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Pro-nuclear expert replacing NRA commissioner who raised flag on quake risk via The Asahi Shimbun

Replacements for two outgoing commissioners of the Nuclear Regulation Authority suggest the Abe administration will find it easier to gain approval for restarts of the nation’s nuclear reactors.

Few people in government circles and the nuclear industry will be sorry to see Kunihiko Shimazaki go. His successor is expected to more quickly give the green light to reactivate nuclear power plants.

Shimazaki, who is 68 and a professor of seismology, proved to be a thorn in the side of electric power companies with his calls for a reassessment of the force with which seismic waves and tsunami could pummel nuclear plants being considered for restarts.

Kenzo Oshima, 71, a former undersecretary-general at the United Nations, is also stepping down. Both men are leaving because their terms expire in September.

The two newly named NRA commissioners are Satoru Tanaka, 64, a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Tokyo, and Akira Ishiwatari, 61, a professor of geology at Tohoku University. Their terms are for five years.

With Shimazaki out of the picture, the NRA will have to get by without a seismology expert to offer advice.

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The business sector, notably electric power companies, griped that Shimazaki was hindering efforts to resume operations at nuclear plants idled since the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture.

An executive with Kyushu Electric Power Co. summed up those sentiments by saying, “Shimazaki made us suffer.”

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