Sunday, July 3, 2011

Big electricity users reach reduction goal on 1st day (by Asahi Shimbun)


Employees of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corp. leave work at noon to reduce electricity usage. (Kengo Hiyoshi)

A government order to restrict electricity usage appeared to work on its first day of implementation.

City with greatest number of disaster deaths recruits citizens for door-to-door census (by Mainichi Shimbun)

ISHINOMAKI, Miyagi -- This coastal city, which has the greatest number of confirmed deaths from the March 11 disasters and many still unaccounted for, has borrowed the help of its citizens for a door-to-door population census.

Gov't eyes lifting evacuation directive for some Fukushima Pref. areas (by Mainichi Shimbun)

FUKUSHIMA (Kyodo) -- Goshi Hosono, minister for nuclear accidents, said Saturday that the government will consider lifting a directive for some districts of Fukushima Prefecture that requires residents to be prepared to evacuate or stay indoors in an emergency in connection with the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Strengthening of nuclear safety more important than TEPCO's 'internal company logic' (by Mainichi Shimbun)

Tokyo Electric Power Co. headquarters in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi)
Tokyo Electric Power Co. headquarters in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi)

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), operator of the disaster-struck Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, held its general shareholders' meeting on June 28, attracting the largest crowd and taking the most time of any shareholders' meeting in company history.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Panel stresses evacuation from tsunami / Moves focus from physical barriers (by Yomiuri Shimbun)

Prof. Yoshiaki Kawata of Kansai University at a meeting of an expert panel on tsunami countermeasures on Sunday

An expert panel on tsunami countermeasures has called for the establishment of comprehensive evacuation plans in anticipation of massive tsunami, representing a major shift from the past emphasis on dikes and other protective structures.

Exclusive use of LED lights would shave 9 percent off Japan's energy consumption: researchers (by Mainichi Shimbun)

The LED light fixtures to be installed on and inside the Tokyo Sky Tree are pictured with the Sky Tree's mascot Sorakara-chan in Tokyo's Koto Ward on June 15. (Mainichi)

If all the fluorescent and incandescent lights used in Japan were replaced by energy-saving light-emitting diode (LED) lights, the annual domestic power consumption would be slashed by 9 percent, the Institute of Energy Economics (IEE) has announced.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

TEPCO failed to report possible hydrogen explosion (by Asahi Shimbun)

Smoke rises from the No. 3 reactor at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant which exploded in March. (Asahi Shimbun)

Tokyo Electric Power Co. knew there could be an explosion at the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant the day before it happened, but didn't report the possibility to authorities.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fund to track Fukushima health (by Japan Times)

The government plans to establish a ¥103 billion fund to track the health of all Fukushima Prefecture residents for 30 years, because of radiation leaking from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, government sources said Thursday.

Quake-rebuilding budget delayed to autumn as Diet squabbles (by Asahi Shimbun)

Piles of rubble remain untouched more than three months after the March 11 earthquake in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Rebuilding quake-damaged regions in northeastern Japan appears certain to be delayed further as an extra budget for full-fledged post-quake reconstruction is not likely to be submitted to the Diet until September or later.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The view from the ship has changed completely after the disaster

 (by Mr. Toshio Sato, 62, Captain of Yachiyo Taxi,  Shiogama City, Miyagi Prefecure)

I am running a water taxi business for four years at the port of Shiogama. It is a 13 passenger boat and travels to the Urato Islands and Matsushima Island. The public liner doesn’t run often, so I get quite many customers. I rush to the island 24/7 to transport patients who need treatment at the main land.

I lost one of my ships by the tsunami; it was knocked down side way and totaled. This one that I am running now got big hole on the bottom when it was washed ashore, but I had it repaired somehow and I was able to resume my water taxi business from May 1.

The view from the ship has changed completely after the disaster, and I wish they will restore the previous scenery as soon as possible. (Photo taken by Mr. Yasuo Ishii)

Nikkan Sports,  June 6, 2011

Translated by Makiko Tajima Asano

Some power firm shareholders wary of nuclear energy (by Asahi Shimbun)

Kansai Electric Power Co. shareholders walk past nuclear power protesters as they enter a stockholders meeting in Osaka on June 29, 2010. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Electric power companies will face stronger doubts among shareholders about the feasibility of continuing with nuclear energy at annual meetings scheduled for later this month.

