Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.
Mainichi Interactive
TEPCO lied over cracks at nuke plants Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) repeatedly lied when the government questioned the firm about cracks at its nuclear power plants, sources said Tuesday.
Mainichi Interactive
Heads to roll over reactor cracks Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) president and chairman are set to resign over the covered up of cracks at three nuclear power plants, sources said Saturday.
I heard a rumor which I will investigate that 10100 people knew and covered it up. The person who blew the whistle was an American. There was a new law in place that was create to encourage whistle blowing in the nuclear industry by protecting whistle blowers from being fired or treated unfairly. Even so, the Japanese didn't talk.

I argue often that with the National ID and even more profiling, whistle blowing will become even more risky for the individual and will probably have such a strong chilling effect that it won't be an effective method. I think we should include a provision to allow pseudonymous or anonymous whistle blowing. Also, the information about whistle blowers should be more explicitly protected. Japanese are ALWAYS leaking this kind of information to the press and industry from the government...


Whistleblowing is extremely important to keeping down corruption, and keeping all sorts of systems working honestly and transparently...

Japan would benefit greatly if people in banks, government, etc, would be willing to do this. As you mention though, for whatever reason, they just aren't... I guess their group (i.e. corporate) loyalty, reinforced by general Japanese culture, has been ingrained to the extent that they feel it's more important than any abstract principles or morals...

1. Most Japanese technologists and engineers are not educated to think that whistleblowing is a good thing.
Ethical codes created by academic societies in Japan often does not endorse whistleblowing. (Japanese Language only)

2. Japanese society does not respect whistleblowers. People who don't have group loyality also have to earn their living.

It was 100 people who were knew, not 10...

Sakiyama-san... This is interesting. Having said that, I think that even in America (especially in strong organizations such as the military) there is a similar sentiment. I think we need to figure out how to overcome this. It is similar to the "fail-safe" mechanisms for nuclear war. You want people to follow orders, but you also want them to break the rules in order to save the world... (at least in the movies. ;-) )

FYI: (in Japanese)
The whistleblower of the TEPCO problem had been fired before he reported the problem to MITI.
He also wanted to remain anonymous, so MITI people did not meet him.

Sakiyama-san. Is it true that the guy was American and the only one of 100 who spoke up? Also, why was he fired. I DEFINITELY think we should try to set up a system to allow anonymous whistle blowing. Using some technology or something to provide proof of identity (that you are an employee) without proof of which person you actually are might also be possible.

I don't know whether he is American, or one of 100.
Asahi Shimbun set up special category for this problem, so I read it.

The story is a little complicated.

The whisleblower was an employee of GE in the U.S. and dispatched to GEII in Japan. When he sent a report to MITI, he had already been back to the U.S., so MITI people thought that the Japanese law protecting whisleblowers in nuclear industry was not effective. This delayed the investigation by MITI and METI.

Asahi says that he was fired after the whistleblowing, but METI says that he was fired before the wisltblowing and that it was unrelated to the whistleblowing.

Yomiuri Shimbun also has a featured section.
In Yomiuri, TEPCO president says that the investigating commitee is questioning 100 people, but about a half of them are really important.

well, now, i am just confused.
in any case, whistleblowers in america are protected, in theory, by fairly recent civil and criminal laws, but there is little or no follow up, so that people who are initially protected are forgotten by the media and often find themselves ill-treated and harassed into quitting. and damage litigation for such cases is another quagmire to sink into.

also, the difficulty in an anonymous whistleblowing system would be (to me) separating malicious falsehoods from the truth. imagine how much trouble an effective sokaiya (those yakuza who extrot money by causing trouble at shareholder's meetings) could contribute to such a system.

just more things to worry about, sorry.

Dean, I am proposing a system that will allow a whistle blower to use technology to prove that they are an employee or other qualified person before submitting information to the government. The government would conduct a discrete investigation before making anything public. Currently, they have to get the home address of the person confirmed before they investigate, which I think is unecessary if they can otherwise prove that they are no tsokaiya or whatever.


Terrie Lloyd

What's "amazing" about the Nippon Ham case is the fact that the authorities are going for the big guns. Usually, in days gone by, they went for the smaller players, but this time they charged the biggest player in the field. According to our information source, the newly-aggressive stance by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is because they are trying to recover public trust after their big BSE screw-up last year. Ever since the BSE scandal, which really rattled Japanese consumers, the media and consumer groups have been "all over" any suggestion of further cover-ups.

According to the industry executive, another interesting point about this case is that it was brought to the attention of the authorities by a whistle blower at the company. What with online anonymous keijiban (bulletin boards) and the general disgust of ordinary members of the public at how scandals are being covered up, we believe that whistle blowing is going to play an ever larger part in Japanese business culture. A separate case just last week involved a GE tipster dobbing in TEPCO about cracks in its nuclear reactors. We don't know if the GE engineer was Japanese, but the result is that the TEPCO CEO may well have to step down because of the news -- an earthshaking event for a company so large and powerful.

Today there was a feedback to my previous comment.

The source said that the whistleblower had not been fired. He was once laid off and then compelled to reciprocate before the whistleblowing.

I cannot disclose the source, and I have no means to confirm that, but I think that was true. Asahi Shimbun site already removed the article that said
the whistleblower had been fired.

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