The government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apparently barred the owners of the Fukushima nuclear power plant from telling the public that reactors cores had gone into meltdown.
Fear of international embarrassment trumped informing the public that a critical situation had grown truly dangerous in the wake of the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tidal wave that had precipitated the crisis at the coastal reactor facility.
From the Japan Times:
The president of Tokyo Electric Power Co. during the Fukushima nuclear crisis told employees not to publicly use the term “meltdown,” apparently in response to government pressure, a third party report released Thursday said.
The report, compiled by three lawyers, said it is highly likely the government at the time pressured Masataka Shimizu, then Tepco’s president when the monstrous earthquake and tsunami disabled the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on March 11, 2011, about the utility’s disclosures in the early stages of the crisis.
The report said someone in the government, then headed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan of the Democratic Party of Japan, was unhappy Tepco had revealed a photo of the blown-up building for reactor No. 1 on March 12 without telling the government in advance.
The Prime Minister’s Office then called Shimizu the same day. After Shimizu returned to Tepco’s Tokyo headquarters, he told his fellow executives that they needed to check with the Prime Minister’s Office whenever disclosing information to the public, according to the report.
The report also said Shimizu sent a note on March 14 to Vice President Sakae Muto, who was overseeing the plant and holding a news conference, to warn him not to say meltdown.