Roger Schreffler: Fukushima Official Disaster Report E/J translation differences: Blaming “Japanese culture” an “invention” of PR manager Kurokawa Kiyoshi, not in Japanese version (which references TEPCO’s corporate culture) (UPDATED)

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Hi Blog.  Just before the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima Disasters, let’s revisit a topic Debito.org covered some years ago in this blog post:

Parliamentary Independent Investigation Commission Report on Fukushima Disaster “Made in Japan”: ironies of different Japanese and English versions (Debito.org, July 16, 2012).

Veteran journalist Roger Schreffler has contacted Debito.org to release the following information about the snow job that the person heading up the investigation, a Mr. Kurokawa Kiyoshi, carried out when this report was released in English blaming “Japanese culture” for the disasters (he also blamed foreign inspectors, believe it or not).  It’s a supreme example of successful Gaijin Handling, and most of the overseas media bought into it.  But not everyone, as Roger exposes below.  Read on.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

DISCLAIMER appended March 12, 2016 JST:  Debito.org has given this issue space because 1) one of our missions is to provide a voice to underrepresented views, 2) we have reported in the past that having two different versions of the Fukushima Report based on language was odd, and 3) Roger has made his claims under his name and is thus taking responsibility for the contents.  The reportage culture of the FCCJ is also coming under scrutiny in this post, and as a former member of the FCCJ myself I have been a target of bullying and censorship, so it is possible there may be a “there” there in this case.  That said, the views below are Roger’s, and not necessarily those of Debito.org as a whole.  Moreover, again, Roger has put his name to his views to take responsibility, and those who do not comment under their actual names will not have their comments approved IF they direct their criticisms at people by name.  Thus commenters’ names and their claims will be subject to the same level of scrutiny as the names they mention.  (That means in the comments section, “War Dog” has had his posts edited or deleted for engaging in personal attacks.)

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
March 8, 2016
Dear Debito,

I don’t think we’ve met, but I am aware of who you are because I authorized an invitation for you to speak at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan between 2000 and 2005.

I believe the following information may be of interest to you. The Fukushima commission never concluded that Japanese culture caused the Daiichi plant meltdown.

Kiyoshi Kurokawa worked with a PR consultant, Carlos Ghosn’s former speechwriter, and altered the preface to the overseas edition of the report.

More than 100 media organizations, mostly unwittingly, quoted Kurokawa’s introduction as if it were part of the official report. It was not, of course.

I pitched my article to the press club’s Board of Directors. No response. So now I’m doing it the old-fashioned way – contacting everyone who erroneously reported individually.

Kiyoshi Kurokawa will speak at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on Thursday, March 10, the day before the fifth anniversary of the 3/11 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear accident.

Kurokawa spoke at the club in July 2012 as chair of a parliamentary commission set up to investigate the causes of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. More than 150 foreign news organizations, government agencies and NGOs attributed blame to ‘Japanese culture’.

It was an invention.

Nowhere in the 641-page main report and 86-page executive summary can one find the widely quoted expressions “Made in Japan disaster” and “ingrained conventions of Japanese culture (including) reflexive obedience, groupism and insularity.”

In fact, all references to culture (文化) involve TEPCO – TEPCO’s corporate culture, TEPCO’s organizational culture, and TEPCO’s safety culture.

It turns out that Kurokawa retained a PR consultant to hype the report’s English edition for overseas distribution including to foreign media organizations such as AFP, BBC, CNN, Fox News and more than 100 others (see attached list).

I have reported this matter to the Board of Directors of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan because the consultant, a former speechwriter for Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, was working as publisher and editor of the club’s magazine at the time of the news conference; in fact, on the day of the news conference.

It may be true that Japanese culture is to blame for the Fukushima disaster. But it isn’t what the commission concluded and submitted formally (in Japanese) to the Diet on July 5, 2012.

Attached are records showing the commission’s hiring and financial relationship with the consultant (click on links to pdf files):
1. Attachments for report

2. Kurokawa statements in Fukushima commission report

3. media outlets fukushima

4. Attachment 1..

I have downplayed the FCCJ’s involvement because it is my hope that the club’s Board of Directors will address this matter in an open and transparent way. Unfortunately, the current BOD is under attack because they settled three litigations last December (two by staff and one by members) over the firing of 50 employees.

I proposed an article to the club’s magazine in August 2013 in which I summarized evidence that had been submitted to the courts. I was refused. But had the magazine published my article, there is a good chance that the lawsuits could have been settled then, saving the club nearly ¥25 million in legal fees. That’s nearly $200,000.

This time again, I have asked for space in the magazine. No response.

If you read the club’s notice, you won’t find a single reference to the fact that Kurokawa hired a club fiduciary to help alter an official, taxpayer-funded report. Or that there was controversy over the translation.

http://www.fccj.or.jp/events-calendar/press-events/icalrepeat.detail/2016/03/10/3955/-/press-conference-kiyoshi-kurokawa-author-of-capture-of-regulatory.html

Mure Dickie of the Financial Times is the only reporter who reported the translation discrepancies on the day of the FCCJ news conference: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/94fba34a-c8ee-11e1-a768-00144feabdc0.html

Dickie, of course, didn’t know that these weren’t ‘translation’ mistakes.

It is not uncommon for newsmakers to hire PR consultants to help with their messaging. What is uncommon – and almost without precedent – is for the consultant to be an editor of a publication that has an interest in the news event in question – and that publishes a report about that event.

As you are aware, Asahi Shimbun took a brutal beating for altering the testimony of the late Masao Yoshida, the Fukushima Daiichi plant manager.

How is this different?

Kurokawa signed off on the rewrite; it wasn’t a translation. But the commission didn’t approve. I contacted the commission two weeks after the news conference. They said: “Refer to the Japanese, the official.”

