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東電清水社長が「雲隠れ」:米紙が批判 福島原発事故で

キーワード:東電清水社長が「雲隠れ」:米紙が批判 福島原発事故で 東北関東大震災
共同通信2011/03/29付け記事より

 【ワシントン共同】米紙ワシントン・ポスト(電子版)は29日、「経営者が雲隠れ」との見出しで、福島第1原発事故発生から2日後の13日以降、公の場に姿を見せていない東京電力の清水正孝社長を批判する記事を掲載した。

同紙は、問題が起きた際に連絡が取れなくなるのは、日本の経営者や政治家によくあることだと指摘。その上で、社長の行動を「理解できない」とする西岡武夫参院議長の発言や、メディアの間で社長の刑事責任を問うよう求める意見が出ていることを例に挙げ、批判が強まっていることを伝えた。

記事は「誰もが清水社長は辞任することになると思っている」と指摘する一方で、「電力会社と政治家、原子力規制当局の緊密な関係を引き離さなければ解決にはつながらない」とする日本国民の声を紹介した。

東電は27日、清水社長が16日に過労から体調を崩し、政府・東電の統合連絡本部を数日間離れていたことを明らかにした。現在は同本部に復帰したとしている。
shimizu201103A.jpg 
東京電力の清水正孝社長
清水社長の履歴はこちらを参照: http://www.tepco.co.jp/company/corp-com/annai/yakuin/subwin02-j.html
tepcoホームページより。

Washington Post 2011.3.28付け記事全文は下記 http://wapo.st/eeYlbd
Vanishing act by Japanese executive during nuclear crisis raises questions

By Andrew Higgins, Monday, March 28, 10:20 PM

TOKYO — In normal times, Masataka Shimizu lives in The Tower, a luxury high-rise in the same upscale Tokyo district as the U.S. Embassy. But he hasn’t been there for more than two weeks, according to a doorman.

The Japanese public hasn’t seen much of him recently either. Shimizu, the president of Tokyo Electric Power Co., or Tepco, the company that owns a haywire nuclear power plant 150 miles from the capital, is the most invisible — and most reviled — chief executive in Japan.

Amid rumors that Shimizu had fled the country, checked into a hospital or committed suicide, company officials said Monday that their boss had suffered an unspecified “small illness” because of overwork after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake sent a tsunami crashing onto his company’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

After a short break to recuperate, they said, Shimizu, 66, is back at work directing an emergency command center on the second floor of Tepco’s central Tokyo headquarters.

Still, company officials are vague about whether they have actually seen their boss: “I’ll have to check on that,” said spokesman Ryo Shimitsu. Another staffer, Hiro Hasegawa, said he’d seen the president regularly but couldn’t provide details.

Vanishing in times of crisis is something of a tradition among Japan’s industrial and political elite. During Toyota’s recall debacle last year, the carmaker’s chief also went AWOL. “It is very, very sad, but this is normal in Japan,” said Yasushi Hirai, the chief editor of Shyukan Kinyobi, a weekly news magazine.

But the huge scale of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi and mounting anger at Tepco’s obfuscations have put unprecedented strain on the Japanese establishment’s preference for invisible crisis management. And the Internet has helped erode Japan’s deferential norms and given voice to those who want more than a contrite bow.

Shimizu’s vanishing act “is not so much extremely strange as inexcusable,” said Takeo Nishioka, the chairman of the upper house of Japan’s Diet, or parliament. Speaking to reporters, Nishioka described as “mysterious” Shimizu’s refusal to join the head of the nuclear safety agency at a briefing on the crisis for parliament. “I cannot understand this,” Nishioka fumed.

Shimizu last appeared in public at a late-night news conference March 13, two days after the worst earthquake on record in Japan. The tsunami triggered by the quake, said Shimizu, dressed in a blue company uniform instead of his normal business suit, “exceeded our expectations.”

Since then, the Daiichi plant has gone berserk, releasing radiation into the air, contaminating the sea and spreading alarm across Japan and beyond. Shimizu’s public response: an arid message on the company’s Web site expressing “deep apologies for the concerns and inconveniences caused due to the incident.”

Tepco’s contrition brought an angry blast from the governor of Fukushima prefecture, a region that has borne the brunt of the crisis. Residents of Fukushima, governor Yuhei Sato told Japanese television, are “not in a position to accept apologies because their anger and anxiety are extreme.”

The governor’s refusal to go along with the customary rituals of corporate penitence reflects the depth of Japan’s current trauma — and the agonies confronting a Tepco leadership steeped in the discreet habits of Japan Inc.

On Sunday, hundreds of protesters marched past Tepco’s headquarters, chanting “No more Hiroshimas” and hurling insults at a pillar of Japan’s corporate establishment. One protester, dressed like the Grim Reaper with skull mask and black cloak, stood in front of a line of police and waved a board mocking Tepco’s assurances: “Nuclear energy is still safe. DEATH.”

Even company insiders now question Shimizu’s decision to play by old rules during the worst nuclear crisis since the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe. “Personally, I’d recommend that he speak in public as soon as possible,” said Toko Kanoh, a former Tepco vice president who, after 12 years in the upper house of parliament, is back at the electricity company as an adviser.

Like his predecessor as president, who got booted up to the chairmanship after an earlier but far less serious nuclear accident in 2007, Shimizu is a Tepco lifer: He joined the company at age 23 just weeks after graduating from Keio University, an elite private college in Tokyo.

Compared with the chief executives of major U.S. or European companies, Shimizu earns a pittance. Tepco won’t give his salary, but total remuneration for the president and 20 other directors came to $8.9 million in fiscal 2009, the last period for which figures are available.

But power and prestige in Japan have never been just about money. Running a utility that supplied a third of all Japan’s electricity made Shimizu a full member of Japan’s elite, and a vice chairman of Nippon Keindanren, a powerful and very buttoned-down business federation.

Japan’s mainstream media have mostly gone easy on the Tepco boss, in contrast with the treatment meted out in America to BP boss Tony Hayward during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. But one online journal demanded that Shimizu be tried in a criminal court. Several bloggers called for the death penalty, though far more numerous are those who simply want him to break cover and appear in public.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has also voiced frustration at Tepco’s bunker mentality. Japanese newspapers reported that Kan visited Shimizu before dawn at the start of the crisis and later, upon learning that the company might withdraw its last workers from the smoldering nuclear plant, shouted, “What the hell is going on?”
  

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