Japan reluctant to disclose footage of power plant taken by U.S. drone

Global Hawk

The Manichai Daily news reports that the Japanese government has in its possession video footage of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant taken by a U.S. military reconnaissance drone, but has yet to release the footage to the public, sources have revealed.

The footage taken from an RQ-4 Global Hawk drone was passed on to the Japanese government with permission for public release from the U.S. Air Force. U.S. military sources said that the decision to release the footage — or not — was up to the Japanese government.

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is equipped with a high-performance camera that, according to the U.S. Air Force, takes “footage so clear that even automobile license plates are visible.” Nearly real-time footage of the internal state of the power station is said to be captured, which is likely to assist experts in analyzing the situation.

The U.S. Air Force has been flying the state-of-the-art UAV based in Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, over quake- and tsunami-ravaged areas since March 12 — a day after a massive quake and tsunami struck eastern Japan — in response to a request from the Japanese government.

Because Japanese Self-Defense Force aircraft have trouble flying over the stricken Fukushima power plant due to large amounts of radioactive materials detected in the air, the Global Hawk has been filming the area around the clock. Footage is transmitted via satellite to a U.S. Air Force base in California, and is also supplied to the Japanese government. The Japanese government, however, has yet to disclose the footage, which is being analyzed by nuclear power experts and others at the California base.