Please note. Any and all of my opinions are entitled to change at any time and without notice beause I am a very wish-washy person!
I’d like to tell my own feelings about yesterday’s post about the acquittal of the three TEPCO officials:
First, I was confused about the trial itself. What exactly were they being being acquitted of?
Well, two AFWJ members and fellow Japan experts, Cheryl M. and Beverly F. K., as well as my former elementary school mate and now a practicing lawyer, Kellie H. gave me some very helpful information. It seems that the three men were were being tried criminally for professional negligence.
If convicted, they could have gone to prison for up to five years each, according to one of the news articles.
Having established that, do I think the men (meaning “whoever was in charge of TEPCO in 2011 and made the really big decisions”) are guilty of professional negligence? YES, DEFINITELY. I actually give one of the reasons during the climax of one of my MG manuscripts. It’s called Rambling Sakura Rose and I’ve sent it out to umpteen agents, but none of them want to represent it. Poor Sakura Rose. First she had to flee her home and now literary agents don’t even have faith in her!
Do I want these three men to go to prison for five years each as payment for their professional negligence? No, I don’t. (But what about if it’s a really posh prison with nice food and no violence and good wi-fi? Well, that might be different. I am so not a Japanese minimum security prison expert.)
I think they should have been found guility of professional negligence, and had to pay a fine.
When it comes to negligence of this sort, I suspect these three men are living with the agony of regret every day. And that’s a punishment of its own sort. I don’t know what would be accomplished by screwing in the bolts and and throwing away the screwdriver for five years. Would it deter other nuclear plant managers? Would it?
If the three men are not sorry for their negligence, then sure–lock them up.
I believe this acquittal raises other issues.
One is that because the men were acquitted of professional negligence and yet the nuclear meltdowns occured anyway, this tells us that NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS CAN NOT BE 100% SAFE.
If everything is done that could possibly be done is done, but a plant still has meltdowns, then we have to expect more meltdowns in the future. The message of the acquittal is: If all the i’s are dotted and all the t’s are crossed, then the owner/manager of a nuclear power plant can sit back and relax. He/she/they’s done everything that can be done…….
The court said that the HUGE TSUNAMI could not have been foreseen and thus the three officials were not liable of negligence. So a nuclear power plant doesn’t have to worry itself about all the problems that can’t be foreseen.
Mag 9 quake? Sorry, nope, can’t foresee it.
Biggest tsunami than has ever hit Japan in modern times? Nope, that would never probably happen. Can’t foresee it.
Airplanes flying into a plant? No, not likely. Can’t foresee it.
Somebody on the inside intentionally creating a meltdown? No way. Why would somebody do that? Can’t foresee it.
A new experiment going wrong? Uh-uh. We know our stuff. Can’t foresee it.
There’s always going to be some danger out there that “can’t be foreseen.” But of course those are the dangers that will cause the most havoc.
If a nuclear power plant is running smoothly, then it doesn’t pose danger, right? But when it doesn’t run smoothly–when an experiment has gone wrong (Chernobyl) or an enormous quake causes an enormous tsunami to flood the plant (Fukushima Dai-ichi)–that’s when we get the meltdowns.
I predict in another twenty/thirty/forty/fifty years another “unforeseen” event will happen to a different nuclear power plant somewhere in the world and cause yet another meltdown.