International culture of corruption between nuclear industry and nuclear regulators
“safety culture” is not undermined by Japanese culture so much as it is by the more international culture of corruption born of the incestuous relationship between industry and regulators.
Made in Japan? Fukushima Crisis Is Nuclear, Not Cultural TruthOut, 14 July 2012 By Gregg Levine, Capitoilette | News Analysis Since the release of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Committee’s official report last week, much has been made of how it implicates Japanese culture as one of the root causes of the crisis. ……..
…………What replaces the cultural critique in the Japanese edition and in the body of the English summary is a ringing indictment of the cozy relationship between the Japanese nuclear industry and the government agencies that were supposed to regulate it. This “regulatory capture,” as the report details, is certainly central to the committee’s findings and crucial to understanding how the Fukushima disaster is a manmade catastrophe, but it is not unique to the culture of Japan.
Indeed, observers of the United States will recognize this lax regulatory construct as part-and-parcel of problems that threaten the safety and health of its citizenry, be it in the nuclear sector, the energy sector as a whole, or across a wide variety of officially regulated industries.
The Japanese Diet’s Fukushima report includes a healthy dose of displeasure with the close ties between government regulators and the nuclear industry they were supposed to monitor. The closed, insular nature of nuclear oversight that might be attributed to Japanese culture by a superficial read is, in fact, a product of the universally familiar “revolving door” that sees industry insiders taking turns as government bureaucrats, and regulatory staff “graduating” to well-compensated positions in the private sector.
Mariko Oi, a reporter at the BBC’s Tokyo bureau, described the situation this way when discussing the Fukushima report on the World Service:
When there was a whistleblower, the first call that the government or the ministry made was to TEPCO, saying, “Hey, you’ve got a whistleblower,” instead of “Hey, you’ve got a problem at the nuclear reactor.”
A disturbing betrayal of accountability in any context, it is especially troubling with the ominous repercussions of the Fukushima disaster still metastasizing. And it is also ominously familiar.
Look, for example, just across the Pacific:
[San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station] was chastised two years ago by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for creating an atmosphere in which employees fear retaliation if they report safety concerns…….
The history of SONGS is liberally peppered with accidents and safety breaches–and the lies and cover-ups from its owner-operators that go with them….
If San Onofre’s track record isn’t evidence enough of the dangers of weak regulation, the findings and conclusions of the latest Fukushima report make it crystal clear: “safety culture” is not undermined by Japanese culture so much as it is by the more international culture of corruption born of the incestuous relationship between industry and regulators.
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