Over 1300 Fukushima Residents Demand Nuclear Officials Face Jail
Lawsuit filed Monday accuses TEPCO, gov't officials of negligence in disaster
Over 1300 residents of Fukushima filed a criminal complaint on Monday against 33 people including Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) executives and workers in government organizations saying that they are responsible for negligence over the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster and should go to jail.
The groups says that the officials failed to adequately prepare for the nuclear disaster, despite the well-known risks of earthquakes and tsunamis in the area.
"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, the Plaintiffs Against the Fukushima Nuclear Plant, said on its website.
At a news conference where the group and their lawyer addressed a crowd after submitting the complaint, Ruiko Muto, the 58-year-old head of the group that submitted the complaint, said, "We want to restore our power by having prefectural residents come together as one, saying, 'We're not staying silent.'"
"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," the group lamented.
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Tokyo (CNN) -- 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.
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Altogether, 15 TEPCO executives including Katsumata and Masataka Shimizu, who was president of TEPCO when the nuclear disaster broke out, are named in the complaint. Another 15 people, including Haruki Madarame, head of the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan, and Nobuaki Terasaka, head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, are from government organizations. The remaining three, who include Fukushima Medical University vice president Shunichi Yamashita, a radiation health risk advisor after the outbreak of the nuclear disaster, are specialists.
The residents accuse the 33 of negligence in their response to the nuclear crisis. They say that after the outbreak of the crisis, the government did not release data from its System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI), which predicts the spread of radiation. They also say that specialists underscored "safety" after the accident. These factors delayed residents' evacuation and caused them to be exposed to radiation, their complaint says. In addition, the residents accuse TEPCO and the company's officials of violating the Environmental Pollution Offense Law by releasing radioactive materials from the plant. [...]
"Disaster victims should express their anger more," said 72-year-old Ryuko Tachibana, who was in the Fukushima town of Namie when the nuclear disaster broke out and moved nine times in the wake of the meltdowns. "The wounds that people suffered as a result of the accident are all too deep," she added, addressing a gathering.