Industry minister Banri Kaieda said Friday a third-party panel has been set up to investigate allegations that the nuclear safety agency asked utilities to dress up public symposiums on atomic energy to make communities appear supportive of atomic power plants.
The four-member panel, chaired by Takashi Oizumi, a lawyer who once headed the Osaka High Public Prosecutor’s Office, will hold its first meeting Tuesday and release an interim report by the end of this month.
“The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency must regulate nuclear power from a neutral position,” Kaieda said at a news conference. “I want (the panel) to conduct a stern investigation to win the public’s trust.”
State-sponsored symposiums on nuclear power have been held across the country to enable local leaders to consider the operations of nuclear plants in their jurisdictions.
Chubu Electric Power Co., which serves central Japan, and Shikoku Electric Power Co., which serves Shikoku, said NISA asked them to dress up the symposiums by bringing in company employees and related personnel as audience members.
The panel is tasked with looking into whether the agency and utilities were involved in arranging participants for such symposiums and the views expressed at such venues, and if so, precisely what they may have done, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.