Japan industry minister seeks restart of nuclear reactors (by Mainichi Shimbun)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Industry minister Banri Kaieda on Saturday called for the restart of nuclear reactors currently suspended, to meet summertime electricity demand, saying immediate countermeasures for severe accidents have been taken "appropriately" at the nation's nuclear power plants.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Use Result of Research on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic-bomb Disease Researchers’ Concern over Fukushima

Research group for Post Atomic –bomb Syndrome that is investigating the effect of atomic-bomb dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki held the meeting at a hotel in Hiroshima on June 5th. There were about 200 researchers attended.  They voiced out one after another that they should utilize the result of research accumulated in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in reference to the accident at the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant.

Dr. Kenji Kamiya, the head of the medical research institute of atomic-bomb radiation at Hiroshima University worries that the groundless harmful rumor is spread such as the radiation is contagious and insisted that Hiroshima and Nagasaki need to stand up.

Dr. Shunichi Yamashita, a professor of the Graduate School of Nagasaki University, assigned to the advisor for Radiation Health and Risk Control of Fukushima Prefecture, stated “ It is very hard to wipe out the anxiety of the residents through our consultation” and explained the necessity to educate the people with the knowledge of the specialists from all over the country.

Dr. Koichi Tanigawa, a professor of the Graduate School of Hiroshima University who visited the area many times and contributed to the establishment of emergency medical system, pointed out that the inadequacy of the current disaster measure was exposed, and requested that the local government should take the initiative to review the system.

Ms. Tomoko Masunaga, a co-researcher at the Graduate School of Nagasaki University, who studied the mental health condition of residents of Belarus after the accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant told, “ It is very important to provide the continuous mental care to the people”, suggesting the crucial psychological influence due to the long term problem over the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident.

Asahi Shimbun, June 5, 2011

Translated by Makiko Tajima Asano 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gov't calls TEPCO radiation exposure standards 'overly optimistic' (by Mainichi Shimbun)

Workers install a pressure sensor inside the No. 1 reactor building at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant on June 3, in this photo provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

As the number of workers exposed to high levels of radiation at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant increases, the government is accusing plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) of slack radiation dose calculations.

Japan's renewable energy plans: Chasing rabbits using solar power? (by Mainichi Shimbun)

Newscaster Aya Takashima introduces Toshiba's household photovoltaic power system during the unveiling event for the product's new TV advertisement held in Tokyo on June 14. (Mainichi)

Some readers may have heard of the "rabbit limit," a term coined by Swedish environmental researcher Folke Guenther that relates to energy use. We can explain it as follows:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Poor decisions leave TEPCO workers vulnerable to radiation (by Asahi Shimbun)

Six more employees of Tokyo Electric Power Co. working at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were exposed to more radiation than allowed even under the relaxed limits put in place to deal with the critical accident.

74% of voters back dumping nuclear power (by Asahi Shimbun)

Seventy-four percent of voters support abolishing nuclear power after a phase-out period, compared with 14 percent opposed, an Asahi Shimbun survey found.

Italians' rejection of nuclear power expected to have repercussions in Japan (by Mainichi Shimbun)

People celebrate following partial results of Italian referendums on water and nuclear power in Rome on Monday, June 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Roberto Monaldo, Lapresse)

Italian voters adamantly said "no" to nuclear power generation in a referendum on June 12 and 13, a move likely to have repercussions in Japan, which is the centerpiece of the ongoing nuclear crisis that has added to the anti-nuclear power momentum in Europe.

6 more nuclear plant workers exposed to radiation above limit: TEPCO (by Mainichi Shimbun)

In this May 15, 2011 photo released Friday, June 10, 2011 by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), workers take break in a temporary rest area at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Six more workers involved in efforts to contain the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant are feared to have been exposed to radiation above the prescribed limit, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Monday, bringing the total number of such workers to eight.

Monday, June 13, 2011

'Medical vacuum' in disaster areas / Struck by March 11 tsunami, coastal hospitals struggle to resume operations (by Yomiuri Shimbun)

A patient from Shizugawa Public Hospital in Minami-Sanrikucho, Miyagi Prefecture, is now at a hospital of the same name operated inside a medical institution in neighboring Tome.

Three months after the Great East Japan Earthquake, coastal areas in Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures are suffering from a severe "medical vacuum."

Local officials saying no to restarting nuclear reactors (by Asahi Shimbun)

By the time summer temperatures peak in August across Japan, only 14 of the nation's 54 nuclear reactors will be churning out electricity to cope with the demand, due to the effects of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Disposal of nuclear waste should be made a top priority (by Mainichi Shimbun)

In this June 9, 2011 photo released Saturday, June 11, 2011 by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), equipment inside the cesium absorption tower, part of the newly-built radioactive water processing facilities at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, is shown. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

In the June issue of the monthly journal Sekai (The World), life scientist Keiko Yanagisawa argues that nuclear power plants must not be operated as long as we do not know how to dispose of highly radioactive nuclear waste -- which can wreak havoc on human DNA .

