Three executives from Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) are to be tried for their roles in the Fukushima nuclear disaster, an independent judicial panel has ruled.
The executives, including the chairman of the company at the time, should face charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury the panel said on Friday.
Earlier attempts to secure a trial failed when prosecutors decided the executives of the company, which operated the nuclear plant, could not have foreseen a tsunami of the magnitude of the one that flooded the plant on March 11, 2011.
On Wednesday, TEPCO faced a fresh lawsuit from the family of a 102-year-old man who killed himself because he was depressed at having to leave his home as a result of the disaster.
Fumio Okubo was the oldest resident of Litate village, located 40km from the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
He took his own life reportedly by hanging after the government ordered area residents to leave in April 2011, a month after tsunami waves sent the plant’s reactors into meltdown.
Okubo’s daughter-in-law Mieko said his family members were suing TEPCO for $485,000 compensation.
“I want them to realise the gravity of what happened. A person who lived to become 102 had chosen to kill himself,” she told a news conference in Fukushima.
“We want them to know the pains that we as his family have to suffer. We will use this opportunity to speak about our feelings.”
The deadly tsunami, triggered by a 9.0-magnitude offshore earthquake, swamped the emergency power supplies at the Fukushima power plant, sending its reactors to meltdown as cooling systems failed.
Many of the tens of thousands of people who evacuated their homes and farms are unlikely to ever return to their ancestral properties due to radiation dangers.
While the earthquake and tsunami killed nearly 18,000 people, no one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the nuclear catastrophe.