Thursday, August 22, 2013

TEPCO and Citizens Thanked and Bid Farewell to Masao Yoshida, Plant Manager of #Fukushima I Nuke Plant at the Time of the Accident

Today (August 23, 2013) was the day TEPCO held a formal, corporate funeral in Tokyo for Mr. Masao Yoshida, who died of esophagus cancer on July 9, 2013 at the age of 58. (Photo from @pochipress.)

The event was open to public, and there were many politicians (including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who left in less than 3 minutes, former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Goshi Hosono, Banri Kaieda) and people who wanted to thank Yoshida for what he had done at the plant after March 11, 2011.
According to Toshihiro Okuyama of Asahi Shinbun, former TEPCO chairman Katsumata and former TEPCO president Shimizu came before the official start of the event, dedicated flowers and spoke with the family.

Again according to Asahi's Okuyama, over 1,000 people in total attended the event. The photo of Mr. Yoshida for the funeral showed him in blue uniform, smiling. In front of the photo, there were a megaphone and a towel with Hanshin Tigers (baseball team) logo.

There was a concerted negative campaign right after Yoshida's death that he had been very reluctant to devise countermeasures against tsunami and therefore he was directly responsible for the nuclear accident. According to Mr. Rhusho Kadota, independent journalist who interviewed Mr. Yoshida right before he was incapacitated by brain hemorrhage in July 2012, Yoshida was the one who had been pushing strongly for tsunami countermeasures at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and trying to obtain hard evidence of a large tsunami to persuade the local municipalities to build a large seawall for the plant.

One of the plant workers who attended was one of the workers who have been tweeting from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant since the beginning of the nuclear accident. He is known as "Sunny" on Twitter. He said he found himself to be quite calm, no big deal, until:


I saw a foreign-looking, Asian father and his daughter walking in front of the ceremonial hall. Daughter: I wonder whose funeral it is. Father: That's Mr. Yoshida. That plant manager who did all he could. They stopped, and quietly put their hands together in prayer. Then they walked away quietly together.

If Mr. Yoshida is looking down at the plant right now, he would say "I told you so..." over the water problems the plant has had one after another since April this year.

TEPCO President Hirose, offering his tribute to the memory of the deceased:


Peter Melzer said...


FallOutMan said...

I cannot understand the lionization of a man simply because he is dead. Must the dead be worshipped no matter how evil they were while they were alive? Yoshida presided over a plant that falsified maintenance and safety records (a plant that was caught for that repeatedly, and did what it could to destroy whistle blowers and evidence of its corruption). He presided over a plant that is alleged to have used yakusa supplied disposable workers, and subsequent to the disaster did everything possible to cover up the seriousness of the widespread contamination it caused, causing many more people to have their health destroyed.

I think by painting this criminal as a martyr, it protects those above him. Yoshida was the one who oversaw the work and was on the ground covering up the truth of how dangerous that plant was before it inevitably caused one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. When I say "covered up", of course many of the problems at the plant had been exposed even in the main stream media by whistle blowers before the disaster. But still the problems were not sorted out, and no one was held to account. Even being caught falsifying safety records did not lead to improvements. Post the melt downs, Yoshida was one of the crooks who blamed the Tsumami for the disaster, when in fact the plant lost cooling after the earthquake, before the Tsunami even hit. Pipes that were welded together under strain in a botched construction job split apart. Yoshida was in charge on the ground, covering up safety problems prior to 3/11, and covered up the cause of the disaster post 3/11. He was the man in charge of the plant itself.

Its impossible to calculate just how many lives have been lost due to this man's dishonesty. But it serves a great political purpose to paint him as a hero now. Its protective of those above him, none of whom have been held to account for their corruption costing so many lives. Perhaps he repented of his lies and corruption before he died. Perhaps as you say he is looking down from heaven now. If so, it is because of God's grace, not because of the countless lives lost and destroyed through the poorly maintained and unsafe plant he ran, and not because of his downplaying of the serious nature of the disaster. A cover up which no doubt cost more lives again, and which no doubt shows others they too can get away with a total disregard for the safety of others. Slick PR can make a hero out of a career criminal.

FallOutMan said...

To be fair to Yoshida, he had only been in the COO position for one year prior to the disaster. Also, If he had told the public the truth about the disaster, I've no doubt that would have been the end of his position as COO. Post the disaster, he did his job and stayed at his post, no doubt knowing it would likely cost him his life. His staying at his post helped stop a terrible situation from becoming an even greater disaster.

FallOutMan said...

Note also that the exposure of falsified safety records at the plant occurred before Yoshida's tenure as COO.

Anonymous said...

Some of the above are true.

- Yoshida did allow his handlers to cover up the truth.
- Yoshida did stay at his post - but not to make the situation better - he knew that was impossible.
- Yoshida could have come out and told the truth, but in reality he knew he would need medical assistance for his demise - which I knew would come.
- Perhaps Yoshida was negligent in allowing the reactors to blow in the first place, but my personal opinion is that the earthquake destroyed the plant's cooling capability and the meltdowns and explosions were inevitable. Like many decisions, Yoshida's mistake was made many years prior. The decision to work in a nuke plant put his life and the lives of many, many others in the balance, and the balance tipped the wrong way.

If you watch the video, when Plant 3 reactor blew up, Yoshida was trying to get his superiors' attention and tell them the reactor exploded and the plant should be evacuated. He was telling them the truth. They are the ones who changed his words to "hydrogen explosion" when that clearly was not the case.

He is the one who decided to abandon the site and save workers lives - not stay and try to portray that they were able to make it better - which was impossible to do. He knew, from the moment of that explosion, that the situation was hopeless, and all the radioactive material would be lost to the environment - which it has been and will be.

He likely knew his life would be over, although he didn't know if it would be short term or long term effects. No doubt dying of throat cancer is an agonizing and slow death - Can you imagine not being able to swallow or breathe for months on end?

There will be no heros from Fukushima - it is a disaster beyond comprehension. It is a disaster far beyond any that has come before. Yoshida is simply one man who tried to do his best.

Anonymous said...

Maybe one reason Yoshida did not speak up even when his death was approaching is related to how Tepco would handle his family after his death. I also wonder whether he left behind any record describing his view of what really happened.

Anonymous said...

Judging from the flower arrangement and the LED screen portrait the funeral might have costed a little fortune.

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