August 9(Tuesday)

Replacing both people and structures to ensure no backsliding


On the 6th and today (the 9th), I visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombings.  In each of these cities I had the opportunity to listen to atomic bomb survivors and those serving as Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons, whom the government began commissioning last year.  (I will be writing about that subject on a separate occasion.)  At these sessions, a number of people conveyed their worries about the TEPCO's Fukushima nuclear power plant accident and their fervent wishes that Japan move away from being a society that relies on nuclear power, leaving a great impression on me.


In the addresses I delivered at the Peace Memorial Ceremonies, I myself asserted once more the objective of becoming 'a society that is not dependent on nuclear power,' which I first laid out at a press conference on July 13.  However, I was not simply repeating what I said earlier.  Compared with July 13, currently the practical matters that will constitute the backing to that statement are moving forward steadily.  It is just now that the 'reforms to administrative structures' designed to further this objective have started up in tangible form.


Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Banri Kaieda and Minister for the Restoration from and Prevention of Nuclear Accident Goshi Hosono, have been tenaciously engaged in tandem in efforts towards fundamentally breaking away from the system in place until now, like the two axles of a car.  First of all, Minister Kaieda, having intended to realize complete change in public sentiment with regard to nuclear power-related matters under the auspices of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), announced last week that he would be replacing the current administrative vice-minister, the Director-General of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) and the Director-General of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) simultaneously.  I want the ministers to move forward proactively taking this attitude in order to regain the trust of the public.


Meanwhile, last weekend, Minister Hosono compiled a draft proposal for reorganization, targeting at the modalities of a new structure related to the regulation of nuclear safety.  The matter of affiliating the new structure with the Cabinet Office or the Ministry of the Environment still remains, but the key point is that through this, the sections of NISA regulating nuclear safety will finally be separated off from METI.  The structure in which 'those promoting and regulating nuclear power are both parts of the same entity,' which I have considered a problem for quite some time, will thereby be resolved.


What must be given the highest priority at all times is 'the safety of the people.'  However, it has also long been said that the nuclear and electrical power administration in place until now is a "nuclear village," in which it is possible for a subset of entrenched interests and corporate interests to take precedence at times.  By replacing both the content (the people) and the instrument (the structure), we will not permit any slide backwards.

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