JAPAN | Kyushu Electric admits lie

Posted on July 8, 2011


JAPAN | YOMIURI | 8 July 2011 

Kyushu Electric Power Co. President Toshio Manabe has announced that the utility ordered some employees and workers at its subsidiaries to send e-mails supporting reactivation of nuclear reactors during an explanatory meeting for local residents held in June.

The employees pretended to be local residents and sent e-mail messages to the organizer of the meeting, held June 26 in Saga by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry.

The meeting was arranged to discuss issues related to reactivation of the Nos. 2 and 3 reactors of the utility’s Genkai Nuclear Power Station.

At a press conference Wednesday, Manabe said, “It damaged the trustworthiness of the meeting. I apologize from the bottom of my heart.”

Manabe told The Yomiuri Shimbun he would consider whether he should step down.

The meeting, which was aired live via cable television and the Internet, was attended by seven representatives of residents of the prefecture selected by the government.

During the meeting, local residents were encouraged to express opinions and ask questions by e-mail and fax. Some of the messages were broadcast.

On Thursday, a section chief in the utility’s nuclear power generation department said that he sent an e-mail to encourage other employees to send e-mail messages to the meeting upon instruction from his department superior.

Kyushu Electric said it was investigating whether executives in charge of the issue were involved in the scheme and how many persons received the e-mail urging them to send e-mail messages to the meeting.

According to Kyushu Electric executives, the senior official alleged to have sent the e-mail instructing workers to send messages did not give specific details of what to include.

The official’s e-mail was sent on June 22 and 24 to one official in each of the four subsidiaries and Kyushu Electric’s three branch offices–those of the nuclear plant in Genkaicho, Saga Prefecture; Sendai Nuclear Power Station in Kagoshima Prefecture; and the Sendai plant’s general office.

Three of the four subsidiaries admitted they had notified employees about the instruction, when asked by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

The Kyushu Electric officials demanded that the employees and workers at its subsidiaries ask questions or express opinions that would increase local residents’ sympathy toward restarting the reactors.

The workers were instructed to access the Internet from home to do so.

During a concentrated interpellation session of the House of Representatives’ Budget Committee on Wednesday, Akira Kasai, a lower house member of the Japanese Communist Party, posed questions regarding the allegations.

Kyushu Electric then conducted an in-house investigation and found that it was true.

The e-mail scheme was also mentioned in a session Monday of the Kagoshima prefectural assembly, as the prefecture hosts the Sendai plant.

But Akira Nakamura, deputy head of Kyushu Electric’s nuclear power generation department, who attended the assembly as a witness, denied the allegation.

When The Yomiuri Shimbun asked Kyushu Electric’s public relations department to confirm the fact on Saturday, its official replied, “Common sense dictates that it’s impossible that we issued such an instruction.”

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