The club’s magazine was founded by two AP legends – Max Desfor (pictured on the lobby wall with his Pulitzer Prize winning Korean War photograph) and John Roderick (pictured with Mao Zedong).

I shudder to think of what they would say if they knew that the magazine was now in the hands of a PR specialist and a one-time tabloid magazine editor who, by extension, now decide what constitutes ‘news’.

For your reference: I am a 30-year veteran journalist, have never worked for a major news organization though did plenty of freelance work. I also served as FCCJ president (once), vice president (twice) and BOD director (twice). I chaired the club’s speaker program for five years and signed off on 800 press luncheons including the last sitting Japanese prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, on Sept. 14, 2001.

Sincerely, Roger Schreffler, Providence RI & Tokyo

ENDS

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////

FCCJ Writeup on Kurokawa Kiyoshi Presser on March 10, 2016:

Thursday, March 10, 2016, 12:00 – 13:00

5th Anniversary Series for 3.11 Disaster 

FCCJKurokawaKiyoshi031016
Kiyoshi Kurokawa
Author of “Regulatory Capture”
Language: The speech and Q & A will be in English.

http://www.fccj.or.jp/events-calendar/press-events/icalrepeat.detail/2016/03/10/3955/-/press-conference-kiyoshi-kurokawa-author-of-capture-of-regulatory.html

 Five years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan is in the process of restarting more reactors and has made some progress in the cleanup and decommissioning of the wrecked plant. Meanwhile, there are still some 100,000 evacuees from around the Fukushima site.

 A new independent nuclear watchdog has also been set up along with new regulations prompted by Fukushima. But the Nuclear Regulatory Authority is under pressure from politicians and utilities to process restart applications more quickly and to be less strict on seismic issues and other matters. Equally important are the questions as to what lessons plant operators have learned from the unprecedented triple meltdown. Recent problems with restarts and disclosure by the utilities, among other issues, aren’t reassuring.

 At this critical juncture, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, the former chairman of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, will come to the Club to talk about his new book “Regulatory Capture,” and answer questions about what has happened since the Fukushima accident. In the introduction to his 2012 Diet report, Kurokawa was scathing in his criticism of regulators and utilities, saying, “It was a profoundly man‐made disaster – that could and should have been foreseen and prevented.”

 In his new book, in addition to describing the set up of the commission and its investigation of the Fukushima accident, he talks about Japan not learning the necessary lessons from it and applying them to prevent accidents in the future.”

 “If there are major accidents or problems in areas other than nuclear power, Japan will make the same mistakes again, become isolated and lose the trust of the international community. The Fukushima nuclear accident is not over yet. Japan must seize the opportunity to change itself, or else its future will be in danger,” he says.

 Dr. Kurokawa, MD and MACP, is an adjunct professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, chairman of the Health and Global Policy Institute, chairman of the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund and professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo.Please reserve in advance, 3211-3161 or on the website (still & TV cameras inclusive). Reservations and cancellations are not complete without confirmation.

Professional Activities Committee

ENDS

===============================================

UPDATE MARCH 11, 2016 JST, FOLLOWING FCCJ PRESS CONFERENCE, FROM ROGER SCHREFFLER: 

Debito,

As a followup: The moderator asked Kurokawa [at the FCCJ on March 10, 2016) about the differences in the English and Japanese version of the report’s executive summary. Kurokawa admitted that the ‘content’ was different. What this means is that the content turned over to the Diet on July 5, 2012 (both houses) was different than what he reported to the nonJapanese-speaking world.

Listen for yourself to his answer [to a question from the AP, who moderated the meeting, available on the FCCJ website for members only.  Here’s an audio file of the question (an excerpt from minute 34 on the recording, for 3:26, in WMA format. Kurokawa press conference and .mp3 format:

where he now blames other factors on the outcome, such as a lack of time, him summarizing his own personal opinion for the report, and the lack of concision in the Japanese language.] 

Later on, Kurokawa equated his Japanese cultural references to Ruth Benedict, Samuel Huntington, Karel van Wolferen and John Dower.

Which leaves one unanswered question: Who wrote it?

The Associated Press followed up with a question about the translation team. Kurokawa mentioned an acquaintance of his, Sakon Uda, who was ‘managing director’ of the project and currently works for Keniichi Ohmae at Ohmae’s graduate school of business.

I don’t know if the AP will follow up. But the AP was one of only three media organizations, the other being the Financial Times and The New York Times, that pointed out discrepancies in the Japanese and English reports in summer 2012.

The rest – even those who attended Kurokawa’s July 6, 2012 news conference where he admitted to there being differences in the ‘translation’, but not ‘content’ – followed like a herd and didn’t report that there was a discrepancy between the ‘official’ and the one for ‘gaijin’.

Following is the translation of the official Japanese introduction. Kurokawa talks about ‘mindset’ (思いこみ and マインドセット) but not ‘culture’.

Best, Roger Schreffler

======================================

Preface of Kurokawa Kiyoshi’s Statements (from the full text)

THE FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI NUCLEAR POWER PLANT ACCIDENT IS NOT OVER.

This large-scale accident will forever remain part of the world’s history of nuclear power. The world was astounded at the fact that such an accident could occur in Japan, a scientifically and technologically advanced country. Caught in the focus of the world’s attention, the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) revealed, in their response to the disaster, some fundamental problems underlying Japanese society.

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was the third nuclear power plant to start commercial operation in Japan. Japan began to study the commercial use of nuclear power in the 1950s. Following the oil crisis of the 1970s, nuclear power generation became part of Japan’s national policy, unifying the political, bureaucratic, and business circles into one entity promoting its use.

