The top two executives at Kyushu Electric Power Co came under fire on Friday for not resigning to take responsibility for a fake email scandal to manipulate public opinion on the resumption of operations at the utility's Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture.
Chairman Shingo Matsuo and President Toshio Manabe submitted the results of an in-house probe to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. In it, they apologized for betraying public trust. The company later announced that both executives would receive no salary for the next three months, but would not be resigning.
However, Economy and Trade Minister Yukio Edano, curently on a visit to China, said that for both men to retain their positions was unthinkable, NHK reported. He said Kyushu Electric has ignored most of the findings of the independent commission set up to investigate the scandal.
Kyushu Electric submitted fake emails in support of a restart of idle nuclear reactors at a government-sponsored meeting for local residents in June. Following that revelation, the industry ministry ordered six electric power companies to conduct internal investigations of their PR activities and to report all activities aimed at winning local support for nuclear power.
An independent commission investigating the scandal named Saga Prefectural Gov Yasushi Furukawa Committee chairman as the person who proposed that fake emails be used in the question and answer session.
In order to create the impression that there existed widespread public support for the reopening of the Genkai nuclear power plant, Furukawa allegedly told Kyushu Electric to use the Internet to submit messages purporting to be from members of the public agreeing to the plan.
In August, Furukawa told a news conference that a memo was drafted, but that it did not accurately represent his wishes. “The fact that the memo got circulated does not mean that I have to take responsibility for the scandal,” he told the media.
Kyushu Electric's internal investigation revealed that, of 2,900 employees, 141 sent emails. It also found that Kyushu Electric’s Saga office had sent similar pro-nuclear emails to partners and that it asked employees at its subsidiaries and partner companies to attend a July 8 meeting for residents in the prefecture. The commission found that 63 employees of these companies were present at the meeting, constituting about 20% of the audience.© Japan Today