Examining national culture and its impact on nuclear safety culture in Japan

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Fourth Country-Specific Safety Culture Forum brings together operators, regulators, local governments, international observers

One of the many lessons learnt about nuclear safety over the years has been that human aspects such as safety culture, human and organisational performance and communications, may be as important as material conditions and engineering aspects.

The NEA and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) established the Country-Specific Safety Culture Forum (CSSCF) to examine how nuclear safety culture can be influenced by the national cultural context of a country operating nuclear facilities, and how operators and regulators perceive these effects in their day-to-day activities. Following the editions in Sweden (2018), Finland (2019) and Canada (2022), the fourth CSSCF took place in Tokyo, Japan, on 14-15 December 2023.

“The idea for the CSSCF grew directly from lessons learnt from the Fukushima Daiichi accident,” said NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV during his opening remarks. “As we analysed the accident over the years, we realised that good safety culture is absolutely essential to assure nuclear safety. As knowledge has grown, the NEA came to believe that human aspects of nuclear safety are at least as important as the technical aspects. Therefore, the effort to refine safety culture and to enhance it whenever possible is a great mission for all of us to undertake.”

The opening session also included remarks by Naoki Chigusa, CEO of WANO, Shinsuke Yamanaka, Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) of Japan, and Ichiro Ihara, CNO of the Chubu Electric Power and representative of the Federation of Electric Power Companies (FEPC). The Forum brought together more than 120 participants, making it the largest edition held to date.

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Opening remarks by William D. Magwood, IV, NEA Director-General, and Shinsuke Yamanaka, Chairman of NRA.

Over two days, international experts and representatives from Japanese nuclear operators, the regulatory body (NRA) and the local governments of Shizuoka, Fukui and Kagoshima examined how nuclear safety culture is affected by the Japanese cultural context. Through role-playing and analysis of various hypothetical scenarios at a nuclear power plant, participants had a chance to exchange views and reflect on their national cultural attributes in relation to safety culture.

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Role-playing and analysis of hypothetical scenarios at the nuclear power plant constitute a large part of CSSCF programme.

Co-organised with WANO in collaboration with the NRA and FEPC, the Forum provided an opportunity to highlight areas that deserve attention, the best practices already in place and the lessons learnt from past experiences. These findings will be part of a comprehensive final report to be published in 2024.

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International experts share their observations. From left to right: Mark Foy, Chief Executive and Chief Nuclear Inspector, Office for Nuclear Regulation, United Kingdom; Su Jin Jung, Head of Regulatory Policy Department, Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety; Gladys Figueroa-Toledo, Senior Differing Views Program Manager, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Wang Yang, Supervisor Engineer in Nuclear Safety Culture of RINPO, CNNP, China; William D. Magwood, IV, NEA Director-General.

Read more about Country Specific Safety Culture Forums here.

See also