Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster 'Clearly Man-Made', says Parliamentary Panel

TEPCO, government faulted for betraying public; report cites self-interested decisions before and after disaster

Common Dreams staff

A parliamentary panel investigating the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan last year have placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of plant owner TEPCO and government regulators by saying the crisis was "clearly man-made." Though the plant was crippled by an enormous tsunami generated by a powerful earthquake, the panel concluded that key warnings were ignored and preparations that could have been implemented were disregarded out of self-interest.

"They effectively betrayed the nation's right to be safe from nuclear accidents," the panel's report said. "Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly 'man-made'."

The panel, called the Diet's Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, rejected claims by the plant's owner that the earthquake and tsunami 'could not have been foreseen' by saying: "Despite having a number of opportunities to take measures, regulatory agencies and TEPCO management deliberately postponed decisions, did not take action or took decisions that were convenient for themselves."

The report did not target individuals for blame, but rather the institutions that govern nuclear safety as a whole. "We believe that the root causes were the organisational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual," said the report.

"They effectively betrayed the nation's right to be safe from nuclear accidents."

"Governments, regulatory authorities and Tokyo Electric Power [TEPCO] lacked a sense of responsibility to protect people's lives and society," it said.

In one damning section reviewed by Al-Jazeera, the report highlights that if TEPCO had their way, its staff would have been evacuated from the crippled plant and the catastrophe could have spiraled even further out of control.

According to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, the report makes seven proposals for improvement: "Have the Diet monitor regulatory authorities; review the government’s crisis management system; enhance government measures for residents who suffered damages from the disasters; improve monitoring of electric power companies; detail the requirements of the new nuclear regulatory organization; review laws that regulate nuclear power; and make use of independent investigation committees."

The report was submitted to the heads of both chambers of the Diet on July 5. It can be read in Japanese on the NAIIC’s website (https://www.naiic.jp/).

“We plan to make an English version of the final report to show it to the world,” said head of the commission, Kiyoshi Kurokawa.

#  #  #


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Economists Fear Fed Minutes Show Central Bank Bent on 'Unleashing Mass Unemployment'

Continued interest rate hikes "risk a recession throwing millions out of work," a pair of experts warned.

Jake Johnson ·


Watchdog: Secret Service Didn't Notify Capitol Police of Threat to Pelosi Until After Jan. 6 Attack

"This is deeply disturbing and requires a full investigation," said one legal expert.

Jessica Corbett ·


Advocates Welcome Temporary Block on South Carolina's 6-Week Abortion Ban

"Today's decision is a huge relief for people who desperately need abortion care in South Carolina right now," said one reproductive rights lawyer.

Brett Wilkins ·


Federal Court Strikes Down Ruling That Blocked Biden's Drilling Moratorium

"Today's decision demonstrates how flawed the preliminary injunction issued in June 2021 was, and that Interior must quickly take action to reform the federal fossil fuel program," said one environmental lawyer.

Julia Conley ·


Two Weeks Before Payments Resume, Progressives Tell Biden 'Time to Cancel Student Debt'

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said that "we're having conversations daily with the White House and borrowers will know directly and soon from us when a decision is made."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo