Former F. Daiichi plant manager Yoshida’s testimony continues to be debated in the Japanese Press. In many cases, the testimony issue is posted as a lead story.

  • The traditionally-antinuclear Mainichi Shimbun has taken issue with the Asahi Shimbun’s assertion that some 700 F. Daiichi workers fled the station on March 15, 2011, in defiance of Yoshida’s orders. The Mainichi says a former worker at the plant is grateful that the testimony is being released. Further, he and other workers have been insulted by the Asahi Shimbun’s false claims. They went to F. Daini, 10 kilometers to the south, because they felt they were following orders, “At the time there was a shared awareness among workers that we would be evacuating to the Fukushima No. 2 plant.” After a few hours of much-needed rest, many were told to return to F. Daiichi to assist in fighting a fire which had broken out in the damaged unit #4 reactor building. Because Mr. Yoshida was not leaving the accident site, all asked-for staff returned to F. Daiichi.
  • The Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan News) continues to counter the incorrect Asahi report. This time, three “experts” are presented with their opinions. Masao Mukaidono is a member of a TEPCO-commissioned panel of external experts tasked with investigating the 2011 nuclear disaster. He says, “Our investigation revealed that a number of TEPCO workers volunteered to remain at the scene of the accident and risked their lives in the work… The moment I read an Asahi Shimbun report that [hundreds of workers] ‘had withdrawn [from the site] in violation of an order,’ I intuitively felt the article was incorrect and untrue.” Yoshio Omori is president of Nihon Bunka University and an expert in national crisis management. He said, “When I read the file, I could not help but suspect that the Asahi report was based on a stretched interpretation of some remarks taken from his interview transcript… The greatest problem is that the Asahi report left other nations to believe that workers at the No. 1 plant fled in direct violation of Mr. Yoshida’s orders… The Asahi report claiming they violated orders has disgraced the spirit and honor of the Japanese.” Hiroshi Miyano, chairman of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan’s Standards Committee, rejects the Asahi claim and says a more effective support system was needed for the staff at F. Daiichi. He states, “There was no practical, effective rescue [assistance] from [TEPCO’s] head office or anywhere else. I still have a huge amount of resentment and bitterness.”
  • The Japan News also says the Asahi report has caused “serious misunderstandings among foreign media.” Examples of incorrect reporting include, “The New York Times dated May 20 read “Panicked Workers Fled Fukushima Plant in 2011 Despite Orders, Record Shows.” The Times of London carried an article on May 22 that said: “Far from being heroic exemplars of the samurai spirit, 90 percent of the workers at Fukushima [plant] fled, disobeying orders to remain in the stricken plant.” A headline in The Australian on May 22 said: “Fukushima ‘heroes’ actually fled in fear.” To the contrary, a former worker who had continued to work at the No. 1 plant was upset about the Asahi Shimbun’s report, “Retreat was never an option. It was a grave mistake to say so. I even sense some malicious intent. We had a strong bond of trust with Yoshida.” There has been no mention of this in the foreign news reports.


  • The first instance of resentment toward Fukushima evacuees has surfaced. Specifically, residents are offended at the huge sums of money given to Fukushima evacuees who have relocated to Iwaki City. Reuters says (also posted in Japan Today) long-time residents of Iwaki have “come to resent evacuees and the government compensation that has made the newcomers relatively rich in a blue-collar town built on coal mining and access to a nearby port.” Ryosuke Takaki, a professor of sociology at Iwaki Meisei University, has studied the state of affairs and says, “The situation around Iwaki is unsettled and unruly.  There are many people who have evacuated to Iwaki, and there are all kinds of incidents caused by friction.” Many Iwaki residents say they have grown weary of hosting evacuees in temporary housing, even though the money has caused an unprecedented economic boom. Evacuees and F. Daiichi workers living in Iwaki fear for their safety. Hideo Hasegawa, who heads a group looking after evacuees at a temporary housing complex in Iwaki, says, “When they [evacuees] move in to an apartment, they don’t talk to neighbors and hide. You hear this hate talk everywhere you go: restaurants, shops, bars. It’s relentless.” At the core of the problem is the massive amount of money being paid-out to the evacuees. No one disputes the idea of compensation itself, but the amounts (regularly reported in these updates) offend Iwaki’s people because evacuees receive far more compensation from the government than Iwaki residents make at work. Further, evacuees do not have to pay rent on their government-provided temporary homes. Numerous Iwaki residents say the payouts to the newcomers have been frittered away on luxury cars and villas, locally dubbed “disaster relief mansions.” Iwaki chiropractor Hiroshi Watahiki says, “The food the evacuees eat and the clothes they wear are different. They can afford it from their compensation funds. They have time and money to go gambling since they’re not working.” In the City’s community of Takaki, a poll shows that 2/3 “feel envious of their [evacuee’s] compensation.”
  • It seems the Tepco groundwater bypass operation is having a slightly positive effect, despite Press reports to the contrary. Currently, there is 70,500 tons of contaminated water in the basements of units #1 through #4.  On June 25th, the volume was 73,200 tons. Prior to June, the volume of basement waters had varied between 73,000 and 74,000 tons for more than a year. Despite this slight improvement, NHK World says the operation is not having a “significant” impact. Tepco has announced they have seen “little change” because external wells have only dropped 20-30 centimeters since the beginning of the process in May. Tepco adds that before a significant change will be measured, the wells would have to experience a drop in water level of about a meter. The water level decrease in the basements is not mentioned. NHK World; TEPCO bypass operation failing to have an impact; 8/28/14
  • Four subcontractor workers plan to sue Tepco for higher wages. They are plumbers who work on radioactive waste water storage tanks. The workers argue that the money they are paid is too low considering the risk of their radiation exposure. The workers want about $96,000 in compensation. One plaintiff says he worries about his health because he has been occasionally exposed to more than four millisieverts per month. The suit’s lawyer says he wants to bring the radiological working conditions at F. Daiichi into the open. NHK World; Fukushima Daiichi workers to sue TEPCO; 9/1/14
  • A fuel handling machine destroyed by the unit #3 hydrogen explosion was dropped into the spent fuel pool. The main console of the machine was about to be grasped by a large crane when the device slipped and fell into the SFP. The console weighs about 400 kilograms. Pool water level was not affected and there was no change in the level of airborne radioactivity around the pool. The airborne activity was constant at 0.00001 Becquerels/cm3. Underwater cameras showed no visible damage to the spent fuel racks in the pool due to the fallen console.