Late Fukushima nuclear plant chief’s testimony may be made public

Kyodo

The government plans to disclose testimony by Fukushima No. 1 chief Masao Yoshida that could shed light on whether he ordered staff at the stricken power plant to stay at their posts during the triple meltdown crisis, sources revealed Friday.

The decision could be made by mid-September, governmental and other sources said, noting Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga might comment on the leaking testimony on Monday.

Yoshida, who died of cancer in July last year, gave testimony to a government panel that was formed to probe the March 2011 disaster. It interviewed Yoshida for more than 20 hours between July and November 2011.

The government has thus far declined to release Yoshida’s testimony because he signed a statement saying he did not want it made available to any third party.

But public interest in Yoshida’s first-hand account of what transpired in the days immediately after the March 2011 megaquake and tsunami triggered the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl has soared since the testimony was reportedly leaked to the daily Asahi Shimbun.

The disasters knocked out nearly all power to the six-reactor plant, leading to a series of massive explosions that tainted much of east Japan with radiation.

In the midst of the meltdowns, 90 percent of the plant workers fled despite being ordered by Yoshida to stay, the Asahi Shimbun reported in May, citing a copy of his testimony to the panel.

Another daily, the Sankei Shimbun, began reporting on Yoshida’s testimony earlier this month.

Those victimized by the nuclear disaster are suing for full disclosure of the Yoshida documents.