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TEPCO ex-chairman and others ordered to pay over $95 billion in compensation, shareholders request seizure of property

July 22, 2022

Following the ruling on the 13th of this month ordering TEPCO to compensate its former chairman and four others with over 13.3 trillion yen, shareholders have asked TEPCO to promptly seize the assets of the former chairman and others. TEPCO was ordered by the court to compensate the former chairman and four others with over 13.3 trillion yen.
TEPCO shareholders demanded that the former management of TEPCO compensate the company for 22 trillion yen, claiming that the company suffered massive damages due to the nuclear power plant accident, including decommissioning work and compensation for evacuees. In response, the shareholders’ lawyers filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming compensation of 22 trillion yen.

In response to this decision, lawyers for the shareholders held a press conference on March 22 and announced that they had requested TEPCO to take steps for “provisional execution” to seize the assets of the former chairman and others.

The court decision allows for provisional execution, which means that if the procedure is followed, it is possible to seize the deposits and real estate of the former chairman and others without waiting for the court decision to become final and binding in order to promptly compensate them for their losses.

Lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai said, “The fact that the court declared provisional execution on the judgment shows the court’s anger and sense of justice. If TEPCO is truly remorseful, it should not be defending the former management team, but should be executing the provisional execution,” he said.
TEPCO “will consider the matter and take appropriate action as a company”
TEPCO commented, “We will consider the contents of the written request and take appropriate action as a company.


July 22, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

VOX POPULI: Power company execs should think of liability if accident occurs

Plaintiffs and their lawyers hold a news conference on July 13 after the Tokyo District Court ordered four former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay 13 trillion yen in compensation.

July 19, 2022

I see something akin to chaos in the notably varied conclusions different courts reached in their verdicts of the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which Tokyo Electric Power Co. operates. 

Some courts ruled the government’s long-range assessment, which pointed out at an early date the possibility of a major tsunami, was scientifically reliable, while others raised their doubts.

Some verdicts severely questioned the responsibility of plant operators for failing to implement tsunami countermeasures, while other courts ruled that the government could not be held responsible as a regulatory authority because the disaster would have occurred no matter what countermeasures were in place.

Judges are human. As long as their decisions are made independently, I believe it is only natural that their opinions vary.

But as in a kaleidoscope where ordered patterns are created out of disorder, it may be possible to see a broad pattern emerge from the chaotic jumble of diverse court decisions.

When an accident occurs at a nuclear power plant, the government’s responsibility is not questioned too severely, but the utility and its executives are made to pay a huge price.

The Tokyo District Court on July 13 ordered former TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and three other former top executives to pay 13 trillion yen (about $94 billion) in damages.

If this ruling holds, the defendants will probably have to sell off their entire personal assets and, if necessary, eventually file for personal bankruptcy. That is the sheer size of the compensation they will have to pay.

The industrial-bureaucratic-academic complex dealing with nuclear power is dubbed Genshiryoku Mura (Nuclear power village) in Japanese. The “villagers” share common interests, but they do not share a common destiny.

I wonder how TEPCO’s current executives feel about the reality that has emerged from the court rulings to date.

And the government, whose destiny remains independent of the village’s, has started calling louder for nuclear power plants to be brought back online.

I respectfully suggest to utility executives that they think very carefully, as many times as needed, about how much 13 trillion yen actually is.

July 22, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

4 former executives blamed for Fukushima nuclear disaster and ordered to pay $97 billion to shareholders

After more than 11 years since the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, four former heads of Tokyo Electric Power Co. have been ordered to pay $97 billion for the damages caused by the disaster.

July 14, 2022

Four former heads of Japanese utility Tokyo Electric Power Co. have been ordered to pay 13.32 trillion yen ($97 billion) for the damages caused by the Mar. 11, 2011, Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown, as the country continues to struggle to deal with the aftermath of the disaster.

In the first case to lead to a verdict against TEPCO executives, presiding judge Yoshihide Asakura found that the leaders of the company at the time had failed to properly prepare for a tsunami-related accident.

