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Judge to be Changed Just Before Tokai Daini Nuclear Power Plant Appeals Court; Plaintiffs See Problems with His Past Representation of the State

Tokai Daini Nuclear Power Plant is under construction for restart, from the Oozuru helicopter in Tokai-mura, Ibaraki Prefecture, in August 2021.

January 25, 2023
The Tokyo High Court, which is in charge of the lawsuit against Japan Atomic Power Company’s Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant (Tokai-mura, Ibaraki Prefecture), is expected to move to a different division in the appeal trial of the injunction lawsuit against the plant’s operation. The plaintiffs’ lawyers had asked the presiding judge to voluntarily withdraw from the case, citing problems with the fact that he had represented the national government in past administrative lawsuits related to nuclear power plants. The first date of the appeal hearing, which was scheduled for March 31, has been canceled. (Mayumi Kojima)
Defense team “appreciates the decision.
 According to the defense team, the chief judge in charge of the case, Norio Nagatani, worked for many years in the Litigation Division of the Ministry of Justice, which is in charge of proving the government’s case in administrative lawsuits. In addition to representing the government in several nuclear power plant-related lawsuits, he was also a councilor in charge of litigation and in a position to direct the administrative lawsuit (later withdrawn) that sought an injunction against the operation of Tokai No. 2 from the government.
 Last September, Nagatani was transferred from the head of the Hiroshima District Court to the Tokyo High Court, where he became the presiding judge for the appeal of the injunction lawsuit. In December, the defense lawyers asked Nagatani to voluntarily withdraw from the case on the grounds that a fair trial would not be conducted.
 According to attorney Yuichi Kaito of the defense team, on the 25th of this month, Mr. Nagatani explained to them that “in view of various circumstances, the case will be reassigned. A new department is expected to take over the proceedings.
 At a press conference held in Tokyo on March 25, attorney Hiroyuki Kawai said, “Mr. Nagatani said he would be fair and neutral regardless of his background, but objectively speaking, there is an inference that he is siding with the administration. (I commend him for making the decision to change the case. Mr. Kaito said, “You should not be both the representative of the government and the presiding judge in administrative lawsuits. (The exchange of judges (between judges and prosecutors) was banned by the DPJ administration, and the exchange of judges with representatives of the state in administrative lawsuits should also have been banned,” he noted.
◆Although the motion was filed… “It is highly unusual for a judge to actually be replaced.”
 The appeal of the injunction lawsuit against the Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant by Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC), which resulted in the unusual prospect of a change in the trial division in charge of the case, was heard by the court. It is rare for judges to be replaced under the same circumstances, and an expert pointed out that “the very fact that he tried to preside over the case in the first place shows a lack of common sense.
 According to the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the Tokai No. 2 lawsuit, a Supreme Court judge avoided participating in the hearing of the Hyakuri Air Base (Ibaraki Prefecture) lawsuit, in which the constitutionality of the Self Defense Forces was disputed and the Supreme Court rejected the appeal in 1989, because he had been involved in the government’s substantiation activities in the past. In 1991, a judge at the Odawara Branch of the Yokohama District Court was replaced after the plaintiffs alleged that he had conducted the case in a way that favored the defendants.
 In 2018, the Kanazawa Branch of the Nagoya High Court rejected a motion by the plaintiffs to replace a judge at the first instance court that had vacated an injunction on KEPCO’s Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Ooi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture. The Kanazawa District Court also rejected the plaintiffs’ motion for an injunction against Hokuriku Electric Power Co.’s Shiga Nuclear Power Plant (Ishikawa Prefecture), which is currently under litigation.
 Former judge Hajime Tada, attorney-at-law, commented on the replacement motion, “It is often a kind of a warning shot to the court. It is extremely unusual for a judge to actually be replaced. In the case of Tokai Daini, he pointed out, “It cannot be said that the court can make a neutral decision, and it is quite natural for the court to change the trial division. He criticized the change, saying, “It shows that the court is leaning toward the administration and disrespects the independence of the judiciary. (Kenta Onozawa)
Plaintiffs’ Residents Welcome the Decision
 The plaintiff residents living near the Tokai Daini Nuclear Power Plant voiced their surprise and welcome. Hiroko Kawano, 80, whose home is 1.7 km from the plant, said, “It was too badly done, so I am glad. I think the plaintiffs’ petition was approved,” she said happily.
 She learned of Judge Norio Nagatani’s background at a rally held by the plaintiffs’ group in Tokyo on April 22. I thought the government was doing an amazing job,” he said. Although there is supposed to be separation of powers, it looks as if the government has intervened in the appointment of the court.
 Kiyoko Aizawa, 81, of Tokai-mura, said, “I thought the government would continue to forcefully proceed. The news reports have been covering the situation, so perhaps they couldn’t just ignore it. Tokai No. 2 is decrepit, and there are many people living around it. I don’t know who the next presiding judge will be, but I definitely want to win.
 A 74-year-old man living in Hitachi City, a neighbor to the north of Tokai Village, said, “The court effectively accepted our side of the story, and I think they really meant to hit us where it hurts. I don’t think the government’s major policy of wanting to overturn the first trial at any cost has changed. I don’t think the government has changed its major policy of wanting to overturn the first trial at any cost, and I think they may try some more tricks.
 On the other hand, Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC) responded to an interview with this newspaper, saying, “We do not know the details of the case, so we will refrain from commenting. (Nagasaki High School and University)


February 4, 2023 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Lawyers condemn acquittal of Fukushima ex-execs

January 18, 2023

Lawyers supporting the victims of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster criticised a Japanese court’s ruling on Wednesday that absolved Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) of responsibility for the disaster.

