Back in 2011 PM Kan told Fukushima evacuees they could go home very soon. This was probably not what he meant.
The current Japanese government has been in the process of a push to force evacuees to return to the evacuation zone through a number of measures. Compensation payments would be cut and efforts to reopen some services in the disaster area were implemented. While this would leave many with no further aid, a new effort will make it even harder to not return to the evacuation zone.
In 2013 the Reconstruction Agency told local municipalities to not exempt evacuees from tough requirements to obtain public housing when their compensated housing expires. The Reconstruction Agency admitted that the plan is to force people to return home, they made this statement in that meeting “basically the policy is for a return to Fukushima”.
So not only will they cut off people’s compensation funding and aid, they will do whatever possible to make it harder for them to leave on their own or stay evacuated.
For more information about how Japan’s public housing system works, the Yen for Living blog at Japan Times has some helpful information.
Central gov’t wanted voluntary Fukushima evacuees to enter draws for public housing
The central government told prefectural governments in October 2013 to not exempt Fukushima nuclear disaster voluntary evacuees from having to enter draws for access to public housing after the free rent period for their current residences ends, it has been learned.
Voluntary evacuees are living in regular residences recognized as temporary homes, for which they pay no rent until the end of March 2017. The central government’s instruction came in regards to a policy called “Smoothing of (evacuees’) entrance into public housing,” which is based on an evacuee support law passed in June 2012 under the Democratic Party of Japan administration. The policy is supposed to loosen tough requirements defined by the Act on Public Housing for entrance into local government-run homes, such as income caps, and was included in fundamental policies of the support law that were approved by the Cabinet on Oct. 11, 2013.
The day before the Cabinet decision, the Reconstruction Agency and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism summoned representatives from the governments of municipalities with many Fukushima evacuees, like those of Tokyo and Saitama and Niigata prefectures, for a meeting. The Mainichi Shimbun obtained minutes of the meeting recorded by multiple municipal governments.
According to the minutes, a representative from the Reconstruction Agency explained that “basically the policy is for a return to Fukushima” and then gave details about the support law and the policy, and responded to questions from municipal government representatives.
When representatives from prefectures including Saitama asked about how to handle voluntary evacuees who want to move into public housing after their free rent period for their current residences ends, a ministry representative said the ministry wanted them to not give those evacuees any exemption from having to enter draws for entrance into the housing.
If voluntary evacuees have to enter draws for access to public housing, they might not succeed, and will be stuck without cheap public housing when free rent at their evacuation home runs out.
When a representative asked about the demand among evacuees for the “Smoothing of (evacuees’) entrance into public housing” policy, a government representative said, “The amount of demand is unknown,” suggesting that the policy was made without being based on studies of evacuees’ desires.
Many municipalities are restricting application for public housing to evacuees who did not originally live in those areas. A question regarding whether these restrictions needed to be changed came up at the meeting, but a central government representative said, “We don’t want changes (to the restrictions),” and asked municipal governments to operate regulations regarding public housing application according to their interpretation.
In June 2014, the land ministry distributed to municipal governments a collection of questions and answers about the policy, indicating strict requirements for allowing voluntary evacuees entrance into public housing without having to enter draws. The questions and answers were not released to the public. The Mainichi Shimbun made an information disclosure request and found that publically released documents on the policy make no mention at all of entering public housing without entering draws.
The policy went into effect in October 2014. According to the Reconstruction Agency, 40 prefectural and major city governments are accepting applications for public housing, but due to factors including lack of publicity on the policy, they have only given out 50 applications.
A land ministry representative says, “We cannot treat voluntary evacuees the same as forced evacuees, who are allowed entrance into public housing without entering draws. In the end, the methods taken are the decision of municipal governments.”
On June 15, the Fukushima Prefectural Government announced it would consider its own support measures to accompany the end of free rent period for the around 25,000 estimated voluntary evacuees using apartments and the like as temporary evacuation residences.
FUKUSHIMA–Tokyo Electric Power Co. has been ordered to pay 27 million yen ($219,500) in compensation to the bereaved family of a male evacuee who committed suicide after being displaced due to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Presiding Judge Naoyuki Shiomi of the Fukushima District Court ruled on June 30 that the main reason Kiichi Isozaki, 67, from Namie, near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, killed himself was “stress related to the nuclear accident.”
