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

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid