Interview with Dr. Kurokawa, former chair of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (Tokyo-shinbun 2012/11/8)

Why is the ‘Nuclear Village’ being revived? According to Dr. Kurokawa, professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies and the former chair of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC), “The biggest issue is that due to weak Legislative branch of the Government, the Administrative branch of the Government is not being kept in check.”

“Although it is the job of the Legislative branch of the government to develop policies, the bureaucracy is still doing this. Meanwhile, the Administrative branch by the bureaucracies will not acknowledge that it has made mistakes. In these circumstances, there is no way that policies will change by Ministrial silos, even after the Fukushima accident.”

Dr. Kurokawa takes the view that “when the government, TEPCO, scholars, and the mainstream media colluded and declared that the nuclear plant did not undergo a meltdown, it effectively signalled the “meltdown” of all authority. A country that was supposed to be an economically and technologically advanced was seen as incredibly irresponsible and our nation lost the world’s trust.”

How can this trust be regained? Dr. Kurokawa’s answer is the “strengthening of the functions of the legislative branch,” which specifically means the establishment of independent committees like NAIIC and discussion of important policies by such committees. He explains, “NAIIC is the first case of the legislative branch functioning successfully. Because it was independent from the government and electric power companies, it was able to maintain credibility. When making important decisions, such as how to deal with the problem of spent fuel, such a commission should be established as necessary.”

In its report, NAIIC presented seven recommendations to the National Diet. Regarding the establishment of a new regulatory agency, the report recommends, “the Diet should set up a committee through which the agency will be monitored” and “the agency must have a high level of independence and strong sense of responsibility regarding its duty.” However, Dr. Kurokawa comments, “I can’t say that is taking place right now.”

“The implementations of the recommendations of this Commission will be the first step in making true democracy work in this country. In the next general election, the people must confront candidates as to whether they have the intention of implementing the recommendations.”