My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 4

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I share with you the 4th section of my ‘Epilogue’ of the new book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organizations Fails’ by Mr. Sakon Uda, who served Project Manager of NAIIC.

Epilogue, ‘Obligation to Dissent’: What We Citizens Should Do Now
Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chair of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC)

4. Highly acclaimed abroad

The NAIIC report has received high acclaim abroad. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest science association in the world and internationally highly respected (this organization publishes the leading weekly journal, “Science,” as one of its many activities) selected me for the “Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award” (1). Moreover, the magazine “Foreign Policy” listed me as one of the “100 Top Global Thinkers 2012” (2). Although I was given these honors, it goes without saying that I represent the entire NAIIC team and accept them on their behalf. Even now, I remember feeling especially moved regarding the reason why Foreign Policy selected me: “For daring to tell a complacent country that groupthink can kill.”

In this past year and a half, I have been invited to give many lectures, speeches and interviews abroad. I have tried my best to take on as many as possible. The whole world watched the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and the subsequent response with great concern and I believe that spreading the message and promoting greater understanding of the NAIIC report is an extremely important part of the process of reestablishing international trust in Japan.

In particular, I have been asked by numerous nuclear experts abroad to give interviews and lectures on crisis management for major accidents. The world wants to learn from this severe accident. Unfortunately, however, many overseas experts have told me that when they ask the people with responsibility in the Japanese government, bureaucracy, TEPCO, industry and academia about the fundamental causes of the accident, the responses they receive are often vague and difficult to understand. They often express to me their frustration and disappointment.

When I speak at international conferences, many government officials and industry experts react with surprise and disbelief upon hearing that NAIIC was the first independent investigation commission by a newly enacted law by the National Diet, in the history of the constitutional democratic Japan (3). In the UK, for example, various independent commissions are set up each year. Particularly in the case of the BSE crisis in the UK (4), the British government accepted and implemented the recommendations of the report by the EU independent investigative commission, which had a very high level of transparency. The UK government implemented the necessary policies and after twenty years since the BSE incident, the UK Government was able to export beef. This is an excellent example of how a country should respond after its government has lost public trust.

In the US, there are over one hundred independent investigation commissions, especially by the National Academy of Sciences, set up at the requests of the government and Congress. In response to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, a two-year commission was set up in August 2012, with plans to submit a report in June 2014.

In Oslo, Norway in the summer of 2011, a bomb explosion hit central government buildings, followed by fatal shootings two hours later (5), coordinated by the same extremist. In response to this major attack, the parliament swiftly set up an independent investigation commission. The report submitted after one year of investigations (6), severely criticized the executive government for its lack of adequate supervision and intensely pursued the prime minister and cabinet to take responsibility. In November 2012, when the Prime Minister of Norway visited Japan, he requested to have a meeting with me and we had the chance to have an hour-long discussion.

I have had many opportunities to meet with people from the US, UK and French governments and nuclear industries. When examining the fundamental causes and background behind the Fukushima accident, I believe Mr. Uda’s book provides a hint to further understanding.

References:
1. http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2012/1203kurokawa_award.shtmlhttp://kiyoshikurokawa.com/wp-content/uploads/typepad/aaasspeach.pdf (Award ceremony speech)
2. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/11/26/the_fp_100_global_thinkers?page=0,41#thinker63
3. Makoto Shirai, Acts of Parliament (2013), Shinzansha Publisher Co., Ltd.
4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bovine_spongiform_encephalopathy
5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Norway_attacks
6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gj%C3%B8rv_Report_(2012)

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→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 6 (1)
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 6 (2)
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 7
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 8

My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 3

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I share with you the 3rd section of my ‘Epilogue’ of the new book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organizations Fails’ by Mr. Sakon Uda, who served Project Manager of NAIIC.

