Survivors and residents of Fukushima Prefecture who were and still are hugely affected by the ongoing nuclear disaster expressed their disappointment and anger at the announcement made by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office on September 9 that it will not be looking or pushing to indict any high-ranking government or Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) officials connected with the meltdown. The prosecutors stated in their announcement that the said officials cannot be held of criminal responsibility for the disaster, this to the bitter disappointment of those who filed the cases against them.
Hiroyuki Kawai, lead lawyer for a group made up of 15,000 disaster victims who filed criminal complaints against these officials in the government and TEPCO criticized this decision, as his group was seeking that someone be held responsible for what they termed as professional negligence resulting in death and injury, among other charges. They brought their complaints forward against 42 officials, and now it seems that the case will not be progressing. “How can they say they conducted a thorough investigation when they did not carry out any raids on relevant offices?” Kawai asked. “From the very beginning, it was not an investigation seeking indictments, but rather, one conducted so no indictments would be handed down,” the lawyer strongly accused the process.
One of the affected residents who took up the cause for the officials to be held responsible was Kazuya Tarukawa, 38, a farmer in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture. He said, “It is very heartbreaking if the decision not to indict leads to the erasing of the calls made by disaster victims to pursue responsibility for the accident.” Reiko Hachisuka, 61, a Fukushima resident who now lives in temporary housing in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, expressed her disgust at the decision. “I want to shout, ‘Why is no one being held responsible?’” Hachisuka says that she only feels frustration at the fact that no one seems to want to take responsibility for the disaster. “Even if responsible individuals were pursued, the nature of the utility TEPCO would not change,” she said. “I am very saddened because no one has stepped forward and said, ‘I am the person responsible.’”