Chief got sick during crisis: Tepco

Compiled From Kyodo, Staff Report

Masataka Shimizu, the president of Tokyo Electric Power Co., fell ill March 16 and took some time off from the utility’s liaison office with the government, Tepco officials said Sunday.

While Shimizu was “away,” he collected information and issued instructions from a different room in Tepco headquarters to address the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the officials said.

He has already recovered and since returned to the liaison office, which is in the same building, they said.

A Tepco representative declined to elaborate on his health but said he did not collapse nor need to be hooked up to an intravenous drip.

Shimizu, who doubles as chairman of the Japan Society for Corporate Communication Studies, has not made a single public appearance since a press conference he attended on March 13, two days after the earthquake and tsunami wreaked havoc on the northeastern coast.

Although company presidents usually take the lead in notifying the public about large accidents, Tepco’s news conferences are being led by its vice presidents, prompting journalists and the public to criticize Shimizu for shirking his responsibility.