Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Links: Tokyo prosecutors drop charges against TEPCO; Nuclear crisis suicide & stress-related death toll: 1,656 victims in Fukushima

No one has been held accountable for the multiple nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima.  AFP-Jiji's "Hundreds rally in Tokyo against dropped Fukushima crisis charges" details the injuries to the 15,000 people who brought a 2012 criminal complaint against the Japanese government and TEPCO.  (They are among the 160,000 who were evacuated after their communities were contaminated by nuclear radiation, forcing them to leave.  83,000 Fukushima residents are from the highly irradiated 20-kilometer evacuation zone.)   In September, 2013, prosecutors decided not to charge any TEPCO or government officials with negligence:
Hundreds rallied Saturday in Tokyo to protest a decision by prosecutors to drop charges over the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns, meaning no one has been indicted, let alone punished, nearly three years after a calamity ruled “man-made.”

Official records do not list anyone as having died as a direct result of radioactive fallout after tsunami unleashed by the 9.0-magnitude quake of March 11, 2011, crashed into the Fukushima No. 1 plant, swamping cooling systems and causing three reactor meltdowns.

Excluded from those records are Fukushima residents who committed suicide owing to fears about the fallout showered on their hometowns, while others died during the evacuation process. Official data released last week showed that 1,656 people have died in the prefecture from stress and other illnesses related to the nuclear crisis.

“There are many victims of the accident, but no one” has been charged, chief rally organiser Ruiko Muto, 61, told the protesters, displaying a photo of the village of Kawauchi, which fell inside the no-go zone...

Campaigners immediately appealed the decision to the Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, which has the power to order the defendants be tried. The committee members comprise 11 citizens who are chosen at random by lot. But since the appeal had to be filed in Tokyo instead of Fukushima, campaigners said the move was “aimed at preventing us from filing a complaint against their decision in Fukushima, where many residents share our anger and grief.”

...Campaigners allege that state officials and Tepco executives failed to take measures to bolster the plant against a natural disaster of the magnitude of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. They also hold them responsible for delays in announcing how the radiation was projected to spread from the No. 1 plant...

Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer representing the campaigners, said “there were lots of measures that officials could have taken to prevent the disaster.”

“We won’t give up (pushing for) indictment of the officials,” he said.

Campaigners last year filed a separate complaint to prosecutors over Tepco’s handling of the buildup of massive amounts of contaminated water used to cool the No. 1 plant’s wrecked reactors, accusing the utility of committing pollution-related crimes.

Separately, senior Tepco and government officials face several civil lawsuits that were filed by thousands of plaintiffs seeking compensation for mental and financial damage. The plaintiffs are demanding the full restoration of their hometowns to the pre-disaster state.
The Telegraph interviewed Aileen Mioko-Smith, of Kyoto-based Green Action for its report, "Prosecutors drop charges over Fukushima nuclear disaster":
"The investigation clearly stated this was an accident created by humans, not a natural disaster, but the judicial system here has now decided to side with the powers-that-be," she said.

"The government will be happy with the decision, but it is completely irresponsible," she said. "And I fear that failing to prosecute in this case will lead to another disaster in the future."
This  March 1JT editorial, "Fukushima’s appalling death toll" assigns blame for suicides and stress-related deaths to TEPCO and the Japanese government.  Furthermore, it cites studies demonstrating harm from 3/11, is ongoing, as a result of inadequate response by the Japanese Ministry of Health, especially for survivors still living in temporary housing:
The latest report from Fukushima revealed that more people have died from stress-related illnesses and other maladies after the disaster than from injuries directly linked to the disaster. The report compiled by prefectural authorities and local police found that the deaths of 1,656 people in Fukushima Prefecture fall into the former category. That figure surpasses the 1,607 people who died from disaster-related injuries...

In another report, the first of its kind since the disaster, the lifetime risk of cancer for young children was found to have increased because of exposure to radiation...

These two reports both show that despite the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s claims that things are under control, the disaster continues to threaten the lives and well-being of people in the hardest hit areas of Fukushima, Miyage and Iwate prefectures...

The government and Tepco could work to speed up the process of compensation. That’s especially important considering that about 90 percent of those who have died since the initial 3/11 toll were at least 66 years old. In so doing, they would considerably lower the stress on people still living in temporary housing or in difficult conditions...

There is still much left to protest about. Included on the long agenda of Fukushima disaster-related problems that still need to be dealt with should be improving the lives of disaster victims.

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