Former US Diplomat on Fukushima Disaster – There was nobody in charge. Nobody in the Japanese political system was willing to say ‘I’m going to take responsibility and make decisions,’”

TOKYO — Early in the Fukushima nuclear crisis, U.S. officials felt that nobody in Japan’s government was taking charge, and Washington considered evacuating American troops in a worst-case scenario, a retired U.S. envoy said Thursday.

hen the March 11 earthquake and tsunami set off the crisis by crippling the Fukushima Daiichi plant and sending it toward meltdown, Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s administration initially acted as if it was only the plant operator’s problem, not the government’s, former diplomat Kevin Maher said.

“There was nobody in charge. Nobody in the Japanese political system was willing to say ‘I’m going to take responsibility and make decisions,’” said Maher, who coordinated U.S. help offered to help Tokyo deal with the crisis.

“Nothing was taking place at Fukushima Daiichi in terms of the government solving the problem” until about a week later when Tokyo and Washington launched a joint task force, he said.

Japan initially was not forthcoming with details of the crisis, while independent U.S. information indicated at least two of the plant’s six reactor cores were melting down, he said.

“We were very worried about what was going to happen to Japan,” he said, adding that U.S. officials drafted a plan to evacuate some of the nearly 50,000 Japan-based servicemen in a worst-case scenario involving plumes of radiation.

“The worst case scenario was, ‘Would you have to move U.S. forces out of Japan if there were threat of radiation?’” he said.

“Fortunately that did not happen,” he said, because such a pull-out could have caused a “tremendous negative impact” on the U.S-Japan security relationship.

Source:, via Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion
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