Masao Yoshida, former chief of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, has been diagnosed with esophagus cancer, but the disease was not likely caused by radiation exposure during emergency operations, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said on Dec. 9.
TEPCO, the plant operator, also said Yoshida's dose of radiation was about 70 millisieverts after the accident occurred at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
Citing opinions by experts at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, TEPCO said the fact that esophagus cancer takes at least five years to develop shows Yoshida's disease is not linked to radiation exposure.
Yoshida, 56, who has spearheaded efforts to bring the plant under control and in cold shutdown since the March 11 disaster, has been taking sick leave since he was admitted to a hospital on Nov. 24.
His cancer was discovered during an earlier health check.
Yoshida returned to the plant on Dec. 9 to explain about his condition to workers.
The electric utility initially declined to identify his disease and levels of radiation exposure, citing privacy concerns.
That sparked speculation that the plant chief might be suffering from a radiation-related illness.
The utility said it disclosed details about Yoshida's condition at his request. Yoshida said keeping his condition confidential may cause anxiety among workers at the plant and hospital staff because of speculative media reports.
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