Monday, February 27, 2012

Independent Investigation Commission on Fukushima Accident: Confusion from Interference by PM Kan and His Ministers Made the Situation Much Worse

The Independent Investigation Commission set up by a private foundation called Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation has issued the report of its findings of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.

Unlike the investigation commissions set up by the administration and the Diet, the RJIF Commission has collected and studied information from the general public as well as from the experts.

The Commission will hold a press conference at 3PM on February 28, 2012 and discuss the findings, but Jiji Tsushin has a preview of the topics.

From Jiji Tsushin (2/28/2012):


Confusion caused by the interference by the Prime Minister's Office, chain reaction of "doubts begot doubts", a private investigation commission on Fukushima Nuclear Plant accident says


The private "Independent Investigation Commission on Fukushima I Nuclear Plant Accident" (Chairman Koichi Kitazawa, former head of the Japan Science and Technology Agency) has compiled the report on the accident. In the report, the Commission points out that "the Prime Minister's Office meddling in the response at the scene of the accident caused confusion".


The private Commission was set up last September, and has heard from about 300 people including then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan and then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano and other top government officials. The Commission investigated the response at the Prime Minister's Official Residence and Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, information disclosure practice, and how the "safety myth" arose, which contributed to the accident.


The report points to the direct interference of the Prime Minister's Official Residence into the response at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, causing confusion. For example, the report says Prime Minister Kan personally checked the size of the batteries to be brought to the plant. On the other hand, the Commission gives some credit to Kan, as he didn't allow TEPCO to pull out completely from the plant and prevented the "worst-case scenario" where an uncontrolled nuclear accident would occur one after another at the plant.


The Commission says it asked the TEPCO officials including then-President Masataka Shimizu and then-Plant Manager Masao Yoshida to speak in front of the Commission but the request was declined by TEPCO.

In my rare defense of TEPCO, it is a lie propagated by Naoto Kan himself that TEPCO wanted to completely withdraw from the plant. TEPCO's president wanted to protect workers who were not directly involved in nuclear emergency response by evacuating them from the plant, when the radiation level at the plant spiked to extremely dangerous levels. In the early days of the crisis, the radiation levels at the plant were sometimes hundreds of millisieverts per hour in certain locations.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he knew all about nuclear power plants because he got his BS degree in applied physics (more like engineering). According to the investigation committee set up by the Diet, Kan insisted he be the one to tell TEPCO when to conduct the vent of Reactor 1.

He insisted he visit the plant on the morning of March 12 when everyone at the plant was scrambling to figure out what was happening (or figure out what to do about the meltdown that was happening). When he arrived, he went shouting and screaming at the plant management and workers.

I hear that the BBC documentary on Fukushima paints Kan as "decisive leader who made tough decisions". Unbelievable.

He, Edano, and Kaieda should have been the ones who carried hoses in the darkness in 100 millisieverts/hour radiation on the plant, not the Tokyo Metropolitan firefighters, as you see in the clip from the BBC documentary "Inside the Meltdown":


Atomfritz said...

> For example, the report says Prime Minister Kan personally checked the size of the batteries to be brought to the plant.

I had immediately to think of the propaganda press photos of Kim Il Jong at his visits to factories etc.

Tepco, as a small revenge for all this bullying, should really have had vented in just that moment when Kan was helicopter-sightseeing the plant :)

netudiant said...

Truly sad.
I believe that Kan wanted to do the right thing when he was confronted with Japan's worst crisis since the end of WW2.
Yet he may have screwed things up even worse by his efforts.
I think he was let down by the weakness in the supporting staff. NISA and such were clearly useless to him as well as to the country in this emergency.
It may be that the 'nuclear village' had enough clout to ensure there was no effective oversight.
Hopefully the leaders of the village now understand that they badly harmed themselves, as well as all of Japan, by this effort.

Anonymous said...

Whether or not he was a hero or an obstacle at the time of the crisis, he was indeed critical of the industry (and more for a transition to alternative energy) in the weeks and months after 3/11. After publicaly favoring a transition away from nuclear power he was chastised and had to walk back his statement, claiming it was just personal opinion, Then he has to step down. Noda seems content to have TEPCO regulate itself back to status quo . . .

kintaman said...

Put Kan and the others on site at Fukushima Daiichi to do manual labor and clean up. Why should only the poor and mentally handicapped do this when it is obvious those responsible are also mentally ill.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if he went to the plant and shout at anybody. He went to Tepco headquarters, shouted at everyone and then he went to the plant to get information he was not getting from either Tepco or NISA or the NSC.

In short, I don't think he was the hero he is trying to portray himself as, but if he had to take those decisions is because the supposed experts that should have been controlling the situation were missing in action.

And I, for one, think we were lucky someone with a degree in Applied Physics was the Prime Minister at the moment, instead of the typical bureaucrat from law school.

netudiant said...

It is certainly true that the 'experts' failed completely in this crisis, beginning with the TEPCO president.
How Japan can ever develop the needed persons of independent integrity needed in such calamities is not obvious.
A system that prizes conformity above the welfare of its children seems unlikely to produce such characters.
Where is Musashi now that Japan really needs him and his ilk?

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