JAPAN | Nuclear agency’s meddling revealed again

Posted on August 2, 2011

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JAPAN | NHK | 2 August 2011

Another case of questionable conduct by Japan’s nuclear regulator has come to light. A former official of the nuclear safety agency has admitted asking a regional utility to mobilize its people for a government symposium on nuclear power 5 years ago.

One of the agency’s former section chiefs told NHK that he made the request to an executive of Shikoku Electric Power Company ahead of the symposium in Ehime Prefecture.

The former section chief said he pushed the utility to take part actively in the event by posing questions and expressing opinions. He said he wanted its participation because opponents of nuclear power had prevented constructive debate at a similar symposium the previous year.
The former section chief denied that his aim was to manipulate public opinion. Still, Shikoku Electric mobilized retired employees and people from its affiliates, providing some of them with samples of the desired questions and opinions.

The theme of the symposium was the planned use of mixed uranium-and-plutonium fuel at the utility’s nuclear plant in the prefecture. Back then, the company was waiting for local approval to start this method of power generation.

Earlier, another utility — Chubu Electric — reported that the nuclear safety agency had asked it to make sure that questions in favor of nuclear power be asked at a government symposium in 2007.

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