Over half of quake survivors still living in shelters: Mainichi poll (by Mainichi Shimbun)

More than half those affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake are still living in shelters, with many having no prospects of earning a living, a Mainichi Shimbun poll has shown.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

NUCLEAR CRISIS: HOW IT HAPPENED / Government, TEPCO brushed off warnings from all sides (by Yomiuri Shimbun)

Three months have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake triggered a nuclear crisis that shows little sign of ending anytime soon.

This is the fourth installment in a series that examines what caused the unprecedented crisis, which has dealt a fatal blow to the myth of the safety of nuclear power plants in this country.

Demonstrations against nuclear power blanket Japan (by Asahi Shimbun)

People march around Koriyama Station in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 11, calling for a nuclear-free society. (Ikuro Aiba)

Marking three months after the crisis erupted at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake, protesters marched against nuclear power generation in rallies across Japan on June 11.

Diagonal digging technology to be used for geothermal power generation (by Mainichi Shimbun)

Mitsubishi Materials Corp. and Tohoku Electric Power Co. are planning to employ diagonal digging technology to reach a geothermal energy source just below a national park for electric power generation, it has emerged.

Japanese stage antinuclear protest in New York (by Mainichi Shimbun)

NEW YORK (Kyodo) -- An antinuclear protest organized by Japanese people took place in New York on Saturday, three months after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami triggered a nuclear crisis at an atomic power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northwestern Japan.

Mass demonstrations against nuclear power held in Japan 3 months after quake (by Mainichi Shimbun)

An anti-nuclear demonstrator holds a portrait of outgoing Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Masataka Shimizu with a slogan, "Don't spread radioactivity to western Japan," during a demonstration in Tokyo on Saturday, June 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

TOKYO (AP) -- Protesters held mass demonstrations against nuclear power across Japan on Saturday, the three-month anniversary of the powerful earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 23,000 people and triggered one of the world's worst nuclear disasters.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Gov't report urges mental care for victims of earthquake and tsunami (by Mainichi Shimbun)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- People who lost loved ones or property in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami face a heightened suicide risk and should be provided care for years to ensure their mental and emotional wellbeing, a government report said Friday.

Japan quake orphans appeal for aid at New York's Times Square (by Mainichi Shimbun)

EW YORK (Kyodo) -- Four Japanese students recently orphaned by the March 11 quake and tsunami gathered at Times Square on Thursday to hit up tourists and New Yorkers for money to build a mental care center in the disaster-hit area.

Novelist Murakami raps Japan's nuke policy during award speech (by Mainichi Shimbun)

BARCELONA, Spain (Kyodo) -- Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami received the 2011 International Catalunya Prize at a ceremony Thursday in Barcelona, criticizing his country's pursuit of nuclear energy during his acceptance speech.

Tokyo Metropolitan Gov't to begin atmospheric radiation tests across city (by Mainichi Shimbun)

As concerns over radioactive contamination from the Fukushima nuclear crisis continue, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has announced it will begin checking atmospheric radiation levels at about 100 locations across the city.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

'Melt-through' at Fukushima? / Govt report to IAEA suggests situation worse than meltdown (by Yomiuri Shimbun)

Nuclear fuel in three reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has possibly melted through pressure vessels and accumulated at the bottom of outer containment vessels, according to a government report obtained Tuesday by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Labor ministry inspects Fukushima nuke plant over exposed workers (by Mainichi Shimbun)

Workers install a pressure sensor inside the No. 1 reactor building at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant on June 3, in this photo provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Japanese labor ministry on Tuesday inspected the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant to investigate the causes of the complex's workers being exposed to radiation exceeding the maximum allowable emergency limit.

Political parties should prioritize efforts to control nuclear crisis over power stalemate (by Mainichi Shimbun)

The ongoing political turmoil over when Prime Minister Naoto Kan should step down shows no sign of abating, with the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) trying to settle the situation by setting Kan's departure for this summer while the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) insists he should resign by the end of June.

Only 15 percent of donations distributed to quake, tsunami victims (by Mainichi Shimbun)

Only about 15 percent of donations collected across the country for quake victims have been distributed to individual victims, the donation allocation panel said.

Political parties should prioritize efforts to control nuclear crisis over power stalemate (by Mainichi Shimbun)

The ongoing political turmoil over when Prime Minister Naoto Kan should step down shows no sign of abating, with the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) trying to settle the situation by setting Kan's departure for this summer while the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) insists he should resign by the end of June.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Memorial for Japan quake victims held in London (by Japan Times)

News photo
LONDON — A memorial ceremony for victims of the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami was held Sunday at Westminster Abbey in London, with about 2,000 people attending in the rain.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fukushima radioactive water could overflow soon (by Asahi Shimbun)

Raising fresh concerns about its ability to bring the nuclear crisis under control, Tokyo Electric Power Co. announced June 3 that highly radioactive water pooled in underground pits could start rising above ground in less than three weeks.

