Scientific Journal ‘Nature’ Voices Concerns over Fukushima Disaster; What Must We Do?


It may be hard to believe that the situation at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant is getting any better. This is a fact that is  clear to anyone.

The briefings on the situation by TEPCO are undecipherable (they are completely lacking any effort of being understood by the Japanese public as well as the international community, making statements that suggest that they think it is someone else’s problem) . And so too the information from the central government, as well as plans for the response to the crisis. With an overwhelming lack of transparency, there is no explanation as to the reasons behind the plan of action, leading to a loss of trust from the whole world as well as here at home.

Curiously, the Japanese media has also lost its courage, with less and less critical coverage, leaving the people of the nation without a voice. Even if one has information of critical importance, it is rarely divulged for fear of endangering one’s job or position. All this deception is counter-productive, and will only lead to a loss of faith from the international community.

The respected scientific journal ‘Nature’ has also lost patience with the situation, and has put forth a strong stance (Japanese version). The internet is buzzing with opinions being passed back and forth. Twitter too, has many examples of such activity.

A disaster on such a scale with dire implications on an international level as the one at Fukushima disaster would do well to pay heed to the lessons learnt through the British government’s response (1) to the outbreak of BSE.

Costly mistakes were made in the early stages, from the discovery of the first cases and the initial response, resulting in the disease spreading to humans. This was followed by  countermeasures based on the recommendations of the EU’s Scientific Steering Committee, and the struggle to regain consumer confidence in the scientific advances of the age. In the end it took more than two decades before British beef could be exported after the discovery of BSE ( it is interesting to note that here too, the Japanese government made a mess of the situation).

What we need is an independent international committee, committed to scientific principles and transparency to come up with solutions to the problem and make proposals to the government, which in turn will make decisions and execute these solutions. We need a plan of action that deals with the mid and long-term plans of the Fukushima Disaster, and we need it to be shared with the world.

Independence, transparency, public disclosure, adherence to scientific principles and an international approach are a must as a first step towards recovery of trust in this globalized day and age. It is because of these factors that the NAIIC was so highly rated and respected, earning the trust of the global community, and there is an urgent need for the public to understand this.

Visitors to my blog here, what do you think? The State Government that loses the trust of the nation will a long take time to regain it.

It’s already two-and-a-half years since the Fukushima nuclear accident.

My Support for the “Audacious Young Lady” and the Publication of The Vulnerable Evacuees



It has been thirty months since the Fukushima nuclear accident, and fourteen months have passed since the NAIIC’s report was submitted to the Diet.

How will Japan and the world go change in the future?

It has been decided that the 2020 Olympics will be held in Tokyo. This is good news.

There are people who have gone through a dramatic change in their careers after participating in work at the NAIIC. One of them is Mr. Tsuyoshi Shiina, who became a Diet member and another is Mr. Satoshi Ishibashi, who launched a project called “The National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission in Plain Language” to name a few.

Ms. Yurina Aikawa is one of them. One day she contacted us to join the work of the NAIIC. She had been working at one of the major newspapers for two years during which she participated in research on the Fukushima nuclear accident. This past August 30th, her book was published. The book is named Hinanjakusha [The Vulnerable Evacuees: What Occurred at the Elderly Care Facilities near the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant on that Day], which was written based on the research conducted by herself.

I paid tribute to her book by offering some words at the end of the book. Her compelling document simply moved me. I’d like to share excerpts of my comments with you.

First of all, the excerpt shown on the outer flap is as follows:

“A variety of cases emerged through her scrupulous interviews which connect readers directly to the scenes. The interviews illustrated the anguishes and hard decisions of many people by shedding light on the vulnerable people whose fates are out of their control. The people who support the vulnerable have experienced unfathomable distress. Her interview gave insight into each individual’s way of life on the ground. She reported the sufferings, heartfelt stories, and numerous tragedies.

What can we learn from Ms. Aikawa’s reports? Her reports are based on the interviews, which she conducted continuously on the ground. How should we deal with such a reality? This is a question that this book asks every one of us.”

