Japan Nuclear Regulatory Agency in New Storm over Pro-Industry PR

"TOKYO -- The Japanese government disclosed reports Friday showing that its primary nuclear regulator tried to manipulate public opinion at forums to promote nuclear power, findings that further damage the industry's already tattered reputation.

The announcement came as Prime Minister Naoto Kan released an energy-strategy framework that seeks to reduce the dependence on nuclear power following the country's worst-ever nuclear accident at the quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi plant in northern Japan.

'The scandal, if true, is a grave problem that questions the very existence of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency,' Mr. Kan said at a news conference on the energy strategy.

Earlier Friday, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda released results of a survey of the seven utilities that had public forums on nuclear issues over the past five years.

It found that one utility, Chubu Electric Power Co. in central Japan, said it had been asked by NISA to bring people to a public symposium in 2007 and to give them supportive questions they could ask. Chubu Electric said it encouraged its people to attend but did not supply questions because it considered it inappropriate." 

Kosaku Narioka and Toko Sekiguchi report for the Wall St. Journal July 30, 2011.

Source: Wall St. Journal, 08/01/2011