TEPCO video heavily altered

The recently disclosed video of Tokyo Electric Power Co. teleconferences that took place just after the outbreak of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has been significantly altered, with many images blurred and audio heavily obscured.

The media had requested the recording of the teleconferences be released immediately after the nuclear crisis began.

However, the about 150-minute-long video is another example of TEPCO's less than positive attitude toward disclosing information about the crisis.

TEPCO said it edited audio, such as people's speech and other sounds, 1,665 times in the video, and blurred images another 29 times.

"It's to protect the privacy of individual employees and we aren't intentionally [withholding information]," a TEPCO official explained.

However, even then TEPCO President Masataka Shimizu has been blurred in parts of the video, making his face unrecognizable. Even when his face is visible, his expressions are at times unreadable.

Some audio sections have also been bleeped out multiple times, or simply cut mid-speech.

The video screen is evenly split into six sections as teleconferences were held between the utility's headquarters in Tokyo, the Fukushima No. 1 plant and other locations. The quality of the images is generally poor.

However, a technical staffer at a video imaging company suspects the images have been altered more than necessary.

For instance, at one point, then General Manager Masao Yoshida at the No. 1 plant makes an X with both hands in reference to a sea water injection into the No. 1 reactor.

"When he makes the X, only his hands have been blurred out," the staffer said.

TEPCO has until now refused to disclose the video, saying it was protecting the privacy of its employees. The firm's new management, which came into power on June 27, was behind the video's disclosure.

However, TEPCO placed several conditions on the video's disclosure, including prohibitions on recording the video's visual and audio content or naming nonexecutive employees. Should media companies violate these conditions, TEPCO will bar them from viewing the video again and participating in its press conferences.

TEPCO provided the media with an abridged, 90-minute copy of the video. TEPCO has given the media permission to view the full video at its headquarters during a one-month period.

Initially, TEPCO said it would limit the viewing period to five days and permit only one reporter from each company.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano requested TEPCO to make accommodations and as a result, the firm extended the viewing period to one month.

The Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association asked TEPCO to disclose all teleconferences in their entirety without any alterations. However, the video only includes footage from the evening of March 11 to March 16, 2011--about five days in total.

This reluctance to readily make information available was evident within the video footage.

Around the time some experts suggested a hydrogen explosion had taken place at the No. 3 reactor building, then TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata was on the phone with a senior TEPCO executive.

"It's my judgment on whether we can cause the general public anxiety. If I'm asked about that [a hydrogen explosion at the No. 3 reactor] at the next news conference, I'll deny it and say it would never happen," Katsumata said.

Become a fan on Facebook