The civil lawsuit, brought on by 48 TEPCO shareholders, claimed the three reactor meltdowns could have been avoided if measures had been taken to prevent flooding in the plant’s main buildings and critical equipment rooms.

The eye-popping $97 billion verdict is the largest ever awarded by a court for a civil lawsuit, according to the Japan Times.

11 years on

The aftermath of the nuclear disaster can still be felt in Japan and the rest of the world more than 11 years later. Scientists continue working to decommission and decontaminate the plant, which still has more than 1.24 million tonnes of water contaminated with radioactivity on-site. TEPCO has recently been campaigning to dump the water into the surrounding ocean—a plan met with pushback from environmentalists and the local fishing industry.

Many residents are also still not able to return to their homes near the site. Of the 154,000 people who were evacuated after the nuclear meltdown, 37,000 were still unable to return home due to the risk of radiation as of 2021.

A spokesperson for TEPCO told Fortune, “We deeply apologize for the immense burden and deep concern the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station of TEPCO Holdings, Inc. is causing local residents and society at large.”

The spokesperson declined to comment on the litigation against TEPCO.

The lawsuit

The civil lawsuit was initially filed against five former TEPCO officials—including former chair Tsunehisa Katsumata and former president Masataka Shimizu—and centered on whether senior TEPCO management could have predicted a serious nuclear accident hitting the facility after a powerful tsunami. The court found one of the five executives not responsible in the civil suit: Akio Komori, a former managing executive officer and director of the Fukushima plant.

The plaintiffs charged the TEPCO executives with ignoring recommendations to take stronger tsunami protection measures and initially sought 22 trillion yen ($158 billion) in compensation to completely neutralize the site. The plaintiffs sought 8 trillion yen to decommission the plant completely, another 6 trillion to decontaminate the site and build interim nuclear waste storage, and 8 trillion for victim compensation.

In the case, the executives argued that the data presented to them in a long-term government assessment of possible tsunami damage published in 2002 was unreliable, and they could not have foreseen the massive tsunami that triggered the disaster.

The Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami ended up being the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan and the fourth most powerful in the world, and would eventually claim 19,747 deaths, with 2,556 people still missing as of 2021.

Even if it was possible to predict the damage, the defendants argued, they didn’t have the time to take the needed countermeasures.

In the end, the judge ruled in favor of the prosecution, saying the company’s countermeasures against the tsunami “fundamentally lacked safety awareness and a sense of responsibility.” According to Kyodo News Agency, the defendants will be expected to pay as much as their assets allow.  

Criminal complaint

This is not the first lawsuit brought against the TEPCO executives. The same prosecutors filed a criminal lawsuit against three of the five defendants—Katsumata, former vice president Ichiro Takekuro, and vice president Sakae Muto—in the Tokyo District Court of criminal responsibility. The prosecutors at the time sought a five-year prison term for each executive.

The three executives were found not guilty of professional negligence, as they could not have foreseen the huge tsunami, and cleared by the court in the 2019 ruling. Prosecutors have since appealed the decision; a ruling is expected in early 2023.

July 16, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear disaster: ex-bosses of owner Tepco ordered to pay ¥13tn

Firm’s president at time of disaster among four defendants found liable for $95 billion in damage by Tokyo court

The then Tepco president, Masataka Shimizu, left, and its executive vice-president Takashi Fujimoto enter a press conference on 13 March 2011

A court in Japan has ordered former executives of Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) to pay ¥13tn (£80bn) in damages for failing to prevent a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011.

The ruling by Tokyo district court centred on whether senior Tepco management could have predicted a serious nuclear accident striking the facility after a powerful tsunami.

Four defendants, including Tepco’s president at the time of the disaster, Masataka Shimizu, were ordered to pay the sum, while a fifth was not found liable for damages, according to the Kyodo news agency.

The plant in Fukushima, 150 miles north of Tokyo, experienced meltdowns in three of its six reactors after it was struck by a tsunami on 11 March 2011, flooding the backup generators.

The tsunami, which was triggered by a magnitude-9 earthquake, killed more than 18,000 people along Japan’s north-east coast.

