Nearly 13 months after the start of the worst nuclear accident in Japan, Kyodo News reveals that the teleconferencing system at the Prime Minister's Official Residence, which served as the government headquarters to deal with the nuclear crisis, was unplugged and offline at the time of the accident.
The reason? Nobody knows. The SPEEDI/WSPEEDI simulations were never used for anything at all (other than probably scaring the government officials), and nobody knows why.
From Kyodo News (4/3/2012):
Teleconferencing system at Prime Minister's Official Residence was not connected when the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident happened, couldn't connect to NISA, etc.
It was revealed on April 3 that the teleconferencing system at the Prime Minister's Official Residence was not connected when the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident happened in March last year. It was supposed to be plugged in to the dedicated line set up by the national government that connects the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, the Off-Site Center in Fukushima, and the affected municipalities.
The teleconferencing system is installed in a conference room on the 4th floor of the Residence, not in the crisis management center in the basement. Normally, the system was not connected, and only temporarily got plugged in during the nuclear emergency drills. The system was provided after the recriticality accident at Tokai-mura in 1999. It costs 500 to 600 million yen [US$6 to 7 million] per year to maintain the line. Yet another case of not utilizing the disaster prevention system during the Fukushima accident.
I wonder who the vendor was for the teleconferencing system. I suspect it may have been unplugged for good reasons.
Top makers of teleconferencing systems in Japan are (according to this site):
My guess is either Sony or the Hitachi subsidiary, if the system was put into place in 1999. Proprietary system, probably, hard to maintain and prone to malfunctioning.