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Asahi Shimbun head apologises for article, removes editor

The Yomiuri Shimbun/ANN | Friday, Sep 12, 2014

Asahi Shimbun President Tadakazu Kimura, center, bows in apology on Thursday in Tokyo.

JAPAN- The Asahi Shimbun admitted that its May article on the so-called Yoshida file concerning the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was incorrect and removed Nobuyuki Sugiura from the post of executive editor to take responsibility, the newspaper's President Tadakazu Kimura announced Thursday.

During a hastily called press conference at the newspaper's head office in Tokyo, Kimura also said he would decide on whether to resign after reform measures are taken.

The Asahi Shimbun apologised for the May 20 article that reported workers at the nuclear power plant had violated an order issued by then manager Masao Yoshida when Tokyo Electric Power Co. faced a nuclear crisis following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

"We will withdraw the expression 'the retreat in violation of an order' [issued by Yoshida]," Kimura said. "We deeply apologise to our readers and those related to TEPCO."

The president also offered an apology over the Asahi's retraction of articles on the so-called comfort women that reported Korean women had been forcibly taken during World War II.

"We apologise to our readers for the delay in correcting the erroneous articles," he said.

In its May 20 morning edition, the Asahi said it had obtained a copy of a collection of statements by the late Yoshida, the manager of the nuclear power plant at the time of the accident. The story reported that on March 15, 2011 - four days after the earthquake and tsunami - about 650 workers, or about 90 per cent of the workforce at the plant, retreated to the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant in violation of an order issued by Yoshida.

However, the transcript obtained by The Yomiuri Shimbun and other media organisations indicates that Yoshida never perceived his subordinates' evacuation to the No. 2 plant as disobedience of his orders. "I didn't say, 'Go to 2F [the Fukushima No. 2 power plant]," he told a government committee tasked with investigating the disaster before his death. At the same time, Yoshida told the panel that he believed that it was "even more reasonable" for them to be evacuated to the latter plant.

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