Scale of deception beyond belief

Yokohama

My personal mantra is “expect the worst,” but not even that bleak perspective could have prepared me for the dark facts revealed in the Feb. 27 article “Tsunami alert softened days before 3/11.” The scale of virtual deception portrayed in the story is beyond anything I ever would have expected.

The tale of how just days before 3/11, a government panel caved in to the wishes of Tokyo Electric Power Co. and two other nuclear power plant operators and revised a report warning of a possible massive tsunami in northeastern Japan was simply unbelievable.

For nearly a year Tepco’s mantra has been that the scope of the tsunami was beyond any reasonable expectation. It was a carefully crafted statement designed to absolve the company of any culpability for the nuclear nightmare in Fukushima, which has awakened growing numbers of people around the world to the inherent dangers of nuclear power. On the heels of the disaster of almost mythical proportions that swallowed Japan’s northeastern seaboard, that statement seemed plausible — until now.

In its original draft report, the government’s Earthquake Research Committee pointed to the possibility of a disaster similar in scale to the magnitude 8.3 Jogan Earthquake of 869, which is estimated to have taken nearly 1,000 lives at a time when the population density in the area was significantly less.

Not only were Tepco and other power companies aware of the possibility of a major tsunami hitting the region, but a government body gave them a free hand in hiding that information from the public. While we may not have a way to measure deception, at the very least, this recent revelation makes Tepco’s oft-repeated statement denying any responsibility seem almost as unbelievable as the magnitude of the disaster itself.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

j.t. cassidy