Conflict over handling nuclear crisis revealed, Japan Times, Dec. 28, 2011 [Emphasis Added]:
[...] Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano claimed Tepco CEO Masataka Shimizu told the gov’t that Tepco wanted to withdraw all of the plant workers early March 15 [...]
At that time, three of the six reactors were facing meltdowns and the coolant temperature was rising in the large spent fuel pool of unit No. 4. Abandoning the entire Fukushima plant would have led to a catastrophe of huge proportions, severely contaminating much of eastern Japan — even possibly Tokyo and its surrounding area — with highly radioactive materials.
“If the plant had been abandoned, all the reactors would have melted down and (the severity of the accident) would far exceed that of the Chernobyl accident [...] Kan said in an interview with the Asahi Shimbun on Sept. 6. [...]
Would have? From yesterday: Top Japan official: Very strong possibility there is nuclear fuel outside containment vessel (VIDEO)
Published: December 28th, 2011 at 9:31 am ET