News / Asia

Japan: Building Nuclear Safety Culture Will Take 'Long Time'

FILE - Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka attends a news conference in Tokyo, September 2012.FILE - Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka attends a news conference in Tokyo, September 2012.
x
FILE - Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka attends a news conference in Tokyo, September 2012.
FILE - Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka attends a news conference in Tokyo, September 2012.
Reuters
— Japan's nuclear regulator said on Thursday that elevating safety culture to international standards will “take a long time." That assessment came days before new rules take effect that aim to avoid a repeat of the Fukushima nuclear disaster that occurred in March 2011.

An earthquake and tsunami killed nearly 20,000 people and triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years when the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant was destroyed, leaking radiation into the sea and air.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority admitted that the awareness of the dangers related to working with nuclear technology had been weak prior to the disaster, and it said that it hoped new standards would force the companies to change their approach.

“The new regulations include extremely stringent requirements that the operators would not be able to endure if they don't change their culture,” authority chairman Shunichi Tanaka told reporters. “We will need a long time to change this culture, but day-to-day efforts to meet those tough standards will in the end lead to the improvement in the safety culture.”

Trying to restart

Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the Fukushima plant that had three meltdowns, Kansai Electric Power Co., and three other listed nuclear operators have said they will apply for restarts after the rules go into effect.

Tanaka declined to comment on whether he considered Tokyo Electric - still struggling to contain leaks and power cuts at its ravaged plant - fit to operate nuclear facilities. He added that whether the company will be given a green light would depend on the contents of its application.

Only two of Japan's 50 reactors are running, though the decision by the previous government to start them up last year was met with the biggest protests in decades and contributed to its defeat in polls in December.

According to an Asahi newspaper poll in June, 59 percent of respondents were opposed to the new government's plans to use nuclear power to help turn the economy around.

Expensive upgrades

Without reactors running, the utilities have been forced to turn to fossil fuels instead, especially costly liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The fall in the value of the yen means they face a fuel import bill of 3.8 trillion yen this business year - double the year before the Fukushima disaster, according to a recent government study.

Upgrades required by the Nuclear Regulation Authority in its quest to impose the world's toughest earthquake and tsunami standards will cost the industry an estimated $12 billion, according to Tom O'Sullivan, an independent energy analyst based in Tokyo.

Tanaka stressed that the new regulator had what it took to impose the new regulations. “We have large authority and powers. If the operator does not comply with our regulations, they won't be able to operate, let alone restart their reactors,” he said.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
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 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 MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
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 Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
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