The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency leaked the name of the whistle-blower at Tokyo Electric Power Co. long before the utility’s nuclear coverup scandal came to light, according to informed sources.

The agency, an affiliate of the Ministry of Economic, Trade and Industry, gave the name of the informant, who was an employee of General Electric International Inc., to Tepco in late 2000, the sources said. GEII was in charge of inspecting Tepco’s facilities.

The leak is a violation of government policy on concealing informants’ identities, the sources said.

The government, however, has been saying so far that the agency, which is in charge of nuclear safety regulations and nuclear fuel recycling policy, has placed priority on protecting the identity of the employee.

The whistle-blower sent a letter with his real name and address to the agency July 3, 2000, reporting that the utility had falsified reports about problems involving reactor-shroud cracks at the Fukushima No. 1 reactor, the sources said.

The following day, the agency told Tepco to check if there had been any irregular reports. Tepco told the agency later in the day that they could not confirm the alleged problems, the sources said.

The agency did not find the alleged problems when they conducted an inspection in September at the Fukushima reactor, the sources said.

On Dec. 25, the agency again instructed Tepco to look into the issue, and sent the firm documents the agency obtained from the informant concerning the problems. The documents included his signature. The agency also sent Tepco documents containing conversations the informant had with agency officials that included his name, the sources said.

Probe findings

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Friday that six of the 29 suspected false reports regarding defects at nuclear plants operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. may involve the utility’s failure to meet technical requirements.

The preliminarily results of the agency’s investigation also suggest that the problems of a further five reports relate to neglect or the falsification of facility inspection results, and four from an inappropriate attitude toward safety.

The agency has identified no problems with the remaining 14 reports, however, stating that falsification charges relating to these accrue from differences in technical views between Tepco and General Electric Co. of the United States, whose subsidiary was undertaking the utility’s facility checks.

The most serious cases of failing to meet technical requirements concern cracks in the core shrouds of five reactors at the firm’s two plants in Fukushima Prefecture, along with cracks in the steam dryer of the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Utility-LDP links eyed

A government report raised questions Friday about the relationship between electric power utilities and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. It shows that at least 87 percent of the executives at scandal-hit Tokyo Electric Power Co. and eight other electric utilities made donations to the LDP in 2001.

According to the report, at least 228 directors from nine electric power firms last year donated a total of 33.9 million yen to the People’s Political Association, the LDP’s fundraising arm.

The report also says 86 percent of the executives at the nine utilities donated a total of 28.5 million yen to the LDP body in 2000.

As well as Tepco, the list includes Tohoku Electric Power Co., Chubu Electric Power Co., Kansai Electric Power Co., Chugoku Electric Power Co., Hokuriku Electric Power Co., Shikoku Electric Power Co., Kyushu Electric Power Co. and Hokkaido Electric Power Co.

Okinawa Electric Power Co. is the only utility not on the list.

Tepco denied the money from its executives constituted corporate donations, claiming its directors gave the funds as individuals.

“Directors’ individual contributions come from their own money and they have not decided on the amount with their counterparts at other companies,” Tepco’s public relations department claimed in a statement.

But one former Tepco director termed the funds a corporate donation.

“I allocated 100,000 yen from my own money and my wife deposited it,” he said. “But my company didn’t force me to make the donation to the LDP. When I became a board member, a colleague of mine said, ‘This has been a custom.’

“I think there’s no escaping the criticism that the money effectively constitutes a corporate donation.”

The report shows the donations were made in uniform amounts — around 300,000 yen for chairmen and presidents, and a little less for vice presidents.

Also in 2001, Tepco and Tohoku Electric bought party tickets worth 3.7 million yen from Tatsuo Sato, an LDP member who represents a House of Representatives district in Fukushima Prefecture — the site of Tepco’s pluthermal nuclear project.

Tohoku Electric also operates in Sato’s constituency.

The former director also expressed suspicion over the utility’s purchase of party tickets from a Diet member representing a district in Fukushima, where the firm faces public opposition to its nuclear fuel project.

“It’s quite unusual for Tepco to provide financial aid to a politician under its name,” he said. “The only conceivable motive is the pluthermal project. Tepco must have been very desperate.”

The tally of donations to the LDP fundraising body shows that Chubu Electric executives made the largest donation, of 5.26 million yen in 2001, followed by Tepco officials with 4.56 million yen and Tohoku Electric’s 4.48 million yen.

The donation each individual made ranged from 50,000 yen to 336,000 yen, the latter being donated by the president of Hokuriku Electric Power.

As head of the former Japan Federation of Economic Organizations, which is now known as the Japan Business Federation (Japan Keidanren), Tepco adviser Gaishi Hiraiwa abolished in 1993 the body’s practice of recommending member firms make corporate donations. He donated 300,000 yen that year.

The electric power industry abolished corporate donations in the 1970s due to criticism of its cozy relations with politicians.

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