Crisis Revives Doubts on Regulation

By NORIHIKO SHIROUZU in Tokyo and ALISON TUDOR in Hong Kong  |  Wall Street Journal  |  Link to article

Japan’s nuclear-power crisis is reviving long-held doubts about the strength of the nation’s nuclear regulatory system and its independence from government efforts to sell nuclear technology abroad.

There aren’t indications that any government regulatory failures contributed to the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi complex in northeastern Japan, where government and industry officials are battling to keep three of the six nuclear reactors from overheating and releasing dangerous levels of radioactivity.

However, the woes there put a spotlight on Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which oversees design and regulation of Japan’s nuclear plants.

It also highlights past problems with falsified safety records at the Fukushima Daiichi plant and with its parent company, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or Tepco, though there is no evidence those prior problems are adding to the current problems