The exposure of 33 researchers to radiation on May 23 at a Japan Atomic Energy Agency research facility in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, revealed the JAEA's failure to uphold basic safety standards. Education and science minister Mr. Hakubun Shimomura said May 28 that the ministry will thoroughly reform the JAEA. But unless the mind-sets of JAEA officials and researchers are radically changed, the reform will be meaningless.
JAEA also manages the prototype fast-breeder reactor Monju in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, which has been inoperative for most of the past 19 years. The Nuclear Regulation Authority on May 15 decided to order JAEA not to engage in further preparatory work to restart the trouble-plagued Monju reactor until it improves its safety management. The NRA pointed out that JAEA failed to inspect nearly 10,000 reactor components in and after 2010. JAEA head Mr. Atsuyuki Suzuki resigned May 17.
What happened at JAEA's Hadron Experimental Facility in the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC) in Tokai shows that officials and researchers were not prepared at all for the possibility of a radiation accident.