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Japanese Tsunami 2011

Ex-boss of tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant dies of cancer

Masao Yoshida led efforts to prevent bigger disaster after tsunami hit reactors

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 July, 2013, 11:04pm

The former boss of Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, who stayed at his post to try to tame runaway reactors after the 2011 tsunami, died of cancer yesterday.

Masao Yoshida, 58, was at the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) station on March 11, 2011, when towering waves swamped cooling systems and sparked meltdowns that released plumes of radiation. He was admitted to hospital in November.

Yoshida led the effort to get the crippled complex under control, as workers battled frequent aftershocks.

Government plans revealed after the event showed how scientists feared a chain reaction if Fukushima spiralled out of control that could have seen other plants engulfed and would have seen Tokyo evacuated.

He had to make a decision that most of the on-site workers should leave because the situation was getting worse and he also had to have some of his staff remain to work with him. That was probably the hardest decision he ever had to make

His selfless work contrasts with the attitude of his employers, who seemed willing to abandon the complex.

"I cannot imagine how hard it was for him," Tatsujiro Suzuki, vice-chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, said. "He had to make a decision that most of the on-site workers should leave because the situation was getting worse and he also had to have some of his staff remain to work with him. That was probably the hardest decision he ever had to make."

Tepco said his oesophagal cancer was unlikely to be linked to radiation exposure in the months after the disaster. Soon after surgery for cancer, Yoshida had a brain haemorrhage.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

 

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