Epilogue, ‘Obligation to Dissent’: What We Citizens Should Do Now
Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chair of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC)

3. Building the NAIIC Team

As NAIIC Commission was the first of its kind in Japan, I had many concerns with the establishment and operation of the organization. The ten Commission members, including myself, were selected by the National Diet but I had the responsibility to choose the researchers and staff who would support the work of the Commissioners. It was difficult to find people who could work full time for only six months at the National Diet, as most people had their main occupations. Furthermore, finding the right project manager for the whole operation was key.

Even if the Commissioners had their own individual opinions, this in itself would not form a report. I knew that I would need an incredibly talented project manager who would be able to direct the operation and overall project while respecting the research by the Commissioners, which would form the basis of the report. Such an individual must not only possess the necessary capabilities and experience, but also be able to instinctively understand the sense of purpose and values of NAIIC.

So I wondered whom I should ask and who would take on such a role. Several people came to mind but Mr. Uda was the only one whom I could entrust with the position. Although I had not worked with him personally, I knew of his work reforming the Japan Postal service and governmental organizations. After speaking with him on the phone for fifteen minutes or so, he accepted the position. I remember feeling very happy and thinking that with Mr. Uda on board, there was a good chance of NAIIC being successful. We met a few times afterwards, leading up to the official ceremony of my appointment as Chair on December 8th at the National Diet.

As I had hoped, Mr. Uda understood and shared my view on NAIIC without needing any explanation. This was critical to the operation of the team. This project was the first of its kind in the history of the Japanese Constitution and there were only six months to compile and submit the report as mandated by the law. In order to recruit such top project management and to gather a team of highly capable staff, you must have a network of multi-talented people.

As I had expected, many problems arose during the course of the investigation but Mr. Uda and my stance towards the Commission did not waver throughout. This is one of the reasons why NAIIC was able to achieve the result of being evaluated highly by you and especially internationally.

This fundamental position of the NAIIC team allowed the compilation of the report to follow the steps of ‘presenting only the facts’, ‘avoiding the inclusion of personal views to the extent possible’ and ‘obtaining the consensus and signatures of all Commission members’. Moreover, the NAIIC report was reviewed by an independent body of peer reviewers, in the way that academic reports are peer reviewed. This reflected our wishes for the NAIIC report as well as the writing process to be peer reviewed by not only experts in Japan but from around the world, even within the many constraints that we faced.

→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 1
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 2
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 3
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 4
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 5
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 6 (1)
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 6 (2)
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 7
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 8

My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 2

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I share with you the 2nd section of my ‘Epilogue’ of the new book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organizations Fails’ by Mr. Sakon Uda, who served Project Manager of NAIIC.

Epilogue, ‘Obligation to Dissent’: What We Citizens Should Do Now
Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chair of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC)

2. The stance we took at NAIIC

I would now like to turn to talk about the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC).

In my remarks to the National Diet upon my appointment as the Chair of the Commission(*1), I set forth my position of how I viewed NAIIC, the first independent investigation commission established in the history of the Japanese constitutional government; how I appreciated the weight of the mandate given to the Commission by the highest institution of the country, the legislative branch; and how I would operate the investigation.

Instead of speaking only to the members of parliament, government officials and TEPCO workers involved in the accident, I believed it was crucial to make my position clear to the Japanese public and to the other Commissioners in the public arena of the National Diet (as there was little time to even have proper discussions with the other Commission members beforehand). Thus, I set forth my position in the first three minutes and last two minutes of my speech when I accepted my duty as the Chair.

When receiving the official appointment, I stated the three key principles that were to guide the six-month investigation. Three key words represented the principles: the People, the Future and the World. Then, I stated this Commission is: (1) Commission of the people, by the people and for the people; (2) providing recommendations for the future from lessons learned from the past; and (3) bearing the responsibility to share the lessons with the rest of the world.

