Two of the four inquiries into the Fukushima disaster are selling well in bookstores ahead of national elections in which nuclear power is likely to be a polarizing policy issue.
They have been selling in quantities that would satisfy any writer: The report by the Diet's Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, a hefty 594-page tome with accompanying CD-ROM, has sold about 35,000 copies since going on sale in September priced at 1,680 yen ($20).
"That's a good result for a book with a serious theme," said a representative of the publisher, Tokuma Shoten Publishing Co.
The Diet investigation panel comprised 10 private-sector experts who studied the circumstances around the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. They reported their findings to both houses in July, declaring that the disaster had been man-made, the result of human shortcomings and miscalculations.
The book has sold particularly well among people directly affected by the disaster, said one bookshop manager in Fukushima city.
"People who evacuated to Fukushima and Koriyama cities from areas near the plant have bought the book," said the bookseller, whose store is a branch of the Iwase Shoten chain, which operates seven outlets in Fukushima Prefecture.
"The media are now covering the accident less than before, but locals believe it needs to be remembered," the manager said.
One of the report's authors said he welcomed its apparent wide reach.
"The Fukushima nuclear accident is not over yet," said Kiyoshi Kurokawa, who chaired the Diet investigation panel. "Each of us is responsible for the world—and for our children. I hope a wide range of people will read this."
Meanwhile, even higher sales have been recorded for the other report currently in print, one released in February by the Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident. Sales have approached 100,000 copies since March, when this 412-page report first appeared in print, priced at 1,575 yen.
Of the four reports, only this one is not available online.
The investigation commission, a group of private-sector experts from backgrounds including universities and the legal profession, condemned Japan's nuclear power regulatory system as obsolete in terms of current international standards.
One of its authors said the report's strong sales reflect public frustration with officials.
"I think it reflects people's anxiety and dissatisfaction with official announcements by the government," said Koichi Kitazawa, the panel's chair.
Two others have carried out inquiries: the central government and Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant operator.
Makoto Saito, a professor of economics at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, has studied three of the four reports and says there is a clear message in the strong sales.
"I think it shows that people want to know what really happened in the accident by reading the details," Saito said. "I see hope in this, in the fact that people are still reviewing the accident calmly."
(This article was written by Takashi Sugimoto and Koji Kitabayashi.)
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