Asahi Shimbun has uncovered more details about the early events of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. What they uncovered fills some of the information gaps about what transpired between the US and Japan during those early days.
Before unit 4 exploded, the US was already deeply worried about the spent fuel pool there. A classified diplomatic cable on March 14th urged Japan to use the SDF (Japan’s military) to become involved in the effort to regain control of 4′s spent fuel pool that had a full offload of fuel from the reactor.
Also noted in what Asahi Shimbun was able to find was that on March 15th, radiation warning alarms went off at Yokosuka Naval Base 300km from Fukushima Daiichi. All women and children on the base were ordered to evacuate.
It was already known that the USS George Washington, that was under maintenance and partially disassembled had abruptly left Yokosuka around the same time. On March 13th the USS Ronald Reagan began to see elevated levels 100 miles off the coast of Fukushima that were higher than anticipated based on what TEPCO and the Japanese Government were declaring.
The mandatory evacuation of Yokosuka is significant as what the public and even those on the base were being told at the time did not reflect that. Officials were peddling vague assurances while telling people at the base to stay inside. What was going on in diplomatic channels was quite different than what the public was being told at the time. On March 17 Stars and Stripes called the evacuation of Yokosuka and other bases “voluntary“.
Asahi Shimbun calls the evacuations differently:
“ At Yokosuka Naval Base, which lies about 300 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, alarms went off indicating an increase in radiation levels. All women and children on the base were immediately ordered to evacuate.”
This is quite different than what the public was being told back in March 2011.
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