Collusion between Japan’s government, regulators and private nuclear operator Tepco caused last year’s nuclear disaster at the Fukushima plant. That’s the conclusion of a six-month parliamentary investigation into the disaster.
There were meltdowns at the plant’s reactors after an earthquake and tsunami in March last year. Huge amounts of radiation were released into the atmosphere and sea.
Japan’s food and water supply has been contaminated with radiation. Radioactive material from the disaster has been found in Canada and in the US food supply.
Tepco blamed the tsunami for the disaster. Yet the report says the disaster was not natural but “profoundly man-made”. It adds that it “could and should have been foreseen and prevented”.
The preface to the report describes “a multitude of errors and wilful negligence” by the government, safety officials and Tepco. It said regulators and Tepco had been aware of the risk that a tsunami could cut power to the plant since 2006—but had ignored it.
They had made no preparations to contain damage caused by such an event or developed evacuation plans in the event of radiation release.
As well as ignoring the dangers of a nuclear disaster, the government and Tepco also failed to respond properly when the meltdowns happened.
The report adds that the factors contributing to the disaster, including the government’s promotion of nuclear power, still exist across Japan.
The report was published on the day that a nuclear reactor in western Japan came back into operation. Japan’s prime minister decided to restart the Ohi nuclear reactor—which also lies on a fault line—despite huge public protest.
The move confirms the report’s key conclusion— that Japan’s government and the nuclear industry has a “disregard for public safety”.