Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Japan's Major Newspapers Have Timely "Scoops" on the Government "Suppression" of Information on Nuclear Issues After the Fukushima I NPP Accident


as the vocal opposition to the State Secrecy Protection Law (which is now in the Upper House) from the press, legal experts, scholars, celebrities, net citizens and citizens in the real (physical) world continues in Japan.

Mainichi, Asahi, and Tokyo Shinbun in particular have been expressing the fear, real or imagined, that anything related to the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident can be categorized by the national government as "state secret" and suppressed.

As if to prove their point, Mainichi and Asahi each published an article, supposedly disclosing the secret documents (both of which appear, simply, not to have been designated for public release and consumption - i.e. internal ministerial documents) related to the nuclear accident that they had obtained (Mainichi through information disclosure request, Asahi through insider leaking the information).

First, Mainichi says it has obtained a 30-page document, a report of the visit to Chernobyl in March 2012 by the delegation of the Cabinet Office, through information disclosure request. No reason is given why Mainichi requested this report one year and eight months later.

From Mainichi Shinbun, via Yahoo News (12/1/2013):

東京電力福島第1原発事故への対応の参考にするとして内閣府が2012年3月、ロシアなどへ職員を派遣し、旧ソ連チェルノブイリ原発事故(1986年)の被災者支援を定めた「チェルノブイリ法」の意義を否定する報告書をまとめていたことが分かった。同法の理念を受け継いだ「子ども・被災者生活支援法」の法案作成時期と重なるが、非公表のまま関係の近い原発推進派の団体などに配られていた。

It has been revealed that the Cabinet Office complied the report that denied the significance of [so-called] "Chernobyl Act", which was established to support the victims after the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 in the former Soviet Union. The Cabinet Office had sent officials in March 2012 to Russia and other countries to help decide the government response to the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. It was when the "Children and Disaster Victims Support Act", which inherited the principle from the Chernobyl Act, was being drafted. However, the trip report was never made public; instead it was distributed to pro-nuclear groups that had a close association [with the officials who went on the trip].

支援法は、線量が一定以上の地域を対象に幅広い支援をうたって12年6月に成立したが、今年10月に支援地域を福島県内の一部に限定した基本方針が決まっており、成立を主導した国会議員らからは「国は早い時期から隠れて骨抜きを図っていたのではないか」と不信の声が上がる。

The "Children and Disaster Victims Support Act" was passed in June 2012, promising extensive support for [people] in the areas with certain levels of radiation exposure. However, in October 2013 the basic policy was set to limit the support areas to part of Fukushima Prefecture only. The members of the National Diet who led the effort to pass the Act now suspect that the national government was secretly planning to water down the Act from early on.

報告書はA4判30ページで、内閣府原子力被災者生活支援チームが作成。毎日新聞の情報公開請求で開示された。調査団は同チームの菅原郁郎事務局長補佐(兼・経済産業省経済産業政策局長)を団長に、復興庁職員を含む約10人。ウクライナ、ベラルーシ(2月28日〜3月6日)とロシア(3月4〜7日)を2班で視察し、各政府関係者や研究者から聞き取りした。

The 30-page trip report was written by the Cabinet Office Support Team for Nuclear Disaster Victims, and it was obtained by the information disclosure request from Mainichi Shinbun. The 10-person delegation was headed by Ikuro Sugawara, assistant Secretary General of the team (and Director General of Economic and Industrial Policy Bureau at Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry). The delegation went to Ukraine and Belarus (from 2/28 to 3/6/2012) and Russia (3/4 to 3/7/2012) in two groups, and interviewed government officials and researchers there.

報告書は、チェルノブイリ法が年間被ばく線量1ミリシーベルトと5ミリシーベルトを基準に移住の権利や義務を定めたことについて「(区域設定が)過度に厳しい」として「補償や支援策が既得権になり、自治体や住民の反対のため区域の解除や見直しができない」「膨大なコストに対し、見合う効果はない」「日本で採用するのは不適当」などの証言を並べ、同法の意義を否定。両事故の比較で、福島での健康影響対策は適切だったと強調もしている。

While the "Chernobyl Act" confers the right to relocate [to residents] in the areas with annual radiation exposure exceeding 1 millisievert and the obligation to relocate in the areas with annual radiation exposure exceeding 5 millisieverts, the report denies the significance of the "Chernobyl Act" by saying "(Designation of the areas) are too strict", and citing testimonies such as "Compensation and support schemes become vested rights, and lifting or modifying the designated areas cannot be done due to opposition from municipalities and residents", "there is no benefit that justifies the enormous cost", "The Chernobyl Act is not appropriate to adopt in Japan". In comparing both nuclear accidents, the report also emphasizes that the [government] measures against health effects in Fukushima Prefecture were appropriate.

