Japan: Final report declares Fukushima a "man-made disaster"


"Governments, regulatory authorities and Tokyo Electric Power [TEPCO] lacked a sense of responsibility to protect people’s lives and society," declared the Diet’s (Japan’s bicameral legislature) Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission.

The report has an opening message from the chairman of the commitee Kiyoshi Kurokawa that says, "Although triggered by these cataclysmic events, the subsequent accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant cannot be regarded as a natural disaster." Ironically, Japan turned its first nuclear reactor back on recently amidst protests, on the day that the country also released its new renewable energy feed-in tariff program.

The six-month investigation came to a conclusion that the collusion between the government, regulators and TEPCO, as well as the lack of governance by the parties mentioned led to the disaster. The report harshly criticized the parties by saying, "They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents".

TEPCO has been blamed for not taking preventive measures prior to the fateful March 11 catastrophe. The panel also mentioned that the regulators had a negative attitude towards the importation of new advances in knowledge and technology from overseas, which could have hindered the meltdown.

With the release of the final report, which concluded after 900 hours of hearings and interviews with more than 1,100 people, the panel expects the recommendations that it has set forth to be followed by the Diet members.

Nevertheless, new photovoltaic FITs have been announced in the country to boost renewable energy. 3.2 GW of new installations are expected to be developed with the price for solar generated electricity pegged at 42 yen ($0.53) per kWh, triple that of what industrial users pay for conventional power.

Whether the report boosts renewables further in Japan and quickly turns the government’s back on nuclear completely remains to be seen.