In 1954, a U.S. thermonuclear test at the Bikini atolls prompted the [[Japan] Meteorological Research Institute to begin nuclear research that year. Three years later, the institute began monitoring environmental radiation in the atmosphere and the oceans, which was still going on when Aoyama got the disturbing e-mail. The undertaking had already set a world record as the longest of its kind, and the institute had earned the respect of many countries for it.

The sender of the e-mail was Takashi Inoue, 47, a researcher at the institute’s Office of Planning in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture. According to Inoue, he received a phone call from the meteorological agency’s Planning Division in Tokyo at 6 p.m. on March 31. The caller told Inoue, “Effective tomorrow, there will be no more budget for radiation monitoring. Please do as you see fit at your end.”

Inoue could think of no reason why the budget was being pulled right when radiation level readings were at their highest since monitoring began. He demanded an explanation, but the caller merely repeated that the agency’s decision was irreversible.

“The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology informed the meteorological agency that a budgetary adjustment is necessary to cope with the nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The situation requires urgent radiation monitoring, for which the ministry has decided to use our radiation research budget …”

via The Prometheus Trap / Order to Suspend Radiation Monitoring – AJW by The Asahi Shimbun.