Nuclear power is not only the most incredibly powerful energy ever acquired by the human race, but a colossally complicated system that requires extremely-high levels of expertise as well as operational and management competence. Advanced countries have learned lessons through experience and from many tragic events, including the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents. Authorities in charge of the world’s nuclear power have maintained a basic stance of protecting people and the environment from all sorts of accidents and disasters, while nuclear operators have evolved in sustaining and enhancing the safety of equipment and operations.

Japan has itself dealt with a number of nuclear power plant accidents, small and large. Most of these were responded to, but without sufficient transparency; sometimes they were concealed by the organizations concerned. The government, together with TEPCO, the largest of the country’s ten utilities, promoted nuclear power by advocating its use as a safe energy source, while maintaining that accidents could not occur in Japan.

Consequently, the Japanese nuclear power plants were to face the March 11 earthquake totally unprepared.

Why did this accident, which should have been foreseeable, actually occur? The answer to this question dates to the time of Japan’s high economic growth. As Japan pushed nuclear power generation as national policy with the political, bureaucratic, and business circles in perfect coordination, an intricate form of “Regulatory Capture” was created.

The factors that contributed to this include: the political dominance by a single party for nearly half a century; the distinct organizational structure of both the bureaucratic and business sectors, characterized by the hiring of new university graduates as a group; the seniority-based promotion system; the lifetime employment system; and the “mindset” of the Japanese people that took these for granted. As the economy developed, Japan’s “self- confidence” started to develop into “arrogance and conceit.”

The “single-track elites”—who make their way to the top of their organization according to the year of their entry into the company or the ministry—pursued the critical mission of abiding by precedent and defending the interests of their organization. They assigned a higher priority to this mission over that of protecting the lives of the people. Hence, while being aware of the global trends in safety control, Japan buried its head in the sand and put off implementing necessary safety measures.

We do not question the exceptional challenge entailed in the response to the vast scale of the disaster created by the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear accident on March 11, 2012. Furthermore, we understand that the accident occurred a mere eighteen months after the historical change in power, the birth of a new (non-Liberal Democratic Party) government for the first time in some fifty years.

Were the government, regulators and the operator prepared to respond to a severe nuclear accident? Did they truly understand the weight of responsibility they bore in their respective positions? And were they fully committed to fulfill those responsibilities? To the contrary, they showed questionable risk management capabilities by repeatedly saying that circumstances were “beyond assumptions” and “not confirmed yet.” This attitude actually exacerbated the damage that eventually impacted not only Japan, but the world at large. Undeniably, this accident was a “manmade disaster” that stemmed from the lack of a sense of responsibility in protecting the lives of the people and the society by present and past government administrations, regulators and TEPCO.

Nine months after this massive accident, the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission was established by a unanimous resolution of both the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors of the National Diet, which represent the people of Japan. It is the first investigation commission in Japan’s history of constitutional government, and is independent both from the government and from the operator, as set up under the National Diet of Japan.

To investigate what was at the center of this accident, we could not but touch upon the root of the problems of the former regulators and their relationship structure with the operators. The Commission chose three keywords as the bases of our investigative activities: the people, the future and the world. We defined our mission with phrases such as “conducting an investigation on the accident by the people for the people,” and “to submit recommendations for the future based on the lessons learned from the mistakes,” and “to investigate from the standpoint of Japan’s status as a member of international society (Japan’s responsibility to the world.)” This report is the fruit of six months of investigative activities carried through with a few constraints.

About a century ago, Kanichi Aasakawa, a great historian born and raised in Fukushima, blew the whistle in a book titled Nihon no kaki (“Crisis for Japan”). It was a wake-up call concerning the state model of Japan after the victory in the Japanese-Russo War. In his book, he accurately predicted the path that Japan, with its “inability to change,” would take after the war’s end.

How now will Japan deal with the aftermath of this catastrophe, which occurred as a result of Japan’s “inability to change”? And how will the country, in fact, change subsequently? The world is closely watching Japan, and we, the Japanese people, must not throw this experience away. It is an opportunity, in turn, to drastically reform the government that failed to protect the livelihood of its people, the nuclear organizations, the social structure, and the “mindset” of the Japanese—thereby regaining confidence in the country. We hope this report serves as the first step for all Japanese to evaluate and transform ourselves in terms of the state model that Japan should pursue.

Last but not least, I strongly hope from the bottom of my heart that the people of Fukushima—particularly the children upon whose shoulders rest the future of Japan—will be able to resume their lives of peace as soon as possible. I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to the people all over of the world who extended their warm assistance and encouragement in the wake of this devastating accident. My sincere thanks also go to the many people who kindly cooperated and supported our investigation, the members of the Diet who unswervingly strove to make this National Diet’s investigation commission a reality, and all the staff of the commission office for their many days and nights of work.

Kiyoshi Kurokawa
ENDS

18 comments on “Roger Schreffler: Fukushima Official Disaster Report E/J translation differences: Blaming “Japanese culture” an “invention” of PR manager Kurokawa Kiyoshi, not in Japanese version (which references TEPCO’s corporate culture) (UPDATED)

  • [redacted]
    As for Nissan, they hired a number of “journalists” in Tokyo to their PR team, and some of them publicly attacked (on Facebook and elsewhere) anybody who began to ask questions or write critically in 2011 about the Japan disasters, especially the Fukushima meltdown which the government continues to cover-up or distort truth and information.

    Yes, this does seem a classic case of “gaijin handling”. It’s also an example of how PR and political operatives, as well as “journalists” working for the Japanese state, deliberately mislead, co=opt or bully journalists trying to seek truth about Japan.

  • as for Masao Yoshida, the Fukushima plant manager who many consider a national hero for defying TEPCO’s orders to save the reactors (at risk to global health), it’s very important to understand the suspicions around the real cause of his death. After the [NYT and the AP] and their clique reported, without question, the “official version” of his death, nobody else could convince their editors or producers to raise questions whether he died of radiation-related complications. It was terribly incompetent journalism and a key part of the massive distortion campaign going on in Japan at that time. This is only one of multiple examples of this FCCJ-based clique distorting, spinning and covering up truth instead of doing proper open-minded journalism.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    Thank you for posting this. Now I am seeing a bigger picture that set up this 3.11 report conspiracy theory. I am more concerned with FCCJ’s secret involvement in this gaijin handling business than a mere verification of ‘English report as separate message to foreign correspondents.’ [redacted] It’s just appalling to see PR guys double-dipping on publishing and Nuclear Accident Investigation Group to the detriment of journalistic integrity. We shouldn’t take this incident too lightly. Things are getting even worse than I thought.

    Regarding Kurokawa’s double-talk, I think he can find the buddies in Michigan gov. Rick Synder’s Office and EPA for Fukushimatizing(“culture-blaming” for cover up) the Flint water contamination crisis.

  • ” It was terribly incompetent journalism and a key part of the massive distortion campaign going on in Japan at that time.”

    Yes it was a very terrible time and Ive often wondered why it was all swept away so fast. The most terrifying aspect to it was how the hunker down mode was so quickly enacted and the outside world shut out; unless it was for praising Japan. The actual disaster is always given so much sympathy and coverage but the way it was handled by the establishment is not.

    There was a follow up documentary on Japanese TV (you rarely see any nowdays, Fukushima might as well happened 50 years ago) where one of Kans deputies was interviewed, and he was highly critical of Kans heli hose response to the meltdown. I am not aware of any foreign agency recommending such a laughable response;it was all made in Japan. Many of us had the surreal opportunity to witness how the media and TEPCO handled that whole disaster from day 1. There was the initial denying and “locking up” response by the TEPCO 3 stooges, then the daily updates by their “minister of…?”. We also got to see some TEPCO tantosha yelling at subordinates; blame was to go around. That whole fiasco was a very Japanese response to a disaster, as is the forget and ignore attitude that prevails today.

    The follow up was just as interesting. Gambare Nippon, then out with Noda and more drama with the islands and a new regime.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    The quality of ‘journalism’ is pretty poor in Japan, even amongst NJ journalists.
    I guess all the ‘real’ journalists have got tired of the bullying of the J-gov, the dead end nature of Japan as a posting, and moved on.
    The gap is filled by amateurs and those with a vested interest in presenting Japan a certain way.

    The result is that very little is worth reading.

    If you live in Japan, you can see what is happening, and you can read about it in the Japanese weekly gossip rags, which generally do a much better job of dishing out the dirt on corrupt politicians and Japan’s social problems.

    Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, since we already know that Japan is seriously broken, they are papering over the cracks, and that won’t fix anything. All the spin and PR and ‘message management’ they can produce won’t help when people come to Japan and are disappointed by the reality, or by the actions of the Japanese government in the international arena.

    It’s like putting lipstick on a pig.

  • Jim is correct about “real” journalists moving elsewhere. Akiko Fujita now in Singapore doing excellent work, sometimes sent to Japan. The ABC Australia and BBC pros moved elsewhere. Andrew Marshall moved to Thailand and won the Pulitzer Prize. Karl Greenfeld wrote a book Speed Tribes then moved to Hong Kong and Los Angeles. Even Simon Ostrovsky of VICE checked out of Japan after one story [redacted].

    It’s one thing for Eido and his pals to write thousands of comments Japologizing for Japan. They have “real” jobs in “real” Japanese companies and they are expressing their defense of Japan. Even if I don’t agree with them, they aren’t pretending to be professional journalists, in most cases.

    It’s more problematic when Nissan PR and NHK propagandists pose as real journalists and try to swindle the world for their own gain. I don’t believe there’s a conspiracy where LDP minders hire the NHK-PR crowd to spin stories in Japan’s favor. It’s more likely that they do this to angle their way into more paying work with Japan Inc. They can’t help but telling lies. That’s what they’re paid to do, day after day. It becomes a hard habit to break. After awhile, you don’t even know what’s not a lie anymore.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ War Dog

    ‘I don’t believe there’s a conspiracy where LDP minders hire the NHK-PR crowd to spin stories in Japan’s favor.’

    I do.
    Abe specifically increased the budget for ‘correcting misunderstandings about Japan’.

  • @war dog and Jim,

    You both make good points, that is you rarely see any worthwhile journalism when it comes to Japan. With just a few minutes into any coverage, I can quickly tell where its going and usually disappointed by the fluff that follows so wont waste my time watching it. The BBC occasionally does an excellent job, and before you could see good investigative NHK programs, but now rarely do. Post Fukushima would of been excellent material for a Kerr or like, but I havent seen anything.

  • @JimDiGriz

    I wasn’t aware of Abe-san’s budget. In that case I stand corrected.

    I wonder where this money is going? Hazard to guess it’s going to the PR-NHK-Propaganda clique and not to truth-seeking journalists.

  • UPDATE MARCH 11, 2016 JST, FOLLOWING FCCJ PRESS CONFERENCE, FROM ROGER SCHREFFLER: 

    Debito,

    As a followup: The moderator asked Kurokawa [at the FCCJ on March 10, 2016) about the differences in the English and Japanese version of the report’s executive summary. Kurokawa admitted that the ‘content’ was different. What this means is that the content turned over to the Diet on July 5, 2012 (both houses) was different than what he reported to the nonJapanese-speaking world.

    Listen for yourself to his answer [to a question from the AP, who moderated the meeting, available on the FCCJ website for members only.  Here’s an audio file of the question (an excerpt from minute 34 on the recording, for 3:26, in WMA format. Kurokawa press conference and .mp3 format:
    http://www.debito.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Kurokawa-press-conference-copy.mp3
    where he now blames other factors on the outcome, such as a lack of time, him summarizing his own personal opinion for the report, and the lack of concision in the Japanese language.] 

    Later on, Kurokawa equated his Japanese cultural references to Ruth Benedict, Samuel Huntington, Karel van Wolferen and John Dower.

    Which leaves one unanswered question: Who wrote it?

    The Associated Press followed up with a question about the translation team. Kurokawa mentioned an acquaintance of his, Sakon Uda, who was ‘managing director’ of the project and currently works for Keniichi Ohmae at Ohmae’s graduate school of business.

    I don’t know if the AP will follow up. But the AP was one of only three media organizations, the other being the Financial Times and The New York Times, that pointed out discrepancies in the Japanese and English reports in summer 2012.

    The rest – even those who attended Kurokawa’s July 6, 2012 news conference where he admitted to there being differences in the ‘translation’, but not ‘content’ – followed like a herd and didn’t report that there was a discrepancy between the ‘official’ and the one for ‘gaijin’.

    Following is the translation of the official Japanese introduction. Kurokawa talks about ‘mindset’ (思いこみ and マインドセット) but not ‘culture’.

    Best, Roger Schreffler

    ======================================

    Preface of Kurokawa Kiyoshi’s Statements (from the full text)

    THE FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI NUCLEAR POWER PLANT ACCIDENT IS NOT OVER.

    This large-scale accident will forever remain part of the world’s history of nuclear power. The world was astounded at the fact that such an accident could occur in Japan, a scientifically and technologically advanced country. Caught in the focus of the world’s attention, the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) revealed, in their response to the disaster, some fundamental problems underlying Japanese society.

    The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was the third nuclear power plant to start commercial operation in Japan. Japan began to study the commercial use of nuclear power in the 1950s. Following the oil crisis of the 1970s, nuclear power generation became part of Japan’s national policy, unifying the political, bureaucratic, and business circles into one entity promoting its use.

    Nuclear power is not only the most incredibly powerful energy ever acquired by the human race, but a colossally complicated system that requires extremely-high levels of expertise as well as operational and management competence. Advanced countries have learned lessons through experience and from many tragic events, including the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents. Authorities in charge of the world’s nuclear power have maintained a basic stance of protecting people and the environment from all sorts of accidents and disasters, while nuclear operators have evolved in sustaining and enhancing the safety of equipment and operations.

    Japan has itself dealt with a number of nuclear power plant accidents, small and large. Most of these were responded to, but without sufficient transparency; sometimes they were concealed by the organizations concerned. The government, together with TEPCO, the largest of the country’s ten utilities, promoted nuclear power by advocating its use as a safe energy source, while maintaining that accidents could not occur in Japan.

    Consequently, the Japanese nuclear power plants were to face the March 11 earthquake totally unprepared.

    Why did this accident, which should have been foreseeable, actually occur? The answer to this question dates to the time of Japan’s high economic growth. As Japan pushed nuclear power generation as national policy with the political, bureaucratic, and business circles in perfect coordination, an intricate form of “Regulatory Capture” was created.

    The factors that contributed to this include: the political dominance by a single party for nearly half a century; the distinct organizational structure of both the bureaucratic and business sectors, characterized by the hiring of new university graduates as a group; the seniority-based promotion system; the lifetime employment system; and the “mindset” of the Japanese people that took these for granted. As the economy developed, Japan’s “self- confidence” started to develop into “arrogance and conceit.”

    The “single-track elites”—who make their way to the top of their organization according to the year of their entry into the company or the ministry—pursued the critical mission of abiding by precedent and defending the interests of their organization. They assigned a higher priority to this mission over that of protecting the lives of the people. Hence, while being aware of the global trends in safety control, Japan buried its head in the sand and put off implementing necessary safety measures.

    We do not question the exceptional challenge entailed in the response to the vast scale of the disaster created by the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear accident on March 11, 2012. Furthermore, we understand that the accident occurred a mere eighteen months after the historical change in power, the birth of a new (non-Liberal Democratic Party) government for the first time in some fifty years.

    Were the government, regulators and the operator prepared to respond to a severe nuclear accident? Did they truly understand the weight of responsibility they bore in their respective positions? And were they fully committed to fulfill those responsibilities? To the contrary, they showed questionable risk management capabilities by repeatedly saying that circumstances were “beyond assumptions” and “not confirmed yet.” This attitude actually exacerbated the damage that eventually impacted not only Japan, but the world at large. Undeniably, this accident was a “manmade disaster” that stemmed from the lack of a sense of responsibility in protecting the lives of the people and the society by present and past government administrations, regulators and TEPCO.

    Nine months after this massive accident, the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission was established by a unanimous resolution of both the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors of the National Diet, which represent the people of Japan. It is the first investigation commission in Japan’s history of constitutional government, and is independent both from the government and from the operator, as set up under the National Diet of Japan.

    To investigate what was at the center of this accident, we could not but touch upon the root of the problems of the former regulators and their relationship structure with the operators. The Commission chose three keywords as the bases of our investigative activities: the people, the future and the world. We defined our mission with phrases such as “conducting an investigation on the accident by the people for the people,” and “to submit recommendations for the future based on the lessons learned from the mistakes,” and “to investigate from the standpoint of Japan’s status as a member of international society (Japan’s responsibility to the world.)” This report is the fruit of six months of investigative activities carried through with a few constraints.

    About a century ago, Kanichi Aasakawa, a great historian born and raised in Fukushima, blew the whistle in a book titled Nihon no kaki (“Crisis for Japan”). It was a wake-up call concerning the state model of Japan after the victory in the Japanese-Russo War. In his book, he accurately predicted the path that Japan, with its “inability to change,” would take after the war’s end.

