News / Asia

    Panel: Fukushima Nuclear Disaster 'Man-Made'

    Kiyoshi Kurokawa, left, chairman of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, speaks to lawmakers before handing over its final report to Lower House Chairman Takahiro Yokomichi, July 5, 2012.
    Kiyoshi Kurokawa, left, chairman of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, speaks to lawmakers before handing over its final report to Lower House Chairman Takahiro Yokomichi, July 5, 2012.
    VOA NewsSteve Herman
    TOKYO — A parliamentary report in Japan concludes the meltdowns last year at the Fukushima nuclear power plant were clearly a man-made disaster, and that the facility was vulnerable to earthquakes.

    The six-month parliamentary investigation casts blame on both the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company for the Fukushima reactor meltdowns.

    The report says collusion between the power company and nuclear regulators led to a lack of safety measures that could have mitigated the disaster - the world's worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl meltdown in Ukraine in the former Soviet Union in 1986.

    The Japanese disaster began March 11 last year when a magnitude nine earthquake and resulting tsunami struck the country's northeastern coast.
     
    The report indicates the earthquake may have damaged critical equipment in the plant, contradicting the utility's assertion that it was the 20-meter-high tsunami - an event the power company never anticipated - which crippled the facility.

    The chairman of the investigation commission, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, professor emeritus at Tokyo University, released the 600-page report in Tokyo Thursday.

    He says his committee managed to compile the report within six short months but it is thorough and verifiable.

    Kurokawa's comments included in the report were more pointed than his remarks to reporters. He wrote the nuclear accident's “fundamental causes are to be found in the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture: our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to ‘sticking with the program’; our 'groupism'; and our insularity.”

    The report singles out for some of the blame then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan for interfering at a critical time and causing confusion in the chain of command at the crippled nuclear plant.

    The report makes seven proposals, including tougher scrutiny of power companies, and details requirements for a new nuclear regulatory organization.


    Smoke rising from Unit 3 of the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Okumamachi, Japan, March 21, 2011.Smoke rising from Unit 3 of the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Okumamachi, Japan, March 21, 2011.
    x
    Smoke rising from Unit 3 of the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Okumamachi, Japan, March 21, 2011.
    Smoke rising from Unit 3 of the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Okumamachi, Japan, March 21, 2011.
    A member of parliament from the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, Taro Kono, is expressing concern about whether the five members to be appointed to the new oversight body will truly be independent.

    “If we get the wrong guys it's going to be the same old thing," he said. "Nobody trusts the nuclear policy or administration right now and what we have to do is to restore the credibility of the nuclear regulations [and the] regulatory organization. And what the government is doing is totally destroying that from square one.”

    The government, despite public protests, is beginning to bring suspended nuclear plants back to life.

    That disappoints some lawmakers, such as Kono, who says the governing Democratic Party is beholden to the powerful labor unions representing the utility workers while many in his own party rely on donations from those tied to the nuclear industry.

    The release of the parliamentary report came just hours after the first nuclear reactor resumed supplying electricity to the public since the Fukushima meltdowns.

    That is the sound in the control room as the number three reactor at the Oi plant, owned by Kansai Electric Power, goes back online. It is expected to reach its full output of 1,180 megawatts in about four days.

    All of Japan's other 50 commercial reactors remain idled for maintenance and safety checks.

    Resource-poor Japan, prior to the Fukushima disaster, relied on atomic energy for nearly one-third of its electricity.

    On a day featuring momentous events regarding the nuclear industry in Japan, newspapers here issued rare afternoon extra editions. But they did not deal with this matter - rather the papers heralded the birth of a panda cub at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo.

    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    July 06, 2012 2:31 AM
    I'm afraid these lawmakers are not aware of importance of what this report says, "meltdown of Fukushima was man-made". Their administration has let a reacter reoperation without enough check-up for safty several days ago.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora