Five years ago Tokyo was on a “paper-thin margin” of a nuclear disaster

March 11, 2011 at 14:46 in the afternoon the train started shaking
March 11, 2011 at 14:46 in the afternoon the train started shaking

On March 11, 2011 in Saitama, Japan on business, I decided to get on the train for home which was unusual since I usually stay around for lunch with the people I work with. After buying the train ticket noticing the ticket was stamped at 12:44, I got on the train and headed back home. I still have the ticket. When the train stopped at the station before the station I get off on at 14:46, the train suddenly began vibrating and thought it was the emergency brakes. As the vibration intensified the train started loudly rattling and I immediately knew it was rattling because of an earthquake.

Usually when there are earthquakes in Tokyo, the first place I look for confirmation when outside are electric utility lines hanging between utility poles. This time the electric utility lines were bouncing up and down violently. I immediately got off the train to start walking home because I knew the train wouldn’t be moving anytime soon. Then the entire train station building started moving back and forth and that’s when I noticed the nine story building in front of the train station swaying back and forth like a card board box. I have never seen a concrete building sway back and forth like that. That’s when it suddenly occurred to me buildings must be collapsing in Tokyo not knowing where the earthquake was centered. This is it I thought, this is the earthquake everyone has been waiting for in Tokyo. Quite frankly, it scared the shit out of me. Apparently, Japan’s Prime Minster Kan had the shit scared out of him as well.
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Source: The Telegraph

March 4, 2016

Fukushima: Tokyo was on the brink of nuclear catastrophe, admits former prime minister

Five years on from the tsunami, the former Japanese prime minister says the country came within a “paper-thin margin” of a nuclear disaster

Naoto KanNaoto Kan talking to The Telegraph Photo: Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph

Mr Kan admitted he was frightened and said he got “no clear information” out of Tepco, the plant’s operator. He was “very shocked” by the performance of Nobuaki Terasaka, his own government’s key nuclear safety adviser. “We questioned him and he was unable to give clear responses,” he said.

“We asked him – do you know anything about nuclear issues? And he said no, I majored in economics.”

Mr Terasaka, the director of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, was later sacked. Another member of Mr Kan’s crisis working group, the then Tepco chairman, Tsunehisa Katsumata, was last week indicted on charges of criminal negligence for his role in the disaster.

Japan’s prime minister at the time of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami has revealed that the country came within a “paper-thin margin” of a nuclear disaster requiring the evacuation of 50 million people.

In an interview with The Telegraph to mark the fifth anniversary of the tragedy, Naoto Kan described the panic and disarray at the highest levels of the Japanese government as it fought to control multiple meltdowns at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.

He said he considered evacuating the capital, Tokyo, along with all other areas within 160 miles of the plant, and declaring martial law. “The future existence of Japan as a whole was at stake,” he said. “Something on that scale, an evacuation of 50 million, it would have been like a losing a huge war.”

Read the entire article at The Telegraph.

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