The meltdowns at Fukushima, the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chornobyl 25 years earlier, caused massive radiation leaks and forced the evacuation of more than 150,000 people living nearby – some of who have only recently been given permission to return to their homes.

The lawsuit, which was filed in 2012 by 48 Tepco shareholders, is the first to find company executives liable for damages connected to the Fukushima disaster, which shook Japan’s faith in nuclear energy and resulted in widespread closures of atomic power plants.

The plaintiffs had sought a record ¥22tn in damages. The executives found liable are unlikely to have the capacity to pay the full amount, according to media reports, but will be expected to pay as much as their assets allow.

Tepco did not comment on the ruling, saying it would not respond to individual lawsuits, according to Kyodo.

The court said the company’s countermeasures against tsunami “fundamentally lacked safety awareness and a sense of responsibility”.

Tepco has argued it was powerless to take precautions against a tsunami of the size that struck in March 2011, and that it had done everything possible to protect the plant. But an internal company document revealed in 2015 that it had been aware of the need to improve the facility’s defences against tsunami more than two years before the disaster, but had failed to take action.

Plaintiffs also cited a government report that showed Tepco had predicted in June 2008 that the Fukushima plant could be hit by tsunami waves of up to 15.7 metres in height after a major offshore earthquake.

The court said the government’s assessment had been reliable enough to oblige Tepco to take preventive measures.

July 16, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Former Tepco executives ordered to pay $95 billion in damages over Fukushima nuclear disaster

The ruling, in a civil case brought by Tepco shareholders, marks the first time a court has found former executives responsible for the nuclear disaster, local media reports said.

Tanks storing treated radioactive water at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in March.

The Tokyo district court on Wednesday ordered four former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) to pay 13 trillion yen ($95 billion) in damages to the operator of the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, national broadcaster NHK reported.

The ruling, in a civil case brought by Tepco shareholders, marks the first time a court has found former executives responsible for the nuclear disaster, local media reports said.

The court judged that the executives could have prevented the disaster if they had exercised due care, the reports said.

A Tepco spokesperson declined to comment on the ruling.

“We understand that a ruling on the matter was handed down today, but we will refrain from answering questions on individual court cases,” the spokesperson said.

The ruling marks a departure from a criminal trial ruling in 2019, where the Tokyo district court found three Tepco executives not guilty of professional negligence, judging that they could not have foreseen the huge tsunami that struck the nuclear power plant.

The criminal case has been appealed and the Tokyo high court is expected to rule on the case next year.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power disaster, triggered by a tsunami that hit the east coast of Japan in March 2011, was one of the world’s worst and generated massive clean-up, compensation and decommissioning costs for Tepco.

The civil lawsuit, brought by Tepco shareholders in 2012, demanded that five former Tepco executives pay the beleaguered company 22 trillion yen in compensation for ignoring warnings of a possible tsunami.

July 16, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Court orders former TEPCO managers to pay damages for Fukushima plant losses

July 13, 2022

A Tokyo court has ruled that former managers of Tokyo Electric Power Company must pay damages to the utility, as demanded by its shareholders.

The shareholders claimed the company incurred massive losses from the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

They include costs for decommissioning the plant’s crippled reactors and compensation for local residents who had to evacuate.

The shareholders demanded 22 trillion yen, or more than 160 billion dollars, from five individuals who held managerial posts.

On Wednesday, the Tokyo District Court ordered four of them to pay a total of 13.3 trillion yen, or about 97 billion dollars.

The trial focused on the reliability of a long-term assessment of possible seismic activities issued by a government panel in 2002, nine years prior to the accident.

The shareholders claimed the assessment was reliable, and that the managers should have done more to safeguard the plant against a huge tsunami that they knew would come.

The former managers, on the other hand, claimed the assessment had low credibility, so they could not foresee damage from a massive tsunami.

They argued that even if they did, they would not have had time to take necessary preventive measures.

The shareholders filed their lawsuit in 2012. In October last year, the presiding judge inspected the plant compound for the first time.

July 16, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , | Leave a comment