Probe panel reluctant to disclose politicians’ hearings

Kyodo

The chief of a government-appointed panel investigating the Fukushima nuclear crisis said that because his goal is to get to the bottom of the disaster, he is reluctant to conduct hearings with politicians in public.

“I don’t think showing all the exchanges of words would (guarantee) transparency and openness,” Yotaro Hatamura, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, told reporters Monday in discussing the latest progress in the investigation.

“At the beginning, I thought we should make various things as open as possible, but I have started to notice that there are more important things,” he said, suggesting participants would be more forthright in expressing their views in closed hearings. Last June, Hatamura said he would consider questioning then Prime Minister Naoto Kan in public if the leader approved.

The panel has not yet questioned Kan, who was prime minister when the Fukushima crisis began, or Yukio Edano was chief Cabinet secretary then and is now the minister of economy, trade and industry, which oversees the nuclear industry.

It has so far questioned 10 politicians, including former industry minister Banri Kaieda, and former science and technology minister Yoshiaki Takaki.

Hatamura did not name the other politicians the panel hopes to hear from. It plans to compile a final investigation report in July.