July 20, 2013
This past Tuesday, Naoto Kan submitted a defamation suit against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It is very unusual for a former prime minister to sue an incumbent. The suit is because Abe posted an Email on March 20, 2011, saying Kan fabricated his part in the infamous seawater cooling dispute during the Fukushima accident. Abe also said Kan’s trying to stop Tepco from cooling with seawater is a case of severe mismanagement and that he should resign. Kan charges Abe with keeping “erroneous” information on his website and ignoring Kan’s repeated entreaties to remove the Email from archives. Kan also charges Abe with making a “false accusation” that defames the former PM. Since the Email has not been deleted, Kan has filed the suit, along with $110,000 in damages. In response…well…there is no response from Mr. Abe. He refuses to comment.
On March 12, 2011, Kan did in-fact order Tepco and plant manager Yoshido to stop cooling with seawater because it contained some natural uranium and he feared it might cause a recriticality. Yoshida ignored Kan’s orders, which was the correct thing to do. It is a prime example of Kan meddling in F. Daiichi’s emergency operations during the hectic early days of the crisis. Kan is suing because Abe’s Email makes him look bad and negatively impacts the Democratic Party of Japan’s chances in the upcoming national election. It is also yet another example of Kan trying to manipulate the facts and possibly shed responsibility for the mistakes he made during the nuclear accident. If he were Pinocchio, Kan’s nose would be growing.
This is not the first time Kan has besmirched the truth. Remember that this is the man who says he single-handedly saved Tokyo from evacuation because he kept Tepco from abandoning F. Daiichi. All government investigations into the accident conclude that Kan did no such thing. Oh, there’s no doubt that he descended on Tepco’s home office and commanded them to not abandon the stricken plant-site. However, there was no actual reason for him to have done such a thing. Tepco never intended abandonment. Never! (For a detailed explanation of what happened, see my book “Fukushima: the First Five days”.)
After Kan resigned , he told the Press his non-abandonment order was based on his nightmare of evacuating Tokyo, predicated on a phantasmagorical what-if scenario which he-himself ordered to be formulated by his emergency staff’s nuclear representative from NISA! It went something like this… If all six units at F. Daiichi melted away (only three were operating at the time), and if all six spent fuel pools suddenly collapsed and the more than 2,500 all-metal fuel bundles somehow burned themselves to a crisp (an assumption of exceptional improbability, at best), and if the wind blew directly towards Tokyo (250 kilometers distant) for several days with minimal dispersion, then it might be possible that Tokyo would have to be abandoned. All of this, of course, was dependent on the entire staff at F. Daiichi fleeing the plant-site and never returning.
Now, here’s the most ridiculous part. Kan believed every bit of the science-fiction fantasy that he literally created for himself. Kan never saved Tokyo! But, in his warped way of thinking, it seems he believed he did. He has been preaching this ridiculous gospel of fantasy for the last two years.
Should we take the lawsuit seriously? I’ve been scanning the Japanese Press every day for more than two years, and I’ve come to understand that lawsuits of questionable substance are not uncommon in Japan. For example, an elderly man recently filed a suit against NHK World because they are using more and more foreign jargon in their reports and he could not understand much of what was being reported. The man filed for psychological damage due to NHK’s use of jargon. I kid you not! Personally, I’m filing Kan’s lawsuit in the drawer labeled “Believe it or Not”.
Kan is not above twisting the truth for personal gain. He is a political opportunist who has lost face with the people of Japan. It seems he is trying to regain some modicum of respect with his former party, the DPJ. His is not a lawsuit of material substance and should be dismissed by every court in Japan. What frightens me is that the courts might find in Kan’s favor or a settlement might be negotiated. Both thoughts give me nightmares.