One year after one of the most devastating catastrophes in living memory, there seems to be no end to Japan’s inner turmoil. According to this editorial from Japan’s Too Nippo Shimbun, recently released transcripts from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission not only demonstrate America’s proactive attitude in a crisis, they expose a deep-seated tendency among Japanese decision-makers to underestimate danger and seek to ‘save face’ rather than save lives.
In response to multiple Freedom of Information Act requests, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has released about 3,000 pages of phone transcripts from the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The transcripts include automated recordings of conference calls held during the first ten days of the catastrophe, from March 11 to March 21, 2011.
In sharp contrast, it emerged in January that the ten Japanese agencies charged with dealing with the accident, including the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, failed to keep any minutes at all of their meetings.
The fiasco casts light on the widening gap between America’s belief that keeping records and investigating matters where necessary are a matter of course for any public body, and Japan’s incapacity to follow through with even standard procedures. This has exposed Japan’s naiveté when it comes to risk management.
The Japanese government’s policy of recovering minutes with the help of the notes and recollections of participants is obviously inferior to actually having the original records; notes often contain misinterpretations and unfortunately, memories fade.
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