Dual organizational structure of the governmental investigation committee

The first example that can reconfirm institutionalized inaction of the first type involving the nuclear village implied by structural disaster is the organizational structure of different investigation committees following the Fukushima accident (see Table 3.1).

Of these, the relationships between the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (set up by the Parliament and abbreviated to Parliamentary Investigation Committee) and the Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations set up by the government (abbreviated to Governmental Investigation Committee) hold the key to reconfirming and elaborating the institutionalized inaction that has enabled those concerned to save face in the post-Fukushima context.

On January 16, 2012, Kenzo Ohshima, a member of the Parliamentary Investigation Committee, posed a question directly to the chair of the Governmental

Table 3.1 Different Investigation Committees Related to the Fukushima Accident

Founder of










Atomic Energy Society of Japan

Chair of



K. Kurokawa

Y. Hatamura

K. Kitazawa

M. Yamazaki

S. Tanaka

Institutional Affiliation of the Chair




Professor Emeritus of University of Tokyo

Former President of JST


President of TEPCO

Professor of University of Tokyo

Date of the Final Report






Source: Produced from Library of Congress (2012) and Atomic Energy Society of Japan (2014).

Investigation Committee, Yotaro Hatamura, under the auspices of whom the Interim Report had just been made public three weeks earlier:

The Parliamentary Investigation Committee has the right to investigate state affairs while the Governmental Investigation Committee has not. Investigation by the Parliamentary Committee is carried out in public while that by the Governmental one is not. Considering these differences, do you feel something to limit and/or constrain your investigation? If the answer is yes, could you tell us what kind of problems are involved therein?

(NAIIC 2012c)

The following statement was the answer given:

The question makes me embarrassed because it makes me aware whether I am able to really tell the truth or not. We have been able to obtain full cooperation from the interviewees. On the other hand, there are some cases in which we feel like checking plans of components in question and, of course, real things.

(NAIIC 2012c)

This suggests that there is no way to prove what was told by the interviewees independently. The settings in which the investigation was conducted by the committee illustrate the factors working behind the situation. According to the Interim Report of the Governmental Investigation Committee, an agreement on July 8,2011, among the members of the Governmental Investigation Committee was such that “the interviews are to be made behind closed doors, in principle.” Furthermore, according to the same agreement, it is stated that “the secretariat of the committee is to summarize the contents of the interviews and report them to the committee only when necessary.” As such, the committee members could participate in the interviews, but the results were to be released only to the committee members within the bounds deemed necessary by the secretariat.3

From the viewpoint of the committee members, the traceability of the interview results on which this conclusion was drawn was restricted by various modifications imposed on the members by the secretariat. The secretariat of the Governmental Investigation Committee belongs to the Cabinet Secretariat; as such, the traceability of the interview results is restricted by the government itself, which is the most obvious stakeholder.

On May 24, 2011, however, the cabinet decided that the Governmental Investigation Committee would carry out the investigation “from the neutral and well-balanced standpoint of the people with attention to various different viewpoints”; accordingly, a structural tension would exist between the “neutral standpoint” announced in public and the fact that the Committee was set up by and collaborating with the governmental Secretariat, both being the stakeholders. The restriction imposed on the Committee members by the Secretariat to utilize interview results could thus be construed as one of the means to mitigate such tension; in fact, the above-mentioned agreement among the members of the Governmental Investigation Committee of July 8, 2011, states that all results from interviews made by the committee are “not to be used for searching due responsibility of stakeholders involved in the accident” (The Governmental Investigation Committee 2011b). Thus, the organizational structure of the Committee manifests in the way in which its investigation proceeds without “searching due responsibility of stakeholders in question.”

According to the rule of May 31, 2011, ordained by the Cabinet in setting up the Governmental Investigation Committee, the Cabinet Secretariat is authorized to assist the Committee. For example, there is a one-to-one correspondence between the specialized investigation teams of the Committee and the teams of the Secretariat, which are sustained by abundant human resources comprised of team leaders, experts, sub-team leaders, and team members (see Figure 3.1).

When considering the magnitude of the Fukushima accident and its aftermath, it may seem logical that such a well-organized and well-staffed Secretariat would be created in the period following. From the viewpoint of structural disaster, however, there can be differing viewpoints for the roles played by the Secretariat. Because of the above-mentioned structural tension between a supposedly independent third party' and stakeholders within a single organization of the Governmental Investigation Committee, the Secretariat of the Committee (as a stakeholder) could play the role of controlling the committee’s behavior to fall within the agreement of not “searching due responsibility of stakeholders” under the name of “assisting the Committee.”4

Such a dual organizational structure as mixing third parties with stakeholders renders responsibility for the Fukushima accident invisible in the public sphere and therefore enables the governmental sector to save face in the post-Fukushima situation. In fact, the Japanese government has made it a rule without exception that government officials are to establish all committees, including the Governmental Investigation Committee. Thus, adherence to such procedures could function as a tool of institutionalized inaction to defocus and/or disguise the due responsibility' of the governmental sector.

This is noticeable in two ways when we view the Fukushima accident as a structural disaster. First, fulfilling such a function is an institutionalized result rather than the result of a personal attitude or the behavior pattern of a particular individual. The institutionalized secrecy enabled by the dual organizational structure of the Governmental Investigation Committee, as mentioned above, together with adherence to erroneous precedents, gave rise to the institutionalized inaction. As such, structural reform in institutional design should be mandatory. Second, the chain of institutionalized inaction, when introduced into remedial measures to save face in the public sphere, can give rise to a “reverse salient” (Hughes 1983, 1986) that is difficult to secure without structural reforms. In turn, this invites another institutionalized inaction through employing a quick fix for problems at hand, which is also an element of structural disaster. If this occurs, there is no structural reform at the extreme of this chain of institutionalized inaction, as discussed in the next section.

Organizational Structure of the Governmental Investigation Committee Source

Figure 3.1 Organizational Structure of the Governmental Investigation Committee Source: The Governmental Investigation Committee (2012a), Appendix.

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