TEPCO ex-chairman: tsunami couldn't be predicted

TEPCO ex-chairman: tsunami couldn't be predicted

In a trial at a Tokyo court, a former chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company has claimed that the massive tsunami that led to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster could not be predicted.

Former TEPCO chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and former vice presidents Ichiro Takekuro and Sakae Muto were indicted on charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury.

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, leading to mandatory indictments by court-appointed lawyers.

The Tokyo District Court has already heard from Muto and Takekuro. Katsumata took the stand on Tuesday.

Katsumata first apologized for the nuclear accident.

Katsumata was allegedly briefed in 2009 by an official of TEPCO at the time on the possibility of the Fukushima plant being hit by a tsunami about 14 meters high.

In the hearing, Katsumata said the official who made the report sounded very skeptical. He said he believed the Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Division was doing its job, and that he saw no need to cast doubt on safety measures.

Lawyers serving as prosecutors argued that the top management bears the ultimate responsibility for ensuring nuclear plant safety.

Katsumata said safety is the Plant Siting Division's most important job. He repeatedly denied that he had the authority to make business decisions.

The hearing will now shift to statements of opinion by the families of those whose deaths are linked to evacuations of areas near the nuclear accident.