by James Corbett
June 14, 2012
Two new reports have emerged this week from the Japanese government demonstrating how government agencies hid data from the public in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, and how they misrepresented the effects of that crisis.
On Monday, NHK obtained a draft report from the Japanese science ministry about the government’s response to the crisis, including how data from the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI) system was deliberately kept from the public. The SPEEDI system was used to forecast radiation fallouts, and was later proven to be accurate in its predictions, but even though the Japanese media began asking for the data from the outset of the disaster on March 11th of last year, the government refused to provide it until April 25th. This confirms reports from earlier this year that the data had been withheld from the public because it was simply too worrying to be released.
Meanwhile the education ministry has released a similar report assessing its own response to the crisis. It addresses its decision in April of 2011 to set the maximum radiation exposure level for outdoor school activities to 20 mSv/year, at the extreme upper end of International Commission on Radiological Protection recommendations for exposure in post-emergency situations. The maximum level was lowered to 1 mSv/year one month later, after massive public outcry. The report concludes that the ministry “mistakenly” gave the public the impression that it had condoned high exposure levels and unnecessarily upset the victims of the disaster. It does not, however, explain what had prompted the ministry to set the 20 mSv/year level in the first place, or whether any nuclear experts had even been consulted in that decision.
These reports, coming over a year after the initial incidents took place, will do little to reassure a Japanese public that has seen their government lie, misrepresent, and hide data about the true scope of the Fukushima disaster time and again. From the initial attempts to assure the public that the situation was under control, to the eventual admission that three of the reactors had in fact experienced full meltdown–an admission which itself did not take place until fully three months after the meltdowns had been confirmed–these latest reports will only be more grist for the mill for the growing section of the public that is refusing to listen to government reassurances on nuclear safety anymore. It remains to be seen how these latest revelations will play into the government’s plans to restart two of the nation’s nuclear reactors at Oi, Fukui Prefecture, later this summer.