10 Mai 2013
May 10, 2013
Etsuko Akiba, a commissioner of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), acknowledged May 9 that her nonprofit, ASCA Energy Forum, had received money from power industry entities even before her appointment as its chief in January 2010.
Akiba, 64, made the remarks during a session of the House of Councillors Environment Committee, which looked into the issue of ASCA having received large amounts of money from the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC), Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and other industry entities even after the outbreak of the nuclear crisis at TEPCO's Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Her testimony revealed that these power industry entities had extended funds to ASCA while she served as its chief and maintained close ties with her.
Akiba set up the ASCA Energy Forum in 2001 when she was a consumer advocate. She served as its head until she was appointed a JAEC commissioner in January 2010. However, she has stayed on with the NPO as an adviser.
She appeared before the upper house panel as a government witness and gave the testimony in response to questions from Kenichi Mizuno, a lawmaker of the opposition Your Party.
When asked about the more than 18 million yen ASCA, based in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, received from the 10-member FEPC, TEPCO and others after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Akiba replied that she does not know because she has not been involved in ASCA's operations after assuming the JAEC commissioner post. But she did admit that ASCA had received an unspecified amount of financial support from power industry entities while she was at the helm of the NPO.
Akiba declined to answer how much remuneration she had received as ASCA chief, although ASCA's business reports to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said she had received a salary as ASCA leader.
During the upper house committee session, she admitted that she participated in at least 19 events sponsored by ASCA and related groups and used chauffeured official cars even after she became a JAEC commissioner. Akiba said she has not resigned as an ASCA member and has participated in study sessions organized by the NPO. She said she used chauffeured vehicles to give lectures as part of public duties.
Akiba's testimony represented her first comment on ASCA's receipt of money from the power industry. Akira Omoto, 64, a former TEPCO executive, resigned as a JAEC commissioner in March for having accepted advisory fees from TEPCO even after the Fukushima disaster triggered by the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.