A Japanese expert panel on Thursday issued a report claiming that the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster [IAEA backgrounder] was preventable. In the 641-page document the panel claims that the accident was not caused solely by the earthquake [Reuters report] and subsequent tsunami, but the inability of the government, regulators and the Fukushima Daiichi plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) [corporate website], to act quickly enough to prevent the disaster. Among the criticized was also the then-Prime Minster Naoto Kan [Bloomberg backgrounder] who resigned [Guardian report] last year after a widespread criticism of his handling of the natural disaster and Fukushima nuclear crisis. The experts claimed that regulators have failed to adopt global safety standards that would have prevented the crisis by focusing on other management priorities due to falling demand of nuclear energy. The panel called for strict checks on all reactor plants, comparing them with guidelines set in 2006 and noting that all of the country's reactors may have the potential to cause a crisis similar to Fukushima Daiichi.
In June more than 1,300 people filed a criminal complaint [JURIST report] against TEPCO for the March 2011 crisis and for the plaintiffs' resulting radiation. The complaint named as defendants Tsunehisa Katsumata, the chairman of TEPCO, Masataka Shimizu, the former president of the company, and Haruki Madarame [Washington Times profiles], the chief of the Nuclear Safety Commission, along with 30 other executives. In March, the executives of the company faced another complaint filed [JURIST report] by a group of shareholders in the amount of USD $67 billion for similar claims. They claimed that the company failed to prevent the March 2011 disaster by ignoring warning signs and failing to take appropriate measure to mitigate damages in the event of an earthquake and ensuing tsunami. The March 2011meltdown is considered one of the biggest man-made environmental disasters of all time and the largest nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986. Japan has been criticized for its handling of the crisis, and international reception to nuclear energy has fallen sharply since the incident. In a Forum op-ed, Fukushima Illustrates Need for Nuclear Policy [JURIST op-ed], Tamar Cerafici of the Cerafici Law Firm discussed how the Fukushima disaster should guide US policy. Last August Japanese lawmakers voted to create a fund to compensate victims [JURIST report].