The Japanese government withheld information about the full danger of last year's nuclear disaster from its own people, according to an independent report released today.
The report, compiled from interviews with more than 300 people, delivers a scathing view of how officials played down the risks of the meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant that followed a March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Compiled by scholars, lawyers and other experts, the study concludes that government oversight of nuclear plant safety had been inadequate, ignoring the tsunami risk and the need for plant design renovations and instead clinging to a "myth of safety."
"The idea of upgrading a plant was taboo," said Koichi Kitazawa, a scholar who heads the report commission.
"We were just lucky that Japan was able to avoid the worst-case scenario. But there is no guarantee this kind of luck will prevail next time."
The report criticises then-prime minister Naoto Kan for attempting to micromanage the disaster and for not releasing critical information on radiation leaks, thereby creating widespread distrust of the authorities among Japanese citizens.
Mr Kan recently acknowledged that the release of information was sometimes slow and that the information was sometimes wrong.
He blamed a lack of reliable data at the time and denied the government hid such information from the public.
It will take decades to fully decommission Fukushima Dai-ichi. Although one of the damaged reactor buildings has been repaired others remain a shambles.
Workers have used tape to mend cracks caused by freezing weather in plastic hoses on temporary equipment installed to cool the hobbled reactors.
"I have to acknowledge that they are still rather fragile," plant chief Takeshi Takahashi said of the safety measures.