Date: Sunday, July 31, 2011 22:41 +0900 (JST)
Prime Minister Naoto Kan has criticized Japan's nuclear regulator for trying to manipulate public opinion on nuclear power.
Kan attended an energy policy forum on Sunday in Chino, north of Tokyo. He referred to the alleged manipulation of opinion on nuclear energy by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
The agency allegedly told Chubu Electric Power Company to ensure that some participants at a symposium asked prearranged questions in favor of nuclear power. The event was held 4 years ago in Shizuoka Prefecture, which hosts a nuclear plant.
Kan said if the allegation is true, it means that the agency sided with the utility to promote nuclear power, although the agency should ensure the safety of nuclear plants for the public.
Kan likened the agency's allegation to the scandal of tainted blood products, which he tackled when he was health minister in the mid-1990s.
In the 1980s, many people, mostly patients with hemophilia, contracted HIV through tainted products because the health ministry allowed drugmakers to sell them even after safer products were developed.
Kan said the current nuclear administration and system totally lack the ability of responding to nuclear accidents. He put the blame on the realignment of government offices about a decade ago under Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto that created various committees in the Cabinet Office.
Kan expressed his resolve to address the fundamental reorganization of institutions related to energy policy, and not just the separation of the agency from the economy ministry. He said he will pursue a fundamental reconstruction of the nuclear and energy administration from a position free from any vested interests.