Three former executives of TEPCO were found not guilty of negligence over the nuclear meltdowns and the subsequent deaths of more than 40 elderly residents during their forced evacuation.

Prosecution lawyer Shozaburo Ishida described the verdicts as “absolutely unacceptable.”

The Tokyo High Court ruling upheld a 2019 lower court decision that also acquitted the three former top TEPCO officials, noting that a tsunami of that magnitude was unforeseeable.

The court said ex-TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 82, and two other former executives were also not guilty of causing the deaths of 44 elderly patients whose already waning health deteriorated during or after forced evacuations from a local hospital and a nursing home.

The executives were accused of failing to anticipate the massive tsunami that struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on March 11, 2011, following a magnitude 9 earthquake, and of failing to take measures that might have saved the plant.

February 4, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , | Leave a comment

TEPCO’s former management forced to indict former management.

Just a travesty of justice: The designated attorney requested an on-site inspection at the appeal hearing, but the trial concluded today without such an inspection.

June 6, 2022
The appeal trial for the mandatory prosecution of three former TEPCO executives over the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, in which they were acquitted at the first trial, concluded today without an on-site inspection.

Former TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and three other former TEPCO executives were indicted on charges of manslaughter in connection with the nuclear accident.

The first trial court acquitted them in 2019 on the grounds that “it is not recognized that they could have predicted the occurrence of a huge tsunami,” and the designated lawyer acting as the prosecutor appealed the verdict.

At the appeal hearing held today at the Tokyo High Court, the designated lawyer pointed out that “the three could and should have foreseen the tsunami,” based on the “long-term assessment” issued by the government’s earthquake headquarters before the disaster. He argued that the first trial court’s decision to deny the reliability of the long-term assessment was erroneous.

The defense, on the other hand, argued for acquittal on the grounds that “there was no error in the first trial.

The designated attorney requested an on-site inspection at the appeal hearing, but the trial concluded today without such an inspection.

June 8, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | 1 Comment

Three former TEPCO executives to be sentenced on appeal in December-January, or forced prosecution for nuclear accident.

Ichiro Takekuro (left), former vice president of TEPCO, enters the Tokyo High Court for the appeal trial of three former TEPCO executives who were indicted over the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

June 6, 2022
On June 6, the Tokyo High Court (presided over by Keisuke Hosoda) held the third hearing of an appeal against three former TEPCO executives who were indicted on charges of manslaughter and death for negligence in connection with the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident and failure to take tsunami countermeasures. The designated attorney acting as the prosecutor requested that the Tokyo District Court ruling acquitting the three be reversed, and the defense reiterated its plea of not guilty at the conclusion of the trial. The verdict is expected in December or January next year.

 The three defendants are Tsunehisa Katsumata, 82, former chairman; Ichiro Takekuro, 76, former vice president; and Sakae Mutoh, 71, former vice president. The main point of contention, as in the first trial, is whether the three defendants were able to foresee the occurrence of the giant tsunami and whether they were able to take measures to prevent the accident.
Designated Lawyer: “The First-Instance Judgment is Wrong

 The district court ruling in 2007 rejected the reliability of the “long-term evaluation” of earthquake forecasts released by the government in 2002, and ruled that the earthquake was not foreseeable enough to shut down the plant.

 On the day of the hearing, the designated attorney appealed that the first instance decision was erroneous, citing the example of the reliability of the long-term assessment being recognized in a civil court ruling on liability for the accident. He stated, “If reliability is recognized, the validity of the first instance judgment will be overturned from the bottom up.”

 The defense, on the other hand, countered that the fact-finding process in a criminal trial is different from that in a civil trial, and that “this is no basis for holding that the first-instance decision was erroneous.

 According to the representatives of the families of the victims in the criminal trial, the high court explained after the conclusion of the trial that it would set the date for the verdict in December or January of next year.

June 8, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Appeal Hearings End for 3 Ex-TEPCO Execs over 2011 Meltdowns

June 6, 2022

Tokyo, June 6 (Jiji Press)–Tokyo High Court concluded on Monday hearings for three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. <9501> in an appeal trial over the 2011 meltdowns at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The three are former Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 82, and former executive vice presidents Sakae Muto, 71, and Ichiro Takekuro, 76. The court is likely to issue its verdict in December or the following month, according to an attorney in the trial.

The trio came under mandatory indictment on charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury over the unprecedented triple meltdown at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 plant in northeastern Japan and were acquitted in the first trial.

In the first trial, hearings were held 37 times, while only three hearings took place for the appeal, including the first one in November last year.

Lawyers appointed to act as prosecutors had asked judges to conduct on-site inspections and demanded former senior officials of the Japan Meteorological Agency testify about the government’s long-term assessments of earthquake and tsunami risks.

June 8, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment