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

August 07, 2012


The condensed teleconference videos provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co. to media organizations only drew attention to the fact that they would not offer a clearer picture of what really happened in the crucial days following last year's accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The 90-minute footage, released on Aug. 6, includes scenes from around the time an explosion occurred at the No. 1 reactor building and when then Prime Minister Naoto Kan visited the company's headquarters.

In addition to editing the length of the videos, TEPCO used various techniques to protect the privacy of lower level employees. Except for senior executives, TEPCO concealed the names and positions of all other employees by blurring the faces of individuals and beeping out audio when their name was mentioned.

However, these frequent beeps in conversations and jumps that occurred in other discussions make listening to the audio difficult.

For example, there are a total of about seven minutes related to a move by TEPCO to evacuate workers from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, but TEPCO edited those sessions into three segments. In one portion, beeping continues for about four seconds during a scene when Masataka Shimizu, the TEPCO president at the time, is talking.

Because TEPCO has refused to disclose all of the videos, no judgment can be made on whether its editing of the audio and video is appropriate.

Although TEPCO has provided a total of 150.5 hours of video to major media organizations, each organization is only provided with two computers on which to watch those videos, and is allowed only six hours every weekday until Sept. 7 for viewing. The organizations are also prohibited from making any video or audio recordings and cannot report the names of TEPCO workers except for those executives whose names already appear in the report compiled by the TEPCO investigative panel looking into the accident.

The video released to media organizations also contains 1,665 separate instances of beeping and 29 instances of blurred video images.

It is difficult to assess the actions taken by TEPCO executives because the beeping and the blurring of images make it impossible to determine who those executives were speaking with at important junctures of the unfolding accident.

Unless TEPCO relaxes many of the restrictions it has put in place regarding the videos, it will be difficult to uncover the actual chain of events behind some of the major issues related to the nuclear accident.

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Many of the faces of TEPCO employees are blurred in the video released by the utility. (Provided by TEPCO)

Many of the faces of TEPCO employees are blurred in the video released by the utility. (Provided by TEPCO)

  • Many of the faces of TEPCO employees are blurred in the video released by the utility. (Provided by TEPCO)
  • The emergency task force for dealing with the Fukushima nuclear accident immediately after an explosion at the No. 3 reactor building (Provided by TEPCO)

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