27 Juillet 2012
July 27, 2012
An official of the Cabinet Office, who chaired secret meetings of pro-nuclear power members of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), deleted most of the emails on such gatherings before he stepped down, sources close to the case said.
Yoshiharu Yamaguchi, who was a senior policy researcher at the Cabinet Office, deleted the emails after a fact-finding team set up by the Cabinet Office asked those present at such gatherings to submit relevant materials, raising suspicions that he intentionally deleted evidence.
The fact-finding team has launched efforts to restore emails on the server at the Cabinet Office at the instruction of lawyer Tadashi Kunihiro, an adviser to the fact-finding team.
Yamaguchi, who was on loan from Japan Atomic Power Co., returned to the firm on July 1 as part of the restructuring of the secretariat to JAEC following revelations that pro-nuclear power members of the commission, government officials and industry insiders held secret meetings on nuclear power.
Yamaguchi admitted having deleted the emails at the end of June. "I usually delete unnecessary emails. When I left the government, I deleted my email," he said.
When asked whether he did so to cover up what was discussed at secret meetings, he said, "That's not true. I deleted them simply because I thought they were unnecessary. I wasn't instructed by any other person to delete email. I did it at my own discretion."
In early June, Masato Nakamura, counselor at the Office for Atomic Energy Policy of the Cabinet Office, urged its members to submit all emails related to secret meetings.
The fact-finding team, headed by Cabinet Office Senior Vice Minister Hitoshi Goto, subsequently demanded those who attended secret meetings submit all relevant materials including emails in an effort to get to the bottom of the case. They include JAEC Chairman Shunsuke Kondo and four members of the commission as well as officials at the Office for Atomic Energy Policy, the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry and electric power companies.
The Office for Atomic Energy Policy printed out about 1,000 relevant emails that officials had kept in their computers and submitted them to the fact-finding team.
However, as they included few emails Yamaguchi, who played a key role in the secret meetings, had exchanged with those present at secret meetings, the fact-finding team grilled him. He then admitted that he had deleted them.
The team has commissioned a private company to restore the deleted emails. Experts at the company are working to restore them.