SVCF Bulletin No. 50 issued on April 11, 2014

The 30th Regular Diet Meeting 

On March 27 (Thursday), 2014, the SVCF 30th regular Diet meeting was held in meeting room no. B109 of the House of Councilors Hall.  Director Takayasu Sugiyama, in the chair, called the meeting to order at 11:00 a.m. First, President Nobuhiro Shiotani briefed on the Year 2014 Business Plan, its initial income and expenditure budget, and on the new Directors and their role assignment, which had been approved at the Board of Directors and General Assembly on March 13, 2014.

Subsequently, Director Kunio Itoh and Regular Member Nobuyuki Tokoro presented a status report on the ongoing discussions with TEPCO.  For more than an hour after this, we heard the topic of the day, entitled “Present condition and forecast of the clean-up works for the Fukushima Daiicihi Nuclear Power Plant”, followed by a question-and-answer session by a Diet member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Masayoshi Yoshino (Liberal Democratic Party, former Chairperson of the Environmental Committee, born in Ueda Machi, Iwaki City).  Diet member Yoshino, who has been an influential proponent of nuclear power generation, delivered a highly worthwhile presentation based on his long career and profound insights regarding nuclear safety and recommendation.

Diet members attending the meeting were Mr. Hiroshi Sakurai, the House of Representatives, Liberal Democratic Party, Ms. Tomoko Abe and Mr. Masami Kawano, the House of Representatives, Ishin Party, and Mr. Kenji Kanda, House of the Representatives, Liberal Democratic Party. Each one of them gave a greeting address, including their personal views of the pros and cons of nuclear power generation.

Lecture discussion program: “Present condition and forecast of the cleanup works for the Fukushima Daiicihi Nuclear Power Plant” by Diet member Mr. Masayoshi Yoshino, Liberal Democratic Party

Good afternoon everybody, I am Masayoshi Yoshino, Diet member of the House of Representatives, born on August 8, 1948.  To tell the truth, I have been for nuclear power generation.  As I had chiefly tackled environmental issues for a long time, I strongly supported the switch from coal and oil fired power generation to nuclear, on a total level.

Keeping independence of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency

We, my fellow Diet member, Mr. Hiroshi Kajiyama and myself, have often claimed proper responses to ameliorate the nuclear power generation in an energy subcommittee of LDP’s nuclear power committee.  A main point in our claims is the need for separation and independence of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.  As I majored in accounting and auditing in my university, I have learned to appreciate the necessity of inspection that is carried out by an independent and disinterested third party.

Nevertheless, it is contradictory to see the Energy Agency, promoter of nuclear power generation, and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, regulator of the same objective, co-existing under the same echelon of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.  A neighbor, being an independent and disinterested entity, can not inspect a counterpart under the same roof.  That is why we have long insisted on separation and independence of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.  Ten years after we started, there was a notation saying “we study separation and independence of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency”, put in a mere single line of the Energy Proposal issued by the Liberal Democratic Party.  Mr. Kajiyama and I were so glad, even though it had taken ten years.  And then this havoc happened, only half a year or a year after we read the phrase “we study so and so” in the report.

The accident was a human disaster.

I keenly felt remorse. If NISA had become independent and under regulation by a third party earlier, this accident could have been avoided.  There are several research papers including a governmental committee.  I studied all and dare say this was a human disaster. When the September 11, 2000 attack occurred in America, the federal government compiled a crisis manual in view of a possible terrorist attack against a nuclear power plant.  This was a national top secret, so no written information was given.  Instead, they called up NISA from Japan and informed verbally.  However, NISA did not follow their advice.  They were instructed that in case of a power supply failure, the procedure so and so was to be followed.  None was followed, not at all. Therefore, I really consider the accident attributable to human errors.

Fukushima Daini or No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant

Similarly, Fukushima Daini or No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant became entirely drenched by a tremendous tidal wave.  All electric switchboards failed, soaked in salty water.  Quite luckily the electric pylons had stayed intact in the quake.  Staff members of the plant carried heavy and thick power cables on their shoulders and connected them by themselves.  They had motors delivered from Hitachi Ltd., and electric switchboards from Kashiwazaki Nuclear Power Plant.  They marginally succeeded in reconnecting electricity in the eleventh hour, immediately before meltdown.  It is not widely announced that people who at that time tried to evacuate from the coastal to the mountain side caused heavy traffic congestion, however, the people behaved coolly and did not overtake in the oncoming lane at all.  That is why there was little traffic from the higher ground to the coast.  Using this lane the Japan Ground Self Defense Force, police force, and relief supplies such as the electric switchboard arrived in the coastal area. Relief supplies could reach their destination. Thanks to this, the Daini plant was saved.

Establishment of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

My party was in opposition at the time, so my influence was not great.  Mr. Shiozaki and I, in a five or six Diet member group, proposed a plan to establish an independent organization, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, similar to the Fair Trade Commission based on the article 3 of the National Government Organization Law.  This means that the plan, by an opposition party, was approved without any objection.  We should have been satisfied, since the independent organization was finally established.  Nevertheless, I was despondent, with the shame of not having been able to prevent the accident.  My view, as originator of the organization, is that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission seems to misunderstand its independence somewhat.  Their interpretation seems to be that being independent means no talk, no meeting with anyone, and that detachment means independence.

