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Failure guru probes nuclear crisis for lessons, not culprits via The Japan Times Online

Engineering professor Yotaro Hatamura has built a career on failure.

Looking for answers: Yotaro Hatamura, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, chairs the first meeting of the committee investigating the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on June 7 in Tokyo.

The 70-year-old academic at the University of Tokyo founded the nonprofit Association for the Study of Failure in 2002. Tokyo Electric Power Co. is among its members.

Tepco is now the subject of Hatamura’s next study. He was appointed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan last month as head of the 10-member team to conduct an “impartial and multifaceted” investigation into what went wrong at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and how to prevent a repeat.

His objectives are similar to those of U.S. President Barack Obama’s commission on BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, which in January recommended “urgent reform” of government rules and oil industry practices. The independent Fukushima investigation team has the authority to question Tepco officials and government leaders, including the prime minister.

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