Case blaming TEPCO ex-execs for 2011 nuclear accident goes to Supreme Court

An appeal was filed with Japan's Supreme Court on Tuesday over a high court ruling that acquitted three former power utility executives over the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Former Tokyo Electric Power Company Chairman Katsumata Tsunehisa and former vice presidents Takekuro Ichiro and Muto Sakae were indicted in 2016 on charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury. The indictment was based on a decision by a prosecution inquest panel composed of randomly chosen citizens.

Patients at a hospital in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima and others died during evacuations prompted by nuclear meltdowns at the plant after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The former executives, who are in their 70s and 80s, are accused of being responsible for 44 of those deaths.

The Tokyo High Court found the three men not guilty last Wednesday, following a similar ruling by the Tokyo District Court in 2019.

In handing down its ruling, the high court deemed that the defendants were not required to suspend the plant's operation to avoid accidents as there was no way to predict the giant tsunami.

Court-appointed lawyers acting as prosecutors in the case said after the ruling that the decision is tantamount to denying the need to take measures against earthquakes and tsunami that remain scientifically unpredictable.

TEPCO declined to make comments on the appeal, but said it apologizes for causing worries and troubles to many people.