The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), which observed the first anniversary of its creation on Sept. 19, faces two diametrically opposed criticisms. Proponents of nuclear power generation criticize the NRA as the root cause of the delay in the government's policy to promote nuclear power, while "no-nuke" groups brand the body as a mouthpiece of the "nuclear power village" (the strong network of public organizations and power companies that work toward expansion of nuclear power).

These bitter criticisms coming from both ends of a spectrum seem to summarize the contradictions of Japan's nuclear power policy. The NRA has become a skewed organization because the idea behind creating it was to satisfy both proponents and opponents of nuclear power. That has resulted in the lack of capabilities to execute its missions, thus making nuclear power plants in Japan even more dangerous than before.

Besides drawing up regulatory standards, the NRA has during the past year tackled two principal issues: safety inspection of nuclear power plants and the fiasco at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co.