支援法の成立を主導した谷岡郁子元参院議員(当時民主)は「視察自体聞いていない」。川田龍平参院議員(みんな)は「できるだけ被害を矮小(わいしょう)化したい意図が当時からあったことが分かる。支援法つぶしが目的だろう」と話した。

Ms. Kuniko Tanioka, former Councilor (then of Democratic Party of Japan) who led the effort to pass the Children and Disaster Victims Support Act says, "I haven't heard about the visit itself." Councilor Ryuhei Kawada (of Your Party) says, "It's clear that [the government] intended to downplay the damage at that time. The purpose was probably to squash the Children and Disaster Victims Support Act."

菅原氏は「自分は支援法に関与していない」と反論。一方で、支援法が低線量被ばくによる健康影響の可能性を認めて自主避難者の意思を尊重しているのに対し、菅原氏は「当時健康影響は過剰に強調されていた。それより心のケアが大事だと伝えるため、報告書を持っていろんな人に説明した」と述べ、チェルノブイリ法や支援法と異なる理念を広めるのに使ったことは認めた。これまで原発を推進する立場の有識者団体や、支援法を主導した議員とは別の一部議員などに配ったという。

Mr. Sugawara argues that he wasn't involved with the Children and Disaster Victims Support Act. However, he admits that he used the report to spread a different idea from the Chernobyl Act and the Children and Disaster Victims Support Act, and says "At that time the health effects were exaggerated. So we explained to people by showing the report that the psychological care was more important." The report was distributed to pro-nuclear expert groups and members of the Diet who were not leading the effort to pass the Children and Disaster Victims Support Act.

また当時復興相として調査を指示した平野達男参院議員は「チェルノブイリ法の実情を見てくるよう指示した」と説明したが、「今読めば一方的過ぎると言われても仕方ない」と内容の偏りを認めた。菅原氏らが報告書をどう使ったかは知らなかったといい、「結果としてそういう(公表せず一部の人に配る)使われ方をした。いろいろな考え方を持っている人に配るべきだった」と話した。

Councilor Tatsuo Hirano, then-Minister of Reconstruction who ordered the trip says he instructed the officials to see how the Chernobyl Act was implemented, but he admits that the report may be biased. "You could say it is one-sided, if you read it today." Mr. Hirano says he didn't know how the report was used by Mr. Sugawara and his people. "The report ended up (being distributed to a small number of people without being made public). It should have been distributed to people with different opinions."


Haven't heard of it? Well Ms. Tanioka, it was your party who was in charge of the national government at that time. According to Mainichi, the report is biased because it lacks more dire testimonies, comments, research results from Ukraine and Belarus.

The so-called "Chernobyl Act" is revered in Japan among people who are worried about the effect of radiation from the accident as the infallible and scientific standard to deal with a nuclear accident and the victims of a nuclear accident.

Then, Asahi says it has obtained a document created in March 2011 right after the start of the Fukushima I NPP accident by an official at Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (which was simultaneously the promoter and the regulator of the nuclear industry in Japan at that time).

(Asahi also says it was TEPCO who caused the nuclear accident, not the 9.1 earthquake and huge tsunami caused by the quake.)

From Asahi Shinbun (12/2/2013; part):

福島事故直後に「原子力再生」 経産省が機密文書

Confidential document by METI: "Nuclear power revival" right after the Fukushima accident

2011年3月に東京電力が福島第一原発事故を起こした直後、経済産業省が「原子力の再生」や「原発輸出の再構築」をめざす内部文書をつくっていたことがわかった。事故の混乱が続いている最中にもかかわらず、原発推進政策の維持を図ろうとしていた。

Right after Tokyo Electric Power Company caused the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident in March 2011, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry created an internal document for "the revival of nuclear power" and "rebuilding the nuclear power plant export", it has been revealed. The ministry was trying to maintain the policy to promote nuclear power in the middle of confusion after the nuclear accident.

