Fukushima Disaster: Court Sides With TEPCO Shareholders

Former TEPCO execs were found liable and ordered to pay $95B
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2022 8:00 AM CDT
TEPCO Shareholders Win Tsunami Suit Filed Decade Ago
This aerial photo shows the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, north of Tokyo, on March 17, 2022. A   (Shohei Miyano/Kyodo News via AP)

A decade ago, 48 Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) shareholders sued a group of former executives, demanding they pay up over their failure to prevent the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. They wanted $160 billion to be paid to the company; on Wednesday, a Tokyo court ordered four former execs to pay more than half that amount: $95 billion. The Guardian reports the suit—which argued the TEPCO leaders hadn't taken experts' tsunami warnings and the government's earthquake assessment to heart and failed to implement needed tsunami safety precautions—marks the first in which TEPCO execs have been found liable for damages.

Per the AP, the ruling stated the plant's key areas might not have flooded had construction recommendations been implemented. The Tokyo District Court said the defendants "fundamentally lacked safety awareness and a sense of responsibility." The execs—who include former TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and then-TEPCO President Masataka Shimizu—aren't thought to be able to pay the full $95 billion, but will need to pay what they can.

The ruling is an about-face from 2019's criminal trial, in which the same court determined three TEPCO execs were not guilty of professional negligence, finding they could not have predicted the scale of the disaster. Reuters reports that case has been appealed, and a ruling is expected in 2023. The Japan Times notes that decommissioning work at the plant isn't expected to wrap up until sometime between 2041 and 2051. (Fukushima has a plan for its tainted water.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.