[Asahi]Government ignored U.S. radiation monitoring data in days after 3/11

As usual, Japanese news paper has split personality. Japanese version conceals every important fact but English version is very critical about Japanese government’s policy.

<Quote> [Asahi]

[Asahi]Government ignored U.S. radiation monitoring data in days after 3/11


June 18, 2012

Even as thousands of residents pondered the implications of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture last year, Japanese government officials took little notice of up-to-the-minute high radiation measurements provided by the U.S. Energy Department.

The Energy Department used its Aerial Measuring System (AMS) between March 17 and 19, 2011, and compiled a detailed map of radiation levels on the basis of 40 hours of flight time over Fukushima Prefecture.

The data was provided to Japanese government officials, but not released to the public.

The map clearly shows an area of high radiation levels extending in a northwesterly direction from the crippled Fukushima plant.

Thousands of Fukushima residents living near the plant, unaware of the danger they faced, evacuated in the direction of those high radiation areas.

This is not the first time the Japanese government has been shown to be slow to respond to the unfolding disaster at the Fukushima facility following last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

The central government also failed to quickly release forecasts of radiation spreading in Fukushima and beyond made by its System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI).

A major difference between the SPEEDI forecast and the Energy Department observations is that the U.S. data concerns actual radiation measurements taken over an area with a radius of about 45 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

The monitoring showed that communities in a northwestern direction from the plant, including Namie and Iitate, had radiation levels exceeding 125 microsieverts per hour over an area as wide as 30 kilometers.

Exposure to that level of radiation for eight hours would exceed what is deemed by the government to be safe over the course of a year.

According to Foreign Ministry officials, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo twice provided data through e-mail messages. The radiation maps based on the results of the AMS were provided on March 18 and 20.

The Foreign Ministry immediately forwarded the data to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) and the science ministry, which is in charge of carrying out radiation measurements.

According to several science ministry officials, including Itaru Watanabe, the deputy director-general of the Science and Technology Policy Bureau, the science ministry and NISA not only failed to publicize the data, but neglected to pass it on to the prime minister’s office or the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC).

The U.S. Energy Department released the monitoring data on March 23.

A department official noted that the information had been shared with the Japanese government.

When asked by The Asahi Shimbun why the information was not used to implement evacuation plans, Watanabe said: “While I now feel that the information should have been released immediately, at that time there was no thought given to using the provided data for the benefit of evacuating residents. We should have also passed on the information to the NSC.”

Even though 15 months have passed since the data was passed on by the U.S. government, officials of NISA’s Nuclear Safety Public Relations and Training Division said they were still looking into whether they obtained the information in response to repeated requests for interviews from The Asahi Shimbun.

The central government designated five municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture for evacuation on April 22. That decision was made after science ministry officials measured radiation levels on the ground and carried out joint airborne monitoring with the Energy Department.

In this way, they confirmed that areas of high radiation existed to the northwest of the plant.

Tokushi Shibata, professor emeritus of radiation management at the University of Tokyo, said: “It was a fatal error in judgment. If the data had been released immediately, the situation of residents evacuating in the wrong direction and becoming exposed to radiation could have been avoided.”

The first hint that the science ministry and NISA had obtained the radiation maps from the Energy Department came in late October. However, uncovering what actually transpired ran into months of bureaucratic stonewalling.

In explaining why existence of the radiation map was not passed on to not only the prime minister’s office and NSC but even the top officials of the science ministry, Watanabe said, “At that time, we did not even know how accurate the measurement data was.”

Uncertainty about the accuracy of the SPEEDI forecast was also a key reason its existence was not made known to Naoto Kan, prime minister at the time, and his Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.

When Watanabe was further pressed on why the actual measurement data was not released, he said, “At that time, the biggest issue we faced was to conduct radiation monitoring ourselves.”

Although NISA officials will not publicly admit it, several government sources said the radiation map information was passed on to NISA.

One former high-ranking NISA official recalled that a large map of radiation levels was posted on a whiteboard in a NISA office used at the time as the central government’s emergency response center.

While admitting to being impressed by the high technological level of the radiation map, the former official said, “At that time, we were doing everything we could to control the reactor cores at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. There was the thinking that monitoring was the responsibility of the science ministry.”

(This article was written by Hiroo Sunaoshi and Kazuyuki Kanai.)




  1. Pity Kan didn’t get this data or take to executing bureaucrats who hid this data from the people.

  2. As angry as I am at the Japanese government for not recognizing the importance of this information and acting immediately to protect the people downwind, I cannot help but be angry also at the US government for undoubtably knowing its importance and not releasing it directly to the public when the already overwhelmed Japanese failed to act.

