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For failing to stop the disaster, former executives of the company that operated the Fukushima nuclear power plant have been condemned to pay 13 trillion yen (£80 billion).
Shareholders filed a lawsuit against Tepco’s executives as a result of the meltdown that occurred in 2011 and were brought on by a tsunami. According to the court’s ruling, the executives could have avoided the accident if they had taken reasonable precautions.
Tepco expressed regret but chose not to comment on the legal dispute.
Holders of banners with the slogans “Shareholders win” and “Responsibility recognized” left the Tokyo court.
According to their attorneys, it was the greatest sum of money ever awarded in a civil case in Japan. They admitted that the former employer’s ability to pay 13 trillion yen was “far beyond,” but they insisted that the plaintiffs expected the men to pay as much as their resources would allow.
On March 11, 2011, a large earthquake off the coast of northeastern Japan sparked a tsunami, which then caused a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
It was the worst nuclear power catastrophe since the Ukrainian Chornobyl disaster in 1986, but because much less radioactive iodine was discharged, it was thought to have less of an impact on the local population. The disaster did not result in any fatalities, but the radiation’s long-term effects are still up for debate.
Tepco shareholders said that if managers had listened to studies and taken preventative measures, such as positioning an emergency power supply on higher ground, the 2011 tragedy might have been avoided.
The court determined the executives disregarded reliable warnings and that nuclear plant operators have “an obligation to avert serious accidents based on the latest scientific and professional engineering knowledge.”
The former employers’ compensation is meant to offset Tepco’s expenditures associated with decommissioning the reactors, compensating impacted residents, and cleaning up contamination. Shareholders brought the civil lawsuit in 2012.
According to the court’s ruling, the lawsuit was founded on the “most in-depth analysis of the facts on the cause of the Fukushima nuclear accident.” Additionally, suppose the defendants are prepared to consider the devastation the nuclear catastrophe caused to many residents. In that case, they must offer a sincere apology to them and follow this judgment without appealing.
In a separate case in 2019, the Tokyo District Court ruled three Tepco officials not guilty of professional negligence after concluding that they were unable to predict the tsunami.
The Tokyo High Court is anticipated to decide the matter after it is appealed next year.