A cabinet minister revealed on Tuesday that Japanese authorities did not share data from the United States that indicated radiation was spreading from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant last year. The information originated from a U.S. military aircraft that had flown overhead, but once it was provided to the science and technology ministry, they just sat on it, claiming to be caught up in the chaos of the situation. Not only was information not shared, but it directly led to some evacuees fleeing farther into radioactive areas, instead of away.
After the Fukushima plant was struck by the March 11th tsunami, the facility was unable to cool its reactors and suffered from explosions and an eventual meltdown. The U.S. military gathered data from March 17th to the 19th, and found that some people were moving into areas around 25 kilometers (15 miles) northwest of the plant, and within eight hours were exposed to more radiation than is deemed “safe” for a period of one year. This information was given to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, which in turn gave it to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) and the ministry of science and technology. From there is should have been evaluated and given to the prime minister’s office, as they were handling evacuations, but the information never made it that far.
The government has already admitted that due to “poor communication,” it did not disclose information from computer forecasts which predicted the direction radioactive emission would travel. Yukio Edano, the Industry Minister, spoke at new conference and said that he truly regretted information this valuable was not used by the government or shared with the people of Japan. However, Edano would not comment on whether any government employees would be fired or face criminal charges over the recent discovery.