Last year’s Fukushima nuclear accident was a man-made disaster caused by Japan’s culture of “reflexive obedience” and not just the tsunami that hit the plant,a damning parliamentary report said today.
Ingrained collusion between plant operator Tokyo Electric Power,the government and regulators,combined with a lack of any effective oversight led directly to the worst nuclear accident in a generation,the report said.
“They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore,we conclude that the accident was clearly ‘man-made’,” said the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission.
“We believe that the root causes were the organisational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions,” it said.
The probe is the third of its kind in Japan since the huge tsunami of March 2011 crashed into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.
Reactors went into meltdown,sending clouds of radiation over a wide area,forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes,some possibly forever.
An earlier report by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) had all but cleared the huge utility,saying the size of the earthquake and tsunami was beyond all expectations and could not reasonably have been foreseen.
But an independent group of scholars and journalists,who reported their findings in February,said TEPCO could and should have done more.
It also said that had the company had its way,its staff would have been evacuated from the crippled plant and the catastrophe could have spiralled even further out of control.
In his straight-talking preface to the more than 600-page report,panel chairman Kiyoshi Kurokawa said difficult lessons that go to the heart of the national character had to be learned from the catastrophe.
“What must be admitted — very painfully — is that this was a disaster ‘Made in Japan’,” he wrote.