Photo/IllutrationA collapsed crane and other debris at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant after tsunami devastated the area on March 11, 2011 (Provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

The architect of a key earthquake forecast testified in court May 9 that the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture could have been prevented if his warning had been heeded.

Kunihiko Shimazaki was testifying in proceedings against three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, accused of professional negligence resulting in the deaths of 44 people and related injuries to others who had to be evacuated from a hospital near the facility.

While the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office decided not to press charges against the three, citing a lack of evidence, independent judicial panels of citizens voted for mandatory indictments against them.

Shimazaki compiled the earthquake forecast in July 2002 while he worked at the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion.

His report warned that a magnitude-8 level earthquake could strike off the Sanriku coast in the northeastern Tohoku region to as far south as the Boso Peninsula in Chiba Prefecture. Shimazaki said in court that 10-meter-high tsunami was predicted for a wide area from the Tohoku to Kanto regions.

The trial at the Tokyo District Court was the 11th to determine the responsibility of those who held executive positions at TEPCO when the Great East Japan Earthquake hit on March 11, 2011, spawning towering tsunami that inundated the plant and caused it to go into a triple meltdown.

Shimazaki, professor emeritus of seismology at the University of Tokyo, served on a committee at the earthquake research body from 1995 to 2012 and played a pivotal role in the compilation of a long-term assessment of the probability of major earthquakes occurring in his capacity as head of the quake panel.

When the lawyer acting as prosecutor asked Shimazaki about the process of compiling the report, he explained that numerous opinions were expressed by “experts with various perspectives.” He said the common denominator that everyone agreed on was the likelihood of a major earthquake striking at some point.

Shimazaki also asserted that the Cabinet Office took issue with "the range in credibility of the data” prior to and after the release of the quake forecast, which he labeled as interference and "non-scientific.”

Defense lawyers have entered pleas of innocence on behalf of their clients, citing the low reliability of the forecast.

Shimazaki noted that his report undoubtedly annoyed operators of nuclear power plants.