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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lawsuits, he was also a councilor in charge of litigation and in a position to direct the administrative lawsuit (later withdrawn) that sought an injunction against the operation of Tokai No. 2 from the government.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