Monday, March 19, 2012

Kan Administration Demanded TEPCO Not Record Kan's Tirade on March 15, 2011 Over TEPCO's "Withdrawal" from #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

Contrary to what TEPCO's PR person told the reporters during the media tour of the plant in February, it has turned out that the video and audio copies of the teleconferences between the parties involved (Fukushima I Nuke Plant management, TEPCO HQ, the Japanese government) do exist.

It has also turned out that the Kan administration officials may have instructed TEPCO to delete the audio portion of the contentious meeting in March last year between then-Prime Minister Kan and TEPCO officials where the prime minister threatened TEPCO not to withdraw from the plant.

Denki Shinbun is an industry newspaper covering energy and electricity issues, and it reports on this incident as follows (3/19/2012):


Someone may have instructed TEPCO to stop recording when Mr. Kan angrily confronted TEPCO officials at the TEPCO headquarters

昨年3月15日に菅直人首相 (当時) が東京電力本店を訪れた際、官邸側の意向でテレビ会議システムの音声を一部消した可能性があることが、関係者の証言で明らかになった。 菅氏は東電が福島第一原子力発電所から全面撤退しようとしていると思いこんでおり、異常な興奮状態にあった。 そのため菅氏の同行者が、そのまま発言を記録されることを懸念したとみられる。 結果的に歴史的な事故の記録の一部が失われる事態に至ったことは波紋を呼びそうだ。

It has been revealed by the source involved that the Prime Minister's Office may have requested that part of the audio recording to be deleted during the teleconference when then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan visited the TEPCO headquarters on March 15 last year. Mr. Kan seemed possessed with the idea that TEPCO was planning to withdraw completely from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, and was in a state of abnormal excitement. People accompanying Mr. Kan may have been worried that his remarks would be recorded verbatim. It may cause repercussions that part of the record of this historical accident has been lost this way.


According to the investigation commission set up by the National Diet, there is a video of Mr. Kan scolding the TEPCO officials in the TEPCO's emergency response room on the 2nd floor of the TEPCO headquarters [in Tokyo]. But there is no audio to the video, and the commission has no way of knowing what Mr. Kan said.

菅氏は居並ぶ東電幹部に対して、 「逃げようとしたのはおまえか。おまえか」 と一人一人指を差していったという。 関係者の一部はこのときの様子について、東電側はこの際も通常通り録音を行うとしたが、同行者の一人が録音をしないように働き掛けたと証言している。 (本紙1面より抜粋)

According to the sources involved, Mr. Kan pointed the finger to each individual TEPCO official present, saying "Is it you who wanted to flee? Or is it you?" The sources told [this paper] that TEPCO was about to record the event as usual, but one of Kan's entourage told TEPCO not to record. (extracted from the article on the front page of this paper)

Personally, from what I've read from the interim report by the investigation committee set up by the Cabinet Office, I do not believe TEPCO intended to do so or that there was anything TEPCO could have done at that point (it took fire fighters to pour water from the fire engine booms to the spent fuel pools to lower the radiation levels somewhat).

It looks like someone fed the excitable prime minister some incomplete information about TEPCO's intention. I do not know whether that was intentional or unintentional; it may be the case of "Chinese whispers" game. Asahi Shinbun reported that Takamasa Shimizu, then-President of TEPCO, was desperately trying to reach Minister of Economy Kaieda, not Kan, that day, after the radiation levels in the plant compound spiked to a lethal level.

It has sure helped boost Kan's standing that he stood up against the villainous TEPCO.


Anonymous said...

General human priority:
1. Blame others.
2. Ensure profit.
3. Temporarily fix problem, if it's cheap.
4. Wait for another disaster.

Anonymous said...

fits neatly in with not keeping minutes of the meetings since 3/11 ....

otherwise somebody could find out afterwards which individuals were to blame ....

Anonymous said...

sorry, anon 2:05PM, but (a) the NPP was built in a vulnerable place, and (b) made more vulnerable by lowering the ground almost to sea level for construction, and (c) locating 4 reactors close together with common systems, and (d) not having a risk analysis and emergency manual, and (e) letting the pipework go to rot over the years ... caution may contain traces of exaggeration but also ... caution may contain significant amounts of truth

Blame goes a long way back. Clowning around at the time of the meltdowns is about the most rational behaviour to be expected in the circumstances.

Blunt, sorry.

Anonymous said...

If I spoke to the managers of the second worst nuclear disaster in history, I doubt if I would want it recorded either. Too many clowns running the show but not very funny.

Chibaguy said...

@anon 11:03

Years from now this will not be 2nd. That is just a talking point now sadly to say.

kintaman said...

> the second worst nuclear disaster in history

This is not the second worst nuclear disaster. This is THE worst nuclear disaster ever and only getting worse by the day.

@Chibaguy, how are you progressing with your plan to leave Japan?

Chibaguy said...

@Kintaman - slowly progressing but will be out of the land of kizuna this year. I hate to see my family and friends ignoring the truth out of fear of discovery but a year is up.

Richard said...

@misitu ...
(f) the vessel construction ..

Fukushima Engineer Says He Helped Cover Up Flaw at Dai-Ichi Reactor No. 4

One of the reactors in the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant may have been relying on flawed steel to hold the radiation in its core, according to an engineer who helped build its containment vessel four decades ago.

kintaman said...

No doubt a recording exists and it will come out one day.


Best of luck getting out of there!!

Anonymous said...

The New York Times published a storing indicating that Kan flew into a rage when TEPCO staff requested permission to retreat (leave the power plant) for safety concerns. I never saw a retraction on that article. Here's one possible link but I don't think it's the original one I recall having read:
Here's a good quote from the article: "Mr. Funabashi said his foundation’s investigators had interviewed most of the people involved — except executives at Tepco, which refused to cooperate — and found that the company had in fact said it wanted a total pullout. "

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@anon at 9:15PM, thanks for the link.

I don't think much of the private foundation's investigation commission, but that aside, the investigation commission set up by the cabinet found TEPCO said no such thing as TEPCO proposing to pull out completely.

It was interesting to note that the foreign media, particularly US and UK, thought highly of this private commission from the beginning. I guess I could shell out $20 to buy their report.

The meme that Kan was a hero who stopped evil TEPCO's retreat appeared in NYT, BBC, and other foreign media as well as in the MSM in Japan. Seems like a concerted PR effort to me. The private commission's report and BBC's documentary depicting Kan as decisive leader who had scolded TEPCO and saved Japan and the world came out almost simultaneously.

As I wrote in the article, TEPCO was talking with Kaieda, not Kan. Kan heard it from someone else.

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