An expert panel set up by Osaka Prefecture and the city of Osaka is expected to call for foreigners to make up half of Japan’s new nuclear regulatory body to ensure its independence.
The panel, set up by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and his protégé Osaka Prefecture Governor Ichiro Matsui, is also expected to back a controversial suggestion made by Hashimoto in May that the restart of the No. 3 and 4 reactors of the Oi nuclear power plant operated by Kansai Electric Power Co. should only be temporary.
A source with links to the panel said its recommendations, which are expected to be released imminently, will propose the reactors close again in September after the summer peak.
The governors of Shiga and Kyoto prefectures have backed the idea of a limited restart, but Fukui Governor Issei Nishikawa and the central government oppose it.
At a meeting of the chiefs of the Union of Kansai Governments, comprising seven prefectures and two ordinance-designated major cities, in late May, Goshi Hosono, state minister in charge of the nuclear crisis, said the central government’s safety standards on nuclear plants were provisional.
The source said the panel’s statement seizes on that comment, interpreting it as an admission that the standards are defective. It calls for the reactivation period to be limited as long as the standards are provisional and do not guarantee safety.
The Diet is expected to pass a bill to create a new nuclear regulatory committee during the current session, and the panel argues that appointing foreigners to about half of the posts of committee members and executives of the new regulatory body would ensure its independence from Japan’s nuclear lobby.
Other recommendations among about seven main points in the statement are expected to include a call for the release of projections of radioactive substance diffusion in the event of an accident at the Oi plant, and an evacuation system for residents living within 100 kilometers of the plant.
After initially opposing the restart at Oi being pushed by the central government and the power industry, Hashimoto now accepts the restart but wants concessions on the way it is implemented.
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