In a parallel discussion within the Canadian Society of Senior Engineers (CSSE), Dan Meneley of the Greater Ottawa Chapter, wrote in CSSE's October 2012 News Letter:
"Radiation protection law in Japan (and largely around the world) is based on nearly century-old data that have been discarded and replaced by more accurate knowledge. Unfortunately, the updated facts have not been applied to bring laws up to date. This, plus widespread fear of ionizing radiation, has led to a situation in which the laws designed to protect citizens sometimes put them at unnecessary risk."
"Putting oneself in the decision chair in Tokyo, I myself would have been inclined to evacuate ASAP and then work out the details. My options would have been dictated to a large extent by Japanese law. So, the term 'unnecessary evacuations' is only partly correct. YES - from the scientific point of view, almost all of the evacuations were unnecessary. From the point of view of common sense, it made no sense at all to try to prevent a few deaths in the midst of the [tsunami] holocaust-by-drowning on that coast of Japan at the time. But NO - these evacuations were mandated by the existence of a long-standing law based on fallacious reasoning, and not the only such law in existence, I suspect.
Undoing a bad law requires a good deal of time, patience and understanding. The scientists are saying that the law is wrong; perhaps over the next 50 years or so, essentially all humans still living will agree on this point. But the official who ordered the evacuations was not in a position to save those thousand or more lost lives, on that particular day.
[But] surely one must try to set things right? I've been trying, in my amateur way, to get this done for about 25 years. One big problem is that scientists and engineers have only tiny voices in this multi-lawyered world.
In short: Because Japanese radiation protection law at the time was unduly strict, a large number of Japanese citizens were evacuated after the Earthquake/Tsunami event at Fukushima, and were not allowed to return to their homes in a timely manner. Japanese authorities have concluded that the lives of more than one thousand people were lost as a direct result of this erroneous law."