Yoshida interviews to stay sealed: Suga

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Thursday again refused to release a confidential record of interviews with the deceased chief of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, although he said the government might consider doing so at the family’s request.

Suga’s comment came in response to an earlier remark by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, co-leader of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party).

Hashimoto bashed the government for not releasing the record of the government’s interviews with Masao Yoshida, who was head of the plant during the triple core meltdown in March 2011.

The record was produced by a government panel that was investigating the crisis, and handed over to another investigative team set up by the Diet.

Before the hand over took place, Yoshida submitted a written request for the Diet panel not to publicize any of its contents to a third party, according to Suga.

“(His) intention was clearly shown. The government needs to keep (the promise), given its relationship of trust” with Yoshida, Suga said.

“If the bereaved family requests otherwise, we of course should consider it. But at least for now, it is difficult for the government” to propose disclosing the record, Suga said.

Yoshida died of esophageal cancer in July 2013.

The daily Asahi Shimbun reported in its Tuesday edition that it acquired a copy of the record, and quoted Yoshida as saying about 90 percent of 720 workers at the No. 1 plant fled to the Fukushima No. 2 power plant amid the meltdowns on March 15, 2011, despite Yoshida’s order for them to evacuate within the No. 1 site.

The No. 2 plant is 10 km south of the No. 1 plant. If true, the report showed Yoshida failed to control most of the plant workers at a critical stage of the meltdown crisis.

Suga has argued that the lessons learned from Yoshida’s interview have already been shared by government officials in charge of nuclear safety.

But on Tuesday, Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shinichi Tanaka said he hadn’t read the interview record yet.

  • Starviking

    Yoshida ‘failed to control most of the workers’? Weasel words. He was focussed on using the workers he needed to fight the damage to the plant. Honestly, what does Japan want from Yoshida-san? X-ray vision to see all his workers, whereever they are? Mind-control, so they cannot misinterpret his orders?

    • phu

      They want a scapegoat. Having someone to blame — for anything, really — helps politicians avoid actually doing anything useful in favor of fostering resentment that might further their next campaigns.

      That aside… there’s no reason this shouldn’t be public record, just like any other proceeding between the government and any party. But that historically does not matter, even less in light of things like the state secrets law.

      • Starviking

        We also have to remember that PM Kan decided that emergency committee deliberations should not be recorded, so we have similar shenanagans from the DPJ. I guess it makes it easier to spin their side of the story.

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