Aug 5, 2013
Masao Yoshida, the former head of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, died on July 9.
In March 2011, three reactors at Fukushima suffered meltdowns after a massive earthquake and tsunami. Yoshida led the initial effort to cool down the reactors. The workers who stayed in the plant in those days were exposed to high levels of radiation. In December 2011, nine months after the disaster, Yoshida quit because of illness – cancer of the esophagus in the throat, which eventually killed him.
Officials of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the plant’s operator, denied that Yoshida’s illness was caused by radiation. They dared to say that he may have gotten the cancer from smoking!
But who can believe a word of these TEPCO executives anyway? To this day, they have not admitted their own responsibility in the disaster. They still try to hide the true extent of the radioactivity leaking from the plant.
It was these same TEPCO bosses who ordered Yoshida not to use sea water to cool down the overheating reactors, because they said it would make the reactors unusable. Yoshida disobeyed – which experts believe prevented more explosions, and an even bigger radioactive disaster.
Unlike his bosses, Yoshida took some responsibility for the disaster. For example, he apologized for not raising the plant’s tsunami walls when he was the head of the plant (for less than a year in the plant’s 40-year history, by the way). Yoshida also risked his own life to help limit the effects of the disaster. So did hundreds of workers, who stayed at the plant to cool it down and clean it up. How many of them have gotten ill, and perhaps died? And how many thousands, perhaps millions, of people in Japan are suffering the effects of severe radiation?
We don’t know, because those who would have this kind of information, TEPCO executives and government officials who protect them, continue to hide it. They continue to put TEPCO’s interests above the interests of the population – endangering the health, and lives, of millions of people.