Last Monday, something profound occurred, Tsunehisa Katsumata, Sakae Muto, and Ichiro Takekuro, the executive directors responsible for the prevention and recovery from nuclear disaster at the Fukushima plant were charged with an indictment (McCurry). The importance of this is underscored by several critical factors, namely, that the Fukushima Daiichi disaster is one of the world’s worst natural disasters, that finally, corporate leaders are being held accountable for the atrocities that result from their reckless behavior, and that maybe there will be a better promise for the cleanup of ocean and nuclear technologies before they become worse. This sample essay is one of the many writing services offered by Ultius.
Fukushima: Holding TEPCO executives Muto, Takekuro, and Katsumata responsible
March 11 of the year 2011 is a date that may never be forgot for those residents of land and ocean that were in the vicinity of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. The power plant sources its energy from the fusion of unstable elemental materials to create nuclear power; one of the world’s dangerous and toxic of energetic supplies. The sad fact is that the instability and danger level of nuclear technologies increase in proportion to the environmental and economic pressures placed upon nuclear technological advances and power. Such is the case in the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. Upon this date, a series of earthquakes off the coast of Japan unleashed a landslide of 50+ foot waves that crashed with tsunami force into the power plant (Fukushima Fallout).
A modern day nuclear disaster at Fukushima
The result was the total overwhelming of the plant’s safety barriers through extreme inundation. With high volumes of water pouring into the facility, the nuclear generation devices and nuclear waste equipment became severely damaged thus causing a massive radioactive waste contamination on site and into the beautiful ocean. Absently, neglectfully, and possibly idiotically, the back-up energy generators used to prevent the destabilization of core generators were placed in the basement of Fukushima Daiichi. These emergency generators are used to cool the radioactive materials and waste that when left to their own devices cause ionic excitements that may severely impact the elements and environment that they come into contact with via radioactive connectivity (Fukushima Fallout). This provoked the release of hazardous nuclear radiation on a scale not seen on Earth since Chernobyl’s nuclear fallout more than half a century ago (Adelstein and Nakajima).
Victims of the Fukushima disaster
The consequences of Fukushima Daiichi’s nuclear debacle are as heinous as they are grievous. Victims for the event are widespread and numerous. The ocean and the land-dwellers near Fukushima are all affected from the mistakes of the nuclear power plant and TEPCO, Tokyo Electronic Power Company, has been criminally slow in compensating those they have injured. From the spilled radioactive materials, the voluntary and involuntary number of people forced to evacuate the area are estimated to be nearly 160,000 (Fukushima Fallout). The damage caused by their evacuation must be enormous as they leave behind home, family, and business to make a new life in a new location far away from the nuclear waste that leaked in their home.
Unacceptable response from TEPCO
Pathetically, the TEPCO relief has been arduous, slow, and borderline abusive towards these refugees. Victims from the Fukushima disaster have been consistently disregarded and underappreciated by TEPCO. Even though tens of thousands were forced to leave their home, TEPCO only felt that a 1 million yen was appropriate for each household forced to flee (Palmer, 2014). Such an amount is miniscule, to say the least, as every household is comprised of several individuals many whom left both property and work to find safety from the TEPCO disaster. To make matters even worse, the compensation only came after a reading and filing of a 156 page application (Palmer). Bureaucratic problems are rife in TEPCO’s handling of their own mistakes. For instance, a golf course just 30 miles from the plant is suing TEPCO for damages caused by falling radiation was forced to bare the insult of TEPCO’s counter claim that the debris is possibly not their own plant (Palmer).
Environmental impacts of Fukushima
Environmental degradation is also a major concern that has gone unaddressed to the degree required to clean up the errors of TEPCO. Radiation and contaminated hazards stemming from the disaster are critical hazards that have leaked in to the ocean and then circulated throughout causing widespread marine pollution resulting in damage to fish and the local economy. It is estimated that 5,000 to 15,000 trillion becquerels of radioactive substance fell into the ocean (Hsu).
“Mainly, the radioactive Cesium (Cs-137) is the isotope that is responsible for the radiation damage which has caused poisonous levels of toxicity in fish and other marine life” (Hsu).
Scientists believe that 10 to 30 bequerels of radio-active material will arrive on the U.S. and Canadian coastal waters of North Oregon by 2014 and 2020 (Hsu). Their behavior indicates the extreme degree of arrogance and recklessness possessed by the industry leaders. By forcing their own victims to go through such arduous processes to receive fair compensation the TEPCO executives demonstrated their atrocious disregard for life, justice, and the disaster.
The judgement against Muto, Takekuro, and Katsumata
With this background, the sentencing for the TEPCO chairman can be better comprehended as the deliverance of justice that it so rightly is. The TEPCO chairman presiding at the time of the accident was charged with ‘professional negligence resulting in death’ for not having taken the necessary precautions that may have prevented the Fukushima Daiichi fallout from happening in the first place (McCurry). At least this is the prosecution’s aim. The leaders are expected to plead not guilty to the crime with the rationale that the tsunami that hit was of an unpredictable size.
Difficulties in proving innocence
Managing to defend their innocence may prove quite difficult. It was just last July that an independent judicial panel ruled that the men ought to be tried even after public prosecutors made the decision twice to not pursue the case (McCurry).
“A total of 44 elderly hospitals patients died during and shortly thereafter the fallout and here are many injuries that have occurred towards TEPCO staff and members on the self-defense forces” (McCurry).
Although they may plead ignorance towards the knowledge of the possibility of Tsunami disaster, where they will have much harder disputing is the accountability they owed to the public following the disaster. Apparently, they knew within 72 hours of the Tsnuami strike that three of the reactors were entering into a full meltdown situation. This information however was not leaked until a full three months after the event happened (Corbett). In addition, TEPCO has been accused of covering up its estimates of how much radioactive waste poured out of the reactors (Corbett).