About Ms. Aikawa:

After the Commission dissolved, I talked to Ms. Aikawa, who had resigned her job at a newspaper in order to join the work at the NAIIC, saying, “Thank you for all your work here. What are you going to do from now on?” Then she answered,

“I’m going to continue this research on my own because I must find more about those people and document them.” However reckless she might appear, there exist some young people who are audacious enough to make such bold decisions. We were surprised by her decision to join the NAIIC, but I was even more astonished with this decision. Then I felt a deep feeling coming over me.

Her lone battle began. However, people started to offer cooperation and support for her project. This is the book in which this audacious young lady’s research was documented … I’m delighted and deeply acknowledge all the credit the author deserves. I want to congratulate her with my personal support for this book.”

If you find her book in a bookstore, please take a look. And if you like it, please buy it. Of course, the book is also available at Amazon.

The wonderful video which brought the NAIIC report to life was created by young people on their own initiative as I have introduced it at the last column (1).

With young people who have such independent spirit and mind, doesn’t it make you sense a bit of hope for our future?

Visualizing Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission Report (NAIIC)


Thirty months or two and a half years have already passed since the Fukushima nuclear accident. How have TEPCO and the Japanese government been dealing with the aftermath of the accident? The international community which has watched them with serious concerns may have been stunned with their substandard information disclosure and communication skills. The overseas media has covered this issue with as much interest and concern as the conflict in Syria.

It has already been fourteen months since the NAIIC submitted its report to Diet as the first independent investigation commission in the constitutional history of Japan.

Raising awareness about the report to the national public and making it easy to understand was not a task assigned to the Commission. However, I’m pleased to announce that there are young people who have taken up the job.

The first project that I’d like to introduce to you is called “The Simplest Explanation of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission Report”.

The website has recently added a series of videos that illustrates the Report visually.

The series is made up of the following videos.

1. What is the NAIIC?

2. Was the nuclear accident preventable?

3. What happened inside the nuclear plant?

4. What should have been done after the accident?

5. Could the damage be contained?

6. What are the issues with nuclear energy?

Each video gives you a clear explanation on the subject in just two to three minutes.

The series is an excellent piece of work with striking illustrations of the Commission’s report just within sixteen minutes in total.

A Surprise from the New York Times


In recent days, the situation at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant has been extremely unstable. It has become widely known all over the world. In this day and age, it is not possible to keep things hidden.

The current situation at Fukushima has been reported in overseas media as a major scandal. The New York Times is no exception. On September 4th, it was front page news on the late edition (PDF), and they quoted me in the article (it can also be read in electronic version). This New York Times article was partly reported in the Japanese media.

But what surprised me was that my words were chosen to be the “Quotation of the Day” More than just pleased, I was surprised. It shows how much of an impact it has.

The following is the chosen quote:

“Water keeps building up inside the plant, and debris keeps piling up outside of it. This is all just one big shell game aimed at pushing off the problem until the future.”

The interview was conducted by Martin Fackler, the Tokyo Bureau Chief for the New York Times. He has also published a book titled, “Credibility Lost: The Crisis in Japanese Newspaper Journalism after Fukushima”(Futaba Shinsho, in Japanese), which critiques The Japanese news coverage after the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident.

The world is watching. The Fukushima accident occurred in a country that is one of the few major economies in the world, and has been evaluated highly in the areas of science and technology, engineering and manufacturing. Although the earthquake and tsunami set off the accident, it was still unexpected and shocking. What is more, it has been two and a half years since the accident but neither TEPCO nor the Japanese government has established any mid- or long-term plans.

It is vital that we gather wisdom and intellect from the world and prioritize transparency. It is very worrying and it is imperative that something must be done.

Tallberg Forum 2013


On the morning of the 12th of June, I left Narita for Stockholm, passing through Copenhagen. I had been invited to attend the opening session of the Tallberg Forum.

I was to spend the morning in Stockholm at the headquarters of Vattenfall(1), the largest public sector energy company in Sweden. There, I would be talking to the directors of the company, as well as giving a talk about the NAIIC to the employees. Of course, I happily obliged.

Afterwards, I was interviewed by the Swedish national public broadcaster, and it was aired on the news(*1). Incidentally, my interviewer had been in Japan for 3 years 20 years ago, and had been working at NHK.

Afterwards, I joined up with my friends Anders Wijkman and Sundaram Tagore(*2) and together we headed for Tallberg, reaching our destination after a 3 hour drive.

After a panel discussion in the evening, there was a reception dinner for the King of Sweden, to which I was invited. I had already had the privilege of meeting the King 2 or 3 times in Japan, and over here, he was surrounded by the delegates. I also talked with the officials escorting the King.

The dinner was attended by around 40 people, but I was lucky enough to sit next to the table shared by the founder of the Forum, Bo Eckman and the King, Carl Gustaf the 16th, and I was able to go over to their table and talk with the king. We talked about topics such as the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize and his Highness’s visit to Japan and meeting with the Emperor of Japan to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Linnaeus.

For the inaugural panel on the first day, the talk by Robert Corell on climate change was wonderful. On the second day, I was invited by Eckman to a panel discussion with two other participants to exchange ideas on what the agenda for the world should be.

The discussion revolved around how the globalizing world was influencing decisions about the places people decide to go, and what the right thing to do is, and a lot of varied opinions were voiced in the pursuit of an elusive answer. There was uncertainty all around, and the more seriously one thought, the more perilous the next step seemed, and this led to a general sense of frustration.

The location was a wonderful place, and even the sudden bursts of rain could do little to dampen the charm. A sense of living in harmony with a harsh natural surrounding and at the same time caring for it pervaded this area, speaking of the  wisdom of ages past. There was a harmonious blend of modern day convenience and the protection of nature, as exemplified by the train stations at appropriate intervals.

Last year, I wrote about my speech at Oslo, where I said that the natural environment of any country reflected the national spirit of that nation, as a sign of wisdom in practice. Maybe its only natural for human beings to feel this way, to somehow be get the feeling that one is at home when surrounged by nature.

On the last day of the conference, the 15th, I left Tallberg at noon and got onto a plane headed for London.

*1: In this interview, particular attention was paid to my comments about how ‘Groupthink’ is the critical weakness of Japan, because it led to, among other failings, a disregard for ‘obligation to dissent’. These structural deficiencies have led to the fragility of the so-called elites in Japan.
This was also a view apparently shared by the editor of the piece.

*2: My first words upon meeting him were,”are you related to that Tagore?”it turns out that he is  Rabindranath’s great-grandson. It should have been obvious, but it was only a matter of my not knowing. He is a wonderful person, famous as an artist and for his films.  Tagore the great grandfather was  Asia’s first Nobel Prize laureate, and a contemporary of Tenshin Okakura, with whom he had friendly ties. Okakura realized on going to India for the first time that all of Asia was one, and he stayed on for more than a year, later going on to forge ties between Japan and the U.S. There were many visionaries like him in this era, and they were the true elite, a breed that is sadly hard to come across today.

NAIIC National Diet Hearing: A New Step Forward?


The National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) is the first independent investigation commission appointed by the National Diet in the history of Japan’s constitutional government. It had a mandate for six months, during which we faced an uphill battle.

Now, following our first recommendation, a special committee has been established by the Lower House, and the NAIIC Commission members were called to the committee hearing on April 8 from 9:30 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. Of the ten Commissioners, nine attended, with the exception of Mr. Oshima.

In late September 2011, six months after the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, the Diet passed the Act Regarding Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, and on December 8, nine months after the accident, the Diet officially announced the appointment of the ten of us as Commissioners (in Japanese).

On July 5, 2012, the Commission submitted the final report to the Diet. Nine months have passed since then and we have finally been called to a hearing.

In this day and age, the hearing session can be viewed online (in Japanese). The transcript is also available (in Japanese).

The first time for anything takes a while to get going. The NAIIC Commission members worked incredibly hard and made tremendous efforts. It was the first time for me to work on such a project and was quite exhausting.

How will this hearing be evaluated by the public? How will this develop in the future?

