* Tepco "completely admits" report's finding on shortcomings
* Report said the disaster was the result of "collusion"
* Nuclear catastrophe was worst since Chernobyl
By Aaron Sheldrick
TOKYO, Dec 14 The operator of a Japanese nuclear
power plant that blew up after a tsunami last year said on
Friday its lack of safety and bad habits were behind the world's
worst nuclear accident in 25 years, its most forthright
admission of culpability.
The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, said it
accepted the findings of a parliamentary inquiry into the
Fukushima nuclear disaster that accused the company of
"collusion" with industry regulators.
An earthquake on March 11 last year generated a tsunami that
smashed into the nuclear plant on Japan's northeast coast and
triggered equipment failures that led to meltdowns and the
spewing of large amounts of radiation into the air and sea.
Takefumi Anegawa, the head of a company reform task force,
told a news conference the report by a parliamentary committee
contained "so many descriptions about the lack of a safety
culture and our bad habits".
"We admit, we completely admit, that part of the
parliamentary report," Anegawa, told a news conference at the
Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan.
He was responding to a question on whether the company
accepted the parliamentary committee's findings that the
disaster was preventable and the result of "collusion" between
the company and regulators.
Tepco President Naomi Hirose said several months ago he was
baffled by criticism of the company, which until recently has
denied it could have foreseen the scale the tsunami and
earthquake that knocked out cooling and power at the plant,
despite warnings from scientists.
The once well-respected utility, now under government
control, has been widely castigated for its failure to prepare
for the disaster, and lampooned for its inept response as the
In October, 18 months after the disaster, the company
admitted for the first time it could have been
TRYING TO CHANGE
Anegawa, who has worked at the Fukushima plant, said there
were some misunderstandings in the "technological part" of the
"But (for) most of the investigation of our organisation
culture, we admit that, and we will try to change," he said.
Anegawa was speaking at the news conference with outside
monitors Tepco appointed two months ago to oversee its reforms.
Asked to give an example of a step Tepco had taken to
improve since he was appointed, Dale Klein, a former chairman of
the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, would only say the
company carried out a critical self-assessement and was sharing
Those were similar to comments he made in a Reuters
interview in October.
Three reactors melted down at the plant, causing the worst
radiological release since Chernobyl in 1986, contaminating wide
areas of land and forcing about 160,000 people from their homes.
Many of those people are unlikely to ever go home.
All of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors were shut down for safety
checks after the disaster and only two have resumed operating.
The government's decision this year to restart the two units
to avoid possible summer power cuts galvanized the country's
anti-nuclear movement, prompting regular mass demonstrations.
The current government, led by the Democratic Party of
Japan, is aiming to phase out nuclear energy by the end of the
But the business-friendly Liberal Democratic Party is
expected to return to power in an election on Sunday and it says
only that it will take the next 10 years to figure out Japan's
"best energy mix".
But even the LDP, which promoted atomic energy during its
nearly six decades in power, is not expected to revive a plan to
increase nuclear power's share of Japan's electricity supply to
more than half by 2030 from nearly 30 percent before the
(Additional reporting by Ruairidh Villa, Mari Sato and Linda
Sieg; Editing by Robert Birsel)