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More official warnings

September 1,  2012


Minister gives verbal warnings to atomic energy panel chiefs over secret meetings



Nuclear disaster minister Goshi Hosono gave verbal warnings to the heads of the Cabinet Office's Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) on Aug. 30 for holding secret pro-nuclear meetings.

A total of 23 pro-nuclear meetings that took place between November last year and April this year under the guise of study sessions were "inappropriate from the standpoint of neutrality, transparency and fairness," Hosono told the pair.

Shunsuke Kondo, chairman of the JAEC, said he will return one month's salary, some 1,055,000 yen, while Vice Chairman Tatsujiro Suzuki will give back 465,500 yen, or half of his monthly salary, to take responsibility for their actions in connection with a review of the nation's nuclear fuel cycle policy.

But the JAEC did not revise a policy decision statement it submitted to the government in June, insisting that the secret meetings did not affect the outcome of deliberations on a new nuclear power policy.

The JAEC held the 23 closed-door study sessions by inviting only pro-nuclear people, including representatives of the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, and kept them separate from open meetings of a subcommittee on the future of the nuclear fuel cycle. In its policy decision statement, the JAEC said it will be appropriate to pursue a combination of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel and burying it if the government is to set a ratio of nuclear power at 15 percent in 2030.

An investigative team of the Cabinet Office pointed out Aug. 6 that the possibility that the secret meetings have influenced the JAEC's conclusion cannot be ruled out. The JAEC deliberated the issue during a special meeting on Aug. 30 but decided not to change the policy decision statement.

But in order to maintain the transparency and fairness of its policy decision process, the JAEC says it will keep a memo outlining the content of each meeting to be attended by the chairman and at least two other commission members and will not ask private-sector people for comment in advance on future decision documents.

Also on Aug. 30, Cabinet Office Administrative Vice Minister Takashi Matsumoto separately gave verbal warnings to three members of the Cabinet Office's nuclear power policy office for distributing documents to pro-nuclear parties during the secret meetings before those documents were made public.


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