Two additional press coverages appeared.


The Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety, Visits from Foreign Delegates


The “Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety” is being held this weekend December 15 to 17th in Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture, hosted by the Japanese government and co-hosted by the IAEA.

It will be at the same time as the Lower House election.

The list of participating countries is extensive, and shows that they are trying to learn from the Fukushima nuclear accident.

In October, I was notified about the conference by some knowledgeable people abroad. They asked me, “You will take part in the conference right?” but I considered the position of the Japanese government and just nodded, “Hmmm.”

A month ago, a certain Diet member had asked a government official, “Aren’t you going to ask Dr. Kurokawa to participate in the conference?” and an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited me. The official seemed to be slightly uncomfortable, but after talking for a while it became clear that the government (meaning, the administrative branch of the government) had decided (did not think about it most likely or pressured somehow?) that “there was no reason for me to participate,”there was nothing for me to contribute to the program, and they did not consider me in the list of participants. There is no need for me to force anything, so I told the visitor 'Not to worry, I will not participate).

Actually, during these past two days, delegations from three countries have visited me separately. They praised the NAIIC report and wanted to learn and discuss more. They said they were able to deepen their understanding of each other, as well have a meaningful discussion regarding Japan’s role and future challenges.

In my previous entry, I pointed out that a comparison of the response of the U.S. and U.K. to the NAIIC report with Japan’s response indicates Japan’s delay in “true globalization” and the differences in ways of thinking.

Tomorrow is election day. Please vote no matter what. There are many parties and you may be unsure of who to choose, but you must carefully assess the qualities of each candidate. Your vote will move the democratic system, although it may not change right away.

Especially the young people, starting from this election, you must change your awareness and vote. For you are the ones who will build the future.

It will take time to make the democratic system work.


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.


Visit from the United Nations Human Rights Council


Two weeks ago, Mr. Anand Grover, the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council, and his team visited Japan. They came as part of an investigation into the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident and the conditions of the damage.

They had well researched the conditions of the victims of Fukushima and the nuclear plant workers and we had an hour-long discussion on many topics. Also, they had read the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) report quite thoroughly.

The press releases by the Japanese government regarding the north eastern Japan earthquake and tsunami, and especially the governmental response to the victims of the Fukushima nuclear accident have been suppressive and the Special Rapporteur accurately pointed out both the positive aspects and the inadequacies.

It is possible to read this press statement in both Japanese and English. It is not very long, please take a look at it when you have time. The links for the sites are below.




The international community is highly aware and has been trying to learn from Japan’s response to the accident from many angles.

This is an issue that is directly connected with trust in the government.


First Anniversary of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC)


One year ago, on December 8, the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) was officially established.

Today, exactly one year since then, many from the NAIIC team reunited to spend three hours together in the afternoon. During the highly intense six months, which at times seemed to have no exit, we overcame major obstacles together and developed a camaraderie. We shared this team spirit and spent the afternoon talking about about many topics.

I presented everyone with a commemorative gift that I had prepared to express my feelings of gratitude.

As I have mentioned on this site (1), NAIIC has been evaluated highly by the world.

Then, how has the response been within Japan?

Most of the people on the NAIIC team did not know each other one year ago. To share such an experience for several months as a working professional must have been a significant experience and a source of further self-confidence for the future. I have heard many people expressing such feelings.

I remember back to my opening remarks (in Japanese) and closing words (in Japanese) of my address to the Diet one year ago on this day. That day was the seventieth anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The amazing aspect of the information age in which we live today is that anyone, including me, can access this speech online and listen to it anytime. When I reflect back, even now, I believe that my feelings regarding undertaking NAIIC are expressed straightforwardly in this speech.

During this past year, so many things have changed irrevocably in the world and in Japan.

However, what is the current situation of Fukushima? Yesterday evening, there was a considerable earthquake in north eastern Japan and although it was small, a tsunami occurred. What did you think about this?

Japan, true to form, will soon have an election again. But it is difficult to have much hope… what is the cause of this?

It is now a time when each person should think and change, as I have written in the Preface of the NAIIC report.