman for Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office said Thursday.
However, according to Reuters, “a rarely used citizens’ panel could still force an indictment.”
The prosecutor’s office cited insufficient evidence for the lack of indictment. “We conclude that there is not enough evidence to suggest that TEPCO executives could have predicted or could have avoided (the accident),” said Ryoichi Nakahara, deputy chief prosecutor of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office.
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But that TEPCO could have predicted the danger is precisely the accusation leveled by the Prosecutorial Review Commission, made up of 11 unidentified citizens selected by lottery, which can now force an indictment if eight members of the panel vote in favor.
The Commission last year said that former TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, along with former Executive Vice-Presidents Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro, should face criminal charges for failing to protect the nuclear plant despite warnings of the dangers it faced from big tsunamis.
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According to AFP, Thursday’s “move is the latest in a tussle between legal authorities and an angry public over who should take responsibility for the reactor meltdowns in 2011 that forced tens of thousands from their homes, triggered by a massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake.”
A parliamentary report has said the Fukushima disaster was man-made—the result of Japan’s culture of ‘reflexive obedience’ as well as government-industry ‘collusion’—but no one has been punished criminally.