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LDP angered by media report of nominations

July 21, 2012

Leak delays N-regulator nominations / Govt shelves candidate list amid LDP ire



The government postponed Friday its submission to the Diet of a list of nominees for a nuclear regulatory commission to be established in September.

The Liberal Democratic Party was angered that the five-person list, which includes a nomination for the commission's chairman, was reported in advance by the media.

The government hopes the nominees will be accepted and is planning to submit the list to the Diet next week or later.

It wants to appoint Shunichi Tanaka, 67, an advisor for the Research Organization for Information Science and Technology, to the post of the commission's chairman.

On Friday morning, the government planned to present the list at a meeting of lawmakers representing both houses of the Diet.

But some news organizations, including The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun and NHK revealed all or some of the nominees.

The government postponed the list's submission due to LDP anger over the media reports.

A senior LDP member in the House of Councillors said: "We'll ask the government why the list was reported in advance by the media. We can't accept the government's actions in this situation."

Committees on the administration of the two houses have set a rule that if the media reports on appointments before they are approved by lawmakers, the personnel must be rejected by the Diet.

But the two houses' committees agreed that the nomination of the nuclear regulatory committee would be exempt from the rule.

The agreement was made to avoid delays in the establishment of the regulatory committee, which will be at the core of the nation's nuclear safety policy.

New Komeito Secretary General Yoshihisa Inoue said at a press conference, "Setting aside the news reports, our basic stance is that our party will make judgments on each of the nominees."

He indicated the party does not intend to ask the government to change the nominees it has selected.

The government plans to nominate Kayoko Nakamura, 62, head of a project team of Japan Radioisotope Association; Toyoshi Fuketa, 54, deputy head of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Directorate of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency; Kenzo Oshima, 69, a former Japanese ambassador to the United Nations; and Kunihiko Shimazaki, 66, head of the Coordination Committee for Earthquake Prediction.


Unnecessary opposition

By Horoshi Yumoto / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer

The nuclear regulatory commission will be in charge of important decisions such as whether to reactivate reactors in nuclear power plants.

If the LDP refuses to accept the nominee submission, it could result in the delay of the commission's launch, which would harm the nation's interests.

Members of the commission must have a high level of expertise.

But those who were board members or employees of electric power companies or other businesses related to nuclear energy, as well as people who earned 500,000 yen or more over a 12-month period from a single nuclear-related company in the past three years, are not allowed to be listed as candidates.

Despite the limited range of candidates, the government carefully selected nominees and obtained their consent.

While the LDP is entitled to question the qualification of the nominees, it has cited the media reports that named the government's selection as a possible reason to refuse the list.

The LDP may be placing too much emphasis on its pride by being unreasonably opposed to the government's nomination.

Media groups reported on the nomination in advance because the decision about the commission members is highly public.Therefore, media groups decided that the information should be made public as soon as possible.

Excessive criticism by a political party could lead to restrictions on news reports.

In 2007, both ruling and opposition parties set a rule that personnel decisions needing Diet approval would not be approved if the nomination was reported by the media in advance.

The Democratic Party of Japan and the LDP previously agreed that personnel decisions for the commission would be exempt from this rule.

The rule should be abolished as quickly as possible because it can lead to bias in deciding on personnel and may result in restrictions on news reporting.


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