Ex-TEPCO exec: Preventing accidents is difficult

Ex-TEPCO exec: Preventing accidents is difficult

A former vice president of the operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says it is difficult to say what could have prevented the 2011 nuclear accident.

Ichiro Takekuro testified at the Tokyo District Court on Friday in the trial of 3 Tokyo Electric Power Company executives.

Takekuro, as well as former chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and former vice president Sakae Muto, were indicted by court-appointed lawyers on charges of professional negligence resulting in death. All 3 have denied the charges.

Public prosecutors decided in 2013 not to press charges against the 3, but a prosecution inquest panel of randomly selected citizens later voted to indict them.
Takekuro headed the section responsible for nuclear plants, and Muto was in charge of nuclear plant safety measures.

In the questioning on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, Muto testified that in July 2008, 3 years before the accident, he decided to hold off on countermeasures against a projected massive tsunami and to refer the matter to experts.

Muto said he reported the decision to Takekuro in August of that year.

On Friday, Takekuro said he does not recall being briefed. He also said he first learned of the decision in April or May 2009 from another subordinate, and that he was told that simulation results were unreliable and that many things were unclear.

Takekuro added he thought it was only natural to ask for expert opinions.

Asked about what could have prevented the accident, Takekuro said that is a very difficult question to answer.

Takekuro said it was hard to deal with uncertainty and ambiguity, and he had to consider the matter comprehensively. He added he did his best to carry out his duties.