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【Japan Times Editorial】Obsession With Nuclear Safety Myth via Reader Supported News

“Because the government and the power utilities, including Tepco, were biased by the safety myth, thinking they would never ever face such a serious accident, they were unable to realize that such a crisis could occur in reality. This appears to be the fundamental problem,” said the Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co.

A big question is whether the government and the power industry have really liberated themselves from the myth and have a humble attitude needed in handling nuclear technology. The decision by the government and Kansai Electric Power Co. to restart the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at Kepco’s Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture appears to point to the contrary.

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The Diet-commissioned panel questioned 38 people in sessions open to the public and streamed questions and answers live in the Internet with simultaneous English translation.

The government-commissioned panel on the other hand carried out all its hearings behind closed doors and the identity of most of those questioned is hidden in the report. This method apparently made its report somewhat fuzzy. There even is a view that the panel was rather “soft” on bureaucrats.

Many questions as to the causes of the nuclear accident and facts related to it remain unanswered. It is not yet known what parts of the plant were damaged and to what extent. The government and the Diet should launch further investigations. Establishing a permanent body should be considered.

Investigation reports by the Diet-commissioned panel, the government-commissioned panel, Tepco’s committee and a private sector committee contain many differences. At the very least, thorough studies should be made to ascertain the trustworthiness of various views and explanations.

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