Fukushima Government Response

Jeremy Guo
February 18, 2017

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2017


Fig. 1: The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant before the tsunami. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Since its inception nuclear power has been viewed by many members of the public as a mysterious and not altogether benign source of energy. This is not without cause; the first nuclear reactor was created during the Manhattan Project, from which also sprang the atomic bombs Fat Man and Little Boy. These bombs would come to be remembered for their immense destructive potential and the lingering side-effects that they induced in survivors of the original blast. More recent incidents involving nuclear power that have captured the public's attention include the Chernobyl meltdown and, more recently, the Fukushima disaster. Herein we examine the government response of the Japanese government to the meltdown at the Fukushima power plant, shown in Fig. 1.

The Fukushima Disaster

The Fukushima disaster occurred in 2011, after an earthquake and tsunami disabled the coolant plants in the nuclear reactor, causing the reactor to overheat. [1] This disaster would come to have severe ramifications on the environment and on the people living nearby. According to a Stanford study the number of deaths caused by the incident were around 130. [1] The radiation released also contaminated local water and food supplies and created a dead-zone of several hundred square kilometres that could remain dangerous to inhabit for decades to centuries. [1]

Japanese Government Response

The initial reaction by the government was to prevent any nuclear reactors that had currently ceased operations from restarting. [2] Such reactors were then required to undergo stress tests to determine if they would hold up under another natural disaster, and additional power supply units were installed. [2] Owing to the decrease in the number of functioning nuclear reactors, it was projected in 2011 that there would be nationwide power deficits. [2] In order to cope with this, blackouts were scheduled and certain industries and institutions took additional holidays to reduce peak energy use. [2]

With regards to public safety, the government also adopted several measures in the interests of public safety. On March 11 the Fukushima governor instructed the towns of Okuma and Futaba to evacuate residents who were within 2km of the disaster to other areas. [3] On March 12, the Japanese government also instructed people who were within a 20km radius of the disaster to be evacuated. [3] In order to inspect the damage in certain areas that were too dangerous for humans to enter, mobile rescue robots were used as well. [4]

© Jeremy Guo. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] J. E. Ten Hoeve and M. Z. Jacobson, "Worldwide Health Effects of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident," Energy Environ. Sci., 5, 8743 (2012).

[2] B. C. McLellan, et al., "Analysis of Japan's Post-Fukushima Energy Strategy," Energy Strat. Rev. 2, 190 (2013).

[3] K. Akahane et al., "The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident and Exposures in the Environment," The Environmentalist, 32, 136 (2012) [Environ. Syst. Decis. 32, 136 (2012)].

[4] K. Nagatani et al., "Emergency Response to the Nuclear Accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants Using Mobile Rescue Jobots." J. Field Robotics, 30, 44 (2013).