Nuclear industry funded Japan's safety experts, report claims

Four out of the six members of a government team drafting new safety standards for nuclear reactors have received thousands of dollars in grants from the nuclear industry, according to a report.

The four experts have received between 3 million yen ($37,000) and 27 million yen each in grants, donations and compensation in the past three to four years, Kyodo News reported late on Saturday, citing data disclosed by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA).

The NRA said the members "have been selected in line with rules, and there should be no problem", shrugging off concerns that judgments could be swayed, the report said.

The NRA requires experts to disclose remuneration and donations, but has no rules for disqualifying them in light of such information, it said.

Of the four recipients, Akira Yamaguchi, an Osaka University professor, received a total of at least 27.14 million yen in donations and research grants from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., a manufacturer of nuclear plant equipment, and other relevant entities, it said.

Akio Yamamoto, a professor at Nagoya University, received a total of 10.1 million yen from Japan Atomic Power Co., a builder and operator of nuclear power plants, among others, it said.

Tsukuba University professor Yutaka Abe received a total of 5 million yen from parties including a laboratory of Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), while Japan Atomic Energy Agency researcher Tomoyuki Sugiyama received a total of 3 million yen from Nuclear Fuel Industries, it said.

Meanwhile, TEPCO, the operator of crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, plans to set up a regional headquarters in Fukushima prefecture to better oversee local reconstruction, decontamination and compensation payments, Kyodo and other media said.

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