    Obama’s administration believes it can launch computer virus attacks against Iraq’s nuclear program, send special teams into Pakistan to kill bin Laden, and launch drone strikes on terrorists anywhere anytime, but it fails to issue a simple press release when innocent lives – Japanese lives and the lives of AMERICANS LIVING IN JAPAN – were in such incredible danger.

    Ambassador Roos and President Obama – there is blood also on your hands from this negligence. If there is anything else you are withholding about this disaster and the dangers to lives – Japanese OR American – living in Japan, you must be forthright with that information, you must come clean NOW.

    The US should not withhold information vital to the public health of AMERICANS living and visiting in Japan just because it is inconvenient for the fallen DPJ if you were to do so. If lives are at stake, as they were so clearly at stake in the days immediately after the disaster, you must be forthright with the information needed to protect public health.

    A major fail for Obama and Roos. I have lost all respect for both of you.

    1. the duty of the Japanese to their own people is not the responsibility of another government.

      US did their duty by providing the information to the Japanese and note they sent it again when the government refused to evacuate. The U.S., Obama administration DID repeatedly make public their recommendation to evacuate 50miles or 80 km, in an effort to disseminate information. They evacuated their people quickly and so did the French — but the Japanese did not. That’s THERE responsibility. Not USA.

      What IS the responsibility of USA govt is what could we be told, EPA monitoring, regarding Fukushima Fallout. Another aspect to this whole debacle.

  3. I forgot to mention Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. She should also shoulder some of the historical credit for this.

    You would think a MOTHER would undersand the impact of her failure to act on the other mothers who are now watching anxiously to see what harm this negligent act will have on their childrens’ health. Where is the empathy?!

    Hillary, if there is anything else you aren’t telling us about the dangers of living and working anywhere in Japan, you should come clean NOW.

    1. They are ALL in cahoots with one another. It is as simple as that. They share the information at their level and decide what to let the common folks know. They cannot have their worker bees fleeing a major capital in the 3rd top economic country can they now. Just like they are not telling anyone in North America how they are getting the fallout on a daily basis. Can’t have folks fleeing the cotton fields. How will the masa get his revenues?

  4. Japan Penal Code in English-for people in Japan who want to file a lawsuit against Tepco for Fukushima. Please read the chapters and articles below for help.


    Chapter XI. Complicity
    Chapter V. Crimes of Obstruction of Performance of Public Duty
    Article 95. (Obstructing or Compelling Performance of Public Duty)
    Article 117. (Detonating of Explosives)
    Article 118. (Leakage of Gas)
    Chapter XV. Crimes Related to Drinking Water
    Article 142. (Pollution of Drinking Water)
    Article 143. (Pollution of Water Supplies)
    Article 144. (Pollution of Drinking Water with Poisonous Materials)
    Article 145. (Pollution of Drinking Water Causing Death or Injury)
    Article 146. (Pollution of Water Supplies with Poisonous Materials and Causing
    Death Thereby)
    Article 160. (Falsifying Medical Certificates)
    Chapter XXV. Crimes of Corruption
    Article 193. (Abuse of Authority by public officers)
    Chapter XXVII. Crimes of Injury
    Article 204. (Injury)
    Article 205. (Injury Causing Death)
    Chapter XXVIII. Crimes of Injury through Negligence
    Article 209. (Causing Injury through Negligence)
    Article 210. (Causing Death through Negligence)
    Article 222. (Intimidation)

  5. ka-boom… I went nuts and told everyone to get out of japan, I was insulted and told I am disasterbating/porn or something and a fearmonger and that it’s not a meltdown by people. What can you do, people won’t listen to random civillians, they WILL LISTEN TO THE MEDIA AND GOVERNMENT THOUGH AND I CAN PROVE IT, see “fukushima”. So now you know.

  6. Even ex skf and his readers got mad at me during the early days. It hurt. 🙁

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This website updates the latest news about the Fukushima nuclear plant and also archives the past news from 2011. Because it's always updated and added live, articles, categories and the tags are not necessarily fitted in the latest format.
I am the writer of this website. About page remains in 2014. This is because my memory about 311 was clearer than now, 2023, and I think it can have a historical value. Now I'm living in Romania with 3 cats as an independent data scientist.
Actually, nothing has progressed in the plant since 2011. We still don't even know what is going on inside. They must keep cooling the crippled reactors by water, but additionally groundwater keeps flowing into the reactor buildings from the broken parts. This is why highly contaminated water is always produced more than it can circulate. Tepco is planning to officially discharge this water to the Pacific but Tritium is still remaining in it. They dilute this with seawater so that it is legally safe, but scientifically the same amount of radioactive tritium is contained. They say it is safe to discharge, but none of them have drunk it.