national

Gov't to release testimony of deceased Fukushima plant chief

14 Comments

The Japanese government said Monday that it will release in September transcripts of testimony given by the former manager of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant about the chaotic situation in the immediate aftermath of the March 11, 2011 disaster.

Masao Yoshida died of cancer of the esophagus on July 9, 2013, at the age of 58. He led efforts to stabilize the stricken nuclear power plant after the tsunami knocked out its power and cooling systems, causing triple meltdowns and massive radiation leaks.

A special Diet panel, set up by the government to investigate the disaster, interviewed Yoshida in late 2011. A transcript of the more than 20 hours of interview was never released to the public at Yoshida's request, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday, TBS reported.

But Suga said the circumstances have changed. Two newspapers -- the Asahi Shimbun and Sankei Shimbun -- have already published parts of the 400-page transcript of Yoshida's testimony, and NHK reported on it on Monday night.

One controversial point has been whether plant staff fled the plant, despite being ordered by Yoshida to remain on duty as the nuclear crisis unfolded.

At Yoshida's funeral last year, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co President Naomi Hirose praised Yoshida for his efforts on the front line during the crisis and said all employees of TEPCO must do what Yoshida would have done to cope with the ongoing crisis.

Yoshida, an outspoken man, wasn't afraid of talking back to higher-ups, but he was also known as a caring figure to his workers.

On March 12, after the No. 1 reactor building exploded following a meltdown, Yoshida kept pumping in sea water into the reactor to cool it, ignoring an order from the TEPCO headquarters to stop doing so as then Prime Minister Naoto Kan feared a possibility of sea water triggering a fission chain reaction. Yoshida was initially reprimanded for disobeying the order from above, but later praised for his judgment that eventually helped keep the reactor from turning worse.

Yoshida studied nuclear engineering at Tokyo Institute of Technology and joined TEPCO in 1979 and worked in the company's nuclear department before landing a top job at the Fukushima Daiichi plant a year before the crisis.

Yoshida stepped down as plant chief in December 2011, citing the cancer, after workers had begun to bring it under control.

© Japan Today/AP

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

14 Comments
Login to comment

Mixed feelings on this. I appreciate his efforts in the face of a terrifying situation. But the almost universal attempts to paint him as a hero sets off my BS radar. No one quite knows his true role in saving Japan, or in being unable to prevent the accident. I saw an NHK documentary that suggested a series of blunders and miscalculations, which makes me wonder. Anyhow, RIP Mr. Yoshida. I will be brave and err on the side of your heroism...for now.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Masao Yoshida is a hero - a courageous man of integrity and principle . . . Thankfully, ASAHI and SANKEI will alow the public to know how his intelligent & heroic leadership steered the best course in a time of compounding disaster and crazy-making obfuscation by other leaders. . . . Thank you Masao Yoshida ! You have fonght the good fight .

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If it wasn't for this guy Tokyo would be a wasteland, he ignored the stupid higher ups and did his job. The say his death is unrelated but it's obvious it is not.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Yoshida may have made mistakes, but he was the man on the scene and what minor errors he made were nothing compared to the monumental mistakes that would have been made if his superiors had their way. Yoshida had the backbone to stand up to the cowardly idiots at TEPCO headquarters, and for that alone he deserves respect.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

On March 12, after the No. 1 reactor building exploded following a meltdown, Yoshida kept pumping in sea water into the reactor to cool it, ignoring an order from the TEPCO headquarters to stop doing so as then Prime Minister Naoto Kan feared a possibility of sea water triggering a fission chain reaction. Yoshida was initially reprimanded for disobeying the order from above, but later praised for his judgment that eventually helped keep the reactor from turning worse.

semperfi is spot on -- the man is a hero. And as gogogo says, the possibilities of what could have occurred had this man not been in place are almost too awful to consider.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Make no mistake about it, this chap was a hero. When the pencil necks at TEPCO wanted to pull the plug on responding to the reactor problems, it was only ex-PM Kan and Mr. Yoshida who held the line. Yoshida even offered to gather together a veteran team of engineers and enter the reactor buildings.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The leaks by Asahi and Sankei reveal Yoshida was much more arrogant than he was previously reported. He belittled the Prime Minister, government officials, and TEPCO management. He spoke as if he saved nuclear plants though he exploded all 3 of 3 reactors that lost outside electricity.

Reactor 1. His operators mistakenly stopped the isolation cooling condenser, which led to melt down of reactor 1 in a few hours. His operators were not trained to vent the reactor for pouring in water by fire engine pumps. The long delay of venting led to hydrogen explosion of reactor 1.

Reactor 2. His operators failed to refuel the pumps that poured cooling water into the reactor 2. The pumps stopped due to lack of fuel that led to the meltdown of reactor 2.

Reactor 3. His operators could not vent the reactor 3 until hours after the meltdown. When they finally vented, they could not pour water in because the pumps had no fuel. After the fueling, the pumps stopped again because they failed to refill the reservoir. All these led to hydrogen explosion of reactor 3.

R. I. P., Yoshida.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Joeintokyo Easy to write such articles three years after the disaster, especially as Yoshida is not among us anymore. Hate to disappoint you but it was actually Kan who faltered initially and the "arrogant" Yoshida who acted fast under the circumstances and prevented an even worse disaster. This, however, will never be officially published as the records at the time are not complete and Yoshida can no longer refute such "research"

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Stop painting him an hero. The reactors had a passive cooling system, with special water tanks made for this occasion. It was disabled by the workers the only time it needed to be enabled. People say they didn't have the disaster management training, well who is responsible for this?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@JoeinTokyo My premise is definately not what you make it out to be. Kan (and the PR office of his party) took a proactive approach after he left Office and looked for skapegoats after the accident - somebody to blame for the disastrous way Kan and his cabinet handled the accident. Although it is fair to say that he was unlucky to be PM when a disaster he and his Office were not at all prepared to deal with happened, he is in no way the trouble shooter his party's PR office is trying to describe him as.

However, Kan met Yoshida later on. In the first hours and days after the meltdowns he communicated with the HQ of TEPCO not in person but from Tokyo. At the most critical point, when sea water was about to be poured over the reactor/s, he had not met Yoshida. There is a reason why later he said that the only person who he could trust in TEPCO was Yoshida. Yoshida overruled his orders (delivered by telephone) immediately after the accident (Kan was still in Tokyo at that time) and took decisive action as to prevent further worsening of the situation. Not obeying PM's orders was unheard of and there was a potential of it becoming a scandal (it was witnessed by the people present at both Kan's office and TEPCO's HQ) had it not happened under such critical circumstances. Kan, however, did the smart thing and instead of making a fuss about being overruled by somebody of a lower status, waited for the result. Whatever the result, he would have been ok – if Yoshida's decision had not worked out he (Yoshida) could have been blamed for not obeying Kan's orders. But as it worked out Kan accepted it and later "reports" and "analyses" strongly imply that Kan was the one to praise for dealing with the situation in the manner it was dealt with.

The truth, though, is that he was NOT that great decision-maker who saved Japan at the time. I hope that Yoshida's testimony will cast some more light on what happened in the first hours and days after the accident.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites