Japan to Fire Top Energy Officials After Fukushima Nuclear Plant Disaster
By Tsuyoshi Inajima and Yuji Okada – Aug 3, 2011 10:32 PM ET
Japan’s government plans to fire three top officials in charge of energy policy as part of sweeping changes in the bureaucracy after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaiedasaid.
Personnel including the vice minister of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the director general of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy and the head of the country’s nuclear regulator will be removed from their posts, Kaieda said at a press briefing in Tokyo today.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, a body that’s supposed to police the industry, is under the control of bureaucrats in the Trade and Industry Ministry, which promotes atomic power. Their close links hampered a quick response to the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi station, the government said in June.
“To renew the ministry, there will be sweeping personnel changes,” Kaieda said. He declined to comment on reports he will resign after the changes. Further details will be announced later, he said.
The removal of Vice-Minister Kazuo Matsunaga, the director general of the energy agency, Tetsuhiro Hosono and Nobuaki Terasaka, the director general of NISA, was earlier reported by the Asahi newspaper.
Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima station has been emitting radiation since an earthquake and tsunami on March 11 knocked out power and cooling, causing three reactor meltdowns and hydrogen explosions.
The accident is rated at the highest level on a severity scale, the same as the Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet Union in 1986.
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