Note2: US Embassy Japan went on authorized departure on March 17, 2011
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in a news conference over the weekend that “The earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear incident have been the biggest crisis Japan has encountered in the 65 years since the end of world war two.”
“TEPCO supplies electricity to Tokyo and seven surrounding prefectures with relatively large populations, including Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba. The measure is necessary after several of the companies’ nuclear power plants in north-eastern Japan were impacted or shut down by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Friday, as well as the tsunami that struck soon afterwards. Yukio Edano, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, said in a press conference Sunday evening that TEPCO estimates a shortfall of roughly 10 million kilowatts when Japanese industry and businesses go back to work on Monday. Under normal conditions, the company generates some 41 million kilowatts. TEPCO plans to divide its region of coverage into 5 areas and alternately cut power to each area for 3 hours.”
The US Embassy’s Warden Message dated March 14 says that all of Tokyo’s 26 cities and Tama-gun are affected. Neighboring areas may experience partial blackouts as well.
A wikileaked confidential cable from 2008 released by the Guardian earlier today has Japan’s Lower House Diet Member Taro Kono accusing the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) “of covering up nuclear accidents, and obscuring the true costs and problems associated with the nuclear industry” (see paragraph 6). The cable which has former Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer’s signoff also reports that “In describing the clout wielded by the electric companies, Kono claimed that a Japanese television station had planned a three part interview with him on nuclear issues, but had canceled after the first interview, because the electric companies threatened to withdraw their extensive sponsorship” (see paragraph 3).
If you are not reading this from your official workstation and are not afraid to go blind, you can read the cable here.
Meanwhile, the French embassy in Tokyo has reportedly advised its nationals to leave the capital city because of threats posed by the nuclear plants 160 miles north of the capital.
WSJ’s Japan RealTime quotes this advise on the Swiss embassy website: “All Swiss citizens in the crisis-stricken areas as well as in the area of Tokyo/Yokohama (are advised) to think about whether their presence in Japan is currently necessary, and, should this not be the case, to consider temporarily leaving the country. This advice is particularly meant for families with small children.”
Today, YNet reported that the families of Israel diplomats serving in Tokyo decided to return to Israel following the massive earthquake in Japan. A Foreign Ministry official told Ynet the decision is not related to fears of a nuclear fuel meltdown in Japan.
US Embassy #Japan Evacuates to Safehaven in Asia | March 17, 2011