Shareholders’ Feudalism at Fukushima Company - Castigation award handed over in Tokyo to those responsible for TEPCO

Tokyo, 27th June 2012. Thousands of shareholders filled the hall for the annual general meeting of TEPCO company. It is the company responsible for the Fukushima nuclear disaster. German shareholders from Foundation ethecon Ethics & Economics were among the crowd with the intention of presenting the International ethecon Black Planet Award to CEO Tsunehisa Katsumata, to former company president Masataka Shimizu and to current president Toshio Nishizawa as well as to major shareholders of this energy supply company. Prior to the general meeting TEPCO had by all means tried hard to prevent that the award would even get as far as the meeting. But the numerous presence of Japanese media successfully thwarted and frustrated the company’s strategy. Finally, in spite of a huge number of security guards the ethecon representatives managed to enter the hall. The company was left with one last resort: In an autocratic manner which reminded of feudal times the media were excluded and the ethecon representatives who were present in the hall were not allowed to use the microphones. After this, the award was handed over symbolically outside the hall in front of a sea of cameras and microphones. So the dispraised executives and major shareholders were not able to prevent that they were named and shamed for their guilt for what must be the worst nuclear disaster in human history.

In the years 2009 until 2011, Foundation ethecon Ethics & Economics received thousands of Emails. People and organisations from all over the world suggested TEPCO company for the annual International ethecon Black Planet Award which has been awarded since 2006. Following the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, three company executives and the major shareholders were finally designated. It was decided in August 2011 and announced on 1st September 2011: The International ethecon Black Planet Award went to the leading executives and major shareholders of the Japanese energy supply company TEPCO. The reasons can be summed up as follows: “Those responsible for the decisions and actions of TEPCO company are CEO Tsunehisa Katsumata, the defunct president Masataka Shimizu, current president Toshio Nishizawa as well as the major shareholders. The are to be held accountable for the Fukushima human catastrophe, for ruining people’s health, for destroying vast proportions of the environment and even for the loss of many human lives. They constitute a threat not only to peace and human rights but also to democracy, the ecology and to humanity as such. They act for the benefit of their own personal power, for private profits and for self-enrichment. For this they trample on morality and ethics even if the earth should sink like a “Black Planet”. ethecon regard their actions as a shocking contribution to the ruin and destruction of our Blue Planet. It is for this appalling disregard and breach of human ethics that Foundation ethecon Ethics & Economy castigate the executive managers who are responsible and the major shareholders of TEPCO company with the 2011 International ethecon Black Planet Award. This castigation was awarded in the presence of more than 200 people on the occasion of a grand public festivity in Berlin on 19th November 2011.

The castigation trophy is a cheap globe designed by young people. It reached Japanese territory on 24th June 2012. In the course of three days prior to the general meeting, the award travelled hundreds of kilometres throughout Japan to be presented to meetings and events with Japanese allies. Media attention of the award increased day by day. A large number of Japanese organisations were very devoted and actively supported Foundation ethecon’s tour. Particularly impressing were NAZEN as the umbrella organisation of initiatives against nuclear power stations, “Mothers of Fukushima”, Doro-Shiba trade union, the protest village outside the Ministry of Economy in Tokyo as well as Shinbashi Action. By Wednesday morning, the castigation by ethecon had made it to all of the country’s leading printed media.

The executives and major shareholders who were named and shamed tried whatever they could to keep ethecon and the Black Planet Award out of the 27th June general meeting. Prior to this, the date of the meeting was kept secret to ethecon for months. Next they claimed that ethecon hold no shares at all – which is a black lie. Finally the company resorted to an army of security guards. But a group of round about 150 protesters could not be discouraged by that. They held up their placards and distributed leaflets. It was the pressure from hundreds of cameras, the support from prominent shareholders – all of that frustrated the company’s tactics and forced the ethecon shareholders to be admitted.

That was when TEPCO were left with only one last resort: In an offhand autocratic manner which reminded of feudal times the media were excluded from the discussions inside the hall. The big screens were switched off. Sound was switched off. The chairman in the hall acted like a dictator. Grown-up shareholders had to raise their hands like schoolchildren to request to speak. The TEPCO chairman hovered over the assembly’s heads and each time he made an arbitrary decision about who was allowed to speak and who was not. Dozens of shareholders willing to speak were kept away from the microphones including the ethecon representatives.

But the “award winning” executives of ethecon Black Planet Award 2011 could not avoid being named and shamed. ethecon simply carried out a symbolic handover outside the hall in front of a great number of cameras and microphones.

So the castigation trophy will stay in the country. Today and tomorrow, the ethecon representatives will take part in demonstrations in Tokyo. They will scold CEO Tsunehisa Katsumata, former company president Masataka Shimizu, current president Toshio Nishizawa as well as the major shareholders of the energy supply company and they will underline in public the demands which are linked to the castigation award:

A comprehensive justification statement for the choice of the Internationalen Black Planet Award 2011 recipients may be found in the dossier on TEPCO in the download section of the website www.ethecon.org. A summary is in the Open Letter.

Foundation ethecon is above all known through the annual bestowal of its International ethecon Blue/ Black Planet Awards in Berlin. With its positive prizes ethecon honoured in past years Diane Wilson/USA (2006), Vandana Shiva/India (2007), José Abreu und Hugo Chávez/Venezuela (2008), Uri Avnery/Israel (2009), Elias Bierdel/Austria (2010) as well as Angela Davis/USA (2011). The censure awards went to the owners, shareholders and executive management of the following companies: Monsanto/USA (2006), Nestlé/Switzerland(2007), Blackwater (Xe)/USA (2008), Formosa Plastics Group/Taiwan (2009), BP/Great Britain (2010) and TEPCO/Japan (2011).

In contrast to many corporate, family, church, political and state foundations, ethecon is one of the few foundations empowered by ordinary citizens. There are currently 30 endowment contributors. Following the credo „for a world without exploitation and oppression“, it see its mission in its responsibility toward coming generations. The young foundation is financed through endowment contributions, donations and sustaining memberships.

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