Ever since March of last year, media finger-pointing over the Fukushima nuclear-power plant disaster has been relentless and endless. But behind the scenes, a special panel was working hard to try to sort the mess out fairly and authoritatively. Now that panel’s draft report has surfaced, and its main conclusion is both clear-headed and devastating: the dimensions of the disaster were dramatically exacerbated by the ineptitude and inefficiency of none other than former Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s Office.
The report has promoted yet another media frenzy, with Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s largest circulation daily, weighing in with comprehensive coverage of the findings of the Diet appointed panel, entitled the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission.
Among the prestigious panel’s main conclusions — according to Shuya Nomura, panel member and professor at Chuo University’s law school – was the inadequacy of the current “crisis-control system and other relevant functions of the Prime Minister’s Office.” Nomura was especially critical of noted how the Prime Minister’s Office undermined the handing of the crisis by needlessly intervening with the plant’s managers and nuclear experts, thoroughly “[confusing] the chain of command [at the plant].”
The final version of the report, to be filed at the end of June, is unlikely to be altered in any substantial way. In light of the panel’s findings, massive changes in how the Prime Minister’s Office handles possible future incidents will have to be made.
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