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Nuclear probe chief defends report

The head of a major investigation into Japan's nuclear disaster has defended his report against criticism that his panel avoided blaming individuals and instead attacked elements of the nation's culture.

Kiyoshi Kurokawa, who headed the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, said in an interview that he was sticking with his view that the catastrophe was "made in Japan".

The report highlighted collusion among nuclear regulators and industry that set off the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl at the Fukushima nuclear plant last year.

The commission is under fire for not naming individuals and for statements in the English version of the report that it did not make in the Japanese version.

The English-language version of the report blamed what it called "ingrained conventions of Japanese culture" including "reflexive obedience" and a "reluctance to question authority".

Mr Kurokawa said his panel intentionally stopped short of naming individual culprits.

"No-one takes responsibility in Japan, even those in positions of responsibility," he said at his commission office in Tokyo. "This is unique to Japan, a culture that stresses conformity, where people don't complain."

The 641-page report, released in July, compiled interviews with 1,167 people and scoured documents obtained from nuclear regulators and Tokyo Electric Power Company, the utility that operated Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

The devastating March 2011 tsunami set off by a 9.0-magnitude quake destroyed back-up generators and sent the nuclear plant into multiple meltdowns and explosions. About 150,000 people were evacuated from a 12-mile no-go zone and fears remain in Fukushima about cancer and other sickness from radiation.

The independent panel of 10 experts, including a lawyer, former diplomat and chemist, was appointed by the legislature. It is a style of investigation common in Western nations but was unprecedented in Japan.

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