The Foreign Ministry unofficially complained about a U.N. report on the Fukushima disaster that was released immediately after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami because it described the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant as “not under control,” sources said Wednesday.
At the time, a series of hydrogen explosions had ripped apart two of the plant’s six containment buildings because Tokyo Electric Power Co. had lost all electric power and was unable to cool the reactor fuel, which was melting.
In making the protest, the Foreign Ministry said the expression used in the report was too strong, the sources said, and implied that the government was underestimating the scale of the disaster, which involved core meltdowns in reactors 1, 2 and 3.
In the U.N. report on March 16, 2011, five days after the earthquake and tsunami, a U.N. research team stated that the crisis at the plant was “still not under control” following the explosions, which ejected radioactive material into the skies above Japan. The report said a fire that broke out in one of the reactor buildings forced all workers at the plant to withdraw due to the spike in radiation.
The team was sent by United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination, which conducts on-site research on natural disasters and conflicts in their early stages. The U.N. teams are dispatched at the request of the countries concerned to assess and coordinate the support measures.
In response to Japan’s protest, a U.N. official questioned whether the residents around the plant would have been convinced if the U.N. report stated that everything was under control.
The report was not revised after the protest.
A Foreign Ministry official in the division in charge of accepting the U.N. team said it had checked the ministry’s records but could not find an item concerning the matter.
After the March 11, 2011, disaster, Japan asked that the U.N. dispatch the team to transmit information in English.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.