New nuclear watchdog commissioner received additional industry payment via The Asahi Shimbun

An incoming commissioner of the Nuclear Regulation Authority received payments from the nuclear industry until last month, raising fresh doubts about his impartiality at the nuclear watchdog, The Asahi Shimbun has found.

Satoru Tanaka, a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Tokyo, received the unknown amount of money from Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., operator of a nuclear fuel recycling program, and Mitsubishi FBR Systems Inc., a nuclear plant maker.

Tanaka, 64, sat on the “advisory committee” of Tokyo-based Mitsubishi FBR Systems between July 2007 and June this year, according to university records obtained by The Asahi Shimbun through the information disclosure law.

He also chaired the panel for evaluating vitrification technology at Japan Nuclear Fuel in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, from May 2009 to March this year.

Tanaka was nominated for the NRA post by the Abe administration in May.

Under the guidelines for nominating NRA commissioners, candidates who received more than 500,000 yen ($4,900) a year from the nuclear industry within three years are disqualified.

But it is not clear how much Tanaka received from the two companies because the payment entries were blackened out in the university records.


The nomination of Tanaka came under fire from critics of nuclear power generation. Both the ruling and opposition camps widely perceive him as a “resident” of the “nuclear village.”

Tanaka, a former president of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, was also a director of Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, a nuclear industry group, between fiscal 2010 and 2012.

He continued to take a pro-nuclear stance after the Fukushima nuclear disaster unfolded in March 2011.


Earlier, Tanaka was found to have received a total of 5.1 million yen in research donations from nuclear power-related companies between fiscal 2006 and fiscal 2011.

He also received more than 500,000 yen from a foundation linked to Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the crippled Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, in fiscal 2011.

Toyoshi Fuketa, one of the NRA commissioners, reported to the watchdog that he was paid about 460,000 yen by Japan Atomic Power Co., a nuclear power plant operator, for giving lectures and producing texts over three years between fiscal 2009 and 2011.

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