Masao Yoshida, 56, the director of the Fukushima plant which caused the ongoing nuclear crisis in All Japan news, has been hospitalised for “treatment of illness” and will step down from his post on Thursday, his employer Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) announced.
Yoshida is replaced by Takeshi Takahashi, the former director of nuclear power plant operations at Tepco’s main office in Tokyo.
"We cannot give you details of his illness because they are private matters," a Tepco spokesperson said, without mentioning whether his condition is related to radiation exposure. "He is hospitalised where he is able to take time in his convalescence," she added.
Yoshida sent a message to officials and workers at the plant, saying that “a condition was discovered during a regular medical check the other day. […] I had no choice but to be hospitalized at very short notice for treatment under doctors’ advice”.
Yoshida met with reporters at the Fukushima plant on November 12, when the press had for the first time access at the crippled facility. He then told reporters that the March 11 incident was a frightening experience and that in the first weeks he thought a few times that he was going to die.
The facility is still leaking radioactive substances, while thousands of people remain evacuated from a large area around the plant.