Japan: "Nuclear Regulator Tied to Industry"

"TOKYO --Japan's nuclear regulator has amassed power while growing closer to the industry it regulates, according to former regulators and industry critics who blame the trend for lapses that may have contributed to the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

Bucking the global standard, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has two distinct and often competing roles: regulating the nuclear power industry, and promoting Japanese nuclear technology at home and abroad.

The setup recalls U.S. regulation of offshore drilling before last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, in which the same agency regulated the industry and promoted offshore oil-and- gas development. One of the Obama administration's first post-spill actions was to break up the agency.

In the U.S., the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which oversees nuclear plants, is independent from the Department of Energy, which researches and promotes nuclear power. "

Yuka Hayashi reports for the Wall Street Journal March 28, 2011.

Source: Wall St. Journal, 03/28/2011