Tokyo Prosecutor Special Investigation Unit Takes Lead on TEPCO case, as new evidence contradicts TEPCO claims.

As reported on April 4th here, Japanese law-enforcement continues their investigation into TEPCO, the managing entity of the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor for charges of professional negligence resulting in death or injury, but now the Tokyo Prosecutor Special Investigation Unit has begun their own independent investigation. Update: The investigations may extend to public officials as well.  In addition to this TEPCO is now under investigation by the Labor Standards Bureau for multiple violations of the labor laws.

The investigation is focussing on what TEPCO did after the Tsunami as well as before (in terms of criminal negligence). The two individuals most likely to be charged with criminal incompetence resulting in death and/or injury are the CEO at the time and the current chairman.  During the first 24 hours after the accident, the chairman and the president were both unaccounted for and/or unreachable considerably delaying countermeasures which could have prevented death, injury and the meltdown. There are also reports that putting sea water into the reactor were delayed as TEPCO executives used political connections to buy time to try and save the reactors, rather than focussing on saving lives and the environment around the reactor.

One thing that is now increasingly coming into question is TEPCO’s assertion that “this accident was beyond the scope of our imagination” (想定外). This only holds true if the cause of the reactor meltdown was due to the flooding of the emergency generators by the tsunami (tidal wave) which were supposed to power down the reactor. There is a great possibility that the earthquake itself immediately did so much damage to the containment vessel and parts of  reactor 1, that the tidal wave influence was negligible.  There are reports that for several years TEPCO was warned by the original manufacturers to replace the core of the reactor and failed to do so.

There is a distinct possibility that what happened was not  “beyond imagination” but was simply a case of what had been predicted happening just as predicted.  The Fukushima Nuclear Reactor accident is not a natural disaster; it’s a man-made disaster, created on several levels. How far the prosecution will go is an unknown. In light of recent arrests of prosecutors for forging evidence, and allegations that the prosecutor’s office in Fukushima trumped up charges against the former Governor of Fukushima, who was one of TEPCO’s most vocal opponents–national trust for the prosecutor’s office is at an all time low.

A source close to the Ministry of Justice, on conditions that his name not be used, said, “This is a chance for the prosecutor’s office to show that we are instruments of justice and not tools of whatever administration assumes power in Tokyo. We have a chance to regain public trust and we won’t squander it. All we have to do to prove criminal negligence resulting in death or injury is to show that the the parties involved had an understanding of a great danger which they did little to prevent. We don’t think that will be hard to prove on multiple levels.”

The May 25th edition of  SAPIO also touches on the current investigation, although, I think that they are a little off the mark, it’s worth a read.

UPDATE May 16th, 2011 4:30am (US Time)/ (May 16th 6:30 pm (Tokyo): Kyodo news put out a news story today which back ups what we wrote previously that  there is a great possibility that the earthquake itself immediately did so much damage to the containment vessel and parts of  reactor 1, that the tidal wave influence was negligible.” Kyodo asserts that two other reactors were severely damaged before the tidal wave.

This "bowing down in shame" (土下座)figurine bears a tremendous resemblance to the chairman of TEPCO. The figurine is labelled CEO. If it was a puppet, it would actually represent the relationship between the Chairman and the CEO perfectly.

15 thoughts on “Tokyo Prosecutor Special Investigation Unit Takes Lead on TEPCO case, as new evidence contradicts TEPCO claims.”

  1. Hey Jake,

    Thanks for keeping us posted. Glad that there is a silver lining of the Tepco mess being cleaned up (on an organizational level) beyond the ties bowing with a standard apology

  2. I’m glad to hear the prosecutors office is stepping up on this case, however I have very little faith in them and believe their statement is a load of b.s.. Will be very interesting to see what happens with TEPCO in the next couple weeks though for sure.

  3. Good points. Things that I imagined where true. Even now it seems that there will be a lot more revelations surrounding the first few days after the incident

  4. very interesting, thanks.

    I do hope something comes of it – but I’m thinking Dow Chemicals, and BP etc….

    and the nuke industry seems very powerful. just witnessing all the hooplaa about a (mysterious) need to ‘take more time discussing’ and provide a ‘rational explanation’ for the (supremely rational) decision to ‘halt’ Hamaoka is quite scary (…..although only temporarily, of course, ahhhh….)

    as was the persistent (discredited) focus on comparisons to x-rays and flights etc when the situation is not about external exposure but (prolonged) internal exposure.

    and just where do the government get their figures anyway?
    so take iodine in the water.
    300bq/ltr. in Japan is the ‘safe’ level (max).
    WHO standard is 10 bq/ltr.
    US EPA is 0.111 bq/ltr.
    go figure?

    so seems like TEPCO were faking data right from the start?

    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201105130370.html

    and speaking of human rights – skillfully hooking into previous topic 😉 – here is a petition to try and protect Fukushima kids – rather than investments? – from radiation:
    (japanese)

    http://www.foejapan.org/infomation/news/110509.html

    (english)

    http://fukushima.greenaction-japan.com/archives/41

  5. Huh, a prosecutor’s office that makes up evidence versus a nuclear power company that lies about evidence. Which one are we supposed to root for? 😛

  6. Hi ! our german government use the way of “see and wait till people forget” they say they will examine,investigate,study,explore,check, inspect and analyse ! … ! even a lot of people stay only a short time in the rain!? “maybe we all forget to fast about the news no 1 some time ago!? ” – i am not against the reasearch or a-power itself ! 😉 if it is 99% save and we do not shoot the rest into the sun ” and maybe get a green,purple or exploding 1 and some 1 say we are very sorry!”

  7. TEPCO manually turned off the emergency cooling system after the quake but before the tsunami. The reason was to protect the hot stainless steel pressure vessel from potentially damaging contact with cold water from the cooling system. I interpret that as placing the corporation’s selfish monetary interests above any concern for safety.

    Source:
    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110517x1.html

    Further, a TEPCO graph of the water levels and core temperatures showing the times of overheat and meltdown is available here:
    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu11_e/images/110515e10.pdf

    1. This has been very useful and I’m following it up. I have yet to get a good answer. Also, I have grave doubts about TEPCO released information after the Asahi article pointing out that their measurements of the tsunami are several meters higher than measurements taken from other sources in the same area. Still this is very useful stuff and thank you for taking the time to send it.

  8. I really hope this results to some real sentences and we see individual responsibility instead of just “corporate responsibility”, where people making the calls hide behind the company when something goes wrong, and escape taking any personal responsibility or consequences for their decisions destroying lives.

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