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The unfolding disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant follows decades of falsified safety reports, fatal accidents and underestimated earthquake risk. In 2002 and 2007, revelations the utility had faked repair records forced the resignation of the company’s chairman and president, and a three-week shutdown of all 17 of its reactors.
In an interview in 2007 after Tokyo Electric’s Kashiwazaki nuclear plant was struck by an earthquake, Ishibashi, a seismology professor at Kobe University, said fundamental improvements were needed in engineering standards for atomic power stations, without which Japan could suffer a catastrophic disaster.
“We didn’t learn anything,” Ishibashi said in a phone interview this week. “Nuclear power is national policy and there’s a real reluctance to scrutinize it."
"Regulators just rubber-stamp the utilities’ reports,” Takashi Nakata, a former Hiroshima Institute of Technology seismologist and an anti-nuclear activist, said at the time.