It was the second time a court in Japan has deemed that the Fukushima accident was responsible for an evacuee’s suicide.
Shiomi ruled that Isozaki lost the “foundation of his life” when he had to evacuate from his hometown, where he had spent most of his life and enjoyed fishing and home gardening after retirement.
The judge concluded that the prolonged evacuation and economic insecurity about his future added to his anxiety and triggered depression.
Isozaki’s 66-year-old wife, Eiko, and two other family members sued the utility, demanding 87 million yen in compensation.
Isozaki and his family fled from their home on March 12, 2011, the day after the nuclear crisis unfolded at the plant following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, according to a court statement.
They took refuge in a shelter set up at a high school gym in Koriyama, also in Fukushima Prefecture, about 60 kilometers from their home, on March 13.
Isozaki complained about being unable to sleep there and also lost his appetite.
About a month later, the family moved to an apartment in Nihonmatsu in the same prefecture.
Isozaki’s health began deteriorating again around the middle of June, and he often expressed a desire to return home.
His body was discovered in a river in Iitate, a village in the prefecture, in July. Police believe that he jumped from a nearby bridge.
The central issue of the lawsuit was whether his suicide was related to the nuclear accident.
“Isozaki committed suicide after developing depression while evacuating from the area of the nuclear accident,” one of the family members testified in court.
But TEPCO claimed, “Isozaki was already suffering anxiety and stress since he had diabetes.”
In the first compensation judgment, the utility was ordered to pay about 49 million yen to the family of an evacuee from Kawamata who killed herself in July 2011. The ruling was made by the same court last August.
The evacuee, 58, had set herself ablaze while on a visit back to her home.
On that occasion the utility decided not to appeal the ruling, and senior TEPCO officials apologized to the family of the deceased.
Source : Asahi Shimbun
Tepco now plans on paying part of the 76.1 billion yen ($619.4 million) spent so far on radiation decontamination work conducted by municipalities.
Tepco had effectively refused to cover the costs and only paid around 1.7 billion yen, or 2 percent of the total amount so far, saying it had yet to confirm whether it was legally liable for such payments.
However, Tepco has now conveyed to the Environment Ministry its intention of paying around 43 billion yen, or nearly 60% percent of the costs that the ministry had asked it to cover, in response to the ministry’s repeated calls. The utility is also considering whether to pay the remainder, the sources said.
A law enacted following the triple reactor meltdowns in March 2011 stipulates that Tepco bears the responsibility of paying for all decontamination work, such as removal of radioactive soil and other waste. Under the current program, the central government first shoulders the cost of cleanup work conducted by municipalities and Tepco later reimburses the expenses.
The utility’s planned reimbursement will concern cleanup work conducted by municipalities in Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate and several other prefectures.
Tepco has paid more than 90 percent of the around 128.5 billion yen spent on decontamination work conducted directly by the central government in heavily contaminated areas close to the Fukushima Daiichi power station.
Source: 4 Traders
In the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, much remains unknown about the long-term health effects of the radioactive substances released.
Seeking answers, Tohoku University Prof. Manabu Fukumoto has been examining the blood and other factors of slaughtered cattle and wild animals caught by hunters mainly within a 20-kilometer radius of the plant.
Over a four-year period, 300 cows, 60 pigs and 200 Japanese monkeys were checked. “Studying animals that lived in areas with high levels of radioactive material will help shed light on how radiation affects people,” Fukumoto said. “In fact, they provide us with a wealth of information.”
Fukumoto discovered that cesium levels in the organs of calves were 1.5 times higher than in those of their mothers. “Calves are known to have excellent metabolism, but it was a surprise to learn that radiation could accumulate so easily,” the 64-year-old professor said. “We have to pinpoint the cause.”
Eggs and sperm will be harvested from such cows for in vitro fertilization. Resulting offspring will then be screened for irregularities in their DNA.
The professor is a pathologist who studied the effects of internal radiation exposure on people who had ingested radioactive substances. After the Fukushima accident, his wife was struck with grief when the government started slaughtering cattle. “If anyone can ensure their deaths weren’t in vain, I know it’s you,” she told him.
Since he was nearing 65, the professor had been contemplating retirement. “I felt I had to prove my mettle as a Japanese researcher,” Fukumoto explained.
