More Details re Response to Japan Disasters

Naoto Kan, Prime Minister, and Barack Obama, P...

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Some information from high level U.S. envoy about the initial actions for response in Japan; from the L.A. Times.  Former envoy tells of U.S. worries over Japan’s quake response.

“There was nobody in charge,” says Kevin Maher in describing the disarray that Washington saw in March as Naoto Kan’s government tried to deal with the tsunami and nuclear disaster.

Relations between the U.S. and Japan, already strained over the delayed relocation of an American military base on Okinawa, received no help this week after a retired U.S. envoy publicly criticized Tokyo’s initial response to its March nuclear crisis.

Comments by Kevin Maher, a former director of the U.S. State Department’s Japan Office, shed light on Washington’s behind-the-scenes mindset during the early days of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Maher said U.S. officials worried over the lack of leadership shown by Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s government after damage from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that led to meltdowns of several reactors at the coastal atomic plant.

At one point, Maher said the Obama administration considered a worse-case scenario of evacuating tens of thousands of U.S. citizens from the Tokyo metropolitan area.

“There was nobody in charge,” Maher said Thursday at a speech at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. “Nobody in the Japanese political system was willing to say ‘I’m going to take responsibility and make decisions.'”


2 thoughts on “More Details re Response to Japan Disasters

  1. The Who is in Charge paradigm is a false one. The real question is who can do what (meaning capability in the form of trained personnel, logistics, equipment, public information etc etc) and clearly while in the USA that is the principal function of EM in Japan no such profession exists.

    This is not something that can be done ad hoc by someone pretending to lead they must actually have done much preparation and even then motivation, desire, ability, intentions may not be enough.

    Of course in the USA we still don’t have a principal EM for crisis management and certainly the Secretary of DHS and the Administrator of FEMA don’t even have an effective chain of command role in domestic crisis management and also under the National Response Framework there is still no domestic catastrophic response system. It is not hard to overlay a Fukishima-level event on the USA!

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