The government’s declaration of a nuclear emergency on March 11, 2011, reached only 16.5 percent of residents in Fukushima Prefecture by the following day, according to a Cabinet Office survey.
A key reason for this seems to have been that the communication structure in coastal areas was wiped out by the towering tsunami generated by the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake that led to the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The government directive was issued about four hours after the earthquake struck.
The survey findings on 19,535 evacuees from 22 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture underscore the difficulties in promptly notifying residents in such an emergency situation, which is essential for ensuring that all residents are evacuated smoothly.
The survey, the largest government-sponsored study on people evacuated in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, was undertaken between February and May 2014.
The Cabinet Office said it was done in line with a law to use such data for mapping out extensive evacuation plans for nuclear accidents. It sent questionnaires to 59,378 people, and 19,535, or 32.9 percent of them, responded.
So why should the current evacuation plans be credible?