World

The Latest: Defense, prosecution face off in Fukushima trial

The Latest on the trial of three Japanese utility executives for the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

Defense attorneys for three former Tokyo Electric Power Co. executives say that experts were divided about a tsunami estimate made before the 2011 disaster that decimated the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The ex-TEPCO chairman and two former vice presidents are charged with professional negligence for not taking sufficient preventive measures before the tsunami.

Their trial got underway Friday in district court in Tokyo.

The prosecution started presenting more than 230 pieces of evidence including emails between safety officials and the two vice presidents suggesting increasing concern and the need to take additional tsunami measures at the Fukushima plant.

The defense said the damage to the nuclear plant was much larger than predicted by the estimate, so any steps taken based on the estimate would not have prevented the disaster.

___

12:30 p.m.

Three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. have pleaded not guilty to charges of negligence for the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Former TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata (tsoo-neh-hee-sah kah-tsoo-mah-tah) and vice presidents Sakae Muto (sah-kah-eh moo-toh) and Ichiro Takekuro (ee-chee-roh tah-keh-koo-roh) entered their pleas Friday in Tokyo District Court.

Each apologized for the disaster and the trouble it caused. They said they don't think they bear criminal responsibility, because they couldn't foresee it.

The plant was hit by a powerful earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Radiation spread to surrounding communities, and some areas remain uninhabitable six years later.

The trial is expected to focus on whether the former officials should have been aware of the risk and preventive measures could have prevented the disaster.