Mistakes and Optimism in Japan

Posted by By at 1 April, at 10 : 56 AM Print

Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan speaking during a televised news conference on Friday, “we will do whatever it takes to win the battle.” Three weeks ago, an earthquake and tsunami redefined Japan.

Kan says when the nuclear crisis passes Japan “will establish a system that could respond to any situation based on an assumption that anything could happen.”

The prime minister’s optimism is clouded by hampered efforts to restore a cooling system and stop a myriad of radiation leaks pouring from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

Adding to the complexity of the problems is the credibility of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, [TEPCO] which operates the facility. TEPCO has made serious errors in its response to the disaster and its calculation of radiation; another such gaffe was called into question on Friday.

Japan’s Nuclear Safety Agency suspects the electric companies recent publicized radiation tests are flawed, such as readings taken from groundwater under a reactor, which TEPCO said contained iodine concentrations 10,000 times above acceptable standards. Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesperson for the safety agency, said an independent team will review readings taken from soil and water.

“We have suspected their isotope analysis, and we will have to wait for new results,” said Nishiyama.

Representatives with TEPCO say they have spotted an error in a computer program, but the company insists it has affected only a couple of readings. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has hinted that it might review all readings since March 11.

Experts now suspect that radiation linking into the ground is not likely to reach tap water. Tomorhiro Mogamiya, with the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare agency said it is “extremely unlikely” for that scenario to happen because the groundwater flows toward the ocean, and Dai-ichi is located on the coast.

At least a quarter of a million people is either homeless or lack the necessities of life, such as water and electricity. For weeks, the thought is that 18,000 people were killed, but now there’s indications that at least 25,000 perished when the tsunami and earthquake struck.

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