A culture of complacency is being blamed for the poor management of the Fukushima nuclear crisis following last year's massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
A 10-member panel of independent experts published a 450-page report on Monday, finding fault with the Japanese government and its main nuclear regulator, the Nuclear Industrial and Safety Agency.
The study blames both for promoting the use of nuclear power as safe without fully disclosing the risks involved and for failing to prepare for a massive natural disaster.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. and state regulators "were overly confident that events beyond the scope of their assumptions would not occur," according to the panel.
Supervisors "were not aware that measures to avoid the worst situation were actually full of holes," it said.
Fukushima had meltdowns at three of its reactors.
The inquiry also raised doubts about whether Japan's nuclear plants were prepared for future natural disasters despite having adopted new safety rules.
"We understand that immediate safety measures are being further detailed and will materialize in the future," the panel announced. "But we strongly urge the people concerned to make continued efforts to take really effective steps."
The panel urged the government and companies to adopt a new philosophy of prevention that requires safety measures against any massive natural disasters and accidents.
This report, the second to be released this month about the disaster, could be used by anti-nuclear activists protesting the restart of two of Japan's reactors.
A new government energy policy, meanwhile, is expected to be unveiled in August.
tm/tj (AP, dpa, Reuters)