Former TEPCO Bosses on Trial for Fukushima Nuclear Disaster
A Japanese court has begun a trial of three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, on charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury. All three have pleaded not guilty in connection with the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, saying they could not have predicted the enormous tsunami that flooded the plant.
"I apologize for the tremendous trouble to the residents in the area and around the country because of the serious accident that caused the release of radioactive materials," said Tsunehisa Katsumata, former chairmen of TEPCO. He added, however, "I believe I don't have a criminal responsibility in the case."
If convicted, Katsumata and former vice presidents Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro face up to five years in prison and a fine up to $9,000.
The charges against the executives are linked to the deaths of 40 hospital patients who were evacuated from the Fukushima area and later died.
The 2011 earthquake and tsunami killed 20,000 people in northeastern Japan. Not only did the disaster trigger the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima power plant, it also reignited debate about the risks of nuclear energy.
Communities around the plant and even those that were hundreds of kilometers away, were evacuated. Some areas remain uninhabitable.
House Immigration Votes Build on Trump Campaign Promises
The U.S. House of Representatives took the first steps toward fulfilling two of President Donald Trump’s signature campaign promises Thursday, passing bills strengthening penalties on undocumented immigrants who return to the U.S. after being deported and cutting federal funds to sanctuary cities.
By a 257-167 vote, the House passed “Kate’s Law,“ a bill named after Kate Steinle, 32, who was shot and killed in San Francisco in July 2015. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a felon who had been deported five times, is facing murder and other charges in connection with the shooting.
The House bill increases prison penalties for undocumented immigrants who return to the U.S. after being deported.
The House also passed, by a 228-195 vote, the “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act,“ blocking so-called sanctuary cities from receiving federal grant money and expanding the federal government’s capabilities to make them comply with immigration enforcement.
House Democrats said the bills were part of an anti-immigrant push by the Trump administration.
Democrats also pushed back on the characterization of sanctuary cities as gathering places for criminals.
In a statement issued after the vote, Trump urged “the Senate to take up these bills, pass them, and send them to my desk. I am calling on all lawmakers to vote for these bills and to save American lives.“
Earlier versions of the bills failed to pass in the Senate.