朝日新聞は、3月下旬の日付で情報管理が必要な「機密」扱いの「原子力エネルギー再復興へ向けて」と題する文書を入手した。関係者によると、原発にくわしい幹部がつくり、エネルギー政策にかかわる幹部級に配られた。事故後の方針を確認したり政策を立案したりするたたき台の一つになったという。

Asahi Shinbun obtained the "classified" (meaning the document requires access control) document dated in late March 2011 and titled "For the revival of nuclear power". According to the source, the document was created by the officials knowledgeable about nuclear power (plants), and distributed to the officials involved in energy policies. This document became one of the bases for confirming and planning the policies after the accident.

冒頭の「趣意」には「原子力なきエネルギー安定供給は成り立たない」「原子力存続に向けた政府の再決意を表明する」と書かれている。そのうえで「原子力再生を果たし、インフラ輸出基盤を再構築」と記し、原発の維持と輸出促進を確認した。「経産省の再生そのもの」とも強調し、最重要政策に位置づけている。

The "Executive Summary" at the top says "There is no stable energy supply without nuclear power," and "This is to declare the renewed determination by the national government to continue nuclear power." Further, it says "[We will] revive nuclear power, and rebuild the base for infrastructure export," reaffirming the maintaining of nuclear power plants and promotion of the export [of nuclear power plants]. It emphasizes [the revival of nuclear power] is "the revival of METI itself", and positions it as the most important policy [of the government].

輸出では「今回の悲劇に潜む情報を分析し、世界に共有する」としている。原発輸出を進める安倍政権は「事故の経験と教訓を世界と共有する」と唱えており、その原型と言える。

In the export [section], it says "we will analyze the information from this tragedy and share it with the world". The mantra of the Abe administration, in promoting the export of nuclear power plants, is "to share the experience and lessons of the accident with the world", and this internal document may have served as a prototype.

さらに、(1)(事故の)応急措置(2)緊急時宣言(3)原子力規制委員会の形成(4)東電解体と新電力事業体制の確立、という項目があり、とるべき具体策が並ぶ。このうち規制委は12年9月、民主党政権でつくられた。文書では新基準で審査したうえで「合格原発の稼働」としており、民主党政権や「原発活用」を掲げる安倍政権の再稼働方針とも重なっている。

Further, there are sections discussing the detailed plans such as: (1) Emergency response to the accident, (2) Emergency declaration (3) Forming the Nuclear Regulation Authority, (4) Dissolution of TEPCO and establishment of new electric power business structure. The Nuclear Regulation Authority was set up in September 2012 under the DPJ administration. According to the document, [nuclear power plants] to be inspected under the new standard and "restart the plants that pass the inspection", which dovetails with the policy under the DPJ administrations and the Abe administration whose policy is to "utilize nuclear power plants".

当時、経産省資源エネルギー庁にいた官僚は「原発に知見のある幹部が文書をつくった。政策に通じた幹部の考えが実現するのは自然の流れだ」と説明する。

A bureaucrat who worked at the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy under METI at that time says, "The document was created by high-ranking officials knowledgeable about nuclear power plants. It is only natural that the ideas from the officials who know a lot about policy-making get implemented.

特定秘密保護法案では原発にかかわる文書なども秘匿されかねない。国民がこれらの政策立案過程を検証できなくなる恐れもある。

Under the State Secrecy Protection Law, documents related to nuclear power plants may be concealed. Citizens may not be able to examine the policy planning process.


As usual in Japan, neither newspaper even lets the readers see the documents. There is no link, no embed. We as the readers have to take their word for it.

Both Mainichi and Asahi had more than a year, if they wanted, to dig up and report their respective information, and examine the policy planning process as much as they liked. They didn't. But suddenly, with the State Secrecy Protection Law with its potential threat to press freedom which they didn't bother exercising much since the start of the nuclear accident, they cough up the information as if to prove their worth to the public.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree that Tepco caused the nuclear accident. As far as I can see it was gross negligence, not to mention a bad investment decision.

Beppe

Vyse Legendaire said...

Since Asahi and Mainichi's job is to capitalize on the stories of the day, I would argue they are operating at a high level. Once the law passes and this story blows over, they will move on to the next.

Anonymous said...

Humans.

Post a Comment