Chaos in Tokyo After Prosecutors Drop Charges Over Fukushima Nuclear Meltdowns
By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | March 4, 2014 3:56 PM EST
It was a blow to the lowest core. Three years after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown, prosecutors in Japan decided to drop charges, essentially holding no one accountable for the disaster and its aftermath.
Although no one directly died following the radiation released when the Fukushima nuclear plant got crippled by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, the July 2012 results made by independent investigative committee set up by the Japanese government said the accident was "man-made disaster" due to shortcomings in the country's corporate culture.
Prosecutors however ruled that there was nothing wrong with how plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) and the government officials conducted their post-quake response given that it was an unexpected emergency situation. TEPCO surely cannot predict an earthquake and tsunami of that size, they said.
"Absolutely no-one is taking responsibility for this huge accident and when all these people are suffering," Aileen Mioko-Smith, of Kyoto-based Green Action Japan, told The Telegraph.
"The investigation clearly stated this was an accident created by humans, not a natural disaster, but the judicial system here has now decided to side with the powers-that-be," she said.
The decision to drop the charges was completely irresponsible, she said. "And I fear that failing to prosecute in this case will lead to another disaster in the future."
In 2012, more than 15,000 people whose homes or farms were hit by radiation from the stricken plant filed a criminal complaint against the Japanese government and TEPCO.
But prosecutors said it's hard to prove negligence, effectively dismissing the case.
"There are many victims of the accident, but there is no 'assailant'," Ruiko Muto, organiser of the rally, told protestors.
Hiroyuki Kawai, the campaigners' lawyer, believed had TEPCO made detailed foresight, the disaster could have been prevented. "We won't give up indictment of the officials," he said.
The giant tsunami that smashed into the northeast coast killed some 18,500 people and wiped entire communities off the map. Tens of thousands of people are still unable to return to their homes around the crippled Fukushima plant.
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