Fukushima No. 1′s boss hospitalized

Kyodo

The head of the troubled Fukushima No. 1 power plant has been hospitalized and will be relieved of his post for medical treatment, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Monday.

The utility declined to provide any details on 56-year-old Masao Yoshida’s illness or his accumulated radiation exposure due to privacy reasons, but said doctors did not indicate it is linked to radiation. His illness was detected during a recent checkup, Tepco said.

Yoshida, who will be relieved of his duties Thursday, has been directing operations to bring the radiation-leaking plant under control since a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl on March 11.

“Upon the doctor’s judgment, it has become inevitable for me to be hospitalized for treatment,” Yoshida was quoted as saying in a message to the plant’s staff. “It breaks my heart to have to bid farewell in this way to you all, with whom I have worked since the disaster.”

Yoshida will be succeeded by Takeshi Takahashi, 54, head of the nuclear power and plant siting division.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said the government will keep a close watch on developments at the site to ensure efforts to bring the nuclear plant under control are not affected.