Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Second Whisper from Japan?

Once again, from the NHK news feed- the headline reads: "Review of Japan's nuclear policy suspended."  And my immediate expectation was that this major government review was being suspended because it was giving too much attention to anti-nuclear views; like those of ex-Prime Minister Kan.  The "nuclear village" still has plenty of clout; enough to pull that off, I'd bet my boots.

But- it turns out- the reasons (given to the public, anyway) - are exactly the opposite.  The head of the review is concerned that the nuclear industry has too much presence on the panel.  The story, in toto:

"Review of Japan's nuclear policy suspended

"The Japan Atomic Energy Commission has decided to suspend a review of the country's nuclear policy guidelines currently being conducted by an expert panel.

"In a meeting on Tuesday, some of the panelists expressed concerns over the selection of some of the panel, which includes members from power companies and research institutes that are promoting nuclear power.

"The experts also criticized a working group set up by the commission. The working group compiled a report on the country's nuclear recycling policy in mid-May following the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. It later came to light that the unreleased draft report was distributed in closed door sessions to people involved in the government and in the power companies who were promoting nuclear power.

"The expert panel said it is still not clear why the working group distributed the draft, and called for an investigation by a third-party. The panel strongly criticized the atomic energy commission.

"The panel plans to come up with a review of the guidelines by this summer. The commission decided to temporarily halt its review of the guidelines and exclude from the panel any persons from the nuclear industry and research institutes promoting nuclear power.

"The head of the commission, Shunsuke Kondo, said he plans to rethink the commission from scratch following the nuclear accident and try to recover public trust in the commission. The commission plans to draw up concrete proposals by the next meeting of the expert panel.
May 29, 2012 - Updated 12:01 UTC (21:01 JST)"

Wow.  Again.  In fact; that's what Kan recommended- that only a panel of entirely outside experts should be consulted; no representation from nuclear industry insiders whatsoever.

If they can pull that off- it will be a huge, huge, change in the process.

1 comment:

Alice Y. said...

I've been following this series of posts. Thanks so much for posting the updates. This is very interesting.

I suppose something happens in the selection of those who study nuclear engineering. The people who know the details are mostly those who have made the intellectual commitment that nuclear waste is acceptable, to begin with, which most others don't share. The bias inherent in the industry and those who regulate it perhaps just builds from there. It's great that Japan is leading the world in working out how to correct the bias.