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Bill to bolster NRA moves forward

Kyodo

The administration approved a bill Friday to bolster the fledgling Nuclear Regulation Authority by having the NRA absorb a technical support organization.

By abolishing the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization, currently an incorporated administrative agency, and transferring the staff to the NRA, the total number within the nuclear regulatory body’s secretariat is expected to double to around 1,000.

The bill will be submitted to the Diet, with the government seeking to achieve the merger on March 1.

Many members of JNES have backgrounds with atomic power plant makers and have expertise in plant design and operation. But more than half of the organization’s staff are veterans aged 50 or older.

According to the NRA, the bill will include measures to provide special allowances for a certain period for JNES members who will see a drop in salary after the merger.

The NRA was launched in September last year, with the government hoping to revive public confidence in nuclear regulations that was shattered by the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster that started in 2011.

The JNES merger was planned from the time the NRA was established to raise the level of expertise of the new regulatory body.

The NRA is currently facing a huge workload, as it has to assess the safety of the country’s reactors awaiting restarts, as well as supervise Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s management of the stricken Fukushima plant.