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Police accuse frustrated Kepco employee of deliberately causing blackout

Kyodo

A frustrated Kansai Electric Power Co. employee deliberately caused a power outage affecting around 130 households in central Osaka late last month, and his case was sent to prosecutors Tuesday, police said.

The employee, a 37-year-old man whose name has been withheld, is suspected of obstructing Kepco’s business by manipulating its power distribution systems, the police said.

According to the Naniwa Police Station, the man has admitted to the charge.

Police quoted him as saying: “I was frustrated by my busy schedule and thought that if I knocked out the power, (the company) would add more employees.”

The man was responsible for inspecting power distribution equipment and was in possession of keys to switch boxes.

The police said he threw the circuit breakers in five power supply distributors installed on streets in Naniwa and Tennoji wards between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. May 31, causing outages at 132 households for as long as 90 minutes.

Traffic lights in some parts of Tennoji Ward were cut off for approximately 30 minutes.

A hospital was also left with no power supply, but that didn’t cause any serious problems as it only deals with outpatients during regular business hours, the police said.

The police suspected it was an inside job based on the assumption that outsiders wouldn’t have easy access to the power circuits in the distribution equipment. The employee’s act was caught on a security camera.

Kepco filed a criminal complaint June 4, saying, “it is likely someone manipulated (the distributors) intentionally.”

The employee turned himself in to police the same day.

At a news conference Tuesday, Kepco apologized for this “most regrettable incident.”

“We are deeply sorry to our customers and to the people in the area,” said Keisuke Sasagawa, a manager in the utility’s human resources development office.

According to Kepco officials, the employee took a half day off on May 31 and stopped the power supply after finishing his daily duties.

They also said his attitude had never been a problem.