The Significance of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC), the National Diet or Legislative Branch, and the Election


The National Diet is the legislative branch in Japan and is considered the “highest organ of state power.” But do you really feel this way?

There has recently been some sharp comments regarding NAIIC and the function of the Diet.

It is the article by Nikkei Business Online, “How to heighten the abilities of the Diet members and incorporate the private sector’s wisdom in policies? The appalling reality of the activities of the ‘highest organ of state power.’” (December 14, 2012) (in Japanese).

The Diet is the legislative branch of the three branches of power, which form the foundation of democratic system. However, it is not functioning the way it should be. Whether it will work or not depends on what you demand of the politicians you choose in the election. It will take a long time, but it will determine the future, especially for young people. 

Particularly for young people, from this election onwards, you must change your awareness and vote in elections. From now on, you will build the future of Japan.

It will take time to make the democratic institutions work.

Open your eyes, carefully assess the qualities of the candidates according to your own judgment, and vote.

The first step is to vote in the election.

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.


High Sales of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) report, and will the Democratic System in Japan Move Forward?


I was pleased upon reading a recent article that the NAIIC report is selling well. This achievement is due to the efforts of the NAIIC team.

How would you evaluate the report? The response abroad has been an unbelievably high assessment (1) of the report.

During election times and also on the everyday level, please question the members of the Diet, who were chosen by the Japanese public, that is each of YOU, whether they are making efforts to implement the report’s recommendations.

When this practice sinks in and becomes established between the public and the Diet members, it will push the democratic systems and the legislative branch to work better.

Even if it is gradual, your future and Japan will change through the process of elections.

Elections are an important way for each individual citizen to be involved in national politics.


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.


Won’t you join the St. Gallen Symposium?


There is a conference hosted by students at the University of St. Gallen in the beautiful town of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

It is an excellent symposium in which many of the top people in the political and business world come together. I have attended the conference for some years (1, 2) (Japanese link only).

Next year, it will be held in the beginning of May. In previous years, it used to invite only undergraduate university students but starting from three years ago, it decided to focus on inviting graduate students, post-docs and young leaders under the age of thirty.

Won’t you please join? Regarding the application procedure and requirements, please see the St. Gallen Symposium website (1).

It is a wonderful opportunity and I also plan to attend next year.

See you in St. Gallen!


Late November, the Daily Events


Everyone who comes to read my column, thank you always for your support.

On a different note, in the last few weeks I had several opportunities to spend time with Ms. Yoko Ishikura. Each time we meet she would quickly report via her blog or twitter, but I am very late at doing this. Almost a month late.

So I shall inform you of the latest events in which I participated during this time.

On November 15, I returned home from Dubai. This is reported two weeks late in this blog. Since then I have been very busy from morning to night almost every day. Below are some of the main activities.

On the 16th (Fri), the board meeting of Impact Japan, the GEW (1) came to an end and I took part in “Venturing Overseas” (it was quite a fun session, a gathering only in the evening for about 3 hours).

17th (Sat): Once again, lots of business meetings and in the evening I departed to Singapore.

18th (Sun) to 20th (Tue): In Singapore I met various people and I visited Nanyan Technological University. It certainly was a very lively atmosphere, including the campus. The three day visit was quite a pleasure. I will write about it some other time.

21st (Wed): In the early morning I returned to Narita. From noon was the interview with BBC, and in the afternoon I attended the board of directors meeting of Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo (One time I was there as a ‘visiting professor’). The main subject of the meeting was the selection of the new director. From evening I had a session with Mr. Joi Ito from MIT Media Lab and the youth at FabCafe (Back in July, right after I submitted the report of NAIIC, I conversed here with Mr. Ito Joi, although I never reported this…). From there I went to the Swiss Embassy and attended the joint reception of WEF’s Global Shapers Community and St. Gallen Symposium (1) and I also gave a greeting.

On the 22nd (Thurs), I participated in ‘Japan Gender Parity Task Force’ organized by the WEF. 

I’ve been reporting this as a topic to focus on, and it is one of the biggest challenges Japan is facing. According to this year’s Gender Parity Report by the WEF, out of over 130 countries in the world, Japan ranks 102nd. A terrible result. How could this be? Please think it over. Individual action is important for the future.

Later I was visited by Mr. Grover from UN Human Rights and we debated specifically on the government responses to the victims and workers in Fukushima based on the report by NAIIC. He had done thorough research of the site and he asked a lot of tough questions. Mr. Grover’s report should be published in the near future. Apparently there was also a press conference.

After that, there was a meeting of Science Council of Japan concerning the standpoint of Science Council of Asia, and in the evening I hastened to the celebration party of former SONY Chairman Mr. Idei’s 75th birthday and then to a different dinner.