    How now will Japan deal with the aftermath of this catastrophe, which occurred as a result of Japan’s “inability to change”? And how will the country, in fact, change subsequently? The world is closely watching Japan, and we, the Japanese people, must not throw this experience away. It is an opportunity, in turn, to drastically reform the government that failed to protect the livelihood of its people, the nuclear organizations, the social structure, and the “mindset” of the Japanese—thereby regaining confidence in the country. We hope this report serves as the first step for all Japanese to evaluate and transform ourselves in terms of the state model that Japan should pursue.

    Last but not least, I strongly hope from the bottom of my heart that the people of Fukushima—particularly the children upon whose shoulders rest the future of Japan—will be able to resume their lives of peace as soon as possible. I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to the people all over of the world who extended their warm assistance and encouragement in the wake of this devastating accident. My sincere thanks also go to the many people who kindly cooperated and supported our investigation, the members of the Diet who unswervingly strove to make this National Diet’s investigation commission a reality, and all the staff of the commission office for their many days and nights of work.

    Kiyoshi Kurokawa
    ENDS

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Well, the FT was one of only 3 papers to report the inconsistencies, but they’ve been bought for way more than their market valuation by the people behind Nikkei Shimbun since then.

    That’ll put a lid on FT ‘showing up’ Japan, and now we know why!

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Just to demonstrate how the administration is attempting to control the international narrative on Fukushima, allow me to share this;

    http://www.japantoday.com/smartphone/view/national/fukushima-relocations-were-unjustified-kneejerk-reaction-uk-academics

    According to the now right-wing Fuji-Sankei owned Japan Today English language news site, a group of UK academics have decided that the radiation risk from Fukushima was so low that it would have reduced the life expectancy of evacuees by an average of only 21 days had they stayed put, so the cost of evacuation and decontamination is not justified.

    This is problematic since saving TEPCO money should come before 3 weeks of anyone’s life!

    Is this research impartial? (NJ academics after all).
    No!

    Their funding came from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council which according to its own website provides funding for ”studies in severe nuclear accidents and environmental safety” in collaboration with Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science and Technology and Japan Science and Technology Agency.

    So as you can see the funding did come from a pro-nuclear govt. ministry and an associated agency. But they claim their study is absolutely impartial.

    The money trail speaks for itself. http://www.epsrc.ac.uk

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    Hi all,

    I am examining double-speak on Nuclear Accident Investigation Committee Report. I know most of you are already aware of the discrepancy between Japanese text and English text, by highlighting the terms that is not appeared in Japanese text such as “Made-in-Japan” disaster and “the goal is not—and should not be—to lay blame.”

    What I find telling in my comparison of two texts is the Committee’s (and PR staff’s) deliberate attempt for double-speak by avoiding the critique of powers-that-be(i.e., the government, regulatory committee, electronic companies) for consensus on cultural attribution of “mindset (omoikomi).” More than that, English version of text also leaves out the messages that appeal to the Japanese audience about the call for improvement of collective attitude toward nation. Here are the sentences(from original Japanese texts, followed by English translation) that are left out(without translation) in English texts:

    “原子力は、人類が獲得 した最も強力で圧倒的なエネルギーであるだけではなく、巨大 で 複雑なシステムであり、その扱いは極めて高い専門性、運転と管 理の能力が求められ る。”

    “そして、日本の原発は、いわば無防備のまま、3.11の日を迎える こととなった。 想定できたはずの事故がなぜ起こったのか。”

    “3.11の日、広範囲に及ぶ巨大地震、津波という自然災害と、それ によって引き起こ された原子力災害への対応は、極めて困難なも のだったことは疑いもない。しかも、こ の50年で初めてとなる歴 史的な政権交代からわずか18か月の新政権下でこの事故を迎 え た。”

    “100年ほど前に、ある警告が福島が生んだ偉人、朝河貫一によっ てなされていた。朝 河は、日露戦争に勝利した後の日本国家のあ りように警鐘を鳴らす書『日本の禍機』を 著し、日露戦争以後に 「変われなかった」日本が進んで行くであろう道を、正確に予測 していた。 ”

    And here are key sentences that are deliberately left out from English text to avoid pursuit of criticism on nuclear stakeholders.

    “多くの場 合、対応は不透明 であり組織的な隠ぺいも行われた。日本政府 は、電力会社10社の頂点にある東京電力 とともに、原子力は安全 であり、日本では事故など起こらないとして原子力を推進して き た。

    “この使命は、国民の命を守 ることより も優先され、”

    And here are most important message to Japanese readers that are deliberately omitted from English version of text:

    “「変われなかった」ことで、起きてしまった今回の大事故に、日 本は今後どう対応 し、どう変わっていくのか。これを、世界は厳 しく注視している。この経験を私たちは 無駄にしてはならない。 国民の生活を守れなかった政府をはじめ、原子力関係諸機関、 社 会構造や日本人の「思いこみ(マインドセット)」を抜本的に改革 し、この国の信頼 を立て直す機会は今しかない。”
    “日本のこれからの在り方について私たち 自身を検証し、変わり始 める第一歩となることを期待している。”

    And, needless to say, leaving out their acknowledgements in the last couple of sentences is a clear indication that English text is created in a way to dissociate foreign journalists from their target audience:

    “最後に、被災された福島 の皆さま、特に将来を担う子どもたちの生活が一日でも早く 落ち 着かれることを心から祈りたい。また、日本が経験したこの大事 故に手を差し伸べ てくださった世界中の方々、私たち委員会の調 査に協力、支援をしてくださった方々、 初めての国会の事故調査 委員会誕生に力を注がれた立法府の方々、そして、昼夜を問わ ず 我々を支えてくださった事務局の方々に深い感謝の意を表した い。”

