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Former vice-president of TEPCO apologises

October 16, 2018


Ex-TEPCO VP apologizes as defendant questioning begins in Fukushima nuclear disaster trial



TOKYO -- A former vice president of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) apologized on Oct. 16 during court questioning of three ex-TEPCO top officials indicted on charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury over the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Defendant Sakae Muto, 68, said, "To the many people who lost their lives, their family members or those who were forced to evacuate their homes, I have caused you great pain that cannot be expressed in words, and I extend my deepest apologies. I am very sorry about what happened."


The questioning of Muto at the Tokyo District Court over the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in northern Japan is scheduled to continue until the evening, with plans to resume on Oct. 17.


The other former executives indicted in the criminal trial are 78-year-old former chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and former vice president Ichiro Takekuro, 72. This trial marks the first time that the three top officials will be questioned in detail in a court of law about their responsibility for the Fukushima nuclear disaster.


According to the indictment, while the three were aware of the possibility of a large tsunami hitting the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Plant, they neglected to take countermeasures, leading to the March 2011 accident. As a result, they are thought to have caused the deaths of 44 patients who had to evacuate from Futaba Hospital in the town of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, near the power plant for a long period of time due to the accident, among other charges.


At the first hearing of the trial in June 2017, Muto said, "Looking back now, there was no way of predicting that such an accident could occur. I do not believe we are responsible." The other two defendants are also maintaining their innocence in the matter.


Former vice president Takekuro will be questioned on Oct. 19, followed by former chairman Katsumata on Oct. 20.


(Japanese original by Masanori Makita, City News Department, and Mirai Nagira, Science & Environment News Department)





Ex-TEPCO executive apologizes in court




A court in Tokyo is questioning a former executive of Tokyo Electric Power Company in a trial over the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi power plant in 2011. He apologized at the beginning of his testimony.

Tokyo District Court started questioning in the criminal trial of TEPCO's 3 former executives on Tuesday. One of them, former Vice President Sakae Muto, first took the stand to answer questions.

Muto said many people lost their lives, their families and homes and that he is deeply sorry for causing indescribable trouble.

In the morning, the defense lawyers asked questions about safety awareness at the power plant. Questioning by prosecutors is scheduled to take place in the afternoon.

This is the 30th hearing the court has convened for the trial that started in June last year. Muto will be questioned on Wednesday as well.

Together with Muto, former TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and former Vice President Ichiro Takekuro are accused of professional negligence resulting in death. They all are denying the charges, saying that they could not anticipate the massive tsunami and the accident.

Testimonies in the past hearings of the case revealed that the utility held off on taking measures to secure the plant even after learning about the possibility of a 15.7-meter tsunami striking the facility.

Attention is focused on how the accused will explain holding off on countermeasures despite being briefed of the possibility 3 years before the fatal tsunami, and their argument that a tsunami could not be predicted.




Court to question ex-TEPCO executives




A court in Tokyo will start questioning three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Company on Tuesday about the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident.

The 3 defendants are former TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and former Vice Presidents Ichiro Takekuro and Sakae Muto. They are accused of professional negligence resulting in death.

The trial began in June of last year. The focal point is whether a massive tsunami that hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was predictable, as well as whether the accident could have been prevented if necessary measures had been taken.

The 3 defendants maintain their innocence, saying they could not anticipate the accident.

The court has sat 29 times so far hearing the case, and 21 people have testified. It has heard testimony saying the utility held off on taking measures to secure the plant even after learning about the possibility of 15.7-meter tsunami striking the facility.

The court will start questioning former Vice President Muto on Tuesday.


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