Japan to set up new nuclear safety agency

Last Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 22:04

Tokyo: Japan`s government has decided to set
up a new nuclear regulatory agency under the Environment
Ministry instead of the trade ministry to increase its
independence after the country`s atomic disaster, officials
said on Thursday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the Cabinet is
expected to approve the plan by Monday.

The current Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has been
widely criticised for cosy ties with the nuclear industry
under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which
promotes nuclear energy.

"We expect to make the agency an affiliate of the
Environment Agency," Edano said. "Environment and nuclear
issues have a certain affinity for each other."

Public opinion has turned against nuclear regulators and
the industry following a massive March 11 earthquake and
tsunami that triggered a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima
Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

The disasters destroyed power and cooling systems at the
plant, causing three of its reactor cores to melt and large
amounts of radiation to leak outside the complex in the
world`s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

The government has been under fire over its response to
the crisis. NISA has also faced a scandal over recent
allegations that its officials tried to secretly manipulate
discussions in favor of nuclear power at a number of town
meetings that were held before the crisis.
Three senior officials, the head of the Agency for
Natural Resources and Energy, the head of NISA and a vice
minister at the trade and industry ministry, were fired last
week in a shake-up aimed at calming the public uproar.

Under the plan, drafted by Goshi Hosono, minister in
charge of the nuclear crisis, NISA would be integrated with
the Nuclear Safety Commission, an independent panel of experts
under the Cabinet Office, to become a more independent entity
distanced from the nuclear industry and other promoters of
atomic power.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 22:04

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