Friday, July 20, 2012

No Justice in Japan?

Prosecutors ignore criminal complaints over Fukushima nuclear accident By ASAKO MITSUHASHI/ Asahi Shimbun Weekly AERA July 17 2012

[Excerpted] "About 20 criminal complaints and accusations have been submitted in connection with last year's accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Prosecutors, however, have taken action on precisely zero of the cases.

In fact, they have not formally accepted a single complaint or accusation to determine if a criminal investigation is warranted.

...In one high-profile case, 1,324 residents of Fukushima Prefecture who were affected by the nuclear disaster submitted a criminal complaint and accusation with the Fukushima District Public Prosecutors Office on June 11, a year and three months after the Great East Japan Earthquake struck. They accused Tsunehisa Katsumata, who was chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co. when the accident occurred, Haruki Madarame, chairman of the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan, and 31 others of professional negligence resulting in bodily injury and death."

Majia here: The case has not been accepted by Prosecutors.

This unwillingness to offer citizens access to justice reminds me of another situation that occurred in Japan in 2011:

Perhaps the most poignant illustration of the Japanese government’s decision to withhold justice in the Fukushima context is illustrated by a video of a July 19 2011 meeting held by government officials with Fukushima citizens posted on YouTube[i] In the video, a spokesperson for the people of Fukushima repeatedly asks, “As other people do, people in Fukushima have a right to avoid the radiation exposure and live a healthy life, too. Don’t you think so?” The government official, Akira Satoh, Director of the Local Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, responds, “The government has tried to reduce the radiation exposure dose as much as it can.” The citizens’ spokesperson presses, “So, are you saying that they don’t? They have that right, don’t they?” The government official responds, “I don’t know if they have that right.” The spokesperson then queries, “Do you mean that there is a difference in the radiation exposure standards between Fukushima prefecture and other prefectures?” Mr. Satoh, the director, responds, “What I am saying is, the government has tried to reduce the radiation exposure dose as much as it can.”
The audience reacts, disgruntled by the evasiveness and their spokesperson again presses, “The government isn’t applying a different standard to people in Fukushima, is it?” Mr. Satoh concludes tersely, “I have already said all I could say.” The government officials then left amidst audience members crying out that they want their children’s urine tested for radioactivity. The audience demanded also to know why the Soviets were able to evacuate over 200,000 children within 2 weeks of the disaster yet Japan, a “free society,” fails to protect its citizenry. There were no answers from the departing officials.

[i]           July 19 meeting held by government officials with Fukushima citizens in Corasse Fukushima, Fukushima City uploaded to YouTube. The video is titled “Japanese Government Killing Its Own People in Fukushima,” YouTube (2011, July 19):

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