Nuclear industry gave millions in grants to Japan's safety experts

Last Updated: Sun, Nov 04, 2012 10:30 hrs

Four out of the six members on Japanese government panel drafting new nuclear safety regulations each received between three million and 27 million yen in payments, donations and grants from entities in the atomic energy industry in the last three to four years, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said.

But after disclosing the data on Friday, the new nuclear watchdog's secretariat said all four members "were selected in line with regulations, and there should thus be no problem" over their appointment.

According to the Japan Times, critics, however, cited the risk of their judgment being swayed by power companies and other nuclear-related bodies, and of the possibility that new safety regulations could be watered down.

The NRA requires experts involved in drafting safety standards for nuclear plants and other matters to disclose their remuneration and other payments received, but it has no provision to disqualify them if previously withheld information comes to light, the report said.

Of the four members, Akira Yamaguchi, a professor at Osaka University's graduate school, and Akio Yamamoto, a Nagoya University professor, each received payments in excess of 500,000 yen annually from entities, including Nuclear Engineering Ltd., an affiliate of Kansai Electric Power Co, it added.

According to the report, in addition, Yamamoto received more than 27 million yen in donations and research grants from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., which manufactures equipment for nuclear reactors, while Yamaguchi raked in a total of 10.1 million yen from Japan Atomic Power Co., a constructor and operator of atomic plants, and from other nuclear-related parties.

The only two panel members who did not receive any funds from entities in the nuclear power industry are Norio Watanabe, a researcher at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, and Meiji University associate professor Tadahiro Katsuta, the report added. (ANI)

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