The scientists’ work—secret at the time and barely known to the public even today—had an enormous impact on Japan’s nuclear crisis, averting a potentially disastrous U.S. overreaction. This tale reveals significant new information about the accident's severity and affords a different perspective on events at Fukushima, which have generally been portrayed as a near Armageddon.
News reports fueled the widespread view among the general public that much of eastern Japan—including Tokyo, about 150 miles southwest of Fukushima—would be badly contaminated if the struggle to contain the radiation leaks failed. Tokyo’s airports were mobbed with fleeing foreigners. Senior commanders of U.S. forces in Japan were privately fearful about the risks to American military members and their families at the U.S. bases in the Tokyo area. High-ranking officers were arguing that radiation might well require a mass evacuation.
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