JAPAN | Top utility execs tied to scandal

Posted on July 9, 2011

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JAPAN | YOMIURI SHIMBUN | 9 July 2011

FUKUOKA–Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s in-house probe has found that one of its vice presidents and another executive were involved in a deception in which its employees were asked to post online comments in favor of the restart of the utility’s nuclear reactors, sources said Friday.

According to the sources, the vice president and executive were both in charge of nuclear power generation. The executive negotiated with local governments to reactivate the Nos. 2 and 3 reactors at the company’s Genkai nuclear power plant in Genkaicho, Saga Prefecture.

The two retired late last month.

Kyushu Electric plans to announce the probe’s findings early next week, the sources said. It also plans to set up a third-party panel to decide on punishments for those involved in the scandal, they added.

As the involvement of top executive members has been revealed, Kyushu Electric President Toshio Manabe is expected to face calls to take responsibility.

According to senior officials at the utility and other sources, the two executives tried to inform company and subsidiary employees about the details of the public meeting several days before the meeting was held in late June. They are believed to have told them to take advantage of the meeting to sway public understanding of reactor reactivation.

At that time, the executives were apparently worried about the possible negative impact of the meeting on its shareholders gathering, which was scheduled to be held two days after the public meeting. They feared that if many people spoke out against reactivation, shareholders would be take a negative view of the company.

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