    And here’s the most crucial part of discrepancy I find disingenuous and hypocritical:

    > “今回の 事故原因の調査は、過去の規制や事業者との構造といった問題の 根幹に触れずに は核心にたどりつけない。私たちは、委員会の活 動のキーワードを「国民」「未来」 「世界」とした。そして、委 員会の使命を、「国民による、国民のための事故調査」 「過ちか ら学ぶ未来に向けた提言」「世界の中の日本という視点(日本の 世界への責 任)」とした。限られた条件の中、6か月の調査活動を 行った総括がこの報告書であ る。”

    This makes a stark contrast with the English version:

    >”This report singles out numerous individuals and organizations for harsh criticism, but the goal is not—and should not be—to lay blame. The goal must be to learn from this disaster, and reflect deeply on its fundamental causes, in order to ensure that it is never repeated. Many of the lessons relate to policies and procedures, but the most important is one upon which each and every Japanese citizen should reflect very deeply. The consequences of negligence at Fukushima stand out as catastrophic, but the mindset that supported it can be found across Japan. In recognizing that fact, each of us should reflect on our responsibility as individuals in a democratic society. ”

    So, here’s the bottomline. Were these discrepancies accidental? Absolutely NOT. The English text uses the term “negligence” as a key concept for associative connotation with “omoikomi” (mindset) in Japanese text, but doesn’t make any further development for that. The English text also says: “This Commission believes the Japanese people – and the global community – deserve a full, honest and transparent answer to this question.” So, shifting their rhetorical motives from pursuit of accountability to vague concept of collective responsibility upon ordinary citizens for failure to challenge cultural mindset–is exactly the telo of this commission report? For the maintenance of dual-community system?? Oh what a great transparency, Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa!! You well deserve the title of Gaijin Handler for giving me a pretty good example of Jeremiah rhetoric in Japan Inc.

  • I still remember the Tepco panel reaction when they were interviewed, right after the event happened, it was so classic Japanese. Those were some very dark days indeed. Many embassies got their people out, but others decided all was ok and to trust the J goverments readings. Anyone remember that? Crazy stuff.

  • DISCLAIMER appended March 12, 2016 JST:

    Debito.org has given this issue space because 1) one of our missions is to provide a voice to underrepresented views, 2) we have reported in the past that having two different versions of the Fukushima Report based on language was odd, and 3) Roger has made his claims under his name and is thus taking responsibility for the contents. The reportage culture of the FCCJ is also coming under scrutiny in this post, and as a former member of the FCCJ myself I have been a target of bullying and censorship, so it is possible there may be a “there” there in this case. That said, the views below are Roger’s, and not necessarily those of Debito.org as a whole.

    Moreover, again, Roger has put his name to his views to take responsibility, and those who do not comment under their actual names will not have their comments approved IF they direct their criticisms at people by name. Thus commenters’ names and their claims will be subject to the same level of scrutiny as the names they mention. (That means in the comments section, “War Dog” has had his posts edited or deleted for engaging in personal attacks.)

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    I just bought his recently published book 規制の虜[Capture of Regulation] (Tokyo, Kodansha, 2016, http://www.amazon.co.jp/規制の虜-グループシンクが日本を滅ぼす-黒川-清/dp/4062198827/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8) this Saturday afternoon. I would like to share the important part of quotes that will help you formulate questions and refine your thoughts on the issue we are engaging in so far. Here are the quotes [Japanese, English translation welcome if you would like.] :

     ”福島第一原発事故は、世界も注目している大事故だから、報告書は日本語版だけでは済まない。第一、この委員会は英語の同時通訳を入れて、ウェブで公開しているのだから、報告書の英語版で期待されているだろうと思っていた。そこで英語で読む人たち向けの「グローバル・エディション」を作成した。これは宇田氏のチームとは別のところに設置し、私が指揮を執った。”
     ”しかし、この報告書の全部を英訳して提出するなど、とても締め切りに間に合わせられない。報告書全文の英訳版は、日本語版提出後、3ヶ月ほどかかり、10月中旬からウェブ<naiic.go.jp>に掲載されている。このサイトから日本語、英語に分かれるようになっている。本文の英訳作成と編集も何回もバージョンアップし、その前後で読み合せをするのだから大変な仕事だった。” 
    ”「英語の要約版」は、日本語の報告書一式の提出と同時に添付しなくてはならない。委員会と記者会見を国内外のプレスに公開してきた傾向があるからだ。この英語要約版は、日本語版の中で世界の人々にとって最も大事なメッセージと思われるとことだけを取りまとめて、同じようなページ数(85ページ)へと編集していった。”
     ”だが、中身の構成はまったく違う。第一、私が書いた「はじめに」にしても、最後まで推敲を重ねていたので締め切りぎりぎりにできたのあった。だから、英語版の「はじめに」は、委員として、この報告書の基本的なこと、つまり「規制の虜」についての社会的背景と、私の考えを、日本人でない人たちに、わかりやすい言葉で伝えようとした。”
     ”記者会見では、日本の記者の方たちにも、日本以外のプレスの記者の方たちにも、日本語版一式と英語の要約版を配布した。”
     ”この中には、日本語も英語もよく理解出来る外国の記者がいる。その何人かから、英語と日本語の「はじめに」が違うという指摘があった。英語要約版85ページと日本語要約版99ページとは厚さこそ似ているが、内容はまったく違うことを最初に明確に説明しておけば、この「誤解」は簡単に避けられたかもしれなかった。これは、私の答えの始め方がまずかったと思っている。” — Kiyoshi Kurokawa, 規制の虜[Regulatory Capture] Tokyo, Kodansha, 2016, (201-203)

