All Japan news began a debate in the parliament about the future of its nuclear regulator, as politicians intend to create a new watchdog to ensure tighter oversight over the country’s nuclear industry.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) is currently subordinated to the trade and industry ministry, a long-time advocate of using nuclear power.
As public support for nuclear energy dropped sharply since the 2011 Fukushima crisis, and amid accusations that NISA is not independent enough from both politics and the industry, the government and the opposition have proposed changes in the statute of the agency.
The government wants it to be moved under the environment ministry, while the opposition would like it to be even more independent.
“There are some gaps … between the government’s bill and the one submitted by the (opposition) Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito party but we share the awareness that it is necessary to set up a new nuclear regulator as soon as possible,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura.
A key question is who will be elected to run the agency, as the new staff has the big responsibility of restoring public trust.
“The people need to be neutral and have special skills and knowledge and it is quite difficult to choose such people,” commented an analyst at Fujitsu Research Institute.