Diminishing Trust Between People and Japanese Government in Nuclear Crisis

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 15, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: It is a race against the clock. And what is worse, the clock appears to be winning tonight. A total nuclear meltdown could be happening. They are still frantically trying to prevent it. Radiation has already been leaked from damaged reactors, sparking even more fears in the region. But is the Japanese public getting the whole story?

Senior writer for Time magazine and editor-at-large for Fortune magazine Bill Powell joins us on the phone from Tokyo. Bill, is the -- are the people getting the complete story, whether through mistake or something else? Are they still getting the straight story?

BILL POWELL, TIME/FORTUNE (Via Telephone): I think there was a change in the perception between yesterday and 24 hours before that. You had cabinet -- Chief Cabinet Secretary [Yukio] Edano saying two days ago that there appeared to be very little chance of significant release of radioactive material into the atmosphere. And then less than 24 hours later, yesterday, Prime Minister [Naoto] Kan conceded in a brief nationally televised address that -- that -- that there was -- not only had radio -- radioactive material been released, but that there was significant chance that a considerable -- considerably greater amount would be released. And as we're seeing, that was accurate. I think that sort of -- that was jarring, I think, to the public.

And I think, generally speaking, I would say that there is a diminishing amount of trust among ordinary Japanese as to the information that they're getting from the government, even though Edano in particular is a constant presence on television. I mean, I think they are -- to give the government some credit, obviously, these are extraordinarily dire circumstances. And I think -- I think -- I think they're -- they're -- they're trying, but I -- but I think there is increasing skepticism. I think (INAUDIBLE) quite right.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is -- are they -- are they also, though, while they're dealing with -- obviously, it's a terrible crisis, and they're doing everything they possibly can to resolve the crisis at these reactors. Are they -- are they moving quickly to evacuate the people in the immediate areas? The ones farther out, they've said, "Seal yourself in your house." But are they moving to deal with the people in the immediate area? Are they getting -- are they doing what they can to get food, clothing and shelter to the far-away regions, where those people -- where some of them are still buried under buildings?

POWELL: I've heard mixed reports. In terms of the evacuation from the immediate area surrounding the nuclear facility at Fukushima, yes. I think those evacuations have occurred. I've heard mixed reports about the delivery of food and water to the evacuees both from the nuclear plant and more broadly, to the people in evacuation centers from the tsunami and the earthquake. Generally speaking, however, I think that is not a huge problem. I think most of the public is satisfied that the delivery of relief supplies is taking place. And my understanding -- as I said, my understanding is that in the immediate vicinity of the reactor at -- the reactors at Fukushima, that evacuation has taken place.

VAN SUSTEREN: We only have about a minute left. The Japanese are very proud people. Is that -- are they unwilling to accept, you know, great aid and assistance from other countries, whether it's technical or food, clothing and shelter, or are they -- you know, have they opened their arms, say, yes, come help us?

POWELL: Yes, no, it's interesting. I covered the '95 Kobe quake here, as well, and the difference in attitude this time is striking. This time, not only are the people quite willing to accept aid from external sources, foreign governments, but the government itself is. And that did not happen in 1995 during the Kobe quake. So I think -- I think -- generally speaking, I think -- I think both the people and the government are very appreciative of all of the offers and all the assistance that is coming in from I think it's now up to 69 countries.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I know that -- I mean, every -- the whole world is watching this. Obviously, you know, everyone's very concerned for so many reasons. Bill, thank you.

POWELL: OK. Thank you, Greta.