(Update: First installment is here. I’m still not sure what to make of this article, or the first installment. The headline seems to be a direct and unequivocal criticism of TEPCO management, yet the details revealed in the article do not add up to clear guilt at all. If anything, the slow response was almost inevitable given the physical conditions at the time. The only “flaw” I can see, as revealed in the article, is the endemic Japanese one of decision-making: underlings are completely unable, either by training, experience, or by company policy, to make decisions on their own. This usually works OK, but its weaknesses become clear in an emergency.

Is this series a way for the U.S. armed forces and/or government to criticize Kan and his administation indirectly?  It seems to be criticizing the Japanese authorities from Western point of view. Such views typically do not take into account the (different) Japanese way of doing things: of making decisions, of taking executive action. Yet this article is published in the English-language ediction of a Japanese newspaper, presumably written by Japanese (or at least with their input and editorial supervision); in other words, written by people who should know better, who are capable (or should be) of seeing both cultural sides. I don’t get it.)

This is the second installment in a series focusing on delays in implementing emergency steps by the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. to deal with the unprecedented nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

It took TEPCO about 15 hours to vent steam from the nuclear reactor vessel at the Fukushima facility’s No. 1 reactor, despite having recognized the need to do so by the evening of March 11….

Venting a reactor heightens the risk of radioactive contamination. This decision could place enormous social responsibility on the company and also make it liable for substantial damages. And injecting water into a reactor core essentially destroys it. One reactor costs about 100 billion yen to replace.

via Absent TEPCO execs slowed crucial action : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri).

Here is another article on the subject. Parts of this leave me baffled: is it implying that TEPCO’s reasons for not opening the vents sooner were excuses, not the real reasons? If TEPCO cannot open the vents because  of lack of power, how does getting angry or invoking the law solve the problem? This article, like the other two, seems to leave out (or leave unsaid) as much as it includes.

At 1:30 a.m. on March 12, Kan, Kaieda and Madarame gathered at the crisis management center in the basement of the Prime Minister’s Office.

The three urged TEPCO officials to vent the steam as soon as possible. But TEPCO officials said there was no way of opening the valves because there was no power supply.

Exasperated, Kaieda called the utility’s head office in Tokyo and the accident headquarters at the plant every hour, pressuring them to open the valves immediately.

TEPCO workers tried to open the valves by manually overriding the automatic system, but struggled to make progress because they had to work in darkness.

At dawn, pressure inside the No. 1 reactor was more than twice the designed maximum.

Eventually, at 6:50 a.m., the government ordered the utility to open the valves under the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law.

When Kan visited the accident site shortly after 7 a.m. and found TEPCO had not opened the valves yet, he reprimanded company officials. The officials replied they would like to have another hour to make a decision on what to do.

Kan blew his stack.

“Now’s not the time to make such lackadaisical comments!” the prime minister told the TEPCO officials.

Yet even still, the utility spent three more hours discussing the matter before finally opening the valves at 10:17 a.m.

Five hours after that, a hydrogen explosion occurred at the No. 1 reactor, blowing apart its outer building.

(Apr. 12, 2011)