One-third of Nuclear Safety Commission members on committees overseeing inspections of power plants and nuclear fuel received donations from companies and organizations affiliated with the nuclear energy sector, an Asahi Shimbun study has found.
The members of the NSC's examination committees were in their positions when the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant started on March 11.
The study found that two of five NSC commissioners and 22 of 84 NSC members received a total of about 85 million yen ($1.1 million) in such donations over a five-year period until fiscal 2010.
Haruki Madarame, the NSC chairman, was among those who received donations. However, he said the money did not affect any of the decisions he made related to nuclear safety.
At the same time, he acknowledged a need to disclose all such donations to the public to determine the propriety of such donations.
The other NSC commissioner who received donations was Seiji Shiroya. He also said the donations did not change what he said during inspections.
Eleven individuals received donations from nuclear plant manufacturers as well as from electric power companies and nuclear fuel manufacturing companies that are the subjects of safety inspections, the study found.
Although the individuals are not required to report on how they used the money, many told The Asahi Shimbun that the money covered travel expenses and work-related equipment and supplies.
The donations were uncovered through information disclosure requests and direct questioning of the universities where the individuals either graduated from or work at. In addition, research institutions affiliated with the NSC members were also interviewed.
The companies and industrial organizations made the donations to universities on condition the money be used for research and directed at specific professors.
Twenty of the examination committee members received at least a total of 60 million yen in donations even after they assumed their posts at the NSC, according to the study.
Madarame became NSC chairman in April 2010. Between 2006 and 2009, when he was a professor at the University of Tokyo, he received 4 million yen in donations from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.
Between 2007 and 2009, Shiroya served as an examination committee member while also working as a professor at Kyoto University. During that period, he received 100,000 yen from Nuclear Fuel Industries Ltd., which comes under inspection by the NSC. He also received 3.1 million yen from a regional branch of Japan Atomic Industrial Forum Inc.
(This article was written by Satoshi Otani and Yusuke Nikaido.)
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