23rd (Fri) was a day off. After a long time, for the second time this year, I went golfing with my friends. It was slightly raining but by the afternoon the rain had stopped. Since there was no cart in the course, it was the first time in a while that we walked the entire course. Next day for some reason my ankles were sore.

25th (Sun), I went to the GAS reunion organized by Dr. Ishikura. I also attended the after party.

26th (Mon), In the morning was the board of directors meeting of Teach For Japan(in Japanese). Mr. Yusuke Matsuda is putting a lot of effort into it, but there is still a long way to go. I urge for everyone’s help, support and participation. Also there was an interview by the Tokyo American Club, a consultation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in the afternoon there was a visit by the Fukushima accident research committee of the National Academy of Sciences that was initiated by the US Congress and for the first 90 minutes I gave a report of NAIIC followed by Q & A.

I will also report this on a difference occasion, but from this visit alone, a lot of innovative ideas for Japan were clearly presented.

Now slightly up-to-date, but there’s still a lot more.


Foreign Policy: 100 Top Global Thinkers


Foreign Policy is a monthly journal on foreign policies that is widely read by experts in the field. There is also a magazine published once every month and read by a similar audience called Foreign Affairs. Both are publications which I enjoy reading.

Starting four years ago, Foreign Policy has chosen its "100 Top Global Thinkers" every year, announcing their list in December.

Amazingly, for 2012, I was chosen as one of the “100 Top Global Thinkers 2012” for my role as Chair of the Fukushima Nuclear Independent Investigation Commission by the National Diet of Japan. Some of the people chosen are in pairs, so it is not exactly one hundred people. There were many politicians, as they have a large influence on ideology. At the top of the list this year are Aung San Suu Kyi and Thein Sein of Myanmar as a pair. Also, another Japanese on the list is Haruki Murakami.

Last year’s top list for 2011 shows many people related to the Arab Spring. Among Japanese, there were Ms. Mizuho Fukushima and her husband. Also, there was Dr. Joi Ito, who was appointed to become the director of the MIT Media Lab, and Ms. Mari Kuraishi of Global Giving.

How was it in 2010? There were probably no Japanese people on the list. 

How about 2009? It is fun to search in this way. Please let me know if you find any.

Regarding the editorial quality, they are real pros, as the descriptions of each person on the list is very good.

The top two people of this year were awarded:

“For showing that change can happen anywhere, even in one of the world’s most repressive states.”

Mr. Murakami:

“For his vast imagination of a globalized world.”

And for me:

“For daring to tell a complacent country that groupthink can kill.”

NAIIC has been evaluated positively abroad, but within Japan it has not been the case… I wonder why.


To Dubai: Global Agenda Council of World Economic Forum




One night after returning from Taipei, I went back to Narita. This time I departed for Dubai.

The airplane I boarded at Narita was the same A380 aircraft that I rode the other day when I returned from Dubai, in "Taking a shower 12,000 meters up in the sky".

This time I flew in business class. Both business and first class were fully booked. Many of the people on board, like myself, are participating in the Global Agenda Council (GAC) of the World Economic Forum (WEF). There were many who I know well, including Dr Yoko Ishikura.

We arrived in the early morning and checked in Jumeira Al Qasr. This time, the WEF-GAC seems to have increased the number of participants by around 20 percent. With over 80 Councils, there are more than before and many new innovations were put into place to ensure everything was running smoothly. This increase signifies the growing number of issues which the world is facing.

There are separate Councils for around ten countries, one of which is Japan. I am chair of the Japan Council and the people on this council are mostly Japanese. Several meetings have already been held in Tokyo, so the issues on the table were relatively hashed out even before we started. However, in recent years, there seems to be few positive messages about Japan to communicate and consequently there were few visitors. Nevertheless, it is my role to greet the people who stop by, and therefore I spent much of my time at the Japan Council. Sadly, there weren’t many people who visited. It seems that the attention given to Japan and the expectations for the country are lacking and lukewarm.

However, the nuclear accident at Fukushima is a different story. Regarding the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC), we received many questions, mostly on the individual level.

In these past two or three years, I have talked often with the chairs of the China Council and the Korea Council but as both councils had new chairs this time, it was a very important moment and we discussed and shared many things. Both were quite frank and highly aware of the need for greater exchange on multiple levels. We were able to have many fruitful discussions.

Just as I was thinking that it is a time of change for leaders in both China and South Korea, the news broke that the Japanese Lower House will be dissolved. It is quite a time.

As I was talking with the South Korean chair, Dr Guen Lee, it became clear that his father is someone whom I know well. Dr Guen Lee is the son of Professor Lee (Ho-Wang), the former chairman of the Korean Academy of Sciences (KAS). I have a photograph together with the father on this blog. It was meeting Professor Lee that brought me to Professor Ju and has fostered the continuing, inspiring advances in Japanese and Korean medical history (1, 2, 3) .

