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The woman the Japanese turned to after Fukushima

Lady Barbara Judge has been advising the Tokyo Electric Power Company its handling of the Fukushima nuclear power plant Photo: Jane Mingay

Can it really be true that Lady Judge, a wafer-thin 68-year-old with a ruffed collar and a French bun, is the saviour of Japan’s nuclear industry – and, arguably, its economy too?

Granted, the American-born Brit radiates formidability: her glance, down an immaculately powdered nose, has the penetration of a gamma ray. And she was once dubbed “The Atomic Kitten” by Private Eye. But let’s face it, the Japanese aren’t known for taking their problems to foreigners, especially not to women.

Yet for 16 months Judge has been advising the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) on handling its most toxic problem: the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Nearly 18,000 people were killed by the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011, while the triple meltdown at Fukushima’s Daiichi plant was the world’s biggest nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl.

Though it seems hardly possible, Tepco’s handling of the disaster made things worse. Its first report, in June 2011, concluded that the company could not “imagine an occurrence of such a tsunami”. That was scotched by the emergence of an internal report from 2008 that had warned Fukushima was at risk from a major tsunami.


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