By Mari Iwata
In the filing to the Tokyo District Court, Ruiko Muto reiterated her claim that Tepco executives ignored research findings suggesting a tsunami more than 10 meters high could reach the plant, and didn’t take steps to prepare for such a scenario. The group Ms. Muto works with says the worst nuclear power accident since Chernobyl was caused by human error, and could have been prevented.
“If we don’t want to let it happen again, we must clarify who was responsible and what was wrong,” Ms. Muto told Japan Real Time on Thursday.
Ms. Muto is one of 14,716 people who first filed suit against the company with the Fukushima District Prosecutor’s Office in June 2012. The office took the unusual step of sending the suit to the Tokyo District Prosecutor’s Office without clearly explaining why. The Tokyo office decided in September not to indict any of the accused, saying tsunami waves of more than 10 meters were beyond expectations.
In Japanese criminal justice, claimants can protest a prosecutor’s decision not to indict anyone by asking for a review by a jury-like group of 11 citizens. Because the decision was made by Tokyo prosecutors, a jury-like group in Tokyo will conduct the review.
Ms. Muto said she has been in contact with other victims of the accident now living across the country, and plans to file another suit in late November along with anyone who responds by then.
“About 4,000 have already said yes. But not everyone, because some of them have died,” she said.
Ms. Muto herself lives in the mountains of Tamura City in Fukushima, about 40 kilometers from the Daiichi plant. Her cafe has had far fewer customers since the disaster, drastically reducing her income. She earns some money by helping deliver eggs, which don’t accumulate much radioactive cesium.
In the March 2011 disaster, a massive tsunami caused by a powerful earthquake hit the Daiichi plant, disrupting all back-up power, paralyzing cooling systems and causing three reactors to overheat and melt down. The plant was only prepared for waves of up to 6.5 meters. Hydrogen released as Tepco tried to cool the reactors with seawater caused the buildings housing the reactors to implode, scattered large amounts of radioactive materials into the environment.
“The damages have been multiplied here, as refugees who lost their jobs are now forced to work at the Daiichi site as cleaners to get by, exposing themselves to even more radiation,” Ms. Muto said. “We must stop this vicious cycle. I would really like considerate understanding from people in Tokyo.”