Over 169 bil. yen in disaster relief donations still not distributed (by Mainichi Shimbun)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- More than 169 billion yen in relief money offered as donations to the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Central Community Chest of Japan for people affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami is still being kept by the two bodies, their officials said Sunday.

Reopened the pharmacy motivated by the customers


(by Mr. Takanori Sase, 52 years old, Store Manager, Sase Taiyodo Pharmacy at Asahi City, Chiba Prefecture)

I resumed my business after the Golden Week (long holidays in Japan). I quickly ran up to the second floor when the disaster hit our home. When the muddy stream of 2 meters high filled the first floor, I just could not believe what I saw.

News reports are naturally focused on the Tohoku area that received severe damages, but Chiba Prefecture suffered terrible damages as well. They are still working hard to demolish the damaged buildings and remove debris.

The shop area on the first floor was completely destroyed, and I was dejected by the sight, but when the customers came to ask for their medication after the earthquake disaster, I realized that I need to open the pharmacy to help them. I distributed fliers through newspapers on May 16, and I am getting back the customers little by little.

There are some who come from the evacuation centers, or temporary housings. There are many aged people who are on medications. I encourage myself to be positive even for the sake of the customers. (Picture taken by Mr. Kei Yokoyama)

Nikkan Sports, May 25, 2011

Translated by Makiko Tajima Asano

Junior High School students removing debris from the rice fields

Due to the damage by the tsunami, farmers in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, are not able to plant rice this year, and students at the local junior high school worked on removing debris from the rice fields. They could remove only part of debris, but will continue to work on it along with weeding.

350 hectare, 95 % of rice fields were submerged in sea water in the Kitakami area in Ishinomaki City when the tsunami hit, and they are not able to plant rice this year. The rice field of Mr. Hiroshi Ouchi (48) was also covered with the sea water and there are much debris left now even after the water subsided. 96 students from the local junior high school came to help him remove debris so that he will be able to plant rice next year. Students went into the rice field and picked up driftwoods and cloths piece by piece and sack them. Mr. Kyohei Saijo (14), 9th grade, said “I picked them up wishing that we’ll be able to eat the delicious Kitakami rice as soon as possible.” They were only able to remove the small portion of debris on 26th, but they will continue to help him remove debris and weed in the future.

NHK Online, The Circle of People, the Circle of Spirits, May 25, 2011

Translated by Makiko Tajima Asasno

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bank group buys booze to help quake-hit brewery (by Asahi Shimbun)

Ichinokura Co.'s sake (Provided by Sakura Card Co.)

The Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. group is buying sake made by a brewery in Miyagi Prefecture to help it rebuild after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Japan could face overseas lawsuits from nuclear crisis (by Asahi Shimbun)

The anti-nuclear sentiment is strong in Germany where demonstrations, such as this one in September 2010, are a common sight. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Photos show tsunami slamming into nuke plant (by Mainichi Shimbun)

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of troubled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, on May 19 released a total of 17 photographs taken by plant workers in the midst of the tsunami triggered by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

News Navigator: What kinds of donations are given to Japan disaster victims? (by Mainichi Shimbun)

The Mainichi answers common questions readers may have about donations to victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Question: What are the different types of donations that can be given to victims of the disaster?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Regulators never questioned one-page document: Memo emblematic of disaster plan flaws (by Japan Times)

Nuclear regulators trusted that the reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 complex were safe from the worst waves an earthquake could muster based on a single-page memo from Tokyo Electric Power Co. nearly a decade ago.

Kan unveils N-safety proposal (by Yomiuri Shimbun)

DEAUVILLE, France--Prime Minister Naoto Kan made a five-point proposal to ensure the safety of nuclear power plants at the two-day summit meeting of the Group of Eight nations that opened Thursday.

Japan Tries to Ease Fury of Parents Near Plant (by NYT)

TOKYO — Responding to fury among parents in Fukushima, Japan’s education minister said Friday that the country would set a lower radiation exposure limit for schoolchildren in areas around a stricken nuclear plant and pay for schools to remove contaminated topsoil from fields and playgrounds.

