TEPCO keeps ban on recording, taping teleconference videos

August 01, 2012

By HIDEAKI KIMURA/ Staff Writer

Despite offering some concessions to the media, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it will not lift a ban on reporters recording or taping video teleconference footage of workers grappling with the immediate aftermath of last year's nuclear disaster.

It also stood firm on a prohibition on the naming of TEPCO workers trying to come to grips with the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant following the Great East Japan Earthquake.

However, the utility said July 31 it did agree to relax some of its limitations on viewing the 150 hours and 30 minutes of footage.

TEPCO had been asked by industry minister Yukio Edano to ease the restrictions following criticism the company was only allowing "token disclosure" of the videos.

Rather than the initial five-day period to view the footage, media organizations will now have about a month to view the videos. That means the organizations will be able to view all the video recorded between 6:30 p.m. on March 11, 2011, and midnight on March 15.

TEPCO plans to release the footage later this month.

Initially, each organization would have had only about 30 hours to view the footage.

The initial restriction of allowing only a single reporter from each organization to view the footage will also be relaxed.

Large organizations such as The Asahi Shimbun and the Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) will be provided two computers to view the videos.

Other organizations that have sent reporters on a continual basis to TEPCO news conferences, as well as freelance journalists who have attended those conferences on a regular basis, will also be provided with a computer to view the videos.

However, TEPCO refused to budge on the lifting of other limitations that had been called for by The Asahi Shimbun and other media organizations.

Reporters who apply to view the videos will have to give their consent to the limitations placed by TEPCO.

The Asahi Shimbun had also asked that video footage from March 16, 2011, be also released, but TEPCO has not agreed to the request.

In addition to the ban on recording or taping the videos, media organizations will only be allowed to reveal the names of TEPCO executives that appear in the final report compiled by TEPCO's accident investigation committee.

A TEPCO official said the measures were necessary to prevent any individual being held responsible for actions taken in the early hours of the crisis caused by reactor meltdowns and hydrogen explosions at the plant.

The footage is believed to contain exchanges during teleconferences held among executives at TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo and those in charge of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Edano had instructed TEPCO to respond in an appropriate and flexible manner following requests from media organizations about what videos are released and the manner in which the disclosure is made.

By HIDEAKI KIMURA/ Staff Writer
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Industry minister Yukio Edano (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Industry minister Yukio Edano (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • Industry minister Yukio Edano (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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