8 Août 2012
The Yomiuri on TEPCO's footage of the first days of the Fukushima crisis:
August 8, 2012
Tokyo Electric Power Co. has shown for the first time video footage of its teleconferences in the days after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, showing the firm's response to the crisis at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The footage, which it began to show to reporters Monday, includes 150 hours of recorded teleconferences among officials at TEPCO's headquarters in Tokyo, the Fukushima Nos. 1 and 2 nuclear power plants and two other locations.
It covers teleconferences held just after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant was hit by tsunami, until March 16.
The footage vividly captures the confusion among TEPCO officials as they tried to manage the hydrogen explosions at the Nos. 1 and 3 reactor buildings, and documents their slow response to the crisis.
TEPCO released only part of its collection of footage and modified the audio, which prompted criticism that it has disclosed insufficient information.
The 150 hours of video footage is in two parts. The first is 100 hours of silent recordings from the the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant, while the second is 50 hours of footage with sound recorded at TEPCO's headquarters.
The issues mainly discussed in the footage include:
-- Hydrogen explosions at the Nos. 1 and 3 nuclear reactor buildings.
-- Injection of seawater to cool the No. 1 reactor.
-- Evacuation of workers from the plant.
-- Then Prime Minister Naoto Kan's visit to TEPCO's headquarters.
-- Preparations to vent the No. 2 reactor and release steam to reduce pressure inside the reactor, enabling the injection of water to cool it.
In the footage, just after the hydrogen explosion of the No. 3 reactor on March 14, Masao Yoshida, then director of the plant, tensely said: "Headquarters, headquarters, it's a crisis, crisis. An explosion has just occurred."
Officials at the headquarters responded by hastily calling the relevant institutions to report the accident, the footage shows.
Meanwhile, Kan, who visited the headquarters, is shown in the footage giving instructions to officials on two occasions. However, as there is no sound accompanying the footage, Kan's words are unknown.
According to the final report of a government panel charged with investigating the nuclear crisis, Kan strongly said, "Withdrawal is impossible in the face of a crisis that could lead to the nation's collapse."
TEPCO initially refused to reveal the video footage, but later agreed. However, it modified the audio in the footage to prevent individuals other than executives from being identified.
The utility is permitting certain representatives of the media to watch the footage inside its headquarters for one month, but viewers are banned from recording or photographing the video. Instead, TEPCO distributed a 1-1/2-hour summary of the footage.
However, releasing information in this manner has prompted media organizations and observers to demand full disclosure of the footage.
The recently disclosed video of Tokyo Electric Power Co. teleconferences that took place just after the outbreak of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has been significantly altered, with many images blurred and audio heavily obscured.
The media had requested the recording of the teleconferences be released immediately after the nuclear crisis began.
However, the about 150-minute-long video is another example of TEPCO's less than positive attitude toward disclosing information about the crisis.
TEPCO said it edited audio, such as people's speech and other sounds, 1,665 times in the video, and blurred images another 29 times.
"It's to protect the privacy of individual employees and we aren't intentionally [withholding information]," a TEPCO official explained.
However, even then TEPCO President Masataka Shimizu has been blurred in parts of the video, making his face unrecognizable. Even when his face is visible, his expressions are at times unreadable.
Some audio sections have also been bleeped out multiple times, or simply cut mid-speech.
The video screen is evenly split into six sections as teleconferences were held between the utility's headquarters in Tokyo, the Fukushima No. 1 plant and other locations. The quality of the images is generally poor.
However, a technical staffer at a video imaging company suspects the images have been altered more than necessary.
For instance, at one point, then General Manager Masao Yoshida at the No. 1 plant makes an X with both hands in reference to a sea water injection into the No. 1 reactor.
"When he makes the X, only his hands have been blurred out," the staffer said.
TEPCO has until now refused to disclose the video, saying it was protecting the privacy of its employees. The firm's new management, which came into power on June 27, was behind the video's disclosure.
However, TEPCO placed several conditions on the video's disclosure, including prohibitions on recording the video's visual and audio content or naming nonexecutive employees. Should media companies violate these conditions, TEPCO will bar them from viewing the video again and participating in its press conferences.
TEPCO provided the media with an abridged, 90-minute copy of the video. TEPCO has given the media permission to view the full video at its headquarters during a one-month period.
Initially, TEPCO said it would limit the viewing period to five days and permit only one reporter from each company.
Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano requested TEPCO to make accommodations and as a result, the firm extended the viewing period to one month.
The Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association asked TEPCO to disclose all teleconferences in their entirety without any alterations. However, the video only includes footage from the evening of March 11 to March 16, 2011--about five days in total.
This reluctance to readily make information available was evident within the video footage.
Around the time some experts suggested a hydrogen explosion had taken place at the No. 3 reactor building, then TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata was on the phone with a senior TEPCO executive.
"It's my judgment on whether we can cause the general public anxiety. If I'm asked about that [a hydrogen explosion at the No. 3 reactor] at the next news conference, I'll deny it and say it would never happen," Katsumata said.
Early morning blackout aborted
TEPCO had also planned a rolling power blackout for early March 14 last year, but decided against it when the Prime Minister's Office strongly urged them to refrain from a morning blackout, video footage revealed Monday.
TEPCO implemented its first rolling blackout the same day, but avoided doing so for the entire morning.
The previous evening, TEPCO had announced it would carry out the planned blackout the next morning in some areas in Tokyo's 23 wards and Isogo Ward in Yokohama, among other places.
However, in a teleconference shortly after midnight, then TEPCO Vice President Takashi Fujimoto revealed then Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano, then Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama and Renho, then state minister in charge of government revitalization and energy saving, had all demanded that there be no blackout during the early morning hours.
"I was told, 'You would kill people dependent on artificial respirators or artificial heart-lung machines at their homes. If you knowingly do so, we'll accuse you of murder,'" he said.