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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Manipulation, manipulation

July 9, 2012


Atomic Energy Commission held undocumented, closed-door meetings for more than a decade





The Japan Atomic Energy Commission has held closed preparatory sessions for more than 10 years prior to its open meetings every week, sometimes deliberating important matters of nuclear energy policy without keeping minutes, former commissioners and government sources said Saturday.


Prior to the regular meetings every Tuesday, the five-member commission tasked with deciding basic nuclear energy policies has held unofficial meetings every Thursday attended by officials of relevant ministries and sometimes private business operators.

The revelation, which critics say signifies that the regular meetings were meaningless, comes after the commission was found to have held so-called study meetings with promoters of nuclear power and presented them with its conference materials in advance.

It also comes after the government pledged to keep proper minutes of meetings after it faced criticism in January for not keeping minutes of 10 government meetings regarding the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

According to the former commissioners, the closed-door meetings were held even before the 2001 government reorganization when Japan Atomic Energy Commission was placed under the Cabinet Office, and discussed the agenda for coming regular meetings.

Current commission chairman Shunsuke Kondo said, "Preliminary meetings are where members share their understanding and do not fall into the category of decision-making." He said no minutes are kept of what is discussed, but said the commission started keeping records of participants and meeting agendas from this spring.

However, several former commissioners said the framework of nuclear policy and nuclear fuel cycle policy were deliberated at the Thursday meetings. And an official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said the meetings "played a role in framing ideas within the nuclear power village (the nuclear power industry) and to fill voids that opponents (of nuclear power) could take advantage of."

Yukiko Miki, administrative director of nonprofit organization Information Clearinghouse Japan, called the preparatory meetings disturbing, saying if things are prepared beforehand, "regular meetings will not be substantial."

Meanwhile, a parliamentary investigation panel into the Fukushima Daiichi plant disaster has found that Tokyo Electric Power Co. had urged its employees and those of subcontractors to attend a 2003 meeting in Fukushima Prefecture to explain nuclear safety to local residents, and how to fill in questionnaires afterward about the meeting.

"It has been common to conceal and manipulate information on risks that could be obstacles to promoting nuclear power," the panel said. TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima plant, has so far denied any manipulation but said it will look into the matter.


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