Why did he bother?
From the Op-Ed piece that Kan wrote, no doubt in Japanese, and had it translated and appeared in the International Herald Tribune/New York Times on April 15, 2011, taken from the Prime Minister's Office website:
I take very seriously, and deeply regret, the nuclear accidents we have had at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Bringing the situation at the plant under control at the earliest possible date is my top priority. Leading a unified effort by the government, I have mobilized all available resources to combat the risks posed by the plant, based on three principles: first, give the highest priority to the safety and health of all citizens, in particular those residents living close to the plant; second, conduct thorough risk management; and, third, plan for all possible scenarios so that we are fully prepared to respond to any future situations. For example, we continue to make the utmost efforts to address the issue of outflow of radioactive water from the plant into the ocean. In addition, the government has taken every possible measure to ensure the safety of all food and other products, based on strict scientific criteria. We have taken great precautions to ensure the safety of all Japanese food and products that reach the market and will continue to do so. To assure domestic and foreign consumer confidence in the safety of Japanese food and products, my administration will redouble its efforts to maintain transparency and keep everyone informed of our progress in the complex and evolving circumstances at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
"I take very seriously, and deeply regret"
Well that's good to know.
"Leading a unified effort by the government,"
Then why is it that the "Unification headquarters" of his to deal with the accident had its first presser on April 25, more than 6 weeks after the accident started? And why is people like Nishiyama of NISA saying at every awkward question that "it is basically the problem of a private company, TEPCO"?
" first, give the highest priority to the safety and health of all citizens, in particular those residents living close to the plant"
This is the most cynical statement of the whole thing. Why? Because...
This government hasn't even checked the health of the residents closest to the plant since the accident started. For the residents in the now-planned evacuation zone like Iitate-mura, this government had been telling them and everybody else that the radiation there did not pose serious negative effect on health, and this government laughed at the IAEA's recommendation on March 31 to evacuate the residents of the village ASAP.
This government is more than willing to expose toddlers and small children in Fukushima to radiation higher than what nuclear plant workers in the normal operation are exposed, and feed school children in Fukushima with lunches made from foodstuff made and harvested in Fukushima Prefecture, insisting they are safe.
This government sent its shills (prominent professors in prominent national universities) to cities and towns in Fukushima preaching safety as long as they were outside the 20-kilometer radius from the plant, when the government was flying blind in the late March regarding the true situation of the plant.
This government didn't bother telling the citizens that the enormous radioactive materials had been released after a series of explosions because they didn't feel like announcing it, exposing residents in Kanto and Tohoku to high radioactive iodine and cesium without them knowing it.
This government didn't bother sharing over 2,000 simulations done by one of the Ministries as to where radioactive iodine and cesium may fly. They finally agreed to release the data on April 25, when for all intent and purposes it was too late by 40 days.
This government didn't bother alerting the foreign governments about the huge release of airborne radioactive materials, or the dumping of the radioactive water into the ocean. It kept attacking (still does) the foreign media for "sensationalizing" the accident. Now the whole northern hemisphere has been wrapped in the radioactive plume from Fukushima.
This government is still lying to the citizens of Japan that the natural radiation exposure per year is 2.4 milli-sieverts, which is the international average; the Japanese average is much lower at 1.4 milli-sieverts per year, with Tohoku and Kanto average less than 1 milli-sievert per year.
So what does Kan propose to do now, to ensure the safety and health of all citizens? What does he say?
Other than testing the food, not much. So much for his "concerns" for citizens.
He talks about the effort to stop the leak into the ocean, and how they are scientifically testing the food for radioactive materials (i.e. scrubbing the vegetables under running water before testing) so that people have "confidence" in consuming Japanese foods. As if anyone with a brain cell left would believe the government numbers, other than those who want to believe.
The next paragraph shows Kan has no intention of winding down the nuclear power generation in Japan. He claims all it takes is the safety precaution. Uh huh. And he still babbles about global warming.
I pledge that the Japanese government will promptly and thoroughly verify the cause of this incident, as well as share information and the lessons learned with the rest of the world to help prevent such accidents in the future. Through such a process, we will proactively contribute to the global debate to enhance the safety of nuclear power generation. Meanwhile, regarding a comprehensive energy policy, we must squarely tackle a two-pronged challenge: responding to rising global energy demand and striving to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming. Going forward, I would like to present a clear vision to the world that includes the aggressive promotion of clean energy that may contribute to solving global energy issues.
At this point, I think the rest of the world would rather have Japan burning away fossil fuels and create CO2, rather than spewing endless amount of radioactive materials into the air, the soil, and the ocean.
Ability to handle nuclear power generation is not in the DNA of the Japanese. Not, when they needed a secret manual of how to transport liquid uranium in a bucket (the 1999 accident of Tokai Nuclear Power Plant). Smoking cigarettes at the same time was optional.