Thursday, December 25, 2014

District Court Dismisses Lawsuit from Family of Worker Who Died At #Fukushima NPP, "No Evidence TEPCO Was Supervising the Work"

and therefore is not responsible for the worker's death.

Then who was supposed to be supervising the work?

The deceased worker himself?

Is the judge saying the worker was working at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in May of 2011 just because he felt like it?

The judge also exonerates four layers of subcontractors likewise, and adds that the plant operator (TEPCO) and main contractors do not have obligation to ensure worker safety.

Who was supposed to ensure safety, then?

The deceased worker himself?

Japan's judiciary is notorious for overwhelmingly siding with the authority and large corporations, but this seems to be going overboard.

The worker, Mr. Nobukatsu Osumi, died of a heart attack on May 14, 2011, the very first contract worker to die while working at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. He was hired by the fourth-tier subcontractor.

From Jiji Tsushin on Christmas Day (12/25/2014):


Liability claim against TEPCO rejected by Shizuoka District Court in the Fukushima I NPP worker's accident lawsuit


Shizuoka District Court (presiding judge Yuji Murano) rejected the liability claim against four companies including TEPCO and Toshiba totaling 30.8 million yen [US$257,000] in the death of Mr. Nobukatsu Osumi (age 60 at the time of death) who had been sent to Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant by a subcontractor and died of a heart attack on the job. The suit alleged that TEPCO and the subcontractors were negligent in ensuring safety.


Judge Murano acknowledged that "There is no evidence that the four companies including TEPCO were actually directing and supervising the worker." He concluded that "For the orderer of the contract [TEPCO] and prime contractors [Toshiba and others], there is no obligation to ensure safety."


According to the judgment, Mr. Osumi worked as a worker for the 4th-tier subcontractor from May 13, 2011, laying pipes for the plant restoration work for which TEPCO had contracted Toshiba and IHI among others. He became ill all of a sudden in the early morning of May 14, 2011 and died.


In the press conference after the judgment, Mr. Osumi's wife who is a Thai national said "TEPCO doesn't even offer one incense stick [i.e. offer a single prayer for the deceased]. Such a dry judgement." She plans to appeal on December 26.

If I remember right, Mr. Osumi's work was for AREVA's decontamination/co-precipitation system. TEPCO has long stopped using the system, due to extreme contamination of the system as well as sub-par performance.

All for nothing.


As to be so expected and anticipated by this blog's readers, no doubt, TEPCO's Plan D for plugging the trenches leading from Reactor 2's turbine building is not succeeding, if not an outright failure. TEPCO says water flow is still detected, but the flow is very minute (as in "400 liter/hour" minute). I'll post later.


Anonymous said...

"Japan's judiciary is notorious for overwhelmingly siding with the authority and large corporations, but this seems to be going overboard."

In the rest of the world we call this CORRUPTION...

Anonymous said...

Authoritarianism, maybe, but not CORRUPTION.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 11:23
No! Corruption! No other word describes better a system which sides wealthy and rich people while letting defenseless workers die all alone.
"Corrupt system" is the proper term.

Dud said...

I pray that worker whom passed on,
among many, many others,
instead of resting,
are cheerfully hard at work
to ensure justice is ultimately done.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the argument and proof was that unsafe working conditions caused the heart attack. The difficulty of proving the causative connection between an unsafe work situation and the heart attack would be - if I had to guess - the most likely reason why such a lawsuit would be difficult to win.

Also, it seems important what kind of safety measure is in question here, i.e., what the worker's attorneys claimed TEPCO or the contractor should have done to prevent the worker's death. It seems to me that only in that context one can evaluate the court's decision that TEPCO etc. are not liable.

Of course, if the court indeed meant to say that in general "for the orderer of the contract [TEPCO] and prime contractors [Toshiba and others], there is no obligation to ensure safety" - well, that does seem pretty outrageous. How does that jive with Japanese labor laws?

Anonymous said...

It is definitely a judgment that begs further explanation. It would seem to be contrary to Japanese fairly strict labor laws.
I note that the heart-attack happened the day after this 60-year old guy started working, so one has to question whether or not his health was checked prior to joining (de rigeur for most Japanese companies) and whether or not the guy should have been doing the work he was requested to do. Was he a former clerk who was now being asked to do heavy labor? Was he a retiree from a desk job who wanted to help with the reconstruction, and got offered a job the he shouldn't have been offered? In almost any case it seems the managers of at least one of the subcontractors dropped the ball, if not all of them (including Tepco). It could have been a freak accident, but it definitely merits further comment from the court.

Anonymous said...

Corrupt system is not the proper term. Corruption involves bribery of officialdom and authority in order to influence them. In this instance, there was no bribery, and there was nothing for the judges to gain personally (at least as far as we know.).

If you are insisting this is corruption, you have a definition of corruption which the rest of the English-speaking world doesn't share.

Anonymous said...

If you think that a judge is just ruling in favor of big companies no matter what, because he just feels like it, you are not of this world.
Off course there is a kick back, there always is and especially in Japan.

harada57 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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