Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Yomiuri Shinbun on TEPCO's Video: "They Even Blurred the Face of President Shimizu"

I was amused to read that even Yomiuri Shinbun - pro-nuke and pro-government - is indignant at TEPCO's censoring of the video of the teleconferencing in the first 5 days of the accident.

I was further amused that Yomiuri, of all newspapers, accused TEPCO of its negative attitude toward information disclosure.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (8/7/2012):


Tense moments full of modifications... TEPCO even blurred the face of the president


On August 6, TEPCO finally released the video recording of the teleconference between the headquarters and the plant right after the start of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.


However, the images and sounds were not clear, with many blurs. Only part of the recording was made public, indicating the negative attitude of the company toward information disclosure.


The recording is 150-hour long, and according to TEPCO 1,665 voices and 29 images have been modified. The company says it is to protect the privacy of individual employees and there is no other intention.


However, blurring is such that we can't even discern the face of then-President Masataka Shimizu, and we cannot see the facial expressions in others. Voices are often interrupted with beeping sound or muted.


The screen is divided into 6 smaller screens. It was a teleconference between the headquarters and Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and other locations, so the image quality is not that great to begin with. However, an engineer at an audio-visual company suspects TEPCO may have modified the footage more than necessary. For an example, he says, "About the seawater injection, Plant Manager Masao Yoshio made a cross with his hands [indicating "no go"] in one scene. But only his hands are blurred [and look unnatural].


The press have demanded the public disclosure of the recordings of the teleconference since the start of the accident. TEPCO has declined the request due to "employees' privacy". The disclosure was finally decided by the new management who was installed on June 27 this year [at TEPCO's shareholders' meeting]. However, TEPCO's conditions for disclosure include (1) No recording of sound or images allowed; (2) No reporting of names of TEPCO's employees other than the top management, and the company says it will prohibit the violators from further viewing the recording and attending TEPCO's press conference.


On top of these stipulations, the company initially said the viewing would be only for 5 days, and that only one reporter per news organization would be allowed to view the raw footage. Thanks to the instruction from Mr. Edano, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, TEPCO extended the period to about one month.


Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association requested that TEPCO disclose the entire footage without modification, but only 5-day worth of footage has been made public. TEPCO's negative attitude toward information disclosure is also reflected in the footage that has been publicly disclosed.


When [experts] were pointing to the possible hydrogen explosion of Reactor 3 [i.e. before Reactor 3 exploded], then-Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata is heard on the phone with TEPCO's senior management, "It is a judgement call whether it is OK to disturb citizens. If I'm asked about it (possibility of hydrogen explosion) in the next press conference, I will deny it, and say it is not possible."

Well, I don't quite agree with Yomiuri's assessment (Yomiuri, of all newspapers) that Mr. Katsumata's comment means TEPCO was trying to hide. At that time, it might have caused panic, although it may have been no big deal after the explosion of Reactor 1. What was more criminal was what the national government did after the explosion of Reactor 3 on March 14, and the explosion of Reactor 4 on March 15. They did nothing. They didn't warn residents in the surrounding areas beyond saying "it may be better to stay indoors just in case", they didn't warn residents at all in the wider areas in Tohoku and Kanto where the radioactive plume went.

Unlike officials in Contra Costa County in California who warned the residents on what to do to protect themselves from the toxic fume from the Chevron refinery accident, the Japanese government did nothing. It could have said exactly the same thing as the Contra Costa County officials said:

Don't be outside, go indoors, close doors and windows, shut down air conditioners, and seal doors and windows with tapes or wet towel.

Instead, the Prime Minister's Office (under Naoto Kan) issued a vague, cryptic announcement on March 20, 2011, telling citizens that it might be better not to get wet in the rain, but if you did get wet, no big deal. "There is no effect on health", the announcement says. The phrase sounds painfully familiar now.

If you're interested in viewing the video(s) publicly disclosed (about one hour and 30 minutes), here are the links:

TEPCO: (Oh wait, now they allow download... I will download it (665MB).) http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2012/201208-e/120806-02e.html
Nikkei Shinbun: http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNASDG0401X_W2A800C1000000/?dg=1
Sankei Shinbun (Youtube channel): http://www.youtube.com/user/SankeiNews?feature=watch


Anonymous said...

Yomiuri was pro-government with the LDP. Right now, Asahi is the one which could be considered closer to the DPJ (accusing Tepco of the mess-ups instead of the government, for example.)

Little Canary said...

After 3.11 events the Japanese Government, Media and Tepco did nothing, yes indeed.

Having people in power such as Tokyo's Ishihara, do you really expect his officials to warn not to go out?

Like those days, today if we want to know or at least care what is happening, regarding this crisis, we check blogs like this or YouTube videos.

Is sad but is true, other sources can't be trusted after repeatedly spreading misinformation and misleading people.

Anonymous said...

Remember the Fly-Jin flap?

Shame on Japan's lapdog media...how many official investigations, yet TEPCO continues to withhold critical information? The media is part of the system in Japan.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

"other sources can't be trusted after repeatedly spreading misinformation and misleading people"

Yup. They include blogs and tweets and FB.

Anonymous said...

Blog readers here might also find this interesting from the Asahi Shimbun:

ANALYSIS: TEPCO's edited video sheds little light on truth

and maybe also

Video shows disorganized response to Fukushima accident

Anonymous said...

Here is TEPCO's video traslated in English.

Please watch.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to the video translation. As a non-japanese-speaking person, I always struggle to keep up with information. Much appreciated!

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