High-ranking ministry officials demanded a Hokkaido University assistant professor tone down a lecture deemed to be too anti-nuclear power before he delivered at a high school in Hokkaido, sources revealed.

Sadamu Yamagata, an assistant professor of environment engineering at Hokkaido University’s faculty of engineering, planned to point out the shortcomings of nuclear power plants in his lecture titled “Think about the energy and environment in Niseko.”

He presented it to an audience of students and town residents on Oct. 16 at the town-run Hokkaido Niseko High School.

However, the official of the Hokkaido Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) obtained materials on the lecture beforehand and requested Yamagata alter the contents.

Yamagata sent the materials on his lecture to the school on Oct. 11.

At night the next day, Masahiro Yagi, director-general for natural resources, energy and environment department of the bureau, and its director knocked on the door of his laboratory at the university.

They pointed out a photograph showing the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, asking, “Isn't it image manipulation (to project a dangerous image of nuclear power)?”

The officials also complained about Yamagata’s viewpoint: “Is nuclear energy really cheap?” telling him, “There might be another perspective (on this issue).”

When delivering his lecture, Yamagata used the photograph of a hydrogen explosion at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and spoke about the cost of nuclear power, as scheduled. However, he also added photographs of a disaster associated with a natural energy source, wind power.

“The ministry officials already caused a problem when they obtained the materials of my lecture beforehand, and then took action to modify the contents,” Yamagata said.

The lecture was part of the energy education model school project organized by the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy under METI.

A bureau official explained that they had requested Yamagata change the contents of his lecture because it elaborated too much on the shortcomings of nuclear power.

“We asked (Yamagata) to alter the contents of his lecture based on the main objective of the project to introduce strengths and weaknesses of different types of energy,” Yagi said. “We had no intention of putting pressure on him to modify the contents.”