New regulatory commission to exclude those with close ties to nuclear industry

July 03, 2012

By GO YAMASHITA/ Staff Writer

Scientists tapped for key posts at Japan's new nuclear regulatory commission will be excluded if they have had close dealings with the nuclear power industry during the past three years, sources said.

"Those who have very close ties with power utilities or who may be influenced by power utilities should be kept out," nuclear policy minister Goshi Hosono said.

Guidelines on personnel appointments, drawn up by the government and due to be released July 3, state that those who have served as board members or employees of nuclear power companies during the past three years will not be allowed to serve as chairperson or commissioners. The same restriction applies if they have served with similar entities and received remuneration from such bodies.

The commission to be set up in coming months to replace the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency will be responsible for all regulations concerning safety of nuclear reactors.

It will comprise a chairperson and four commissioners, whose terms of office are five years. They are to be appointed by the prime minister following Diet approval.

A law enacted June 20 to establish the new nuclear regulatory commission says the chairperson and the commissioners should "have expertise, experience and distinguished insight concerning methods to ensure safety during the use of nuclear power."

The law includes an exception provision, which says board members and employees of power utilities, nuclear power equipment manufacturers, other nuclear power companies and related associations should not be appointed as commissioners.

The guidelines more specifically stipulate that that exception provision applies to those who have served as board members or employees of such entities "during the past three years," the sources said.

They also clearly state that anyone who has received a "certain amount" of remuneration from nuclear power companies and related associations during the past three years will also be excluded.

The sources cited a sum in the region of 500,000 yen ($6,300) per year that applies to the Pharmaceutical Affairs and Food Sanitation Council.

On being appointed, the commissioners will be required to disclose if they received donations from nuclear power companies and similar entities during the past three years, as well as the amounts.

They will also be required to disclose how many graduates of their research laboratories found jobs in the nuclear power industry during the past three years.

The government will start screening candidates on the basis of these guidelines and submit a proposal on personnel appointments for Diet approval during the current session.

It intends to inaugurate both the new nuclear regulatory commission, and a nuclear regulatory agency that will serve as the commission's secretariat, by the end of September.

According to the sources, the chairman will be picked from people who have expert knowledge on nuclear reactors, while the four commissioners will be picked from people who have expertise in seismology, radiation protection and other fields.

By GO YAMASHITA/ Staff Writer
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Nuclear policy minister Goshi Hosono bows to the floor during an Upper House plenary session where a law to establish a new nuclear regulatory commission was passed on June 20. (Satoru Semba)

Nuclear policy minister Goshi Hosono bows to the floor during an Upper House plenary session where a law to establish a new nuclear regulatory commission was passed on June 20. (Satoru Semba)

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  • Nuclear policy minister Goshi Hosono bows to the floor during an Upper House plenary session where a law to establish a new nuclear regulatory commission was passed on June 20. (Satoru Semba)

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