Against our expectations, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was systematically bestowed with supreme authority and guaranteed employment.  Even the prime minister cannot fire any commission member in a five year period, without prior approval by the Diet.  Recently I and fellow member Mr. Shiozaki have suggested that they should not let themselves be intimidated and that they should communicate more with various persons.

The central government is responsible too

During a budgetary committee with live TV broadcast, I asked the (then) Prime Minister Kan about the responsibility for the accident, since the central government had promoted a nuclear power generation policy, Mr. Kan replied admitting collective responsibility.  I continued that while TEPCO only bears indemnity liability at present, the central government should fulfill the responsibility and establish a relevant office.  To my proposal, the Minister of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry replied instead that TEPCO is to bear indemnity liability. They hedged all burdens from indemnity to decommissioning to TEPCO.

In the days of Democratic Party, the central government merely stood back.  After our party regained the administration, I repeatedly insisted in the Recovery Promotion Headquarters of our party that the central government should fulfill its responsibility. Our proposal is about to be adopted and a joint decommissioning organization will be established with the central government and TEPCO.   Now the bill is in the stage of approval. In this organization, the central government funds and works together as a whole.  First of all I had the prime minister confirm the collective responsibility. This produced the bill under our initiative in politics.

Create a true Atom Boy

We cannot access the stricken nuclear reactor.  Robots can, though. We have advocated the creation of a real Atom Boy in this national project, although it is not yet adopted. America performed the 10-year Apollo Project which sent manned expeditions to the Moon and retrieved them safely.  This came at a fabulous cost; but the new innovations created during this project have produced new technology such as computers and they have enriched American economy.

If Japan produces a real Atom Boy robot, we can easily decommission stricken reactors and also handle the scarcity of labor.  New industries will be born in various sectors. They will become crucial advantages of Japan.  Nevertheless, the idea is hardly adopted. The estimation is that it will be 40 years until the decommissioning is done.  Technical innovation may shorten the period by ten years. Still 30 years remain.  I am 65 years old now; I shall be 95 by then.  I wish to fade away after seeing the end of decommissioning. I’ll try to be alive at that time.  I am keeping myself fit in the hope that I may see the vacant lot, flattened after complete decommissioning.

Why it took ten years till the legislation

Those who insisted were only my fellow Diet member Mr. Kajiyama and myself. This formed a very high obstacle.  There is a jargon of “TEPCO acting”.  When NISA was established, the central government had no power to check nuclear facilities.  Therefore, TEPCO assumed the role.  NISA’s action was a sort of superficial process.  I heard from local people that if they finished regular inspections ahead of schedule, they received bonus money.  So they kept silent until the next inspection round, even if irregularities were found.  NISA must have known about this practice, but no reports were made. Morale was so low then.

Please explain more closely the bill of consolidation with the central government and TEPCO

TEPCO has become a failed or living dead company.  Its parent company is a national entity: the Corporation in Support of Compensation for Nuclear Damage.  This is the company that we let decommission stricken reactors.  This company’s stock is fully owned by the central government.  TEPCO and the parent company form an entity.  This is the organization that is to bear collective responsibility.  A decommissioning company of TEPCO is a tool. Engineers and technicians join from various manufacturing companies.

Do you still like nuclear power generation now?

Nuclear fission produces radioactive waste.  I fear mankind is incapable of controlling this. The probability of a large meteor hitting Earth is small.  That is what I think, from the lesson of this nuclear accident.  It will take forty years to decommission a stricken nuclear power plant.  It is in a transition phase till the end.  The reason why we established the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was for running a nuclear power plant.

How is the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant?

We can fix and run it but Fukushima people request decommissioning.

Probability of war is a lot greater than that of a meteor hit. On the enemies’ side, a nuclear power plant looks like a huge nuclear mine.

There is a risk of terrorism and of war on nuclear power generation.  No one has considered this crisis till now.

We have requested TEPCO to allow us to do tank patrols, but they have refused. Why?

It seems that it is easier to entrust it all to a general construction company.

What do you think of nuclear waste?

We have to build a final processing facility.  We learn in a group. Waste must be stored in the base rock layer.  What matters most is a space without volcanic activity.  There are three candidate places like Minami Torishima.

Resigned President Yamada’s recent health condition

As you are aware, resigned President Yamada has been battling with his illness.  Since last April, he has had two operations for throat cancer.  Since then, during medical therapy, he sometimes showed up in the SVCF office, however, more cancer has been diagnosed. He hasn’t recovered yet. He is still undergoing treatment.

Our office will move

On April 28, we will be moving office. The contacts to the new office are as follows.

2-2-5 Toranomon Minato-ku, Tokyo metropolis, Japan 105-0001
Kyodo Tsuushin Kaikan 2F room 32
Senior Veterans Corps for Fukushima
c/o Echo Holdings Co., Ltd.

TEL: 03-6441-2572
FAX: 03-6441-2573