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Corruption to continue in Japan’s nuclear industry?

the official who ordered the cover-up of the data is now responsible for working out safety measures at nuclear plants

Cover-up of estimated costs to dispose of radioactive waste raises serious questions, Mainichi Daily News, By Tadashi Kobayashi, Kenji Shimizu and Seiichi Ota, Mainichi Shimbun  2 Jan 2012, Revelations that officials from the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy concealed the estimated costs of disposing of spent nuclear fuel highlights the distorted logic of government officials who stick to reprocessing radioactive waste even by lying.

The cover-up is essentially similar to a case in which some high-ranking government officials hid a 2002 Russian diplomatic document in which Moscow offered to accept spent nuclear fuel from Japan, in that both helped promote the reprocessing of radioactive waste at a plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture.

The government’s panel on energy and environmental policies is under mounting pressure to hold thorough and transparent discussions on Japan’s new energy policy.

The matter is serious all the more because Masaya Yasui, who was director of the agency’s Nuclear Power Policy Planning Division when he instructed his subordinate in April 2004 to conceal the data, currently serves as counselor in charge of reform of nuclear power safety regulations. In other words, the official who ordered the cover-up of the data is now responsible for working out safety measures at nuclear plants following the accident at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

Moreover, Yasui is deeply involved in preparations to split the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency from the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and reorganize it into a new entity in April.

The ministry’s stance to allow an official who has promoted nuclear energy, even by concealing data, to play a leading role in regulating nuclear power safety should be called into question.

It surfaced in July 2004 that the government had estimated the costs of disposing of radioactive waste through Mainichi and other reports. A contradiction between the revelations and the government’s denial of such data in a Diet session only four months earlier came into a question.

Kazumasa Kusaka, then director general of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, told a House of Councillors session in March 2004 that such costs had never been estimated. He was responding to opposition Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima, who had asked the government how much it would cost to deal with radioactive waste if it was not reprocessed.

Kusaka as well as Yasui, who wrote the agency head’s answer, were subsequently reprimanded for giving an “incorrect” answer to the Diet.

As to the reason for punishing them leniently, then Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Shoichi Nakagawa explained, “Since they had not known the existence of estimated data until recently, the answer was neither a lie nor malicious.”

However, now that it has recently come to light that the data was deliberately concealed, the ministry is obliged to reinvestigate the case and reconsider punitive measures against the officials involved. )

January 5, 2012 - Posted by | Japan, secrets,lies and civil liberties

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