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