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Japan's nuclear watchdog chief holds final press conference before stepping down

Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) Chairman Shunichi Tanaka reflects on his five-year term in office at a final press conference in Tokyo's Minato Ward, on Sept. 20, 2017. (Mainichi)

Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) Chairman Shunichi Tanaka held his final press conference in Tokyo's Minato Ward on Sept. 20 before officially stepping down from his role.

Reflecting on his five-year term in office, Tanaka said, "I tried to maintain independence and transparency," adding that, "I have absolutely no doubt that I've made judgments from a scientific and impartial standpoint, and taken actions based on (the NRA's) philosophies. This is something that I am proud of."

However, he also stated that, "The distrust of the public who experienced the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 is an issue that cannot be easily rectified."

Tanaka became the first chairman of the NRA at the same time the organization was established in September 2012, having previously served as the deputy director general of the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute and acting chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission.

During his time as NRA chairman, he led efforts to draw up new regulatory standards based on the lessons learned from the Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster, and carried out nuclear power plant screening.

Originally hailing from Fukushima Prefecture, Tanaka says he is planning to live in the prefectural village of Iitate after stepping down as NRA head. "It would be great if I could contribute to the recovery of Fukushima (using my experience at the NRA)," Tanaka said.

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