Softbank CEO Son morphs into advocate of nuclear phaseout (by Asahi Shimbun)

Masayoshi Son visits a gymnasium in Tamura, 11 days after the Great East Japan Earthquake, that served as an evacuation shelter for inhabitants of neighboring municipalities, including Okuma, partial host to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. This visit is said to have changed the Softbank CEO's views on nuclear power. (Provided by Softbank)

Nuke plant manager ignores bosses, pumps in seawater after order to halt (by Asahi Shimbun)

TEPCO Executive Vice President Sakae Muto fields questions at a news conference in Tokyo on May 26 on the continued pumping of seawater into a reactor. (The Asahi Shimbun)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Crippled nuke plant not prepared for heavy rain, wind (by Mainichi Shimbun)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is not fully prepared for heavy rain and strong winds forecast due to a powerful typhoon moving Saturday toward disaster-affected areas of northeastern Japan, according to the plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Unclear future prospect and unsettled nuclear issue makes me feel insecure

(by Mr. Koji Endo (40) from Minami Souma City, now in Sado City)
As my work place is located within 3 kilometers from the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant, I am not able to go to work. The life without the future prospect really makes me feel insecure. My house is located within 30 kilometers radius of the nuclear power plant. I hesitate to go back considering the future of my son who is 11 years old. He is getting used to the elementary school here, but says sometimes that he wants to go back. I have a mixed feeling as a parent. We could live a normal life only if there were no issue of nuclear power plant. I’d like the government to make it clear as soon as possible if the compensation will include the expected income during the period that I cannot work.

Niigatqa Nippo, Voices of Evacuees in the prefecture, May 25th, 2011

Translated by Makiko Tajima Asano

Hoping to go back to our house, though very concerned about the effect of the radiation on our grandchildren

(by Mr. Yasuo Itsuga (72)  from Minami Souma City, Fukushima Prefecture, now in Niigata City)
My original house located 2 kilometers from the coast was washed away, and I lost my sister, brother, and his grandson. I hate earthquake and tsunami, but I detest nuclear power plant. I am staying at this evacuation center with my grandchildren since March. Since their house is located outside of 20-kilometer restricted zone from the nuclear power plant, we could go back, if we all want, but I am scared to do so considering the effect on our young grandchildren with future. My son is staying at the house taking care of the business, and came to Niigata to check on us yesterday. We discussed “going back home by the end of summer break.” I hope the nuclear power plant issue would be settled by then.

Niigatqa Nippo, Voices of evacuees in the Prefecture, May 25th, 2011

Translated by Makiko Tajima Asano

The unemployed totaled 110 thousand after the earthquake disaster among three prefectures

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare reported that the number of the unemployed has climbed up to about 111.5 thousands among Iwate Prefecture, Miyagi Prefecture and Fukushima Prefecture where the Great East Japan Earthquake hit most severe and the people there either lost their jobs or got on suspension due to the temporarily close down and filed for unemployment benefit. Many are considered “Job loss related to the disaster”, and even 5,112 were added past nine days after May, 13th, 2011.

Statistics are based on the number of people who came to “Hello Work” – unemployment office to file for the benefits between the next day after the disaster and May 22, 2011. The prefectural breakdown shows that Iwate had 23,640 (1.9 times more compared to the last year), Miyagi had 48,496 (2.4 times), and Fukushima, 39,437 (2.8 times); the total number summed up to 111,537 (2.4 times).

The figure included the people who left jobs voluntarily and retired due to the age, but the most of the portion of increase were attributed to the job loss due to the disaster. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare expects low possibility for a sudden increase after this.

Yomiuri News Paper May 25, 2011

Translated by Makiko Tajima Asano

G8 leaders to call for strengthening of nuclear plant safety treaty (by Mainichi Shimbun)

G8 leaders meet in Deauville, France, on May 26. (AP)
G8 leaders meet in Deauville, France, on May 26. (AP)

Cabinet's nuclear safety chief totally confused after TEPCO reversal on water injection (by Mainichi Shimbun)

Nuclear Safety Commission Chairman Haruki Madarame. (Mainichi)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kan Promised to Increase the Share of Natural Energy to 20% in the 2020's

On May 26th before dawn in Japan time, Prime Minister Naoto Kan attended the event in Paris that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, where he talked about Japan's energy policy. He announced he would increase the share of reusable energy in an entire output from current 9% "to 20% by as early as possible in the 2020's."

Kan emphasized that he aims to reduce the cost of power generation to one third of the current level by 2020 and to one sixth by 2030. He has indicated his intention to expand the usage of reusable energy such as solar and wind power, in response to the event at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, but this is the first time that he referred to specific numbers. The timing of the implementation presented this time is accelerated by about a decade compared with that of the Basic Energy Plan the government adopted in June last year. By announcing at an international meeting, Kan's words are deemed as de facto public pledge.

