11 Juillet 2012
July 11, 2012
The government plans to launch a new regulatory commission for nuclear safety on Sept. 3, along with a nuclear regulatory agency that will act as the commission's secretariat, according to informed sources.
The government will submit to the Diet proposals on the five members of the commission, including a chairman, with the aim of obtaining approval within this month, the sources said.
While the envisaged commission will be an external organ of the Environment Ministry, it will be granted a high degree of independence from the government as defined in Article 3 of the National Government Organization Law.
The new commission will compile new safety standards for nuclear power plants, taking over this role from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry.
It will also oversee the reactivation of nuclear reactors other than the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture. The No. 3 reactor resumed full operations earlier this week and the No. 4 reactor will resume operations later this month.
The government originally planned to inaugurate the new commission on April 1. However, there was a delay because laws relevant to the new commission only passed the Diet in June due to difficulties in negotiations between the ruling and opposition parties.
To secure a high degree of neutrality within the nuclear safety administration, the government has made conditions for the selection of its members. For example, executives or employees at utilities and other firms involved in the nuclear industry in the last three years before the commission's establishment cannot become a member.
The government is now selecting candidates for the commission. If the selection process or the passage of bills in the Diet run into problems, the commission's launch will likely face further delays.