Japan seen tapping foreigners for nuclear crisis review: PM aide

Reuters News
Posted: May 04, 2011 9:43 AM
Japan seen tapping foreigners for nuclear crisis review: PM aide

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan, stung by international criticism of its handling of a nuclear crisis, will likely include foreign experts in a review of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, an aide to the prime minister said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has promised an eventual review of the crisis, in which cooling functions at the nuclear power plant in northeast Japan were knocked out by a 15 meter (49 foot) tsunami on March 11, leading to leaks of radiation into the air and sea.

"Of course we will have Japanese experts but it's highly possible that we will have foreign experts take part in the review," Goshi Hosono, special adviser to Kan, told a news conference.

"We must make sure that the results of the review are acknowledged by the international community given that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and others have been keen for this."

Critics say that Japan was too slow to disclose detailed information immediately after the quake and tsunami that crippled the plant and that it was also late in informing neighboring countries when it released radioactive water into the sea earlier this month.

The head of the IAEA, who flew to Japan shortly after the crisis broke out, told Kan at the time that foreign countries were calling for more information and details.

Hosono said the government was committed to timely and detailed disclosure, and that it would be responsible for overseeing a plan by the plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power Co to stabilize the reactors.

Tokyo Electric has been accused of downplaying the dangers and ignoring warnings about the risk of a quake and tsunami striking the plant, as well as reacting poorly to the damage.

The government will also review the role and structure of the country's nuclear regulators in its inspection of the crisis, Hosono said.

"Is it appropriate to have the Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency act as a regulator under the umbrella of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, which promotes nuclear energy policy?" he said.

"I also have serious doubts on whether the role of the Atomic Energy Commission, an organization that makes proposals on regulations, is sufficient."

(Reporting by Chisa Fujioka)