Asahi Shimbun, May 26, 2011

Translated by Yuka Yamashita

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Miyagi gov't wants Tohoku region to carry out capital's crisis management functions (by Mainichi Shimbun)

SENDAI -- The Miyagi Prefectural Government is set to urge the national government to relocate some of Japan's capital functions to the quake- and tsunami-hit Tohoku region in northeastern Honshu as part of its restoration plan, local government sources said.

EDITORIAL: Independent panel needed to investigate Fukushima nuclear crisis (by Asahi Shimbun)

Few days pass without news that makes us wonder if the government is telling the truth about the disastrous nuclear accident triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Elderly volunteers seek to stabilize nuclear plant (by Asahi Shimbun)

More than 160 elderly people have volunteered to brave high radioactivity and help stabilize the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in response to a call from a former engineer in an effort a government official calls a "suicide corps."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tokyo urges APEC economies to buy Japan products despite disaster (by Mainichi Shimbun)

BIG SKY, Montana (Kyodo) -- Japan urged fellow Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum members to trade with it as usual despite its prolonged nuclear crisis, as their trade ministers began a two-day meeting Thursday in Montana.

Gov't attempt to promote clean energy a test of electric power policy reform (by Mainichi Shimbun)

The government's attempt to promote clean energy to replace nuclear power following the crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is widely viewed as a litmus test of electric power policy reform.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How one village defied the tsunami (by Japan Times)

Well prepared: Players and their coach at Fudai Junior High School clean a tennis court against the backdrop of the floodgate in the village of Fudai, Iwate Prefecture, on April 26. AP

Quake seen as 'teachable moment' in U.S. (by Yomiuri Shimbun)

Earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear power technology have become trending topics in middle and high school classrooms in the United States in the wake of the March 11 disaster in Japan.

Radiation tests lacking / Nuclear plant workers unsure of internal exposure levels (by Yomiuri Shimbun)

Nearly two months after the start of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, only 10 percent of workers there had been tested for internal radiation exposure caused by inhalation or ingestion of radioactive substances, due to a shortage of testing equipment available for them.

In Japan Reactor Failings, Danger Signs for the U.S. (by NYT)

TOKYO — Emergency vents that American officials have said would prevent devastating hydrogen explosions at nuclear plants in the United States were put to the test in Japan — and failed to work, according to experts and officials with the company that operates the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The failure of the vents calls into question the safety of similar nuclear power plants in the United States and Japan.

Levees need reinforcing to prevent tsunami damage, say researchers (by Mainichi Shimbun)

A levee destroyed by the March 11 tsunami is pictured along the Kitakami River. (Photo courtesy of Kyuichi Maruyama)

A levee destroyed by the March 11 tsunami is pictured along the Kitakami River. (Photo courtesy of Kyuichi Maruyama)

Osaka to designate evacuation facilities for 850,000 people in case of large tsunami (by Mainichi Shimbun)

OSAKA -- City officials here will designate facilities capable of temporarily holding 850,000 evacuees should a large tsunami strike the city, it has been announced.

Fresh Tales of Chaos Emerge From Early in Nuclear Crisis . (by WSJ)


This DigitalGlobe handout image shows the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on March 14, three days after the quake and tsunami.

Monday, May 16, 2011

TEPCO admits nuclear meltdown occurred at Fukushima reactor 16 hours after quake (by Mainichi Shimbun)

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) admitted for the first time on May 15 that most of the fuel in one of its nuclear reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant had melted only about 16 hours after the March 11 earthquake struck a wide swath of northeastern Japan and triggered a devastating tsunami.

Tokyo restaurant group to hold sake tasting event to support disaster area (by Mainichi Shimbun)

Tatsuo Iida, chair of the Asakusa restaurant cooperative, displays sake brands on May 12 in Asakusa, Tokyo, which will be offered at a tasting event. (Mainichi)

Over 60 percent of public supports suspension of operations at Hamaoka plant: Mainichi poll (by Mainichi Shimbun)

Over 60 percent of Japanese support the government's decision to suspend operations at the Hamaoka nuclear power station in Shizuoka Prefecture in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, a Mainichi poll suggests.

Nuclear power plant disaster highlights importance of diverse safety measures (by Mainichi Shimbun)


In this March 20, 2011 aerial file photo taken by a small unmanned drone and released by Air Photo Service, the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is seen in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture. From top to bottom: Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3 and Unit 4. (AP Photo/Air Photo Service)

Fleeting visit home in the evacuation zone and sad reunion with pet dogs.