Direction of the prosecution in the Fukushima case
Prosecutors are pointing to the company’s actions as indications of a lack of sufficient safety culture (McCurry). Due to their negligent attitudes towards safety, they are charged with ineffectual risk management which in turn lead to the underestimate of tsunami threats that ultimately led to the disaster (McCurry). The committee to preside over the hearing has indicated that thee Fukushima Dai-ichi plant had the reputation among all of Japans’ nuclear power plants as being the one with the very weakest safety margin for approaching Tsunami (McCurry). Sadly, such behavior is consistent with TEPCO’s performance for decades.
Justice in Japan
A part of the reason why there has been such a slow coming to judgement against TEPCO’s actions is likely because of the strong ties possessed between the TEPCO Company and the Japanese Government. TECPO has been nationalized as a governmental organization and this makes them one of the largest stake holders in Japan. The closeness of their bonds may be why the TEPCO company executives escaped being brought to trial following two rounds of judicial judgment from the national government (McCurry). The corruption at the federal level in this case is reminiscent of that involved in the Indonesian wildfire issues in that prosecution was impeded by government involvement.
Increasing public outcry against injustices over Fukushima disaster
Japan as a whole has certainly been quite shaken up from the incident. Many people are righteously furious at the TEPCO and have come out in wide-spread protests to detest both TEPCO and the use of nuclear power within Japan (Adelstein and Nakajima). According to many journalists, TEPCO, since the disaster, has become a symbol of Japan’s most loathsome business practices including collusion, cronyism, corruption, gentrification, weak regulation and entropy (Adelsten and Nakajima).
Such sins are evidenced in a number of TEPCO’s actions. For instance, engineer Kei Sugaoka, was one of the first to blow the whistle on TEPCO following work he did in 2000. Apparently, while doing a safety inspection, one dryer was found to be cracked to the point where a new one needed to be replaced by another that would cost TEPCO an expensive amount. Kei Sugakoa states that
“I have inspected numerous BWR steam dryers and never discovered a dryer damaged to that extent” (Adelsten & Nakajima).
In response, TEPCO made no attempt to replace the equipment and even went so far as to intentionally omit evidence revealing the damage for inspection agency METI (Adelsten and Nakajima). Indeed, for two decades the company is charged with falsifying data on numerous nuclear power stations which has been allowed to slide by business regulators in the Japanese government (Adelsten and Nakajima).
Fukushima accident brings nuclear revisions
In all likelihood, the TEPCO executives will be punished for their role in contributing to not only the destruction following the Fukushima Fallout but the corrupt business practices that occurred as well. Prosecutors in Japan have an excellent track record with almost 99% reaching conviction however this percentage goes down considerably when the case matter is forced upon them by a citizens’ review panel (Soble). If convicted, it will be one of the foremost instances of executive accountability for a natural disaster. Whether they will be convicted is a critical issue, there is one definite positive result that may be found from their trial: the increase in scrutiny toward the nature of fusion energy, nuclear power and its managers in Japan.
The Fukushima disaster is a mammoth scourge to those living in the Daiichi area which has forced many people to leave both home and livelihood just to escape the roaming radiation. The toll of the event is economic and environmental and it’s doubtful that either will be ever quite the same in that region again. Maybe with Tsunehisa Katsumata, Sakae Muto, and Ichiro Takekuro on trial and possibly behind bars, Japan’s business leaders and possibly the world’s leaders as well will find the motivation to behave with more caution and consideration. This makes their court trial an especially momentous occasion which may prove historic if they are convicted and if such conviction promotes a difference in the way people handle nuclear energy. As is evidenced by TEPCO’s long track record of deceit and negligence, there is has been a lax attitude towards nuclear power and its appropriate legislation and regulation. Perhaps, now with top level executives being brought to trial, other companies and CEOs will realize the consequences for their actions are real and rough.
Adelstein, Jake, * Nakajima, Stephanie. TEPCO: Will Someone Turn off the Lights, 2011. The Wire. Web. Mar. 27, 2016 Retrieved from http://www.thewire.com/global/2011/06/tepco-will-someone-turn-lights/39364/
Corbett, James. Tepco covered up the truth about Fukushima disaster. Russia Today, 2014. Web. Retrieved from https://www.rt.com/op-edge/200107-fukushima-japan-tepco-nuclear-disaster/.
Fukushima Fallout. Green Peace International, 2013, Web. Mar. 27, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/publications/nuclear/2013/FukushimaFallout.pdf.
Hsu, Jeremy. Radioactive Water Leaks from Fukushima: What We Know. Live Science, 2013. Web. Mar. 27, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/38844-fukushima-radioactive-water-leaks.html.
Nuclear Power in Japan. World-Nuclear.org, 2016. Web. Mar. 27, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-g-n/japan-nuclear-power.aspx
McCurry, Justin. Former Tepco Bosses Charged over Fukushima Meltdown. The Guardian, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/29/former-tepco-bosses-charged-fukushima.
Palmer, R. (2014), ‘Fukushima: the story of a nuclear disaster’ reveals new insight into Japanese catastrophe. International Business Times. Retrieved from http://www.ibtimes.com/fukushima-story-nuclear-disaster-reveals-new-insight-japanese-catastrophe-1554714/.
Soble, Jonathan. Japan Indicts 3 Former Executives Over Fukushima Nuclear Disaster. NY Times, 2016. Web. Mar. 27, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/01/world/asia/japan-indicts-3-former-executives-over-fukushima-nuclear-disaster.html?_r=0