At a parliamentary investigation on Sunday, Yukio Edano, Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry, testified that he did not deliberately mislead the Japanese public about the true extent of last year’s nuclear crisis at Fukushima. He says that in the immediate aftermath of the March 11th earthquake and tsunami, the government did not have a complete understanding of how bad the damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was. Edano has been seen as responsible for not disclosing the full details of the accident or complete health risk information.
Apologizing for the government’s misjudgment, Edano stresses that there was no form of cover-up. At the time, he repeatedly used the phrases “no immediate risk” and “just to be safe,” because that’s what officials truly thought was the nature of the situation. It wasn’t until sometime after the disaster that the government admitted that three of the Fukushima cores had melted down, resulting in the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
A separate investigation filed a report in February, stating that central Japanese government had deliberately withheld information about the disaster from the public and the U.S. government, thus resulting in a growing distrust and putting a strain on the relationship with Japan’s biggest ally. Edano acknowledged that the U.S. government was frustrated by the lack of accurate information from Japan, and had requested to put American nuclear experts in the prime minister’s office. Edano refused, however, on the grounds that as a sovereign nation, Japan has the right to make decisions without foreign officials in its presence.
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