There were the signs of summer, like rape flower fields and a wealth of mountain vegetables, in Kawauchi Village (Fukushima Pref.). Surrounded by peaceful landscape, the residents in protective clothing were collecting and stuffing their personal belongings, such as bankbooks, photographs, summer clothing, etc., into a plastic bag, feeling it was too much to bear.

Five buses carrying evacuees from Kawauchi Village who had been permitted short home visits left the Kawauchi Village Sonmin Taiiku Center (physical education facility) past 11 a.m. Another bus with about 20 members of the press in protective suits on board followed them.

They were breathless in the heat due to hermetically sealed protective suits and their goggles fogged due to perspiration. A 30-minute bus ride in the fresh green of the mountain range brought them to the Yoshinodawa region. Seventeen people from 10 households returned to their home in this area.

Mr. Shoichi Akimoto (60), taking shelter in Yabuki-machi of the prefecture, paused in front of his house and nervously got near the dog house. After the earthquake and tsunami, he returned to home to feed his two dogs a few times, but he hasn't been able to take care of them for the past 40 days. The purpose of this visit was to check upon the dogs.

“John,” he quietly called the name of one of his dogs, but had no response. When he got near, he found that the two dogs were dead with their body curled up. “You could have been saved. I’m truly sorry…” Mr. Akimoto was shaken by sobs as he was taking the remains of his dogs in his arms. He buried them in a straw-spread hole.

The Yomiuri Shimbun, Mary 10, 2011

Translated by Mikiko Yamashita

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Serious inequalities emerge in disaster relief donation distribution in 3 prefectures (by Mainichi Shimbun)

Serious inequality has emerged in the allocation of citizens' donations for the surviving family of those who died in the March 11 quake and tsunami because the range of relatives entitled to payments is different in the three hardest-hit prefectures.

Man dies after collapsing during Fukushima plant work (by Mainichi Shimbun)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A worker at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant died Saturday after collapsing while carrying materials as part of crisis-fighting operations, the operator said.

Evacuation begins from widened no-go zone near Fukushima plant (by Mainichi Shimbun)

FUKUSHIMA (Kyodo) -- Residents in Kawamata and Iitate began leaving their homes Sunday after their living areas were included in an evacuation radius the government widened last month around the radiation-leaking Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Friday, May 13, 2011

City in Iwate to hire private firm to remove rubble in bid to speed up restoration (by Mainichi Shimbun)

OFUNATO, Iwate -- The municipal government here is set to consign the disposal of rubble and debris from the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami to a private business in a bid to accelerate the restoration of the city.

Japan to cull livestock in no-go zone near Fukushima plant: Edano (by Mainichi Shimbun)

A cow lies dead on the floor of a cattle shed after residents were forced to evacuate from the deserted city of Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on April 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
A cow lies dead on the floor of a cattle shed after residents were forced to evacuate from the deserted city of Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on April 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

“Bureaucratic nonsense,” the residents object signature requirement for a brief visit to homes inside Japan's nuclear no-go zone.

The government asked the residents of the village of Kawauchi who had briefly returned to homes on May 10 to sign an agreement stating that they fully understand the risk of entering the no-go zone and they take personal responsibility for entering the area.
This signature requirement sparked off opposition from some residents and Village Mayor Yuko Endo criticized the government for its bureaucratic nonsense, saying that the residents would visit their home by agreement and no signature would be necessary.
Senior Vice Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Motohisa Ikeda, the head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, explained to the press that the signature requirement had been meant to ensure the residents understand that they should act safely and responsibly in the no-go zone.

The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 11, 2011
Translated by Mikiko Yamashita

Hometown I long to go back

(by Ms. Mitsu Shiotani (67), Minami Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture, at Joetsu City)

A chorus group came to visit us and we sang “Furusato(Hometown)” and “New Soma Song” together. It was hard for me to be honest, because it reminded me of the hometown where I grew up and lived all my life. I do not have much complaint about the life at the evacuation center, but still there are things that we need to be patient with when living in a group setting. It is pitiful to watch many children trying to control themselves as they understand the situation though they are at the stage of being very active and high spirited and usually horsing around. I don’t know how much longer we must stay here. I really would like to go home.

Niigata Nippo, Voices of the evacuees in Niigata Prefecture ~ Victims of Great East Japan Earthquake Who Evacuated to Niigata Prefecture

Translated by Makiko Tajima Asano

Agony over the nuclear power plant accident

(by Mr. Mitsuaki Watanabe (58), Naraha-machi, Fukushima Prefecture, at Niigata City)

Due to the accident at the nuclear power plant, the family grave of generations was torn, and so were the family ties that we lived close together. My hometown is now polluted and I will never be able to go back. We never know when the earthquake will occur. In order not to repeat the accidents in Fukushima, it is better to stop the operation at Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant until the safety is confirmed. I decided to live in Niigata City, and I signed an apartment contract. I am moving there from this evacuation center sometime this month. I am starting over at the new place.

