Japanese authorities did not use information on the spreading of radiation, which they had received from an U.S. military aircraft. As a result, some people fled in the same direction as the radioactive emissions, according to industry minister Yukio Edano.
An U.S. military aircraft collected data that revealed the fact that people in an area about 25 km northwest of the Fukushima plant were exposed to the annual permissible level of radiation within eight hours. Some evacuees were at the time moving into just that area.
The information was passed to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) and the science and technology ministry, but neither forwarded it to the prime minister’s cabinet, which was in charge with the evacuations.
“It is extremely regrettable that this information was not shared or utilized properly within the government and I have no words to apologize, especially to the disaster victims,” said Industry Minister Yukio Edano, which at the time was government spokesman.
The new information adds up to public mistrust in the government and its nuclear policies, only a few days after the authorities decided to restart two of Japan’s nuclear reactors.