No longer spending all day peering through microscopes, he now strives to gather samples around the nuclear plant. The professor was convinced that “this is the quickest way to resolve questions regarding long-term radiation exposure.”
Using the sample collection and data he has amassed, Fukumoto plans to build an archive on animals exposed to radiation from the Fukushima disaster for the next generation.
“I’m all about being a zoologist now,” Fukumoto said with conviction.
Redeeming lives of Fukushima’s irradiated animals
Source : Japan Times
The Fukushima multiple nuclear disasters continue spewing out hot stuff like there’s no tomorrow. By all appearances, it is getting worse, out-of-control nuclear meltdowns.
On June 19th TEPCO reported the highest-ever readings of strontium-90 outside of the Fukushima plant ports. The readings were 1,000,000 Bq/m3 of strontium-90 at two locations near water intakes for Reactors 3 and 4. TEPCO has not been able to explain the spike up in readings. The prior highest readings were 700,000 Bq/m3.
Strontium-90 is a byproduct of nuclear reactors or during the explosion of nuclear weapons; e.g., it is considered the most dangerous component of radioactive fallout from a nuclear weapon.1 It is a cancer-causing substance because it damages genetic material (DNA) in cells. Strontium-90 is not found in nature. It’s a byproduct of the nuclear world of today; e.g., strontium-90 was only recently discovered, as of August 2014, for the first time ever, by the Vermont Health Department in ground water at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station. Coincidentally, Vermont Yankee, as of December 29, 2014, is being shut down.
When a fission chain reaction of uranium-235 or plutonium-239 is active in a nuclear power station containment vessel, it produces a vast array of deadly radioactive isotopes. Strontium-90 is but one of those. So, somewhere in Fukushima Dai-ichih a lot of atoms are splitting like crazy (meanwhile Einstein e=mc2 turns over in his grave) and ergo, a lot of strontium-90 pops out and hangs around for decades upon decades. This is not a small problem.
Which may be why Einstein famously said, “Nuclear power is one hell of a way to boil water.”
For example, a large amount of strontium-90 erupted into the atmosphere from the Chernobyl nuclear explosion (1986), spread over the old Soviet Republics and parts of Europe. Thereby, strontium-90, along with other radioactive isotopes, kills and maims people, a lot of people, to this day, more on this later.
Farming in Fukushima
Because of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, farmers in the greater area have had a tough go of it. For example, on June 6, 2013 Japanese farmers met with TEPCO and government officials, including the official in charge of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Translated and Edited by World Network for Saving Children from Radiation).
The 13-minute video of the farmers’ meeting with officials shows farmers testifying about contaminated food that, “We won’t eat ourselves, but we sell it… I know there is radiation in what we grow. I feel guilty about growing and selling them to consumers.”
Well, sure enough, officials from New Taipei City’s Department of Health (Taipei, Taiwan), and other law-enforcement authorities, seized mislabeled products from Japan. It seems that “more than 283 Japanese food products imported from the radiation-stricken areas near the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster were found to be relabeled as having come from other areas of Japan and sold to local customers.”2
Meanwhile, within a couple of months of the illicit underhanded devious mislabeling incident, Taiwan draws a line in the sand for Japanese foodstuff.3
Not only that but on the heels of Taiwan’s discovery of the mislabeling gimmick, and only three months later, this past week, Japanese authorities are asking China to remove the restrictions.4 Previously, China banned food imports from ten prefectures in Japan, including Miyagi, Nagano, and Fukushima.
Japan would be wise to suggest China first consult with the United States because confidently, audaciously, imperturbably Secretary of State Hillary Clinton allegedly signed a secret pact with Japan within one month of the meltdown for the U.S. to continue importing Japanese foodstuff, no questions asked.5
Meantime, Chancellor Merkel (PhD, physics) ordered a shutdown of nuclear power plants throughout Germany. Hmm.
Fukushima and Our Radioactive Ocean
According to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Video- March 2015:
When Fukushima exploded, radioactive gases and particles escaped into the atmosphere. Most fell nearby on land and in the ocean. A smaller amount remained in the air, and within days, circled the globe… in the ocean close to Fukushima, levels of cesium-137 and 134, two of the most abundant radioactive materials released, peaked at more than 50,000,000 times above background levels.
Nevertheless, according to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute:
Scientists who have modeled the plume predict that radioactivity along the West Coast of North America will increase, but will remain at levels that are not a threat to humans or marine life.