Niigata Nippo, Voices of the evacuees in Niigata Prefecture ~ Victims of Great East Japan Earthquake Who Evacuated to Niigata Prefecture 

Translated by Makiko Tajima Asano

Japan Scraps Plan for New Nuclear Plants (by NYT)

Evacuees cleaned their house during a brief visit that was their first time since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami located near Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Tuesday.

Monday, May 9, 2011

With no car, road to recovery rough / Aged and ill robbed of mobility; workers face grueling commutes by bicycle (by Yomiuri Shimbun)

A mechanic checks a vehicle in a used car lot in Higashi-Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, on April 30.

Evacuees longing for hot meals (by Yomiuri Shimbun)

SENDAI--Nearly two months after the March 11 disaster, many evacuees are growing frustrated with the constant menu of cold meals, with some suffering health problems due to the bland diet.

Osaka day laborer duped into reactor cleanup (by Japan Times)

OSAKA — An Osaka day laborer who responded to an ad for a truck driver in Miyagi Prefecture found himself working beside the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station, it was learned Monday.

Workers measure large radiation drop after replacing surface soil with deeper dirt (by Mainichi Shimbun)

A worker from the Japan Atomic Energy Agency measures radiation levels in a sandbox at the Fukushima University-affiliated kindergarten in Fukushima on May 8, 2011. (Mainichi)

Japan Nuclear Plant in Quake Zone to Close as Precaution (by NYT)

The Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant of Chubu Electric, in central Japan, on May 7.

Quake-hit city suspends food rationing over lack of fairness fears (by Mainichi Shimbun)

About 500 to 600 people wait in line to receive rations in front of JR Watanoha station in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on May 3, 2011. (Mainichi)

Japan Reaffirms Nuclear Energy Use (by NYT)

The view on Sunday from an observation deck at the Hamaoka nuclear plant, which the government wants to shut down until protections can be built.

Man made to work at Fukushima plant for 2 weeks without prior knowledge (by Mainichi Shimbun)

People in radiation protect suits walk in J-Village in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan Tuesday, April 12, 2011. J-Village was a sports complex which has been converted to a base for workers at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Strong desire to return hometown and teach

(by Mr. Kengo Yoshikawa (26), a teacher returned to the parents’ home in Tarou, Miyako City)
I came home after 40 days, and felt relieved to find out that everyone including my family are doing better that I had expected. I am also glad that Tarou Ichi Elememtary School, the one I graduated from, is still in good condition. I teach in Shizuoka right now, but I started to feel the strong desire to teach the children in my hometown who encountered the tsunami.

Iwate Nippo, Tsugaru Tendenko ~ Messages from the disaster hit areas~

Translated by Makiko Tajima Asano

Even to this area… I was speechless

(by Ms. Motoko Miura (64), a housewife living as an evacuee at Nochinoiri Community Center in Ofunato City)

The tsunami approached just in front of my face, and I hurt my left leg when running away from it. I watched from the high ground that houses and cars were washed away. I did not expect that tsunami would come to even this area and was speechless. I will think about the future after moving in to the temporary housing.

Iwate Nippo, Tsugaru Tendenko ~ Messages from the disaster hit areas~

Translated by Makiko Tajima Asano

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Taking care of the graves with respect and sincerity

This is the burial site for about 350 people died from the earthquake and the tsunami disaster in Higashi Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture. There are a group of men who take care of the graves. They pour the water for flowers and level the mound by hands. After that work, they give silent prayers and move to the next mound. They are the employees of three construction companies in the city. Grave markers are in line with flowers and offerings neatly placed in front.

These three construction companies are in charge of digging up the ground for temporary burial and reburial to the permanent grave. Right after the disaster, they were fully occupied just to bury the victim’s bodies delivered there one after another. The grave markers were in disorder and the mounds were uneven. When the chaos of burying the victims somehow became settled, the employees voluntarily decided to straighten up the graveyard.

The families of the deceased express the great appreciation for their sincere attitude in caring the graves.
There are 20 men in total, and some are young in their twenties. There are some who lost their own families, and five among them come to work from the evacuation center. No one complain or gripe about the job. The supervisor (63) said, “The young people might realize the importance of mourning the dead. I know they cry when they go home. It is a hard job. They are working very hard bearing the sorrow and pain.”

Now their schedules are tight with reburials, but they try to find slightest time to come and care for the graves. “We must pay the respect,” a man said and went back to his work.

Sankei Shimbun, May 3, 2011

Translated by Makiko Tajima Asano