(Reuters) – Tokyo District Court on Wednesday ordered four former heads of Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay 13 trillion yen ($ 95 billion) in damages to the operator of the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, the plaintiff’s lawyers said.
The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster, triggered by a tsunami that hit the east coast of Japan in March 2011, was one of the world’s worst and generated massive costs for decontamination, compensation and decommissioning for Tepco.
The civil lawsuit, filed by Tepco’s shareholders in 2012, required five former Tepco executives to pay the beleagured company 22 trillion yen in compensation for ignoring warnings of a possible tsunami.
The verdict marks the first time a court has found former executives responsible for the nuclear disaster, local media report.
The court ruled that the managers could have prevented the disaster if they had taken due care.
“An accident with a nuclear power plant leads to irreversible damage to both human life and the environment. The managers of companies that operate such facilities also have an enormous responsibility on them that is incomparable with other companies, says Yui Kimura, a member of the plaintiff.
“I think the court̵7;s ruling says that anyone who does not have the determination or the ability to take on that responsibility should not be executive.”
Public broadcaster NHK quoted an unnamed lawyer who represented the former managers who said that the lawyer would not comment before he carefully examined the verdict.
A Tepco spokesman also declined to comment.
The ruling marks a departure from a 2019 criminal case, in which the Tokyo District Court found three Tepco executives not guilty of professional negligence, and ruled that they could not have foreseen the huge tsunami that hit the nuclear power plant.
The criminal case has been appealed and Tokyo’s Supreme Court is expected to decide the case next year.