TOKYO (majirox news) — Prime Minister Naoto Kan lashed out July 31 at allegations the government’s nuclear safety agency faked questions to support a power company, saying that if the charges were true it was as bad as an AIDS scandal he oversaw as Health Minister in the 1990s.
Kan strongly criticized the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), which is accused of cooperating with the Chubu Electric Power Co. to sway public opinion by setting up questions the company could answer in a way that put nuclear power generation in a favorable light.
“This structure is exactly the same as what I experienced as Health Minister when dealing with the AIDS crisis brought about by the use of contaminated pharmaceutical products,” Kan told an energy conference in Chino, Nagano prefecture. “If the allegations are true, the NISA that should be looking after the safety of citizens by keeping a check on operations and goes beyond the bounds of merely assisting the nuclear power industry.”
During the 1980s and 1990s, many hemophiliacs in Japan contracted AIDS after they were treated with blood products tainted by the virus. Kan was Health Minister in 1996 when he apologized to victims.
Kan said the close links between the government and nuclear power industry reminded him of how public organizations were closely tied to the pharmaceutical business during the AIDS scandal. He noted that many pharmaceutical companies employed retired bureaucrats from the old Ministry of Health and Welfare to use their influence over the government in a practice called amakudari. The prime minister said the scandal arose because the government was more concerned about protecting the profits of pharmaceutical companies over the welfare of citizens.