Friday, July 20, 2012

Snap Reaction to the Prospective Nuclear Regulatory Council Lineup

Yomiuri, the establishment’s paper of record for hoisting “observation balloons,” appears to have scooped the prospective members of the Nuclear Regulatory Council, the independent institution that consolidates the regulatory powers formerly vested in METI, MEXI, and the Cabinet Secretariat. The lineup is about as appealing to the EPCOs as it could be, given the circumstances. Ambassador Kenzo Oshima from the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC), but he’s also one of the establishment’s top go-to guys, a man for all seasons. There's a seismologist from the national umbrella prediction network organization. The others all appear to be part of the broader nuclear research and safety establishment.

Not surprising given the pro-business complexion of the NODA administration. The appointments require the consent of both houses of the Diet, and the candidates do not look like people that the LDP and Komeito are likely to veto in the upper house. The only danger is that the two parties stall, or even demand a scalp or two, just because they had to see it in the media first. (It has happened before.) Otherwise, it happened more quickly than I had been inclined to believe, as my answers to a questionnaire (embargoed for this blog until tomorrow) will show.

In sum, barring the worst of what will likely a hitch, a swift startup of an NRC that is about as good as the EPCOs could expect is now the expected outcome. Time to stop shorting public utilities? Yes, but don’t bet the house in the other direction. And the odds on my bet that there will be five nuclear reactors up and running by the year’s end have improved somewhat.

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