Gov't to disclose Fukushima nuclear plant chief's testimony

The government plans to make public testimony regarding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster given by plant chief Masao Yoshida, government and other sources said Friday, possibly shedding light on whether Yoshida ordered staff to remain at their posts.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga will announce as soon as Monday the decision to release the testimony by mid-September or later, the sources said.

The testimony of Yoshida, who died in July 2013, was compiled by a government panel formed to examine the March 2011 disaster at the nuclear plant northeast of Tokyo.

The panel interviewed Yoshida for more than 20 hours from July to November 2011.

The government has thus far declined to make public Yoshida's testimony, citing a statement Yoshida signed saying he did not want it made available to any third party.

But interest in Yoshida's first-hand account of what transpired in the days immediately after March 11, 2011, when a massive earthquake and tsunami knocked out power to much of the six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi power plant, leading to a series of explosions and the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, has been piqued by reports that most staff fled.

The Asahi Shimbun daily reported this past May that 90 percent of workers left despite being ordered by Yoshida to stay, citing his testimony to the government panel.

Another Japanese daily, the Sankei Shimbun, also reported the content of the Yoshida testimony earlier this month, while victims of the nuclear accident have filed a lawsuit seeking to make the documents public.