Friday, April 13, 2012

Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano on March 12, 2011: "We Should Consider Evacuation of Tokyo, Ibaraki"

Tokyo Shinbun reports that according to information they obtained through the Japanese equivalent of the FOIA, the Kan administration did talk about wide-area evacuation in the Tokyo Metropolitan areas even before the Atomic Energy Commission's chief handed the worst-case scenario to then-Prime Minister Kan on March 25, 2011.

It was Yukio Edano, then-Chief Cabinet Secretary (and current Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry), who mentioned the wide-area evacuation, while other unnamed ministers were worried about the stock market, in the evening of March 12, 2011 after Reactor 1 blew up.

... Stock market?

From Tokyo Shinbun evening edition (4/13/2012):

東京、茨城の避難検討 福島1号機 水素爆発直後に官邸

Prime Minister's Office was contemplating evacuation of Tokyo and Ibaraki, right after the hydrogen explosion of Fukushima Reactor 1


On March 12, 2011 when a hydrogen explosion took place in the Reactor 1 building at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, a meeting of the nuclear disaster response headquarters was held in the Prime Minister's Official Residence where a wide-area evacuation including Tokyo and Ibaraki Prefecture was being discussed, this newspaper learned on April 13 from the memo by the government officials obtained via the information disclosure request.


The memo is the summary of remarks during the 4th meeting that started at 10:07PM on March 12, 2011. That day, a hydrogen explosion occurred in the reactor building of Reactor 1, and the emergency cooling system of Reactor 3 was becoming unstable, and the crisis was deepening.


In the meeting, Koichiro Genba, then-minister in charge of national strategy [and current Minister of Foreign Affairs] wanted to have "the worst-case scenario", to which then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan responded with worries about whether it was possible to have radiation contamination like in the Chernobyl accident. Mr. Kan accepted the explanation that the reactors at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant were of totally different type [from the Chernobyl reactor], but emphasized the importance to secure the Containment Vessels at all cost.


Ministers expressed worries over blackouts, [availability of] foods, and negative effect on the stock market. Then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said, according to the memo, "We have to start thinking about wide-area evacuation. Including Tokyo, and Ibaraki."


It has been recently discovered that the minutes of the meetings related to the March 11, 2011 disaster, including those of the nuclear disaster response headquarters, haven't been created. Responding to the criticism, the government published the summaries of the meetings last month.


[Edano's] remark on the wide-area evacuation was not included in the meeting summary. It was probably because the intent of his remark couldn't be ascertained when the summary was created.

I wish Tokyo Shinbun published the actual memo in its entirety.

So these ministers were having the meeting on the upper floor of the Official Residence, while in the basement the real information was being transmitted: SPEEDI simulations that showed the potential wide-area contamination. Somehow they didn't reach the upper floor, and the ministers forgot to turn on the teleconferencing system on the dedicated line.

The Kan administration on the first few days of the nuclear accident did the full-on propaganda of "everything was under control", as if all people needed to worry about was the earthquake and tsunami devastated Tohoku. The administration even sent out the female minister in charge of consumer affairs to scold those selfish Tokyo residents who were trying to hoard bottled water and food. "Don't buy them, because they are more needed in the disaster areas!"

That was just after Reactor 3 blew up in a spectacular fashion. Then one day later Reactor 4 blew up. And something happened in Reactor 2. The government didn't warn residents in Tohoku and Kanto about the possible radioactive fallout from the explosions, and people were still very trusting of their government. Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano was being praised for his "hard work".

Radioactive plumes from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant reached Tokyo, and 210 becquerels/kg of radioactive iodine was detected from the tap water in Tokyo on March 22. The Tokyo Metropolitan government didn't have enough bottled water to give to the residents with babies and infants.

Ah. Those bad old days. Makes me mad.


Anonymous said...

Laprimavera, Prior to March 11, 2011, wasn't Ex-Skf a blog that was entirely about the stock market?

Surely you're not surprised to learn that the severity of the Fukushim nuclear crisis was minimized in the early days to prevent a drastic downturn in the stock market. Surely you wouldn't be surprised to learn that the same thing is still happening to this day.

Chibaguy said...

@anon 1:03, unfortunately there is no value to this comment. No one is surprised. The reason that the truth has never been disclosed to the NHK viewing public is it would bring an immediate downfall to economies.

The government should have told all in the regions of Tokoku and Kanto to stay inside. Edano was an excellent actor as I recall. He looked worried. Now we know why!

Anonymous said...

Philippe said
please, not so fast, Chibaguy. Arevamirpal might make good use of his week-end or of some other time to tell his views.
It is full of very difficult questions here, and there are actually some enormous systemic failures that one can't just answer in two lines.

Hikarius said...

> "Other unnamed ministers were worried about the stock market."

One of them was apparently Goshi Hosono as he said something similar in an interview with Tetsuo Jimbo. Hosono was the "Special Advisor" to the Prime Minister in the area of Tax and Social Security Reform when 3.11 and was subsequently appointed as the main person-in-charge of the Fukushima mess.

Anonymous said...

@Chibaguy 3:28 PM

I completely agree with your statement: "The reason that the truth has never been disclosed to the NHK viewing public is it would bring an immediate downfall to economies".

But we may disagree as to whether the general public is entirely aware of the extent to which: governments, corporations, and the media suppress and misrepresent information for the purpose of protecting elite economic interests.

Anonymous said...

FYI, Here is the complete text of an English-language report from Kyodo News, via The Japan Times Online, regarding: "TEPCO: 35-Ton Machine Fell into MOX Spent-Fuel Pool". Saturday, April 14, 2012. [] I posted a portion of this yesterday on another thread.

