Masao Yoshida … the Fukushima boss is in hospital. Photo: Reuters

TOKYO: The director of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is stepping down because of illness, its operator said, without revealing whether his condition was related to radiation.

Masao Yoshida, 56, has been hospitalised and will be relieved of his post from Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Tokyo Electric Power Company said.

''We cannot give you details of his illness because they are private matters,'' Chie Hosoda said, declining to say whether it was related to exposure to radiation.

Mr Yoshida has been at the plant since it was hit on March 11 by an earthquake and tsunami, which left some of its reactors in meltdown in the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

It continues to leak radiation, although TEPCO and the government insist the reactors will all be brought to cold shutdown by the end of the year.

The Sankei Shimbun reported that doctors had made no mention of a relationship between his illness and radiation, and that Mr Yoshida said in a message to workers at the plant: ''A condition was discovered during a regular medical check the other day. I had no choice but to be hospitalised at very short notice for treatment under doctors' advice.''

Mr Yoshida is being replaced by Takeshi Takahashi. On November 12, when the plant allowed journalists to visit for the first time, Mr Yoshida said March was a very frightening time.

''In the first week immediately after the accident I thought a few times 'I'm going to die','' he said.

Referring to when a hydrogen explosion tore apart the buildings around reactors 1 and 3, he said: ''I thought it was all over''. Mr Yoshida said there were spots of dangerously high radiation in the compound but he wanted residents to feel relieved as reactors were now stabilised.

Agence France-Press


Someone should order the Sultan of Pahang to stay near Lynas Plant. I sure his shit will go flying in rage.