Former Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan, who was in office during the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns, has told the ABC he believes the plant’s operator has been hiding key evidence.
For months TEPCO has resisted pressure to release critical recordings, arguing they are in-house material and to release them would compromise the privacy of those on the tapes.
The company now says it will bow to months of pressure from Mr Kan and the government and release the many hours of teleconference video taken in the days after last year’s meltdowns.
But it has confirmed crucial audio of a heated exchange with Mr Kan is missing, claiming its hard drive was full.
The recordings are a window into the decisions, dramas and dangers at the heart of the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, and Mr Kan says the withheld information is “crucial”.
“This is extremely important material which is needed to investigate the cause of this accident,” Mr Kan told the ABC in an exclusive interview.
“It’s like the black box flight recorder on an aeroplane. The black box is crucial to understanding how an accident happened. So too are these recordings.”
Lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai has been fighting for the release of the TEPCO tapes. He believes they will help solve some abiding mysteries at the heart of the disaster. ”TEPCO executives purposely delayed pumping seawater into the damaged reactors,” Mr Kawai said.
“The tapes will prove they did this because they knew pumping in saltwater would force them to decommission the reactors.”