At the top is a photograph taken with Dr Guen Lee at the banquet on the 26th floor of the famous Burj Al Arab.

When I returned to Japan, I received an email from Dr Lee saying that his father was delighted. The coincidences that can occur in the network of people is a fascinating thing.


My Perspective on the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC): Making the Democratic System Work


I have given my views on the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) numerous times on this blog and in many other media.

If Japan does not learn from the lessons of Fukushima nor change the many systematic problems of Japanese society, I believe that it is inevitable for this country to sink. My views on this can be found in the article, “Japan will Sink if it Does not Change Now” (English translation) which was run on October 11 in the Sankei Shinbun newspaper.

My opinion is also in the recent article “Self-Approved Personnel and the Return of Rule by the Nuclear Village” (English translation) which was run in the Tokyo Shinbun newspaper (and the Chunichi Shinbun) on November 8.

Post-Fukushima, it is difficult to tell what will be the future of Japan’s accident response, the direction of the energy policy and nuclear power, the new nuclear power regulatory committee, the processing of spent fuel rods, and other such discussions and policies regarding nuclear power.

However, it is clear that adequate time must be given to discuss these issues, and that the whole debate has become narrowed into the two camps of “denuclearization” and “embracing nuclear power.”

Further, it seems that the nuclear power issues are being dealt with in a cloud of opaqueness and ambiguity. As usual, the ideas are short sighted and there is low transparency.

What are your views on this matter?

The main message of our NAIIC report is that regarding these nuclear issues, the Diet, which is the legislative branch, must keep the executive branch in check.

The separation of power into the three branches is the foundation of a democratic system. Yet, in Japan, the ministries of the executive branch both make and implement policies. There is something wrong here. The functions of governance are not working.

Recently, courts have ruled that the malapportionment of electorates when the ratio of the most populous to least populous district is 1:5, is unconstitutional. Yet, lawmakers have not done anything in response. Both the public and the legislative body had accepted the ratio of 1:3 and 1:4. The judiciary has been weak and the legislative body has not dealt with it in a responsible manner. Please think about why this is so.

My hope is that you would consider my comments and take action to push lawmakers, who you have elected into office, to implement the recommendations by NAIIC.

Such awareness and behavior is one of the key fundamentals necessary to make Japan’s democratic system work (in Japanese).

Meeting the Prime Ministers of Malaysia and Norway in two Consecutive Days


The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mohd Najib Abdul Razak(1) set up a ‘Global Advisory Board of Science and Innovation’ and I was also invited as a committee member.

This time the event took place in Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru from 1st to 3rd of November. I departed Narita in the morning of October 31st. From Kuala Lumpur Airport it took roughly an hour and a half to arrive to the hotel, and in the evening I attended the reception.

On the following day, November 1st, I had a conference at the Prime Minister’s official residence in Kuala Lumpur. Other than the Prime Minister, several cabinet ministers had attended, and updates were given on issues including food security, nutrition and environment. We exchanged various ideas and engaged in debates concerning reflection on policy, and instructions were given based on the discussion. Part of the conference focused especially on the site visit to ‘Iskandar; Malaysia Smart City Framework’ centralizing in Johor Bahr. Unfortunately I had to excuse myself from the site visit on the second and third day, and after day1, I left Kuala Lumpur and got back to Narita on the 2nd, early in the morning.

After returning home and taking a short break, I met Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg(1) at noon, and we had a meal together. I was the only representative from Japan and we exchanged opinions concerning various risks and government responses based on our reports, which included the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission's (NAIIC) report on Fukushima nuclear power plants and the report by Norway’s independent committee on the mass shooting in Norway from last summer.

NAIIC’s report on Fukushima’s nuclear power plants seems to be widely read in  the world and I am delighted that there are many people who are interested in exchanging opinions on this matter, including those who hold important posts in the government.

Prime Minister Stoltenberg also made suggestions regarding exchange of opinions on ‘Global Health.’ In this particular field, Norway is known for showing great interest in global health and support for organizations such as GAVI(1) and the Prime Minister is also very keen on promoting such program. We spoke that HGPI which I am part of, recently organized a conference in collaboration with GAVI, and the mechanisms of financing global health programs as I previously discussed in early September at the Kavli Science Forum in Oslo. There, the Prime Minister emphasized the mission of Norway.

Time went by very quickly and afterwards we had interviews from Norway’s TV station and Kyodo news.

In the evening I was invited to the reception of Prime Minister Stoltenberg. Reconstruction Minister Hirano also attended the event, together with number of parties concerned and we all enjoyed seafood dishes such as salmon of Norway.

Meeting two different Prime Ministers in two consecutive days was an experience I could not have imagined.