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, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

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.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid