23 Mars 2016
March 23, 2016
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Lawyers protested what they described as “threats” from the chief of Kansai Electric Power Co., who suggested that the company may seek damages from plantiffs if successful in overturning an injunction to shut down its nuclear reactors.
Two groups of lawyers sent a letter of protest to Makoto Yagi, Kansai Electric’s president, on March 22, saying his remark is tantamount to “threats” against plaintiffs and “absolutely unacceptable.”
At a news conference on March 18, Yagi said, “If a higher court overturns the injunction, seeking damages (from the plaintiffs) could be a possible option.”
Yagi, who was speaking as chairman of the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, said that the losses caused by the suspension of reactor operations is estimated to be 10 billion yen ($89.06 million) a month.
He noted that lodging a claim for damages “could possibly be considered in general terms, but we have not made any decision at the moment.”
The remark was referring to the Otsu District Court's injunction on March 9 against the operations of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at Kansai Electric’s Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture.
The case involved 29 plaintiffs from Shiga Prefecture living in areas 30 to 70 kilometers from the plant. Otsu is the prefectural capital.
The protest letter was sent jointly by the attorneys representing the plaintiffs behind the injunction and another group of lawyers called Datsugenpatsu Bengodan Zenkoku Renrakukai (Nationwide liaison group of lawyers seeking a break from nuclear power).
It urged Yagi to retract his remark, saying that it “can only be understood to have an intention to put a brake on people planning new requests for court injunctions against nuclear reactors across Japan.”
Yuichi Kaido, a co-leader of the liaison group, said Yagi's remark is totally inappropriate.
“On all accounts, it is a threat to people who requested the court injunction in line with judicial proceedings in hopes that another nuclear accident should not be allowed to occur.”
In response to the letter, Kansai Electric’s public relations office issued a statement.
“The remark explained that in general terms, lodging a claim for damages could be an option only after a lower court ruling is overturned. At present, nothing has been decided about seeking damages,” the statement said. “The remark was not made to intimidate the complainants (behind the injunction) nor to rein in (future legal actions).”