in his testimony in front of the Diet Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima nuclear accident on Sunday, which was netcast live by the Commission and also by Nico Nico (which was far better without the annoying commercials).
According to the mainstream newspapers, Mr. Edano "apologized" during the testimony on May 27.
From Yomiuri Shinbun (5/27/2012):
"Not enough" information disclosure, Mr. Edano apologized in the Diet Commission on the accident
The National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, headed by Chairman Kiyoshi Kuroda, called Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Edano as a witness for the public hearing on May 27. Mr. Edano was the Chief Cabinet Secretary when the nuclear accident happened.
As the then-spokesman in charge of disseminating information from the government, Mr. Edano said, "As the government, we could not collect enough information, and could not form expectations and assumptions based on the information. That is what should be reflected upon", admitting that collection and dissemination of the information by the government was inadequate, and he apologized.
As to the confusion in the government response [to the accident], Mr. Edano said, "(Information dissemination) is done on an individual basis, on experience and intuition", pointing out that the lack of coherent, systematic public relation structure itself was the problem. He also said, "There were more than a few occasions when what I intended and what was disseminated differed."
In the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant accident, the government instructed the residents within the 3-kilometer radius from the plant to evacuate on the night of March 11, 2011. On the morning of March 12, the evacuation zone was expanded to 10-kilometer radius, and in the evening it was further expanded to 20-kilometer radius, causing distrust among the residents.
Apology was not what I came away getting from Mr. Edano. He didn't know, he didn't remember, and it was always someone else's problem. Here's my personal note as I watched the testimony (not the verbatim words of his):
About setting the initial evacuation zone at 3-kilometer radius, and then to 20-kilometer radius after the Reactor 1 explosion on March 12, 2011:
Edano said he didn't know why it was set at 3-kilometer radius. He said he didn't remember why it was set at 20 kilometers, didn't remember who suggested it. He also said he didn't know the evacuation zone designation couldn't be lifted unless the situation improved.
About Reactor 1 vent:
It turned out that the Fukushima plant had been trying to vent but having difficulties. TEPCO headquarters was no use. So we issued a legal order to vent. (What would that do?)
About then-Prime Minister Kan's visit to the plant on March 12, 2011:
He said it was Kan himself who wanted to go, even if he might be in the way of the work at the plant. He advised Kan that there would be political ramifications, but Kan thought getting the first-hand information was more important.
About TEPCO's withdrawal from Fuku-I:
Edano didn't seem to recall what exactly was said. He kept talking something but that was not really about the subject.
About the duration of evacuation:
No one, including him, knew that the evacuation would be lengthy. ("Beyond expectation" is another of his famous remarks.)
Edano said he didn't know about the system (hard to believe, as the system is always used in the nuclear emergency drills conducted every year) until March 15 or 16. He said the Ministry of Education officials told him that they couldn't do the simulation because there was no data on the actual amount of radioactive materials being dispersed from the source (Fuku-I). (So? The Ministry was doing the calculation using an emission unit method.) He said he instructed the Ministry to do their best to calculate from what observed data available. "The Ministry of Education is the one who has to sweat", he said, meaning it was the Ministry of Education who should be working hard (till they sweat) and coming up with the simulation and recommendation, not him or the government.
About "No immediate effect on health" refrain of his:
Asked by one of the commissioners who is an evacuee from Fukushima because of the nuclear accident why Edano kept saying "There is no immediate effect on health", Edano snapped at her and said "You should review the transcripts of my press conferences." Edano said it was regrettable that his words were taken to mean what he didn't intended. Later he said the information should have been more detailed, but essentially blamed the recipients of his message for misunderstanding.
About his "core melt" reference in the press conference on March 13, 2011:
Edano said he wasn't aware of the NISA mentioning the possibility of the core melt the previous day (March 12, 2011). (Huh?)
Mr. Edano portrayed himself as if he was an outsider just doing his job of public relations as the Chief Cabinet Secretary, without knowing in details what was going on. Most Japanese (and probably the British) know what the Chief Cabinet Secretary is. He is decidedly not a mere mouthpiece of the administration. It is a ministerial position wielding power and influence.
But Mr. Edano got away with it in the testimony. No hard questions.