Prosecutors in Japan have decided to drop charges over the Fukushima crisis, triggering outpouring anger and grief that no one would be held accountable for a disaster deemed preventable and “man-made”.
Hundreds took to the streets of Tokyo on Saturday to protest the decision ahead of the third anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
“Absolutely no one is taking responsibility for this huge accident and when all these people are suffering,” Aileed Mioko-Smith, of Kyoto-based Green Action Japan, told The Telegraph.
“The government will be happy with the decision, but it is completely irresponsible,” she said. “And I fear that failing to prosecute in this case will lead to another disaster in the future.”
More than 15,000 people whose homes or businesses were affected by radiation from the damaged reactors at the plant filed a criminal complaint against the government and senior officials at Tokyo Electric Power Co in 2012.
No one has been held responsible for the disaster despite being ruled as “man-made” in July 2012 by an independent investigative committee set up by the government.
The report said the crisis was caused in large part by “collusion among the government, regulators and the plant operator,” according to a panel expert.
The world’s worst nuclear accident in 25 years could have been prevented if it were not for “ignorance and arrogance unforgivable for anyone or any organization that deals with nuclear power,” the report said.
Official records do not list anyone as having died as a direct result of radioactive fallout, but excluded from those records are Fukushima residents who committed suicide owing to radiation fears. Others died during the evacuation process while 1,656 people have died from stress and other illnesses related to the nuclear crisis, official data shows.
“There are many victims of the accident, but there is no ‘assailant’,” said protest organizer Ruiko Moto.
“We are determined to keep telling our experiences as victims to pursue the truth of the disaster, and we want to avoid a repeat in the future.”
More than 80,000 residents are still unable to return permanently to their homes within the exclusion zone around the precarious plant. Meanwhile, the government made a turnaround on nuclear policy, saying atomic energy is needed to satiate the country’s energy needs.
By Maesie Bertumen
Main image: Flickr/ SandoCap