So Nuclear Regulatory Authority finally butted in, formed its own committee and started ordering TEPCO to do something (probably wrong "something", again, but...) over the groundwater saturating the embankment at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant because of TEPCO's ill-conceived underground impermeable wall.
I was wondering why it took NRA until very recently to actively participate in dealing with the accident, until I read independent journalist Ryuichi Kino's tweet just now. It is because Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is in charge of decommissioning the plant:
What is going on at Fukushima I Nuke Plant? Who decides what method of construction to use on what criteria, and who decides which construction to be given the priority? From outside, the decision-making is completely opaque. The entity in charge of managing and supervising the works to control the plant is the Council on Decommissioning Measures with the Agency of Natural Resource and Energy [under Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry] acting as the secretariat, but the Agency does not know the cost of works at the plant.
The Council was set up by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry as of February 8, 2013, and so far has had 5 meetings. The members are (information from TEPCO):
Chairman: Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry
Deputy Chairman: Vice Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry
Council members: President of TEPCO, Director General of JAEA, President of Toshiba, President of Hitachi
Secretary: Advisor to Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry in charge of energy and technology
Observer: Nuclear Regulatory Authority/Nuclear Regulatory Agency
Nuclear Regulatory Authority/Nuclear Regulatory Agency is just an observer, which in case of Japan has a privilege to sit in the meeting and literally "observe" the meeting but not say much (or at all).
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) had to relinquish NISA (Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency) in September last year when the new nuclear regulatory body (NRA) was created. Or so I thought.
Reuters' article from yesterday quoting Mr. Kinjo, who is the observer to this Council, fails to mention that it is still good old METI in charge of decommissioning work.
Kino says the Secretary to the Council is a career bureaucrat, and the current one was rotated into this position in June this year. Just a part of career stepping stone for bureaucrats at the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy.
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry is ex-McKinsey consultant Toshimitsu Motegi, who just dispensed consulting advice to "the parties concerned" regarding Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant.
For politicians and bureaucrats, it's "Après moi, le déluge". Literally.