While the “profoundly man-made disaster” at the Fukushima nuclear power plant continues unabated with independent experts continually blocked from gaining access, it has now been revealed that the six members of a Japanese government team drafting the new nuclear reactor safety standards have received tens of thousands of dollars from the nuclear industry.
According to a report put out by Japan’s Kyodo News a whopping four out of six experts on the panel drafting new safety standards have received funds from companies directly involved in the nuclear industry.
The grants, donations and compensation range from 3 million yen (around $37,290) to over 27 million yen (around $335,600) each, according to data released by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA).
While the NRA claimed that the members of the panel “have been selected in line with rules, and there should be no problem,” Kyodo News rightly points out that critics “say the members’ judgments might be swayed by the wishes of donors, exposing safety regulations to the risk of being watered down.”
Indeed it seems so painfully obvious that it is somewhat laughable to even qualify such a statement with the word “might.”
The NRA requires experts like the ones assigned to draft the new safety standards to disclose the funds they receive but they have “no rules for disqualifying them in light of such information,” according to AFP.
One of the experts, Akira Yamaguchi, a professor at Osaka University, received at least 27.14 million yen in both donations and research grants from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., a company which just happens to manufacture nuclear plant equipment, along with “other relevant entities,” according to the report.
Akio Yamamoto, a professor at Nagoya University, received 10.1 million yen, also from a builder and operator of nuclear plants, Japan Atomic Power Co., along with other companies.
Yutaka Abe, a professor at Tsukuba University, received 5 million yen from various entities including a laboratory of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the same company behind the atrocious Fukushima disaster.
Tomoyuki Sugiyama, a Japan Atomic Energy Agency researcher, received 3 million yen from Nuclear Fuel Industries, according to the report.
TEPCO, in what appears to be an attempt to maintain at least some shred of legitimacy, “plans to set up a regional headquarters in Fukushima prefecture to better oversee local reconstruction, decontamination and compensation payments, Kyodo and other media said,” according to AFP.
Do you think these apparent conflicts of interest can be considered unimportant or justifiable as the Japanese authorities apparently do? Let us know in the comments section.
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