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10 employees at Japan nuclear watchdog's secretariat lose security passes

A sign for an office of the Nuclear Regulation Authority's secretariat is seen in Roppongi, Tokyo, in April, 2020. (Mainichi/Suzuko Araki)

TOKYO -- Ten employees at an agency functioning as the secretariat for the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) have lost their IDs, which are required for nuclear plant inspections and other sensitive official duties, the NRA announced Oct. 27.

    The latest announcement comes amid a stream of terrorism prevention measure failures at Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Holdings Inc.'s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said of the latest problem, "It is truly regrettable. We intend to make efforts to prevent a recurrence," as it occurred despite the NRA secretariat being an overseeing body.

    In accordance with the nuclear regulation law, employees at the NRA secretariat are required to carry identification including inspector's IDs and on-the-spot inspection IDs when entering a nuclear facility for inspections. There are also IDs for employees involved in work that is highly classified on anti-terrorism grounds. Some of the employees hold a number of different forms of ID.

    According to the NRA secretariat, in August an inspector at a regional office reported losing their official inspector and their on-the-spot inspection ID. In response, the agency conducted a check on identification it has issued, and found that another nine employees had lost their IDs. In all, 11 forms of IDs were unaccounted for. When entering a nuclear facility, the employees use their driver's licenses or passes supplied by the relevant power companies. Because they hadn't been using the other ID, it had been difficult to realize they had been misplaced.

    In a separate case that surfaced in August, three NRA secretariat employees had misplaced their IDs necessary for entering nuclear sites and other areas.

    (Japanese original by Ei Okada, Science & Environment News Department)

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