TEPCO will relax conditions on release of nuke crisis videos

July 31, 2012

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Bowing to pressure from industry minister Yukio Edano, Tokyo Electric Power Co. will loosen restrictions on media viewing of videos of in-house meetings during the onset of the crisis at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant last year.

TEPCO will extend the viewing period and will no longer restrict the number of viewers to only one reporter per news organization, TEPCO Executive Vice President Zengo Aizawa told a news conference on July 30. TEPCO was to announce details of the modifications on July 31.

However, TEPCO has no plan to review the ban on video and voice recordings and the ban on reporting the names of individuals other than the senior TEPCO officials whose names have already appeared in TEPCO's investigation report into the Fukushima disaster. TEPCO will not back down, either, from superimposing a beeping sound and blurring images wherever such individuals could be identified.

TEPCO had previously refused to release the videos but under government pressure, it announced on July 27 it would make available 150 hours and 30 minutes of footage, recorded between March 11-15 last year, but only during periods between Aug. 6-10 that total about 30 hours.

At the time, the utility also said only one reporter from each news organization could view the footage, and that cameras and voice recorders will not be allowed.

That meant that a single reporter could view only one-fifth of all footage available for release.

Edano on July 30 criticized TEPCO's "token disclosure" and ordered the utility to review the terms of the release and to ensure there is ample time for news reporters to view the videos. Edano also called on TEPCO not to dispose of the recorded images at its own discretion when the disclosure period is over.

The footage is believed to contain exchanges made at the very moments that reactor buildings exploded at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and when Naoto Kan, the prime minister at the time, visited TEPCO head offices on March 15 last year.

While many hope the disclosure will be helpful into the investigation of the Fukushima disaster, TEPCO has long refused to release the footage, citing concerns over the privacy of its employees.

Even though TEPCO has agreed to the release, only images and voices from an "abridged version," edited by TEPCO, will be made available for broadcast to the public.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Tokyo Electric Power Co. head office in Tokyo (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Tokyo Electric Power Co. head office in Tokyo (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. head office in Tokyo (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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