"Japan Held Nuclear Data, Leaving Evacuees in Peril"

In the days after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown began, Japanese officials let evacuees go into areas of high radiation, downplaying and withholding information about the danger."

"FUKUSHIMA, Japan — The day after a giant tsunami set off the continuing disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, thousands of residents at the nearby town of Namie gathered to evacuate.

Given no guidance from Tokyo, town officials led the residents north, believing that winter winds would be blowing south and carrying away any radioactive emissions. For three nights, while hydrogen explosions at four of the reactors spewed radiation into the air, they stayed in a district called Tsushima where the children played outside and some parents used water from a mountain stream to prepare rice.

The winds, in fact, had been blowing directly toward Tsushima — and town officials would learn two months later that a government computer system designed to predict the spread of radioactive releases had been showing just that.

But the forecasts were left unpublicized by bureaucrats in Tokyo, operating in a culture that sought to avoid responsibility and, above all, criticism. Japan’s political leaders at first did not know about the system and later played down the data, apparently fearful of having to significantly enlarge the evacuation zone — and acknowledge the accident’s severity."

Norimitsu Onishi and Martin Fackler report for the New York Times August 8, 2011.


SEE ALSO:

"Japan Premier Promises UN Chief To Share Lessons From Nuclear Crisis, Disasters With the World" (AP)

"The 100-Year Battle To Make Fukushima Safe: Grim Prediction as Brave Workers Expect To 'Die Within Weeks'" (London Daily Mail)

"Japanese Leaders Promote Nuclear Power Alternatives at Nagasaki Memorial" (VOA)

"Japan To Lift Some Nuclear Evacuation Advisories" (AP)

"Nagasaki Urges Nuke Policy Shift on  Anniversary" (Japan Times)

"Japan PM Naoto Kan Brings His Nuclear-Free Vision To Hiroshima" (Reuters)

"Atomic Bomb Survivors Join Nuclear Opposition" (New York Times)

Source: NY Times, 08/09/2011