Diet investigative panel: Fukushima nuclear accident was man-made

July 05, 2012

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Lambasting both Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the prime minister’s office, the Diet’s task force investigating the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant recommended an overhaul of the government’s crisis management system.

“The accident was not a natural disaster but was apparently a man-made disaster,” the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC), headed by Kiyoshi Kurokawa, said in its final report released on July 5.

The panel concluded, "The crisis management system of the prime minister’s office and the regulatory authorities did not function.”

The NAIIC also criticized TEPCO, operator of the Fukushima No. 1 plant, saying the utility has “organizational problems.”

“It cannot be denied that TEPCO could have dealt with the accident more effectively if it had been prepared to issue concrete instructions to the workers,” the report said.

The committee also rejected the assertion of Naoto Kan, who was prime minister when the accident started in March last year, and other politicians that TEPCO planned to withdraw “all of the workers” from the Fukushima plant.

TEPCO insisted that it wanted to withdraw “some of the workers.”

The NAIIC’s report said: “The prime minister’s office misunderstood. We were not able to recognize the assertion that Kan prevented a ‘total withdrawal.’”

The 600-page final report made seven proposals: Have the Diet monitor regulatory authorities; review the government’s crisis management system; enhance government measures for residents who suffered damages from the disasters; improve monitoring of electric power companies; detail the requirements of the new nuclear regulatory organization; review laws that regulate nuclear power; and make use of independent investigation committees.

The report was submitted to the heads of both chambers of the Diet on July 5. It can be read in Japanese on the NAIIC’s website (http://www.naiic.jp/).

“We plan to make an English version of the final report to show it to the world,” Kurokawa said.

The NAIIC, which consists of 10 members from the private sector, was set up in December. The committee summoned 38 people, including Kan and former TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, to the Diet as unsworn witnesses.

It also conducted more than 900 hours of interviews with 1,167 people.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Kiyoshi Kurokawa, left, head of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, submits its final report to Lower House Speaker Takahiro Yokomichi on July 5. (Satoru Semba)

Kiyoshi Kurokawa, left, head of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, submits its final report to Lower House Speaker Takahiro Yokomichi on July 5. (Satoru Semba)

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  • Kiyoshi Kurokawa, left, head of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, submits its final report to Lower House Speaker Takahiro Yokomichi on July 5. (Satoru Semba)

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