When Masao Yoshida met reporters from major media outlets for the first time on Dec. 12, 2011, the then-chief manager of the Fukushima No. 1 plant left a strange impression on those present.

Yoshida remained calm and quiet throughout the joint interview, although he was known for exerting impassioned leadership that barely spared the nuclear plant from suffering the same explosive fate as Chernobyl, and thus mitigated the level of radioactive fallout in the Tohoku region.

"I apologize from the bottom of my heart. That's the first thing I will say," Yoshida told the reporters, saying the triple meltdowns had caused great trouble to everyone in Japan but especially those in Fukushima Prefecture.