~"A hydrogen explosion at the Fukushima No. 1 plant last March sent a 35-ton machine plunging into the spent-fuel pool of reactor 3, which uses highly dangerous mixed oxide fuel, Tokyo Electric has reported.

We believe the machine fell into the pool when the (hydrogen) explosion occurred, but we have not found any indication it damaged the pool's walls and caused any leaks, or that it damaged the spent fuel," Junichi Matsumoto, a spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co., told a news conference Friday.

The utility said engineers placed an underwater camera in the pool earlier Friday to prepare for the removal of its spent fuel rods. The No. 3 reactor is the only one at the crippled power station that was powered by the plutonium-uranium MOX.

Tepco released a photograph that appears to show part of the machine, which used to hang directly above the 11.8-meter-deep pool and was used to insert and remove fuel rods, resting on storage racks for the fuel rods.

Tepco also said that shortly after 1 a.m. Friday it was forced to stop injecting nitrogen into the containment vessels of the three reactors hit by meltdowns. The injections resumed around 10 a.m. via a backup system and no change in their hydrogen concentrations was detected, the utility said.

Tepco said it was the fourth time since March that it has been forced to suspend nitrogen injections, which are vital to prevent further hydrogen blasts.

Meanwhile, another image released by Tepco shows what looks like the building's iron frame — all that remains after the hydrogen explosion ripped through it last year."~

Sooo, TEPCO claims there is no indication, thus far, of any damage to "the pool's walls or spent fuel". They, evidently, neglected to mention how the fallen 35-ton behemoth machine might complicate the process of removing the MOX fuel from the pool.


arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

In those early days in March 2011, the Japanese public had been so well-trained by the government that they were writing on the message boards on many sites that they should go out and spend money partying, shopping, to help boost the economy and prop up the stock market and prevent "deflation" and that would all help people in Tohoku.

As the radioactive plume descended on them.

For these ministers to have been aware of the severity of the situation from the beginning and what some of them cared about was the stock market and not about the accident, that was totally in line with the people they governed.

Since someone mentioned this was a financial blog, after 9/11 attack on WTC in 2001, both NYSE and Nasdaq were shut down from 9/11 to 9/17. The sell-off on the day the market reopened was severe.

In contrast, the Japanese chose to keep the financial markets open, mostly to show to the world "See, Japan is OK, this little earthquake/tsunami/nuclear accident is nothing to worry about." BOJ dumped trillions of yen to prop up the market. The money, in retrospect, could have been used elsewhere, as the market tanked anyway.

Anonymous said...

>They, evidently, neglected to mention how the fallen 35-ton behemoth machine might complicate the process of removing the MOX fuel from the pool.

Ummm. Isn't that obvious, without being told by TEPCO? Why do you always have to insist TEPCO to tell you anything?

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

JP, there is no MOX fuel in the Reactor 3 spent fuel pool. It was in the reactor core.

Anonymous said...

Laprimavera, I misspoke - duh. You know how it goes, cutting and pasting from other texts. If I may rephrase: Do you have any info regarding how the fallen 35-ton behemoth machine might complicate the process of removing the spent fuel from the SFP at Reactor 3?

I understand that spent MOX fuel requires a different protocol -- is there spent MOX fuel stored on site at Fukushima? If so, I wonder what its status might be at present. Thanks.


arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

JP, your first question: No I am not aware of any info why a 35-tonne machine can complicate issues. It's not that heavy is what I've been told by industry people.

Second question: I repeat. There is no MOX fuel in the spent fuel pools anywhere at Fuku-I, used or unused. Japan Times article you quoted has a "baseless rumor" headline, as if MOX is in the spent fuel pool. But if you read the article, all it says is Reactor 3 uses MOX fuel.

But all I have is publicly available information that says there is no MOX fuel in any of the spent fuel pools. If you know any information that says otherwise, please let me know.

Atomfritz said...

It was only a test if MOX fuel is usable at these reactors without causing too many problems in reactor control.

You can imagine it in such a way that MOX makes reator control like driving with a loosening steering wheel.

Reactor 3 was equipped in fall 2010 refueling operations with 32 MOX assemblies (out of 548) to evaluate the feasibility of MOX usage and determine if (and how) higher MOX core loads are still safely controllable.

So, the plutonium in the 32 MOX elements present at Fuku-I is only a small (and so relatively unimportant) fraction of the bred plutonium that is present in the cores and the spent fuel.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Thank you, Atomfritz.

About "the bred plutonium that is present in the cores and the spent fuel", I first heard about it from TEPCO's VP Muto when he was conducting the press conference in March 2011, right after the Reactor 3 explosion. It was a great surprise to the reporters crammed in a small room at TEPCO's headquarters. It was to me, and I figured I'd better study the basics.

Anonymous said...

Kind of getting bored of seeing the same comments re: how all the Japanese are sheep and only believe NHK. There was a wide variety of reactions to 3/11. Some people chose to ride it out based on the information they were fed, and perhaps out of a stubborn sense of momentum. Some people chose to believe that Fukushima was "chernobyl on steroids" and they freaked out. And the vast majority sits somewhere in between. You can't argue that it was prudent to evacuate Tokyo without first calculating the massive disruption and, yes, loss of life that this would have entailed. In any event, Japan survives not because the people are NHK automatons. That is a fantasy that only the frustrated and the anarchical would have you believe.

Anonymous said...

Some blogs were saying Mt. Fuji was going to erupt. Some blogs were saying it was an earthquake machine that caused the disaster. The campaign of misinformation wasn't coming just from the mass media.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't help when some English blogs present photos of Reactor 3 and Reactor 4 from March last year as if they are current.

Infowars. Getting out of control.

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