JAPAN | Nuclear safety agency under fire over fake questions

Posted on July 31, 2011

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JAPAN | JAPAN TODAY | 31 July 2011

The mayor of Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Saturday criticized the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency after revelations continued to emerge that several electric power companies had been asked by the agency to have local residents pose questions in favor of Japan’s nuclear projects at symposiums.

Speaking at a news conference, Mayor Shigeo Ishihara said the agency has lost the public’s confidence. “I can see why they would want to plant questions, but this is intolerbale. We need to question Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency’s checks and balances.”

Ishihara’s comments follow reports that Chubu Electric Power was asked by the nuclear agency to ensure that questions in favor of nuclear power would be asked at a 2007 government-sponsored symposium.

According to a report on NTV, the utility claimed the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency requested that it gather participants and have local residents ask prearranged questions at the forum held in Shizuoka Prefecture. The utility said it refused the request, citing difficulties
with ensuring compliance. However, according to another report on NHK, senior officials of the Hamaoka nuclear power plant sent e-mails to employees and visited affiliate companies to encourage them to comply with the request.

The scandal comes weeks after Kyushu Electric Power Co was criticized for submitting fake e-mails in support of a restart of idle nuclear reactors at a government-sponsored meeting for local residents in June. Following that revelation, the industry ministry ordered six electric power companies to conduct internal investigations of their PR activities and to report all activities aimed at winning local support for nuclear power.

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