National

772 Fukushima No. 1 interviews slated for release

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

The government will release the transcripts of interviews with 772 people about the 2011 Fukushima meltdown crisis, provided the subjects agree to the disclosure of their testimony, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Thursday.

Even with the permission of the interviewees, parts of the transcripts will be redacted if it is deemed they would violate the rights or interests of third parties or could harm “the safety of the nation,” Suga said.

“I’ve ordered (staff) to quickly carry out procedures to confirm the intention of (the interview subjects),” he said. “We will disclose the records if they agree, based on the Information Disclosure Law.”

Until now, the government has refused to publicize records of interviews conducted by its investigation panel on the grounds that the subjects — mainly government officials and Tokyo Electric Power Co. employees — spoke on condition that their testimony would not be publicized. The panel granted them this confidentiality to encourage candid answers.

The 772 people were interviewed for a total of 1,479 hours, according to the panel’s final report published in July 2012.

The government has faced pressure in recent weeks to disclose the records after the Asahi Shimbun started publishing what it said were excerpts of the panel’s interviews with Masao Yoshida, who was in charge at Fukushima No. 1 when three reactors suffered meltdowns. Yoshida has been considered a hero for preventing the crisis from escalating into an even worse disaster.

On Thursday, the Asahi reported that a group of Tepco shareholders plans to file a lawsuit seeking disclosure of the interviews with all 772 people.

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