Paris, 30 April 2014
Mr. Luis E. Echávarri, Director-General of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), has received official recognition from the Governments of Spain and Japan for his contributions to international service and co-operation in the field of nuclear energy. On 22 April 2014, the Government of Spain awarded him introduction into the Order of Isabella the Catholic. On 29 April 2014, the Government of Japan conferred the Order of the Rising Sun. Further details on the latter are provided below.
Press release issued by the Permanent Delegation of Japan to the OECD:
Conferral of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon
Upon Mr. Luis Echávarri, Director-General of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency,
Former Commissioner of the Spanish Nuclear Safety Council
On April 29, 2014 (Japan Time), the Government of Japan announced the foreign recipients of the 2014 Spring Imperial Decorations. Among 55 foreign recipients is Mr. Luis Echávarri, Director-General of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and Former Commissioner of the Spanish Nuclear Safety Council, who will receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, in recognition of his significant contributions to promote nuclear safety in Japan and mutual understanding between Japan and the international community.
- DECORATION: The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon.
- SERVICE: Contributed to promoting nuclear safety in Japan and mutual understanding between Japan and the international community.
- NAME (AGE) Luis Echávarri (65).
- MAJOR TITLES: Director-General of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, Former Commissioner of the Spanish Nuclear Safety Council.
- ADDRESS (NATIONALITY): Madrid (Spain).
Mr. Echávarri received his Master's degree in Industrial Engineering from the Superior Technical School of Industrial Engineering of Bilbao University in 1971. He began his career at Westinghouse Electric, Madrid Nuclear Office in 1975. Mr. Echávarri was later appointed Commissioner of the Spanish Nuclear Safety Council. He took up the position of Director-General of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency in 1997. Right from the start, he sought to promote nuclear safety in Japan as well as a mutual understanding between Japan and the international community, and has been continuing to do so for 17 years.
Mr. Echávarri worked especially hard to contribute to Japan's recovery after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (NPP) accident, devoting the activities of the NEA to aiding in the recovery effort. Just one month after the 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tohoku, Mr. Echávarri visited Japan, together with the Secretary-General of the OECD, Mr. Gurría, expressing his full support to Japan, and offering concrete suggestions from the NEA to recover from the Fukushima NPP accident. Furthermore, under his leadership, the NEA established a special Fukushima-related working group in the summer of 2011; following discussions in this special working group and relevant NEA committees, the NEA published The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident: OECD/NEA Nuclear Safety Response and Lessons Learnt in September 2013. This report is widely recognized as a useful guide for NEA member countries, including Japan, for enhancing nuclear safety.
In addition to this, Mr. Echávarri came to Japan to attend the Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety in 2012 and delivered a statement alongside other ministers. Mr. Echávarri has maintained continuous exchanges of opinion with relevant Japanese ministries including the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which has just been newly established. In addition to this, thanks to his leadership, experts from the NEA have continuously come to Japan and even before the Fukushima NPP accident, Mr. Echávarri also contributed to maintaining and enhancing trust in the government of Japan through the transmission of information to main stakeholders worldwide in an appropriate manner, acting as head of an international organization.
These awards have been bestowed on the eve of Mr. Echávarri's retirement from the NEA on 30 April 2014. Mr. William Magwood has been appointed as the next Director-General of the NEA. Pending his arrival on 1 September 2014, Dr. Thierry Dujardin will be Acting NEA Director-General.