TEPCO's share price, to be more specific.
I posted on Friday about what Yukio Edano as Chief Cabinet Secretary was saying on March 12, 2011 ("We should start thinking about wide-area evacuation including Tokyo and Ibaraki"). It was revealed by the information disclosure request from Tokyo Shinbun.
Now it's Asahi Shinbun's turn. Asahi uncovered what the then-Finance Minister had said about TEPCO in the early days of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. The then-Finance Minister is today's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.
Remember the mention of some ministers who were worried about the stock market in the meeting after Reactor 1 blew up on March 12, 2011? Noda looks like he was one of them.
From Asahi Shinbun (4/15/2012):
"Refrain from saying things that may weaken TEPCO", said Mr. Noda as finance minister
It has been revealed that Yoshihiko Noda, then-Minister of Finance, worried about the rapid decline of TEPCO's share price, said "I want you to refrain from saying things that may weaken (TEPCO)" during the meeting of the nuclear disaster response headquarters on the night of March 31, 2011. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry disclosed multiple memos of the meeting at the information disclosure request from Asahi Shinbun on April 13.
The meeting took place about 3 weeks after the start of the nuclear accident last year. Around that time, the share price of TEPCO dropped significantly on the prospect that the amount of accident compensations would be huge under the Atomic Energy Damage Compensation Law. On March 30, 2011, TEPCO's chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata was hinting that the existence of the company was in doubt.
Taking the disclosed memos together, Noda as the Minister of Finance told the meeting participants, "If the nationalization of TEPCO is in the news, the share price will hit the stop limit. Of 600,000 shareholders of TEPCO, 590,000 are individual investors and the impact on the economy will be large. I want you to refrain from saying things that may weaken TEPCO", restraining others from criticizing TEPCO.
I think Koichiro Genba, then-minister in charge of national strategy and current Minister of Foreign Affairs, may be the other minister who was worried about the stock market and particularly about TEPCO. He was the one who said "Let's all cheer for TEPCO" in late March last year.
No surprise, it all makes sense. Noda has already told the foreign press that no one is responsible for the accident, and everyone is responsible for the accident.