The government is in no better position now to discourage the revolving door than it was a year ago, when it simply urged regulatory officials to use "self-restraint."
Attempts to reform the bureaucracy date back decades. The latest campaign began in 2006 under the Liberal Democrats, but they were thrown out of power in 2009, putting change on hold again.
Masashi Nakano, a professor at University of Hyogo who studies amakudari, said the cozy relationship between the government and private sector is so entrenched tough legislation and massive layoffs are needed for a proper fix.
"One would need to wield a giant ax. Otherwise, amakudari is here to stay," he said.
Amakudari is just one of the issues critics of Japan's nuclear regulators are pushing the government to address.
Poor coordination between central and local governments has been identified as a major problem in the evacuation of areas near the Fukushima plant, but local officials say little has been done to fix the problem or develop better evacuation plans.
Local officials say they learned of evacuation orders only when they saw them on TV. They received little or no information on the situation inside the plant. The central government had prediction data from sophisticated monitors that suggested certain towns were in the path of spewing radiation, but that information was not shared with residents.
Around Japan, towns near nuclear plants say they are not confident their plans would work any better than those at Fukushima. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says it is reviewing contingency plans.
The only seawalls built so far since the tsunami have been at disaster-struck Fukushima Dai-ichi and the nearby Fukushima Dai-ni plant, according to an AP survey of all Japan's 10 utilities.
Fukushima Dai-ichi went into meltdowns because it had been prepared for only 20-foot (6 meter) tsunami despite warnings from experts that far bigger tsunami could strike — like the 46-foot (14-meter) waves that hit last March.
Chubu Electric Power Co. is finishing the foundation for a 59-foot (18-meter) wall at the Hamaoka plant, which had to be shut down last year over estimates that that it faces about a 90 percent chance of being hit by a magnitude 8.0 or higher quake within 30 years. That wall won't be completed until next year.
One utility said its tsunami wall won't be completed until 2016. Two utilities had no plans at all to build seawalls because the reactors were built on enough high ground. One of two safety reports the government requires to restart reactors was submitted this week for one of those reactors.
Only one plant has added another key safety measure — new kinds of vents to allow hydrogen to escape from the reactors. At Fukushima Dai-ichi, hydrogen built up and exploded containment buildings. Utilities said they were making technical studies or considering the measure.
Another plant has built new doors that will shut tight during a tsunami and keep delicate equipment dry.
The government learns of such improvements only after they are made, and has no overall assessment on their progress, said Tomohiro Sawada of the government Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
"Their actions are not required by law and so we don't have a way of checking," he said.
Associated Press writers Eric Talmadge and Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report from Tokyo.
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