Probe results into cause of nuke crisis come first

No NISA penalties for now: new head

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, as a regulatory body, may be responsible for the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant but the newly appointed agency chief ruled out Thursday taking any penalties, including salary cuts, before an independent panel’s investigation is over.

“We will think about this with careful eyes on how the investigation’s results will turn out,” said NISA chief Hiroyuki Fukano during his first press conference since he took the position on Aug. 12.

Fukano also ruled out voluntarily returning some of his salary or donate it at this point, saying, “I am thinking that my responsibility is to make my utmost efforts to bring the Fukushima accident under control.”

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has announced job cuts as well as salary cuts to compensate victims of the nuclear crisis.

Fukano did apologize that many people have had to suffer due to the Fukushima crisis.

“As the top official of the nuclear regulatory agency, I deeply apologize that we failed to prevent the accident and have brought hardship to residents around the plant as well as to many others,” he said.

The government plans to separate NISA from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, so the nuclear power promoting body and regulatory body no longer live under the same roof.

But Fukano said, “From my experience, I don’t think safety and regulations were distorted because of that coexistance.”

At the same time, he admitted that separating NISA from METI is the right direction in terms of becoming a fairer organization in the eyes of people.