Mainichi Expert Sr. Writer: All of eastern Japan evacuated if Fukushima plant was abandoned?

Published: May 22nd, 2012 at 12:41 am ET
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Japan cannot let material fears obscure danger of nuclear power
Mainichi
Takao Yamada, Expert Senior Writer
May 21, 2012

[...] One major news item last week was the hearings held by the Diet’s nuclear disaster investigation committee. One of the issues raised was whether or not Fukushima plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) had requested government permission to abandon the power station after the hydrogen explosions at the No. 1 and 3 reactor buildings and the cooling failure at the No. 2 reactor. Banri Kaieda, minister of economy, trade and industry in those tense days in March 2011, stated that he did indeed receive a call asking permission to evacuate the plant. TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, however, continues to insist that “this is not true.”

The hearings were not the first time differences in government and TEPCO accounts of the disaster have been revealed. Naoto Kan and Yukio Edano, the prime minister and chief Cabinet secretary at the time, respectively, have made the same claim as Kaieda at other investigative committees. TEPCO executives have also maintained that the request was only to evacuate “some of the plant workers, not all.”

What surprises the most is not the discrepancy itself, but that the truth about what actually happened at this turning point in the crisis — when abandoning the plant may very well have meant evacuating all of eastern Japan — remains obscured. [...]

To put it succinctly, nothing about the disaster has been established concretely; not the cause, not the current conditions, not where the responsibility lies. [...]

Published: May 22nd, 2012 at 12:41 am ET
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