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Tokyo High Court Finds Tepco Executives Not Guilty

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The Tokyo High Court has found a trio of former Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) executives "not guilty" for the March 2011 Fukushima disaster, though the issue of such personal liability — either criminal or civil — will continue to be adjudicated through the Japanese courts for years. On Jan. 18 the court upheld a September 2019 lower court ruling that exonerated three former Tepco executives on charges of professional negligence, concluding they could not have predicted the tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and triggered three reactor meltdowns. Plaintiffs had argued that these executives' negligence had resulted in 44 local residents dying during the chaotic evacuation of the nearby area. This week's verdict contrasted with a separate shareholder derivative civil case in which a July 2022 Tokyo District Court decision — already appealed — found the same executives liable for over 13 trillion yen ($9.7 billion) in damages to Tepco. A spokesperson for the Fukushima victims warned that this week's verdict "will lead to the next nuclear disaster" and urged lawyers to appeal to the Supreme Court and "dig into" the contrast with the civil case judgment.

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Nuclear Policy
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