Reform is needed to get crisis info flowing: Edano

JIJI

Creating a system to ensure the speedy delivery of information to the prime minister’s office during an emergency is an urgent task for the government, former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said in a recent interview.

Ahead of the two-year anniversary of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Edano of the Democratic Party of Japan criticized the initial response of Tokyo Electric Power Co. when the nuclear crisis began at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, saying “there was no information coming from Tepco.”

Edano, who served in the key government post at the time of the disasters, also said administrative information did not arrive with the timing needed.

“The major lesson we learned was that we were unable to collect information efficiently,” he said.

At the time, “no one could stop the expansion of the nuclear crisis at the administrative and political level,” Edano said. He warned that if the information collection system is not rebuilt, the same situation will happen again.

He blamed the education and science ministry for the Kan administration’s inability to utilize forecasts from the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information, or SPEEDI, on the spread of radioactive substances from the Tepco plant, which had three reactor core meltdowns.

“That was clearly the problem of the ministry,” Edano said. “The ministry did not tell even me that it was using the SPEEDI system. I think that was intentional.”

Edano defended Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s response to the nuclear crisis, saying that if he had not visited Tepco, no information would have come directly to the government.

“There were definitely minus points, but Kan’s response had both merits and demerits,” Edano said.

He criticized the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party for pursuing a review of the previous government’s decision to completely phase out nuclear power by the 2030s.

“This goes against public opinion and is a mistake,” Edano said.