Thursday, May 17, 2012

Banri Kaieda Says Then-PM Naoto Kan Couldn't Decide Whether to Declare a Nuclear Emergency Without Knowing "Legal Basis"

. . . (sigh).

The Fukushima nuclear accident independent investigation commission set up by the Diet called Banri Kaieda as witness on May 17.

Kaieda was the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry who oversaw the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency when the Fukushima nuclear accident happened in March 2011. After losing the leadership election of the Democratic Party of Japan to Yoshihiko Noda in August last year, thanks partly to NHK, he has kept a low profile unlike Naoto Kan (who went on a media blitz to spread his version of the accident), Yukio Edano (who quickly became the Minister of the Economy), or Goshi Hosono (who was promoted from a personal assistant to Kan to the minister in charge of the nuclear accident and then to the Minister of the Environment).

The hearing lasted two and a half hours, and the media reporting it picked different aspects of his testimony. So, from several newspapers and NHK, here's what Kaieda had to say about the early days of the worst nuclear accident in Japan. Nikkei Shinbun has the most extensive coverage. (Emphasis is mine.)

From Nikkei Shinbun (5/17/2012):

  • In accordance with the Act on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness, TEPCO notified the Ministry of Economy at 4:45PM on March 11, 2011 after the loss of power to Reactor 1 and Reactor due to the tsunami. Kaieda, as Minister of Economy, requested then-Prime Minister Kan to declare a Nuclear Emergency Situation and set up the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters. But it took PM Kan until after 7PM to declare a Nuclear Emergency Situation.

    Kaieda said "It took a long time to obtain Mr. Kan's agreement [to declare a Nuclear Emergency and set up the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters]" because Kan had to be satisfied with information such as the condition of the reactors and the legal basis for [declaring, etc.].

  • About injecting seawater into the reactors to cool, Kaieda said Mr. Kan expressed his concern that injecting seawater might cause re-criticality.

  • Kaieda felt that TEPCO didn't start the injection of seawater immediately because the company was hesitant to decommission the reactors. [If you pour in seawater into a reactor, the reactor cannot be restored.]

  • Kaieda received a telephone call on late night on March 14, 2011 from Masataka Shimizu, then-President of TEPCO, who told Kaieda that he would like to evacuate the workers from Fukushima I Nuke Plant to Fukushima II (Daini) Nuke Plant. Kaieda interpreted the call to mean it was a "complete withdrawal".

  • Kaieda emphasized that he thought "it was a grave mistake" for Kan to closet himself in his office on the 5th floor of the Prime Minister's Official Residence. The risk control center [for the nuclear accident] was located in the basement.

  • Kaida felt that it was like a telephone game among the PM's Official Residence, TEPCO Headquarters, and Fukushima I Nuke Plant.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (5/17/2012):

  • Kaieda requested Kan that he declare a Nuclear Emergency Situation and set up the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, but Kan asked "what's the basis?" So then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano and PM's assistants [no doubt including Goshi Hosono] had to pour over the related laws and regulations. In the meantime, Kan did other things including attending a meeting with the opposition party leaders.

From NHK (5/17/2012):

  • About the delay in the vent to lower the pressure inside the Containment Vessel [of Reactor 1], Kaieda said he thought "TEPCO is hesitant, because the company wants to minimize the accident".

I didn't know the reason for the delay in declaring a Nuclear Emergency. I didn't know TEPCO's proposal to evacuate the workers was to Fukushima II Nuke Plant. As to injecting seawater (or for that matter, any kind of water) may have been hard with increasing pressure inside the RPV.

Two interesting points:

  • There was no one who was able to tell then-Prime Minister Kan, "Prime Minister, just do it", when Kan wasted everyone's time by wanting to know the legal basis for declaring a Nuclear Emergency. Instead, Kan insisted on knowing the legal basis, and Edano (and no doubt Hosono) went to look up the information for their Prime Minister when every second might have counted. Not really a picture of a resolute leader as Kan wants to portray himself.

  • TEPCO's "complete withdrawal" was what Kaieda thought, not necessarily what then-President Shimizu of TEPCO told him. He didn't tell Kaieda that he wanted complete withdrawal, but since he didn't tell Kaieda that it would be partial withdrawal either, in Kaieda's mind it was "complete withdrawal".

Yukio Edano's turn as the witness will come on May 27. Goshi Hosono will be interviewed by the commission on May 19, but it will be closed to public, according to Mainichi (5/18/2012). Hosono says he requested the open hearing, but the commission said no, because Hosono was not in a decision-making position when the accident started. (Huh?)

On May 28, Naoto Kan will be the witness.


Anonymous said...

Nuclear power may be scientifically possible, but it is beyond the ability of humanity to master and manage it.

Scientists and engineers often under-appreciate human factors. They underestimate the incredible ability of humans to screw things up.

Japan's future energy policy must be idiot proof. There is NO PLACE FOR NUCLEAR POWER in Japan's future.

JAnonymous said...

fully agree with previous anon. But not only Japan's : everyone's. Watch France have it's major accident in the coming years, with all their outdated stuff.

Europeans should be thankful that the France/Germany border has been filtering radioactive clouds since 1986, although it has not been tested yet in the reverse way...

Saidani said...

Yes, no one in the government or nuclear power industry wants Hosono's recollection of events made public, including Hosono. I would think that he is leveraging what he knows behind the curtains.

Anonymous said...

False flag alert: That increase in cancer is a result of the formaldehyde contamination in the Kanto water supply. The cesium has nothing to do with it.


