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Dr. Kurokawa Wins Most Prestigious American Academy for the Advancement of Science Award

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Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chairman of Japan's Parliamentary Nuclear Accident Investigation Commission, won the most prestigious American Academy for the Advancement of Science 2012 Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award.

The Academy stated:

"Dr. Kurokawa is honored for the extraordinary responsibility he demonstrated in his frank and transparent chairmanship of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission and for his courage in challenging some of the most ingrained conventions of Japanese governance and society."

The award ceremony will be held at 6:30 pm, February 15, 2013 at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, USA. The Academy, publisher of the journal Science, is the largest scientific society in the world.

Dr. Kurokawa, a former President of the Science Council of Japan and former Science Advisor to the Prime Minister and Cabinet of Japan, has also been tirelessly working on multiple fronts, ranging from innovation to Japan's global outreach, to invigorate the flagging economy and spirits of Japan.

Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa was unanimously appointed by both houses of the Japanese Parliament to Chair the Nuclear Accident Investigation Commission (see here and here and here). The commission was given independence with subpoena power. Dr. Kurokawa led the commission's comprehensive investigation of the nuclear accident and its human aftermath in a record six months. Using the best scientific rigor in the most responsible manner, Dr Kurokawa got to the bottom of the problem. Even the then-Prime Minister was called to a hearing, treated with courtesy, but also to a barrage of questions.

The pattern in Japan had been to paper over anything uncomfortable. Dr. Kurokawa, however, ensured that all the evidence possible was elicited, the principals involved were compelled to provide testimony, and he even brought key witnesses such as the former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Dr. Richard Meserve, as well as key officials from Ukraine who managed the Chernobyl nuclear accident, to deliver expert testimony and provide context.

The entire Japanese population was given the evidence as it was being collected through hearings that were broadcast live on the Internet, and documents were posted online. Dr. Kurokawa articulated a severe condemnation of the astonishing negligence, multitude of errors and the failure to take a range of preventive, proactive safety steps when the specific risk factors were widely known about the nuclear plant located so close to the ocean, on the rocky island with a lengthy history of severe earthquakes and tsunamis. Such courage with caring scientific accountability had hitherto never been witnessed from anyone of similar stature in Japan, and it has already ensured a safety-first standard for the worldwide nuclear sector. Truly, scientific freedom and responsibility personified.