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He said: “In reactors 2 and 3, the radioactive fuel rods are still there and small amounts of [radioactive] water are leaking out of the reactor every day, despite what Tepco says.” He said the experience had turned him from a supporter of nuclear power into a convinced opponent. You have to look at the balance between the risks and the benefits,” he said.“One reactor meltdown could destroy the whole plant and, however unlikely, that is too great a risk.” Mr Kan lost the prime ministership later in 2011 amid strong criticism of his handling of the crisis.“Something on that scale, an evacuation of 50 million, it would have been like a losing a huge war.” Mr Kan admitted he was frightened and said he got “no clear information” out of Tepco, the plant’s operator.He was “very shocked” by the performance of Nobuaki Terasaka, his own government’s key nuclear safety adviser.

However, another independent inquiry said his action in ordering the “Fukushima 50” to stay at their posts was vital.Next time, we might not be so lucky.” Dramatic CCTV footage from the plant, released in 2012, showed a skeleton staff – the so-called “Fukushima 50” - struggling to read emergency manuals by torchlight and battling with contradictory, confusing instructions from their superiors at Tepco.At one stage, an appeal went out for workers to bring batteries from their cars so they could be hooked up to provide power for the crippled cooling systems.He admitted “regret” at his decision not to publish results from a computer system called Speedi, System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information, which accurately forecast the spread of radioactivity around the plant and could have saved thousands of local residents from exposure.“As a result, some areas were exposed to high levels of radiation,” he said.

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