社説:九電やらせ指示 変わらぬ体質に驚く

(Mainichi Japan) July 8, 2011
Kyushu Electric bid to manipulate public opinion on reactor restart a colossal mistake
社説:九電やらせ指示 変わらぬ体質に驚く

Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s attempt to manipulate public opinion on the reactivation of two reactors at its Genkai Nuclear Power Plant by asking employees at its subsidiaries and others to send e-mails to a TV program in favor of the reactivation must be criticized as extremely ill-advised.

The scandal not only damaged the public's confidence in Kyushu Electric Power Co. but also could amplify the public's distrust of Japan's nuclear power business as a whole. It could also lead to the resignation of top executives at the company.

It has been confirmed that a division chief-level employee at the company asked four employees at subsidiaries and three individuals at the firm's nuclear power-related divisions to pose as members of the general public and send e-mail comments to a TV program about the Genkai plant, expressing support for the reactivation.

He also asked them to send e-mails from their home computers to conceal their identities as employees at Kyushu Electric or its subsidiaries.

These revelations illustrate the employee's willful attempt to manipulate public opinion on the issue in an unfair manner.

A prefectural assembly member in Kagoshima Prefecture, which hosts the utility's Sendai Nuclear Power Plant, asked a question about the scandal during a July 4 session, but the company categorically denied any wrongdoing.

The president of the power company only admitted to the allegations on July 6, when the matter was brought up during a Diet session.

The electric power industry has come under fire for covering up many accidents and falsifying data, thereby damaging the public's trust.

Calls for the industry as a whole to change its dogmatic and closed culture intensified following radiation leaks from the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO). 東電の福島原発事故では、そうした独善的、閉鎖的な企業体質の改善が強く求められた。

However, Kyushu Electric does not appear to have learned anything from the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The latest scandal involving Kyushu Electric could spur distrust in other power suppliers.

As the public is increasingly critical of nuclear power generation, power suppliers have been unable to resume operations at reactors stopped for regular checkups.

The latest scandal is particularly serious as Kyushu Electric cannot reactivate the Genkai plant without consent from local residents.

The mayor of Genkai has retracted his approval for the planned resumption of operations at Genkai Nuclear Power Plant.


It remains unclear how many executives and employees were involved in the scandal.

Kyushu Electric is required to conduct an in-house investigation of the scandal, and implement measures to improve compliance in order to prevent a recurrence.


Behind the scandal are desperate moves to hasten the reactivation of the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant, as symbolized by Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda's declaration that all nuclear reactors undergoing regular inspections are safe.

Those in favor of the resumption of operations at the Genkai power station have placed high expectations on the plant as a milestone on the road to restarting nuclear reactors across the country.

The TV program in question has been criticized by some as an attempt to pave the way for resuming operations at the Genkai plant rather than to gain local residents' understanding, as only seven people selected by the national government were allowed to appear.

In short, such hasty and desperate moves triggered Kyushu Electric's act of folly.

毎日新聞 2011年7月8日 2時30分

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