TOKYO (AP) — The head of a major investigation into Japan's nuclear disaster is defending his report against criticism that his panel avoided blaming individuals and instead blamed elements of the nation's culture.
Kiyoshi Kurokawa, a doctor who headed the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, said he sticks with his view that the catastrophe was "Made in Japan," underlining collusion among the regulators and the utility that had set off the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. He said his panel intentionally stopped short of naming individual culprits.
"No one takes responsibility in Japan, even those in positions of responsibility," Kurokawa told The Associated Press this week at his commission office in Tokyo. "This is unique to Japan, a culture that stresses conformity, where people don't complain."
People are complaining, however, about the commission's report, not only for lacking specifics on responsibility but for making statements on Japan's culture that appeared in the English-language version of the document but not the Japanese version.
The 641-page report, released in July, compiled interviews with 1,167 people and scoured documents obtained from nuclear regulators and Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that operated Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
A devastating March 2011 tsunami set off by a 9.0 magnitude quake destroyed backup generators and sent Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant into multiple meltdowns and explosions. About 150,000 people were evacuated from a 20-kilometer (12-mile) no-go zone. Fears remain in Fukushima about cancer and other sickness from radiation.
The independent panel of 10 experts, including a lawyer, former diplomat and chemist, was appointed by the legislature. It is a style of investigation common in Western nations but was unprecedented in Japan.
The panel's report has drawn criticism from Japanese and overseas critics.
"One searches in vain through these pages for anyone to blame," Columbia University professor and Japan expert Gerald Curtis wrote in an opinion piece submitted to The Financial Times. "To pin the blame on culture is the ultimate cop-out. If culture explains behavior, then no one has to take responsibility."
Tatsujiro Suzuki, vice chairman of the government Atomic Energy Commission, which promotes nuclear technology, was critical of the differences between the English and Japanese versions of the report. He said it appeared to be putting on one face to the Japanese people, while presenting another abroad.
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