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Thursday, 21 August 2014

TEPCO shareholders go to court for disclosure of Yoshida testimony on nuclear disaster

August 21, 2014

Shareholders of Tokyo Electric Power Co. filed a lawsuit Aug. 20 for disclosure of testimony about the 2011 nuclear disaster given by the late manager of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

“(The government) should make public investigative records of 772 people, including Masao Yoshida (then plant manager), to enable a re-examination of what was wrong and what was correct,” said Yui Kimura, who heads the plaintiffs' group.

The 10 TEPCO shareholders and others are calling on the Cabinet Secretariat to disclose records of the government investigation panel’s interviews with 772 people involved in the nuclear crisis triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

As the Cabinet Secretariat refused their request to make public Yoshida’s testimonies, the shareholders filed a suit with the Tokyo District Court, demanding disclosure of the 28-hour-long interviews in Q&A format.

The plaintiffs also plan to file suits for disclosure of other interview records if and when the Cabinet Secretariat refuses to disclose them. The shareholder group has sued the utility’s executives for not taking necessary preventive measures against a severe nuclear accident, as well.

The group’s written complaints state, “No other materials exist that would allow for direct examination of steps taken by the top official who took command at the accident site.”

The group’s complaints also describe Yoshida’s testimonies as “necessary to figure out the cause of the disaster,” and argue that, “The disclosure of (the records) is an extremely high priority in terms of the public benefit.”

Many citizens have demanded Yoshida’s testimonies be publicly disclosed. But the government has refused, citing Yoshida’s written request submitted when the government panel handed his statements to a Diet investigation committee that asks the state not to disclose them.

Yoshida died in July 2013 from esophageal cancer.

A copy of Yoshida’s statements obtained by The Asahi Shimbun, however, shows that the late plant manager agreed when told by interviewers that the records could be made public in the future.

The TEPCO shareholders also mention the point in their complaints, saying, “Interviews were conducted after gaining his clear consent (for disclosing his interview records).”

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