25 Mai 2012
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Nuclear disaster minister Goshi Hosono on Friday criticized a government panel on nuclear fuel cycle policy for acting in a way that could be construed as favoring the nuclear industry.
He was referring to a study meeting convened by the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, during which the panel showed a draft report on its assessment of nuclear fuel cycle policy options only to nuclear power promoters, such as utilities, before disclosing it to the public.
"It is a problem that documents were distributed to (electricity) companies in advance. Such a practice must be changed," Hosono told a press conference.
But he said that the commission needs to hear the opinions of companies and other entities involved in nuclear fuel cycle matters to compile the policy, adding that contact between the panel members and the utilities was not in itself a problem.
Noting that the draft report was scrutinized in a public setting, Hosono also denied that the panel's decision was influenced by the industry.
The study meeting was attended only by promoters of nuclear power, including the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan and Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., which operates a spent fuel reprocessing plant in the village of Rokkasho in Aomori Prefecture.
Some of the wording of the draft report was revised in favor of nuclear power promoters after the meeting.
Hosono told the press conference that he also wants to review the organization of the commission's secretariat, which includes people dispatched from utilities.
"It is not desirable to arouse the public's suspicions. I am considering having them return to their companies when the timing is right," he said.