Panel lays bare Fukushima recipe for disaster

Conflicting authority, mistrust, meddling add to poor preparation

The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crisis was caused by Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s lack of preparation for huge tsunami and exacerbated by conflicting levels of authority and downright “distrust and meddling” by high-ranking officials, an independent investigative panel reported Tuesday.

“There were cases of excessive meddling (by the government) toward people working at the site,” and such actions did more harm than good, said Koichi Kitazawa, former chief of the Japan Science and Technology Agency.

The investigative group Kitazawa leads, the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation, interviewed more than 300 politicians, bureaucrats and workers involved in the Fukushima crisis for its report.

Kitazawa painted a picture of distrust and doubt due to the limited exchange of information among the government, Tepco, bureaucrats and other parties. “Overall, they had also fallen into a systematic inattentiveness” toward making the crippled nuclear plant secure, he concluded.

Fukushima: Japan leaders feared “devil’s chain reaction”

Reuters, By Shinichi Saoshiro, February 28

* Worst case scenario seen threatening Japan’s existence
* Ex-PM Kan ordered utility not to abandon nuclear site
* Kan too hands on in managing crisis – panel report (Changes dateline, adds details from Fukushima Daiichi plant)

Fukushima, Japan – Japan’s prime minister ordered workers to remain at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear plant last March as fears mounted of a “devil’s chain reaction” that would force tens of millions of people to flee Tokyo, a new investigative report shows.

Then-premier Naoto Kan and his staff began referring to a worst case scenario that could threaten Japan’s existence as a nation around three days after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, according to the report by a panel set up by a private think-tank.

Also, Washington Post: Investigation finds Japan withheld dangers of nuclear disaster from own people, US
New York Times: Japan Weighed Evacuating Tokyo in Nuclear Crisis

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