The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) Fukushima Investigation Commission, Nagasaki University, and Elections and a Functioning Democratic System


It has been one year since the establishment of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission and five months since the report was published.

The U.S. Congress gave a mandate to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to establish an independent Fukushima accident investigation commission (the list of Commission members is here) and started their activities this past July. It is possible to see this on the website.

The third series of meetings was held in Japan and was on the progress of the inspections at Tokyo and Fukushima. As this is an independent commission by the legislative branch, the U.S. decided that the Japanese administrative branch of the Government should basically not be involved.

The first day of the meetings in Tokyo was at the National Institute for Graduate Studies (GRIPS). The three days of the meetings began with my presentation and discussions and went on to have hearings. The commission members had each read the NAIIC report closely and their evaluation of the NAIIC was very high.

It was mostly open to the public, but the questions were limited to the commission members. There was a brief report on it in the Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese).

On a different day, I gave the keynote speech at the Daiwa Capital Markets Conference “Global Agenda in Post-Fukushima.” Since over half of the audience and participants are not Japanese, it seemed that English was the language used. I introduced NAIIC as“the first independent investigation commission mandated by the Diet, the legislative branch, in the constitutional history of Japan” and began my speech.

After my speech, a member of the audience came and told me, “I worked as a civil servant at the British Treasury for ten years and afterwards at a private company. It is unbelievable that this the first independent investigation commission by the legislative branch…there are two such commissions in the UK right now…”

Compared to how the report has been assessed abroad, the Japanese response seems to be weak (in Japanese), but this may be due to the public awareness, Diet members and public servants’ lack of understanding about the functions of the democratic system (in Japanese). I also pointed this out in my blog on August 16.

On another day, I went to give a talk at Nagasaki University (in Japanese). There were many young people who participated. There was also a considerable number of high school students and they gave excellent feedback to the university organizing office.

These young people understood that the process of NAIIC is one part of strengthening the functions of the legislative branch.

This is was it means to participate in an election, although the country will not change immediately. It will take time for the democratic system to be built.

Especially for this reason, young people must think hard, participate in the election process and vote, for Japan’s future and for your future.