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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid