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