The original Japanese is "drawing a picture of mochi (sticky rice cake)" - it may look nice but can't be eaten.
Sadly, their severe criticism won't make a bit of difference.
Japan's Nuclear Regulatory Authority had a meeting with TEPCO on June 28, 2013 to hear what TEPCO/government had to say about their new and improved decommissioning plan for Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, which proudly proclaims the corium (fuel debris) will be taken out of the reactors "ahead of schedule".
NRA's commissioners' response was: So what? What's the point of doing it "ahead of schedule" when you don't even know how to seal containment vessels that are leaking?
To that, TEPCO/government answer was: It is really very meaningful to do it "ahead of schedule".
In other words, they were from different planets.
Summary of the meeting from Jiji Tsushin (6/28/2013):
NRA criticizes the Roadmap for decommissioning Fukushima I Nuke Plant as "pie in the sky"
A meeting was held on June 28 at the Nuclear Regulatory Authority in charge of monitoring the decommissioning of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and assuring the safety of decommissioning work. Experts at NRA criticized the revised roadmap from the government and TEPCO that would remove [melted] nuclear fuel [from the reactors] ahead of schedule, as "no concrete steps to do it ahead of schedule, unreal" and "pie in the sky".
The revised schedule for decommissioning specifies the start of fuel debris removal from Reactors 1 and 2 as June 2020, one and a half year ahead of the original plan.
Professor Akira Watanabe of Fukushima University said in the meeting, "I understand the removal of fuel debris means a lot, but it is the ultimate goal at this point. What's the point of doing it one and a half year ahead of schedule? What's more important is to show a solid (credible) plan and explain it to the people in the affected areas." NRA's Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa criticized by saying "It looks like pie in the sky. I don't see the basis on which [the removal of corium] can be done ahead of schedule."
Commissioner Fuketa was not happy either that the roadmap had only few mentions of countermeasures against contaminated water. Judging from the result of analysis of the water taken from the observation wells at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, contaminated water may have leaked into the ocean. Commissioner Fuketa criticized [TEPCO/government], and said "The immediate goal should be to lower the current risks, not the ultimate removal [of fuel debris]. I don't understand anymore what this roadmap is trying to show."
IAEA really spoke the truth when it advised TEPCO/government to picture the end state - what is it that you want to achieve? How do you get there?
The government entity that was severely criticized by the NRA commissioners and experts is the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy within the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The Ministry is headed by Mr. Toshimitsu Motegi, the original "ahead of schedule because he says so" guy.
To the critical commissioners and experts at NRA, the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, which oversees the nuclear industry, said during the 3-plus-hour meeting (from the tweet from someone who actually watched the entire meeting live):
The medium/long-term roadmap was already decided and confirmed yesterday, and it is hard to change anything right now.
There is a certain hazard to fuel and fuel debris. It means a great lot to remove them sooner.
We've written "safety first" in the roadmap.
That's comforting, isn't it? They wrote in "safety first".
By the way, there is apparently no "Plan B" if the fuel debris cannot be removed. The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy said in the meeting that the reason why the concrete steps toward removing the fuel debris ahead of schedule was not mentioned in the roadmap was because they couldn't figure out those steps yet.
Looking at TEPCO's plan for fuel debris removal, as posted at NRA's site, it is painfully clear that TEPCO was told by the Agency what to write (garbage).
So, this meeting between TEPCO/government and NRA, as with many (if not most) meetings in a "democratic" society, is just to keep up the appearance, so to speak. NRA has been consulted, never mind that the commissioners and experts blasted their plan. For TEPCO and the government, particularly the government, a mere gesture of consulting with NRA is more than enough for procedural purposes.
Now they can proudly announce "We have a great plan, and we have even spoken with NRA about it, and the fact that they met with us means the plan has been approved. It's ready to go."
They now get to squander more taxpayers' money for "pie in the sky".