At the end of the ceremony, I gave the following remarks:

Today is December 8th, the seventieth anniversary of the Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. In August of each year, many television programs and documentaries that focus on the accounts of high government and military officials survived the Pacific War are aired throughout Japan. One phrase that often comes up in these survivors’ narratives is, “I knew what was happening and what I knew, but could not say what I had to say.” In the past couple of weeks, there have been TV documentaries on the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, which present the accounts of former executives of the nuclear power industry and the government high officials engaged in nuclear energy of Japan. When listening to their stories, I believe that many people of Japan have sensed a similarity between the narratives of those in the government of Japan and TEPCO and of those World War II survivors. This leads to the observation that in Japan, people in positions of high responsibility are repeating the same errors of those in high positions in the past and have not learned from history. I would like to contemplate and reflect on this.

*1
http://www.shugiin.go.jp/internet/itdb_kaigiroku.nsf/html/kaigiroku/025117920111208003.htm
http://www.shugiintv.go.jp/jp/index.php?ex=VL&deli_id=41488&media_type=

→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 1
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 2
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→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 4
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 5
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 6 (1)
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 6 (2)
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 7
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 8

My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 1

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I introduced in my posting of May 26th, this year, a new book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ by Mr Sakon Uda, who served Project Manager of NAIIC. In this book, I contributed a 20 pages ‘Epilogue’. With permission of the Publisher, I will share my Epilogue with you.

Epilogue, ‘Obligation to Dissent’: What We Citizens Should Do Now
Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chair of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC)

The Message of Mr. Uda’s Book

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident was unparalleled in history and was on the same scale as the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident. In the aftermath of the accident, many investigations and research reports were presented both in and outside of Japan. However, how have TEPCO and the Japanese government responded since then? The Japanese public must be wondering, what is really occurring now and what are TEPCO and the Japanese government doing about it?

Particularly, regarding the subsequent leakage of contaminated water from the power plant, many people in the Japanese public must be appalled by the lack of planning, the poor response and the lack of transparency throughout the decision making process by both TEPCO and the government. Around the world, experts in the field have been critical and major news agencies have often reported on the lack of planning and responsibility taken by TEPCO and the government.

What should we do? We must think about this. As this major accident was historically unprecedented, the difficulty in formulating a strategy is understandable. A solution will not simply arise by merely offering criticism. So then, what should we do? This is where we must bring together our knowledge and wisdom.

Throughout his career as a consultant, Mr. Uda, the author of this book, has advised on the reform of private sector companies. Moreover, starting with the privatization of the Japanese Post Service, he also has considerable experience diving into public sector organizations and pushing forward reforms.
In this book, Mr. Uda has presented the problem of being fixed in a certain mindset, which he faced in the post service reform and when leading the investigation as the Managing Director of Investigation of NAIIC. Not to be mistaken, this understanding was not derived from reductionist theories on Japan, such as “Nihonjin-ron” or “collectivism” but rather from a professional standpoint, which developed out of Mr. Uda’s extensive work in organizational reform and was informed by many examples observed throughout his consulting career.

→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 1
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 2
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 3
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 4
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 5
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 6 (1)
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 6 (2)
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 7
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 8

Stating Different Opinions, Asking for Different Opinions (‘Obligation to Dissent’)

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In what was a legislative first for Japan, the independently run NAIIC (Dec 8, 2100-July 5, 2012) submitted a report to both the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament of Japan or the National Diet. Although the report was well-received and acclaimed overseas, within Japan, it was treated as an ‘inconvenient truth’, or more dishearteningly, elicited little response.

At the same time, I have talked here about how young people are increasingly active in setting up innovative initiatives.

Recently, Sakon Uda, who had agreed to taking a position that would put him in charge of the NAIIC as its ‘project manager’, has published a new book, “Naze ‘Iron’ No Denai Soshiki wa Machigau No Ka” (Why Organizations Without Dissent Make Mistakes), (A blog post in Japanese).

I have had the opportunity to add a small commentary section of around 20 pages to this book, where I have voiced my opinion about governance and accountability.

This book does not limit itself to commentary about the NAIIC, but instead tackles questions that are commonly observed in Japanese organisational behaviour. These include questions about Groupthink and Accountability, to name a few.

It is an enlightening read and I hope all of you find the time to read this book.