    Based on my skimming of his book, I think Kurokawa is doing an excellent job by pointing out the fundamental structural problems within Japan Inc. He examined the socio-pathology of ‘cultural uniqueness’ (citing Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilization”), culture of insularity(yes, he cites Ivan Hall’s Cartels of Mind ), conceit, false understanding of accountability for paralipsis of “説明責任” in Japanese context, follow-the-order mantra, dysfunctional separation of powers within the government, etc. Also important to notice is that his investigation group—Nuclear Accident Investigation Independent Committee—was convened by legislative branch of the government(立法府), contrasting to government’s internal investigation committee appointed by executive branch(行政府). His investigation committee had far more independency in research than government accident investigation committee(政府事故調査委員会) or TEPCO’s internal investigation team. Based on these findings, I would hold off my discernment on his ethos, per se, for better understanding of who he is. I know many of you would disagree, but I am willing to consider lifting his name off from the label, which means seeing differently from Donald Keene, and typical Gaijin Handlers such as Dr. Makoto Kitaoka and Dr. Toshihiro Nakayama, yet on a couple of conditions. They are: 1) He will be open-minded to consider establishment of cartels that create and restore cultural segregation between Japanese and non-Japanese in professional and academic contexts as part of regulatory capture in his research; and 2) He will apply his scrutiny of ‘culture’ on politics of privatization(or deregulation of public sectors under the pretext of money-flow to the detriment of loosed accountability. I agree with deregulating electric monopoly by TEPCO and its supervisor, but strongly oppose to the practice of deregulations that will significantly compromise strict governance and public accountability—like obscene privatization of public education and corporate welfare seen in the US, Europe and around the world.)

    As I made it clear in my previous postings, my prime beef toward Kurokawa is his perception of foreign journalists for discernment of communication. That is why I am inquiring the discrepancies of his forward messages between Japanese and English texts. Following my Burkean reading(“Grammar of Motives”), maybe it’s not necessarily 100% his fault for this mess, with the exception that he ironically gave in to code of silence as culture of honor. I believe that came from the power of hired English Promo Robo machine that infused “blame-no-one” assumption” as conventional understanding of Japanese culture. It’s unfortunate for him, yet he still could have handled the situation much better[his follow-up response is still not enough to iron out his misunderstanding entirely]. He should have been aware of such hegemonic power that could impose on his messages[whether in English or Japanese, it’s published under HIS NAME], by killing the vital part of his Japanese messages [yes, he indeed blamed the powerful agents for the architect of institutional conceit] in English text.

  • 12. Jim Di Griz

    It’s not just the Japanese administration but the British one as well. There has been a very well co-ordnated campaign to fix the blame for the Fukushima evacuation on Naoto Kan recently, using that report and comments on the internet. That report you linked to has surfaced on Japan Times ( yet again without any link to the actual report ) and the lobbyists are commenting immediately, repeating the Kan-is-guilty meme.
    My post was removed from the thread here:

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/14/national/fukushima-evacuations-were-not-worth-the-money-study-says/

    “I’ve been looking for a link to this story but there doesn’t seem to be one. Why could that be? The best I’ve been able to find is this link to the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, featuring Philip Thomas, from 2014.

    http://www.dajf.org.uk/event/fukushima-daiichi-coping-after-a-major-nuclear-accident

    Philip Thomas formerly worked for British Nuclear Fuels Limited, a company notorious for falsifying data in a huge scandal back in 2000.

    http://www.wise-paris.org/english/reports/000221HSEMOXFalsification.pdf

    Mr.Thomas also runs his own risk mangement company J.Value. This report seems to have been produced by his company but there is no link and very little further information. Why is that? He seems to have very strong business associations in Japan. Hardly an objective academic as the story implies. In fact, he’s a complete nuclear industry insider.

    Why the sudden rash of pro-nuclear stories with a British slant? One reason to deflect attention from the anniversary of the Fukushima disaster. The other is the massive involvement of Japanese companies, Toshiba and Hitachi, in the British nuclear industry:

    “While the French company EDF is at the centre of the Hinkley scheme, Hitachi and Toshiba are behind similar intiatives being developed for new reactors at Wylfa on Anglesey, Oldbury in South Gloucestershire, and Sellafield in Cumbria”

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/11/japan-naoto-kan-nuclear-power-unsafe-fukushima

    The current scapegoating of Naoto Kan is part of this strategy: Mr.Kan, so the propaganda goes, was to blame for the panic evacuations and any deaths were caused by this, not Fukushima itself. Those of us who lived through the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown have very different memories, but this is the current version being promoted around the world by the shills and lobbyists. Even the bizarre, extreme right-wing cultists of Happy Science are spouting the same story:

    http://www.japantoday.com/category/picture-of-the-day/view/in-support-of-nuclear-power

    Geraldine Thomas also seems to spend a lot of time in Japan, promoting a similar message to Philip Thomas. She was on the BBC recently declaring Fukushima safe:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35761141

    and back in 2011 she was the guest of the Nippon Foundation at a symposium on Fukushima. Together with Dr. Richard Wakehouse, another well-known nuclear insider who has spent his career, it seems, denying the influence of nuclear power plants on cancer rates in local areas

    http://www.nippon-foundation.or.jp/en/news/articles/2011/img/7/8f0j6k00000b8gkt.pdf

    Objective academics indeed! Geraldine Thomas is all over the internet, telling anyone who will listen that Fukushima is perfectly safe….

    *I’d like to point out that I’m in no way an anti-nuclear activist or anything like that. I’m a tax-payer in Japan disgusted with the endless lies and relentless propaganda regarding Fukushima by the pro-nuclear people who put money ahead of people.

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