Anonymous said...

It took them around TWO HOURS to declare nuclear emergency? Unacceptable.

Anyway, you can watch the hearing here:

I guess they would use the same channel for Edano's and Kan's hearing.

Anonymous said...

"Mr. Kan expressed his concern that injecting seawater might cause re-criticality."

I am liking this Kan fellow more and more. TEPCO was claiming that the cores are still standing.

It is quite possible for the fuel rods to remain upright and the control blades between them to melt and flow away. If you reflood a core that is in such a state with water that does not contain a neutron poison, it goes prompt critical.

If you recall, about 48 hours in, the US shipped over some boron.

m a x l i said...

Anonymous at 11:14 pm said:
"Japan's future energy policy must be idiot proof. There is NO PLACE FOR NUCLEAR POWER in Japan's future."

And this goes for every country.

There is not much fairness and justice in this world, but at least the idiots are evenly distributed across the planet.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with the first post.
Nuclear power is great, till it isnt. And there is no contingency plan if it goes awol. How is the dumbo PM expected to know what to do if it blows up in his hands? He's only a jerk figurehead like any school principal or beaurocrat. Japan, particularly, is geared to to rescinding any form of responsibility other than resignation, a few tears and an apology. LOL! A real laugh whn you realise that even a grade 1 student needs a checklist to pack their schoolbag in the morning or a parent needs a checklist and program (and a freindly furry character with a cute name) to pack a lunchbox/prepare for a trip or how to brush your teeth properly.
IS it any wonder you build a country of 'jobsworths'??
Nevermind...we can have pages of documents on how to do it nexttime, made available by month long conferences paid for with tax money that is printed out of thin air from people who dont know what they are talking about nor have ever had a real job but it gets them out of their plastic houses and allows them to pay their mortgages and car loans and 'look' busy whilst actually doing sweetn nothing and getting everything ratified by a red inkan from the next idiot up the line in the race to withdraw their pension and get the hell out before that game comes to an end so that they may get in a round of golf or go fishing...ffs.

Anonymous said...

Oooh yes . Lets make Kan to be whipping boy. Not me Banri Kaeda and my nuclear connected daddy-kins.
Kan wanted to end the BS business and energy giants and that is why he was removed.
He was way too honest to be a PM. Kaeda on the otherhand would be an ideal candidate in a very long list to be a wonderful PM and steward this country into its next disaster (whilst profiting immensely to his friends and energy budddies) and slip out of office just in time before any SHTF.
Feckless, nearly all of them.

Anonymous said...

Here we go again, ardent defender of Kan. Just as predictable as Gundersen supporters. It seems the definition of honesty has changed.

Remember it was Kan who sold a nuke plant to Vietnam.

Anonymous said...

'Remember it was Kan who sold a nuke plant to Vietnam.'

when? Before fkushima, no? Back in the energy business days.
Kan was simply out of his anyone would with a nuclear crisis threatening the capital. Truth is they never even though about it. And who does? Until there is a massive problem we wont be impelled to think about it. Because... we are like heroin addicts in need of our next energy fix. Until we realise the whole model is wrong and we need to think of other ways to 'inspire the next' other than growth gowth growth which btw is failing failing failing.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting that there are always someone who pops up whenever the name Naoto Kan is mentioned in the post and tries to defend him.

No matter what, he was the only prime minister of Japan who presided over the critical initial stage of the nuclear accident, and mightily fucked up.

Anonymous said...

No,11:50. It isn't 'interesting'. I'm not Kan's defender. The only thing he 'mightily fucked up' on was not admitting the scale and truth of the matter-which is usual for a politician. He also, like the rest of them, had zero knowledge of what he was grappling with. But he was forced from office by saying that the monopoly of the energy giants and big business must be broken, Japan must turn her back on Nuclear energy and review urgently the countr'7s energy policy. Then you got the yes man dope we now have.
BTW what would you have done in his position?

Atomfritz said...

I suppose there is a chance Kan might have been more sensible than many thought.

Taking care of possible public relations options and their caveats (avoiding mass panic!), possibly necessitating introduction of the opposition leaders to the catastrophe coordination, taking care of boron supply (to avoid recriticality) and so on.

Let's hope that on May 28 he'll tell the truth and not the nuclear yakuza's official camouflage story.

Anonymous said...

anon at 2:55, it's really amusing that you say you're not his defender but go on to do exactly that. You seem to conveniently forget that Kan was quite boastful of his "knowledge" of matters nuclear, even claiming to be an expert.

What would I have done? That's a totally useless question, because it was KAN WHO WAS IN A POSITION TO DO SOMETHING.

Anonymous said...

The List of Japan's "Nuclear power mafia"原子力委

Anonymous said...

4:29 Utter TOSH! Please remind me of Kan's 'boastful knowledge of matters nuclear'. eh? See his face during the crisis? He had not an idea what to he did that. Nothing constructive. Am I defending Kan now? Doh.

'What would you have done?' is not a useless question, unless that is you are inadequate of finding an answer. Just because you were not in a position to do anything does not mean you cannot think what you WOULD have done.

In the meantime what does Noda do? Continually say one thing to the Japanese people and then the opposite to the UN. lol. He really has not a clue, but is content to have his strings pulled for him. Clown, along with the other muppets-Hosano, Kaieda etc etc. Jiminto are quiet too at the mo. They are idealess, too. In fact it is their treachery which allowed Fukushima, along with others, to be a sitting duck in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Some info combined:

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