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Thursday, August 18, 2011

US Government Considered Evacuation of 90,000 US Citizens in Tokyo

According to Kevin Maher, a US diplomat and the former director of the Japan Desk at the US State Department in Japan, the US government considered evacuating all 90,000 US citizens in Tokyo right after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (10:30PM JST 8/17/2011):

東京電力福島第一原子力発電所の事故直後、米政府が、東京在住の米国人9万人全員を避難させる案を検討していたことが分かった。

The US government was considering the plan to evacuate all 90,000 US citizens living in Tokyo right after the Fukushima I Nuclear power Plant accident, according to a new book.

元米国務省日本部長のケビン・メア氏が、19日に出版する「決断できない日本」(文春新書)で明らかにした。9万人避難が実行されていれば、他国の政府対応はもとより、日本人にもパニックを引き起こしかねないところだった。

The book, which is to be published on August 17, is titled "決断できない日本 (Japan that cannot decide)" (Bunshun Shinsho) and was written by Kevin Maher, former Japan Desk director at the US State Department. If the plan to evacuate 90,000 Americans had been carried out, it could have triggered reactions from other foreign governments, and caused panic among the Japanese.

メア氏は震災直後、国務省内の特別作業班で日本側との調整にあたり、著書にその内幕をつづった。

Maher's book recounts the inside information that Maher obtained as he was part of the special task force within the State Department right after the March 11 disaster, communicating with the Japanese side.

米国人の避難が提起されたのは、3月16日未明(現地時間)の会議だった。米側は無人偵察機グローバルホークの情報から原子炉の温度が異常に高いことを把握し、「燃料が既に溶融している」と判断。菅政権が対応を東電任せにしているとみて、「不信感は強烈」な状況だったという。米国人の避難を求めた政府高官に対し、メア氏らは「日米同盟が大きく揺らぐ事態になる」と反論し、実行に移さなかったとしている。

The subject of evacuating the US citizens was raised in the early hours on March 16 (local time). The US had already knew about the unusually high temperature of the reactors from the Global Hawk data, and determined that "the fuel has already melted". The US thought the Kan administration was simply leaving the disaster response to TEPCO, and "distrust [in the administration] was intense". The US high-ranking officials wanted to evacuate the US citizens [from Tokyo] but the local officials including Maher objected, as "it would severely undermine the US-Japan alliance". The plan was never implemented.

It's very heart-warming to know they left 90,000 US citizens in Tokyo under the radioactive plume, which literally rained on them on March 15, 16 and 21, for the sake of "alliance", isn't it?

I also remember back in March that the US investment bank Goldman Sachs flew in high-ranking executives to Tokyo, and told the US employees there in no uncertain terms that they were to stay put in Tokyo, or they would lose their jobs.

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