Symposium fiasco forces reclusive NISA chief to surface

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

After being harshly criticized for failing to appear before the media to explain an attempt to manipulate a 2007 “pluthermal” symposium, Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency Director General Nobuaki Terasaka held a hastily arranged news conference Friday night.

It was Terasaka’s first news conference since March 12.

NISA found itself embroiled in scandal Friday after Chubu Electric Power Co. reported the agency had asked it to plant supportive or neutral questions among audience members at the symposium, which concerned the utility’s pluthermal plans for the Hamaoka nuclear plant. The matter is expected to hugely dent trust in the nuclear watchdog.

During a news conference NISA held earlier in the evening, many reporters demanded to know why Terasaka was not appearing before the media himself to offer an explanation.

“Nuclear Safety Commission head (Haruki) Madarame holds a news conference twice a week. The chairman and president of Tokyo Electric Power Co. also speak in front of the media at important events. And Prime Minister (Naoto) Kan also does,” one reporter said.

“Why is it only the NISA director general who hasn’t (faced the media) after the March disasters? Is there something special about NISA?” he asked.