Ex-Tepco Chairman, Managers May Face Indictment Over Fukushima

Tepco executives
From left, Takashi Fujimoto, Tsunehisa Katsumata, and Sakae Muto. Photographer: Haruyoshi Yamaguchi/Bloomberg

The former chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co., Tsunehisa Katsumata, and two other executives may face indictment over the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant, according to an independent inquest by the Tokyo Prosecutors Office.

The executives can be tried for professional negligence, according to the inquest document reviewed by Bloomberg News at the prosecutors office. Japan’s public broadcaster NHK first reported the finding earlier on Friday.

Beside Katsumata, the two other executives named are former Executive Vice Presidents Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro. All three no longer work for Tepco and the company declined to give their contact details when contacted by phone.

This is the second such ruling by the inquest panel. It recommended in July last year that the executives be indicted, but the Tokyo prosecutors declined to proceed with the case, Kyodo News reported in January.

Katsumata stepped down as chairman of Tepco, as the company is known, in June 2012. An official at Tepco, who asked not to be identified because of internal policy, declined to comment on the ruling in an e-mail response.

A record magnitude 9 earthquake generated a tsunami that hit the Fukushima plant on March 11, 2011. It knocked out power to cooling systems that led to three reactor core meltdowns and forced the evacuation of about 160,000 because of radiation leaks. The radiation fallout has left some areas in the region uninhabitable for decades.

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