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2012年9月13日 (木)

原子力規制委 やむを得ぬ首相の委員長任命

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 13, 2012)
Noda's appointment of nuclear watchdog chief inevitable
原子力規制委 やむを得ぬ首相の委員長任命(9月12日付・読売社説)

A nuclear regulatory commission must be established as soon as possible to reconstruct the nation's nuclear safety administration.

At a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, the government decided to establish the commission next Wednesday.

The chairman and four other posts will be appointed by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda based on a law that allows for the appointment of the nuclear watchdog's members without obtaining Diet approval.

Personnel appointment without Diet approval is not desirable. But considering that the legal deadline for establishing the agency is Sept. 26, the government will have no choice but to take this exceptional step.

There was no vote held on a personnel plan for the commission during the ordinary Diet session that ended last week because of differences within the Democratic Party of Japan.

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi, a candidate in the forthcoming party presidential election, and some other DPJ members called for replacing the proposed personnel with people who do not belong to the so-called nuclear power village.

Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan also took a cautious stance toward the personnel plan. It is incredible that the plan was not backed by the ruling party.

Opposition from within the DPJ has little chance of subsiding and it is strongly believed the opposition parties would reject the proposal. It appears the government would not find it easy to obtain approval in the next extraordinary Diet session.


Nuclear experts necessary

The regulatory commission is responsible for ensuring the safety of nuclear power based on specialized knowledge. Hatoyama and other opponents of the plan must understand that the commission is not a forum to decide on nuclear policy.

Under normal circumstances, the commission's main task will be to determine the advisability of restarting and decommissioning nuclear power reactors. In times of emergency, the commission will serve as a control headquarters for dealing with nuclear accidents.

Since the commission is an autonomous entity, which is to say independent from government ministries and agencies, it requires personnel with practical knowledge of nuclear power. The commission will be unable to perform its role if experts are eliminated from it.

For the commission to function properly, a robust personnel arrangement must be realized for the nuclear regulatory agency that will serve as its secretariat. It is essential to harness human resources widely from the private and public sectors.

If the government puts forth a policy to reduce the nation's nuclear dependence to zero, it will become difficult to get the most out of able personnel due to the loss of a bright outlook for the future. The government must consider this point as well.


Rule needs review

The rule requiring Diet approval for personnel appointments must be reviewed by both the ruling and opposition parties.

Above all, it is problematic that personnel plans revealed in the media in advance are not approved in principle. This rule was included in an agreement reached by the chairmen of the Rules and Administration committees of both houses of the Diet, as insisted on by the DPJ when it was an opposition party.

Such a rule represents unjustifiable media control. Using fear of information leaks as an excuse for the government to refrain from consulting ruling and opposition parties on personnel matters could have serious consequences.

The lower house has called for abolishing the agreement but the upper house disagreed, insisting it be partly revised instead.

Liberal Democratic Party members of the upper house might have opposed scrapping the accord to strike back at the DPJ, which the LDP believes used the agreement to attack the LDP-led government.

In any case, irrational rules must be eliminated. It is the reasonable thing to do.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 12, 2012)
(2012年9月12日01時50分  読売新聞)


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