More than 1,300 people filed a criminal complaint on Monday against Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) [corporate website] for causing the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant [IAEA backgrounder] and for the plaintiffs' resulting radiation. The complaint named [BBC report] as defendants Tsunehisa Katsumata, the chairman of TEPCO, Masataka Shimizu, the former president of the company, and Haruki Madarame [Washington Times profiles], the chief of the Nuclear Safety Commission, along with 30 other executives. The plaintiffs alleged that the company failed to ensure that the facility was secure against earthquakes and tsunamis despite warnings that the facility may be in risk. Additionally, the complaint accused the company of having failed to warn the citizens of Fukushima and the surrounding prefectures about the spread of radiation during the plant's meltdown, causing avoidable delay of evacuations. The Fukushima prosecutor's office must still review the complaint and decide whether to proceed in the case.
In March, the executives of the company faced another complaint filed [JURIST report] by a group of shareholders in the amount of USD $67 billion for similar claims. They claimed that the company failed to prevent the March 2011 disaster by ignoring warning signs and failing to take appropriate measure to mitigate damages in the event of an earthquake and ensuing tsunami. The March 2011meltdown is considered one of the biggest man-made environmental disasters of all time and the largest nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986. Japan has been criticized for its handling of the crisis, and international reception to nuclear energy has fallen sharply since the incident. In a Forum op-ed, Fukushima Illustrates Need for Nuclear Policy [JURIST op-ed], Tamar Cerafici of the Cerafici Law Firm discussed how the Fukushima disaster should guide US policy. Last August Japanese lawmakers voted to create a fund to compensate victims [JURIST report].