Monday, June 11, 2012

Nomura Shuya's Preemptive Strike

Does the world know who Nomura Shuya is?

He is a lawyer with Mori, Hamada & Matsumoto, a corporate law firm specializing in M&A, restructuring and finance. He is a professor of law at Chuo University, teaching commercial law, civil law and business law strategy. Just how he has time for any work for his law firm or preparation for his classes is a question, as he has been on 68 different government committees or government report drafting boards since 1998 (J).

Nomura furthermore has a weekly appearance on the Nihon Terebi network's late night newscast. Nihon Terebi is owned by the Yomiuri Shimbun and both have a strong anti-Democratic Party of Japan bias, the television network even more so than the flagship newspaper. Nomura crows about his media appearances on his website (J).

Nomura is also a member of the Diet-appointed Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima Dai'ichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident Investigation Committee (Tokyo Denryoku Fukushima genshiryoku hatsuden jiko chosa iinkai), the second official and third major investigation into the government's response to the meltdowns, explosions and release of radioactive materials at the Fukushima Dai'ichi plant.

That being a contributor to Nihon Terebi newscasts during his tenure as a committee member should be considered a glaring conflict of interest has obviously never troubled Nomura's conscience.

The committee held an open hearing on Saturday. Nomura took advantage of his time to read out a series of rhetorical questions, throwing into doubt Prime Minister Kan's decision to by-pass the institutional route of receiving information on the situation at the plant from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which would be receiving its information from Tokyo Electric Power Company's Tokyo headquarters, which would be receiving its information from its workers at the plant. Finding this route utterly dysfunctional, due to the NISA's almost amateurish information collection and dissemination capacities and TEPCO's obsessive secrecy, the prime minister and the rest of the Cabinet carried out direct communications with the plant managers.

Nomura seems to have made a calculated bet that the mediasphere would misrepresent his musings as statements of the committee's findings. Some media outlets, such as TV Asahi, found themselves struggling mightily with the gravitational pull of Nomura's presumed authority as the committee's chief investigator, but still maintained some measure of integrity by presenting Nomura's questions and his "there are those who are of the opinion that" gambits as questions, not statements of fact (J - Time Sensitive). Most of the news media succumbed, presenting Nomura's musings as a preliminary release of the findings of the committee, employing casuistry to cover their tails should the conclusions in the final report, due at the end of this month, be at odds with the headlines of Sunday (see the Yomiuri Shimbun's gutless use of the word shiteki in this article - J).

As for the careless non-Japanese news media, members stumbled over themselves to get the story out and wrong. (E)

The takeaway from Nomura's performance, that a desperate government's bypassing of a corporation's executives and the bureaucrats of the agency in charge of promoting the industry in question led to confusion in the response to the emergency, must have the partners at Mori, Hamada & Matsumoto smiling.

Later - This post has been edited for clarity.

Later still - - Damning excerpt from committee chair Kurokawa Kiyoshi's review of the meeting of June 9.


"In addition, as for the structure of the crisis control system, the way of communicating risks, et cetera, the second set of points of contention, the issues at the moment have been indicated in a provisional way. Still, the clearing up the points of contention has not been an indication of all of the points of contention the accident investigation committee is considering, nor is it indicative of conclusions made by the accident investigation committee. As for the final results of the investigation of the accident investigation committee, these will be reflected comprehensively in the final report."

(Link - J)

Much, much later - The Yomiuri Online's dishonest account of the goings-on at the meeting (E), now happily immortalized on the world's data servers.

No comments: