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Independent commission, the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC), presented its findings to the National Diet of Japan. The report concluded that the agencies and governmental departments involved were aware of the risk from both the earthquake and tsunami of March last year, making the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant a “profoundly man-made disaster”.
The report scathingly points a finger at the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), energy regulators NISA and NSC and the government body METI, cataloguing a “multitude of errors and wilful negligence that left the Fukushima plant unprepared for the events of March 11, 2011.” The commission terms this a “Made in Japan” disaster: “Its fundamental causes are to be found in the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture: our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to ‘sticking with the program’; our groupism; and our insularity.”
However, the report also notes that it is important to not lay blame on any particular organization, but “to learn from this disaster and reflect deeply on its fundamental causes, in order to ensure that it is never repeated.”
In conclusion, the report states that all the authorities concerned “failed to correctly develop the most basic safety requirements - such as assessing the probability of damage, preparing for containing collateral damage from such a disaster and developing evacuation plans for the public in the case of a serious radiation release.”
The NAAIC, formed on October 30, 2011, was the first independent commission created in the history of Japan’s constitutional government. The investigation covered more than 900 hours of hearings and interviews with 1,167 people. The team made nine site visits to nuclear power plants including Fukushima Daiichi, Fukushima Daini, Tohoku Electric Power Company Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant and The Japan Atomic Power Company Tokai Daini Power Plant. The study does not cover matters related to the future energy policies of Japan, including the promotion or abolition of nuclear power.
Notwithstanding, last week, Japan published its renewable energy road map, which curiously included the country’s plans to commission 14 nuclear plants by 2030 whilst concurrently expanding its feed-in tariff systems for renewables as well as increasing support for R & D projects and local revitalization.
This brutal report is drawn to a close with witness statements: “From the perspectives of the evacuees, ad-hoc instructions caused many people to evacuate multiple times, in some cases to areas with high radiation doses, and/or with only barest necessities. The voices and thoughts of evacuated residents who do not have other places to turn to were very clear.”