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Former Japan PM: I thought nuke mishap could destroy Tokyo

Former Japan PM: I thought nuke mishap could destroy Tokyo

Posted September. 06, 2011 23:23,   


Former Japanese Prime Minister Kan Naoto says he felt a sense of crisis that the nuclear plant mishap in Fukushima could obliterate Tokyo and its vicinity, said the Japanese daily Tokyo Shimbun Tuesday.

Kan, who stepped down as prime minister Friday, said, “The week shortly after the accident is the period when I felt the highest sense of crisis,” adding, “The thought of an uninhabited Tokyo made me shudder.”

“At around 3 a.m. March 15, three days after the accident, I got a report from then Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda that Tokyo Power Corp. was about to withdraw from the nuclear facility. So instantly I summoned the company`s president Masataka Shimizu and asked him to set up a joint countermeasures headquarters of the government and the company at the company’s headquarters,” Kan said.

"Had Tokyo Power Corp. withdrawn from the nuclear power plant, nobody might live in Tokyo now.”

Kan said, “If the power company had pulled out of the facility and left nuclear fuel unattended, the cooling water would have dried out within dozens of hours and the meltdown of reactors would have occurred,” adding, “If this had been the case, radioactive materials several or even dozens of times as much as those leaked in Chernobyl would had leaked. The country was brought to the brink of collapse.”

Kan also explained why he sought to wean Japan from nuclear energy, saying, “Before the accident, my stance was to utilize nuclear power plants. I thought that Japanese technology would make things all right but I changed my mind after the accident.”

“If people cannot live within a radius of 100 or 200 kilometers from a crippled nuclear power plant, Japan will cease to exist. Evacuating 100,000 or 200,000 people is a very difficult task, but if we have to evacuate 30 million people in the capital area, we won`t have enough shelters to accommodate them. To avoid such a calamity, we have no choice but to become independent of nuclear power plants.”

On communication of information at the time of the accident, Kan said, “Even the Prime Minister’s Office wasn’t informed of the situation accurately. The atomic safety commission said no hydrogen explosion would occur because containment vessels were filled with nitrogen. In reality, however, explosions occurred inside reactor buildings.”