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Local leaders and shareholders seek disclosure of Yoshida's testimony

August 21, 2014

Local leaders seek disclosure of testimony by former nuclear plant chief



Leaders of local governments near the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant want the testimony given by the plant manager months after the accident to be disclosed.

The Asahi Shimbun ascertained that eight local leaders want full disclosure after seeking the views of the Fukushima governor and heads of 13 cities, towns and villages located within 20 kilometers of the plant and areas outside the 20-km radius where radiation levels were more than 20 millisieverts per year.

Masao Yoshida was plant chief when the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami set off the nuclear accident.

He gave hours of testimony to the government's Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations, and died in July 2013 from esophageal cancer. Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the plant, said Yoshida's cancer was not related to radiation exposure.

The survey also revealed that five of the leaders said there would be no problem if their own interviews with the government investigation panel were made public.

After the onset of nuclear crisis, the government’s investigation panel interviewed 770 officials and others involved in the disaster.

Although the central government currently plans to publicly disclose part of those records by the end of the year, it will not release the contents of Yoshida's interview, citing Yoshida’s request not to disclose his testimony.

The Asahi Shimbun asked Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato, as well as those who served as leaders of the 13 municipalities at the onset of the disaster, for interviews.

Kawamata Mayor Michio Furukawa, who served on the investigative panel, and former Hirono Mayor Motohoshi Yamada refused to comment on The Asahi Shimbun's inquiries, while Katsuya Endo, former Tomioka mayor, died in July after the newspaper asked for an interview.

Of the 11 local leaders interviewed by The Asahi Shimbun, the mayors of Futaba and Okuma, which host the Fukushima No. 1 plant, as well as leaders in Namie, Minami-Soma, Naraha, Kawauchi, Katsurao and Iwaki, said Yoshida’s testimony should be made public. The Fukushima governor and mayors of Tamura and Iitate were undecided.

Six of the 11 leaders said they were interviewed by the government panel, and five of them said they would not mind if their accounts were disclosed.

The central government is trying to ascertain if the hundreds of people who were interviewed mind if their statements are released into the public domain. It has said it will disclose the contents if it gets their approval.

Exceptions will be testimonies whose disclosure could infringe on the rights of third parties or compromise national security, officials said.

Goshi Hosono, who served as minister in charge of the nuclear accident under the Democratic Party of Japan-led administration at the time of the disaster, said he does not mind if his statements are publicly disclosed.

(This article was written by Shinichi Sekine and Naoki Kikuchi.)

TEPCO shareholders go to court for disclosure of Yoshida testimony on nuclear disaster



Shareholders of Tokyo Electric Power Co. filed a lawsuit Aug. 20 for disclosure of testimony about the 2011 nuclear disaster given by the late manager of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

“(The government) should make public investigative records of 772 people, including Masao Yoshida (then plant manager), to enable a re-examination of what was wrong and what was correct,” said Yui Kimura, who heads the plaintiffs' group.

The 10 TEPCO shareholders and others are calling on the Cabinet Secretariat to disclose records of the government investigation panel’s interviews with 772 people involved in the nuclear crisis triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

As the Cabinet Secretariat refused their request to make public Yoshida’s testimonies, the shareholders filed a suit with the Tokyo District Court, demanding disclosure of the 28-hour-long interviews in Q&A format.

The plaintiffs also plan to file suits for disclosure of other interview records if and when the Cabinet Secretariat refuses to disclose them. The shareholder group has sued the utility’s executives for not taking necessary preventive measures against a severe nuclear accident, as well.

The group’s written complaints state, “No other materials exist that would allow for direct examination of steps taken by the top official who took command at the accident site.”

The group’s complaints also describe Yoshida’s testimonies as “necessary to figure out the cause of the disaster,” and argue that, “The disclosure of (the records) is an extremely high priority in terms of the public benefit.”

Many citizens have demanded Yoshida’s testimonies be publicly disclosed. But the government has refused, citing Yoshida’s written request submitted when the government panel handed his statements to a Diet investigation committee that asks the state not to disclose them.

Yoshida died in July 2013 from esophageal cancer.

A copy of Yoshida’s statements obtained by The Asahi Shimbun, however, shows that the late plant manager agreed when told by interviewers that the records could be made public in the future.

The TEPCO shareholders also mention the point in their complaints, saying, “Interviews were conducted after gaining his clear consent (for disclosing his interview records).”

August 20, 2014

Lawsuit filed seeking Yoshida interview release


Aug. 20, 2014 - Updated 10:08 UTC+2

A Japanese citizens' group has filed a lawsuit seeking the release of interviews with the former head of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

A government-appointed investigative panel interviewed Masao Yoshida, who was then head of the plant, for a report on the March 2011 accident. The government has not released records of the interviews.

Yoshida died in July of last year. The government says before his death he submitted a petition requesting that they not be disclosed to a third party.

A group including shareholders seeking compensation from the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court on Wednesday.

The plaintiffs say that the interviews with Yoshida are a public asset that could be key to finding out ways to prevent a similar nuclear disaster.

They say the interviews should be disclosed for analysis by experts.

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