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Hosono defends Naoto Kan

Nuclear disaster minister defended then PM Kan for handling of Fukushima crisis: panel



Nuclear disaster minister Goshi Hosono had defended then Prime Minister Naoto Kan for his handling of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, according to details of hearings conducted and released by the Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident.

Hosono, who had served as special advisor to then Prime Minister Kan at the time of the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, was quoted as telling the independent panel's closed-door hearing in November last year, "Suppose a prime minister other than Prime Minister Kan was pressed to make decisions there at that time, I have no idea who could be a prime minister capable of making (proper) decisions."

Hosono was questioned by both government and Diet panels tasked with looking into the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but his testimonies to those two separate panels have not been released.

While Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled nuclear power station, denied the utility had proposed to the government that all workers at the plant be withdrawn in the middle of the crisis, Hosono stressed during the closed-door questioning by the independent panel that he had thought the power company sounded out the government about the "complete withdrawal." Hosono then added, "I hesitated to tell them to stay there. I had no idea what decision I should make."

On Kan's decision to leave the Prime Minister's Office to inspect the troubled Fukushima nuclear power plant himself on March 12, 2011, the day after the outbreak of the crisis, Hosono said, "The decision led to Mr. Kan's mental strength to carry the fate of the country and make decisions without sleeping for several days."

The details of the panel's questioning of Tetsuro Fukuyama, a House of Councilors lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), were also released. Fukuyama, who was deputy chief Cabinet secretary at the time of the nuclear crisis, quoted then Prime Minister Kan as telling senior TEPCO officials shortly after the outbreak of the crisis, "Let me talk to nuclear plant chief Masao Yoshida directly by phone." Then, Fukuyama said the TEPCO officials were hiding themselves and "stealthily" checking Yoshida's cell-phone number. Fukuyama said he had taken their behavior as an indication that every bit of information was coming through TEPCO headquarters. He then expressed his sense of distrust in the utility, saying, "I was stunned at the possibility of TEPCO suppressing the Prime Minister's Office's intentions."

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