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24 November 2012

13,000 People File Second Mass Complaint Against TEPCO

by Masakazu Honda, Staff Writer, Asahi Shimbun, 16 November 2012

More than 13,000 people have filed a criminal complaint against Japanese government officials, executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. and experts for their roles in last year's disaster at TEPCO's Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

A group of 13,262 complainants from around Japan filed the paperwork with the Fukushima District Public Prosecutors Office on Nov. 15. The group argued that the government and TEPCO executives did not take adequate safety measures, even though they could foresee that a major earthquake could spawn a tsunami and cause severe nuclear accidents.

The complainants said this constituted professional negligence resulting in deaths and injuries, and violated Japan's environmental laws by emitting substances harmful to human health.

The group said not only exposure to radiation but also deaths during evacuation and health hazards residents were forced to endure constituted "damage." They defined all people living in Japan at the time of the Fukushima nuclear accidents as victims of radiation exposure and called on the public to join them.

Of the group, 13,119 filed the paperwork as a "complaint" as direct victims, while 143 of them instead brought an "accusation" as a third party, as they believed they are not direct victims because they lived far from the plant.

While it is extremely rare for such a large number of people to join together to demand an investigation, this is the second mass complaint related to the accident, following a similar one filed in June by 1,324 residents in Fukushima Prefecture.

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