Masao Yoshida, chief at Fukushima Daiichi during the 2011 disaster died of esophageal cancer Tuesday in Tokyo.
Yoshida’s actions during the disaster defied the demands of the Tokyo office who thought they might be able to salvage the melting down reactors. Yoshida ordered sea water to be injected into the reactors against TEPCO’s orders. This action likely prevented the disaster from becoming much worse.
In interviews Yoshida gave after the more urgent phase of response was over told how they thought they might die many times during the early days of the disaster. At one point he had all of the workers write their names on a white board in the isolation building so it would be known who was there if they were all killed. He later found creative ways to get what was needed at the plant when TEPCO continued to obstruct work to stabilize the plant. During an interview with a reporter he mentioned the need for a temporary tsunami wall and how TEPCO refused to approve the installation. Construction on the wall began soon after the interview.
Yoshida gave one last interview in 2012 as his health began to fail. The interview was only seen by a limited group of the press, a reconstruction of that interview based on press accounts is compiled here. Yoshida had high praise for the workers at the plant during the disaster whom he said again and again pushed themselves under horrible conditions to try to bring the situation under control.
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