Cabinet OKs ex-senior nuke regulator for atomic energy agency’s presidency

JIJI

The Cabinet approved plans Friday to appoint former senior nuclear regulator Shojiro Matsuura as president of the scandal-shaken Japan Atomic Energy Agency.

Matsuura, 77, will fill the post vacated by Atsuyuki Suzuki, who quit in May to take the blame for flawed safety checks at the agency’s Monju fast-breeder nuclear reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture.

The appointment will take effect Monday.

Science and technology minister Hakubun Shimomura praised Matsuura for his deep insight into nuclear safety regulations and his management skills.

He is “the best person to initiate reforms at the agency, whose safety culture is found to be deteriorating,” Shimomura said.

Matsuura joined the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute, a predecessor of the JAEA, in 1961 after graduating from Kyoto University. He was head of the institute between November 1998 and March 2000.

In April 2000, Matsuura became chairman of the now-defunct Nuclear Safety Commission, one of the entities remade into the current Nuclear Regulation Authority.

As commission head, Matsuura dealt with Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s cover-up of problems at nuclear power plants and joined work to revise design guidelines to make nuclear plants safer against earthquakes.

Matsuura in April 2011 apologized for the meltdowns at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant the month before.