Four people who used to be managers at Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) have been ordered to pay a combined $97bn for losses suffered by their employer in the wake of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, which killed more than 19,000 people and crippled Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The suit was launched by Tepco shareholders in 2012, with claimants originally demanding more than $160bn from five former managers, Japan’s national broadcaster NHK reports.
The sum ordered today by the Tokyo District Court includes costs for decommissioning the plant’s reactors, three of which melted down after the tsunami wiped out the plant’s emergency electrical system, and compensation for local residents who had to evacuate.
According to NHK, the trial focused on the credibility of a government assessment of future risk of seismic-induced tsunamis issued in 2002.
Shareholders argued the assessment was credible and that the managers should have done more to safeguard the plant, while the former managers claimed the assessment was of low credibility, meaning they could not have been expected to foresee the damage a massive tsunami could do.
Even if they had foreseen the risk, they would not have had time to take necessary preventive measures, they argued.