15 Août 2013
August 15, 2013
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who led the government's response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, denied Wednesday he is criminally responsible for the crisis, sources close to the issue said.
While residents groups across Japan, mainly in Fukushima Prefecture, filed complaints against 40 people including Kan and his Cabinet members on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in injuries, Kan said in a document submitted to prosecutors through his lawyers that "there was no problem" with his immediate response to the crisis triggered, the sources said.
In their criminal complaints, the residents accused Kan and two of his ministers of failing to take prompt venting measures to lessen the pressure within the reactor containers before it caused hydrogen explosions and injured workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.
The two ministers are then Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda, who now heads the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, and then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano. Kan served as prime minister from June 2010 through September 2011.
Kan's visit to the plant on the morning of March 12, 2011, the day after it was crippled by a massive earthquake and tsunami, has been criticized for supposedly distracting the attention of its workers who should have been focusing on containing the crisis.
In the document, the former premier said he had given the green light to venting operations requested by TEPCO before visiting the plant and that his trip to the facility did not cause any problem.
A government-appointed panel investigating the nuclear disaster concluded in July last year that Kan could have dispatched other officials for on-site inspection, but that his visit did not affect venting operations at the facility.
After receiving claims by Kaieda and Edano, the prosecutors are expected to wrap up their investigations launched in August last year on their suspected negligence without indicting any of the 40 people, according to the sources.
They also include Tsunehisa Katsumata and Masataka Shimizu -- then chairman and president of TEPCO -- and Haruki Madarame, then chairman of the now-defunct Nuclear Safety Commission.
The prosecutors have decided, based on the testimony of tsunami experts, that the government and TEPCO could not have expected such a large tsunami due to the lack of unified knowledge on the height of tsunami.
If the prosecutors refrain from indicting them, the residents plan to ask an 11-member independent panel to seek indictments against the government and TEPCO officials.
August 13, 2013
Kan denies criminal liability for Fukushima crisis
Former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has denied criminal responsibility in the government's response to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.
Kan gave a written statement to Tokyo prosecutors on Wednesday. He denied he was negligent in dealing with the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Prosecutors have been investigating the case for more than a year following complaints from residents of Fukushima Prefecture and others.
The residents accused Kan of professional negligence that resulted in injuries to workers at the plant and radiation exposure among local residents.
Some workers were injured in a hydrogen explosion at the plant's No.1 reactor building at 3 PM on March 12th.
That's one day after the quake and tsunami damaged the plant.
The complaints say Kan's visit to the plant that morning hindered plant workers' efforts to contain the crisis. They say the resulting delay in a venting operation to ease pressure in the reactor containment vessel led to the explosion.
Sources close to the former prime minister say Kan insists in his statement that the workers could have conducted the operation early in the morning but did not.
Kan reportedly says he visited the plant to press for a quick response, not to delay it.
Criminal complaints have also been filed against former executives of the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, and officials at Japan's former nuclear regulatory agency.
The prosecutors are expected to make a final decision as early as this month on whether to press charges.