“The Asahi Shimbun has recently obtained a copy of the transcripts of testimony given before a government investigation panel by Masao Yoshida, who served as general manager of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant when it succumbed to a Level 7 disaster, the highest on the International Nuclear Events Scale, following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.
The document remains the only available official transcript of the testimony by Yoshida, the on-site commander of efforts to bring the situation under control, who died in July 2013 without having disclosed much to media organizations about the accident at the plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.
The transcript, not to be released publicly at Yoshida’s request, was gathering dust in government offices.”
“Unfortunately, the government investigation panel’s final report failed to discuss and review the actions and judgments made by individuals who were leading concerned organizations at the time–the prime minister, industry minister, director-general of the now-defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, chairman of the NSC, president of TEPCO and general manager of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, although it is up to people to stop nuclear plants from running amok and up to people to save residents from nuclear damage.
Although the panel interviewed as many as 772 individuals involved, it failed to dig deep into essential aspects of the disaster because it made it a stated policy that it would not pursue the responsibility of individuals.”
Reports in nine installments
This is an English translation of serial feature stories on the Yoshida testimony report that began running online on The Asahi Shimbun Digital on May 20.
The series focuses on the part of human action and judgments, which the government investigation panel questioned Yoshida about but seldom mentioned in its report, and addresses three issues: who is there to halt nuclear reactors; if residents can be evacuated; and if humans can stop a crisis.
In analyzing and reviewing the Yoshida testimony report, The Asahi Shimbun perused TEPCO’s teleconference records, a time-series table of events and TEPCO’s other in-house documents obtained from sources. The newspaper’s reporters also interviewed concerned parties.
Table of Contents
The Interview for more than 28 hours
Chapter 1: Who is there to halt nuclear reactors?
1. Reality of the ‘Fukushima 50’
‘I just ordered a temporary retreat but …’
2. The hardest part to remember
‘All this could turn into a China syndrome’
3. Nobody came to help
‘I still hold a big grudge against them’
Chapter 2: Can residents be evacuated?
1. Fresh water or seawater?
‘Listen, we have run out of water’
2. Public relations: who cares?
‘A press release: do as you like’
Chapter 3: Can humans stop a crisis?
1. In went a ‘suicide squad’
‘It all has to be done manually in the end’
2. ‘Limits of wisdom’
‘We can only discuss it empirically’
Water is there!
Investigations by Tomomi Miyazaki and Hideaki Kimura
Production by Morihiro Sakuma, Shinya Uemura, Masayuki Shirai and Madoka Kimura
Translations in English by Taku Tada and Roy K. Akagawa