To date, based upon actual testing of water and marine life in the Pacific Ocean by Woods Hole, radioactive levels along the North American West Coast remain low, not a threat to humans, not a threat to marine life, so far.
Fukushima and its Ocean Impact
According to Dr. Ken Buesseler, Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, March 11, 2015, cesium uptake in the marine food web is diluted, for example, when Bluefin tuna swim across the Pacific, they lose, via excretion, about one-half of the cesium intake that is ingested in Japanese waters.
Expectantly, there are no commercial fisheries open in the Fukushima-affected areas of Japan. On a continual monitoring basis, no fishing is allowed in contaminated areas off the coastlines.
When contamination levels of fish in Japan are compared to fish along the coast of North America, the levels of radiation are relatively low in Canada and in the U.S. As a result, according to studies by Woods Hole, eating fish from the U.S. Pacific region is okay.
Not only that, but rather than categorical acceptance of U.S. government statements about safety from radiation in ocean currents, Dr. Buesseler established a citizen’s network called “How Radioactive is Our Ocean?” where individuals contribute by voluntarily taking samples. Every sample from the West Coast had cesium-137, but the numbers are low and at levels harmless to humans, thus far.
But, on a cautionary note, Dr. Buesseler is the first one to admit the situation requires constant monitoring.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s findings are not sufficient to dismiss health concerns for many reasons, among of which Fukushima is white hot with radioactivity, tenuously hanging by a thread, extremely vulnerable to another earthquake or even an internally generated disruption. Who knows? It is totally out of control!
The California Coastal Commission issued a report that agrees with the low levels of Fukushima-derived radionuclides detected in air, drinking water, food, seawater, and marine life in California; however, “it should be noted that the long-term effects of low-level radiation in the environment remain incompletely understood….”6
The risk of long-term exposure to low-level radiation is unclear. Studies of radiotherapy patients and others indicate that there is a significant increase in cancer risk if lifetime exposure exceeds 100,000 microsieverts, according to the World Health Organization. A person exposed daily to radiation at the high end of the levels now seen at Miyakoji [a village in Fukushima Prefecture] would reach that lifetime exposure level in fewer than 23 years.7
Current Status of Fukushima Nuclear Site
According to Dr. Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who travels to Japan to measure radiation levels: The site continues to leak radioactive materials. In fact, release of strontium-90 has grown by a factor of 100 when compared to 2011 levels. In other words, the situation is worsening. One hundred times anything is very big, especially when it is radiation.
Strontium-90 is acutely dangerous, and as it happens, highly radioactive water continuing to spew out of the Fukushima Dai-ichih facilities is seemingly an endless, relentless problem. The mere fact that strontium-90 has increased by a factor of 100 since the disaster occurred is cause for decisive sober reflection. Furthermore, nobody on the face of the planet knows what is happening within the nuclear containment vessels, but apparently, it’s not good. More likely, it’s real bad.
According to Dr. Helen Caldicott:
There is no way they can get to those cores, men die, robots get fried. Fukushima will never be solved. Meanwhile, people are still living in highly radioactive areas.8
Comparison analysis of Three Mile Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986), and Fukushima (2011)
The world’s three most recent nuclear disasters are dissimilar in many respects. However, all three are subject to the same adage: “an accident is something that is not planned.” Thus, by definition, in the final analysis, the risk factor with nuclear power is indeterminate. Fukushima is proof.
Three Mile Island’s containment vessel, in large measure, fulfilled its purpose by containing most of the radiation so there was minimal radiation released. As such, Three Mile Island is the least harmful of the three incidents.
By way of contrast, Chernobyl did not have an adequate containment vessel and as a result, the explosion sent a gigantic plume of radioactive material blasting into the atmosphere, contaminating a 70 square kilometer (approximately 30 sq. mi.) region, a “dead zone” that is permanently uninhabitable, forever unlivable.
To this day, tens of thousands of people affected by Chernobyl continue to suffer, and die, begging the question of whether Fukushima could be worse. After all, the incubation period for radiation in the body is 5-to-40 years (Caldicott). As, for example, it took 5 years for Chernobyl children to develop cancer (Caldicott), and Fukushima occurred in 2011.
“Fukushima is not Chernobyl, but it is potentially worse. It is a multiple reactor catastrophe happening within 150 miles of a metropolis of 30 million people,” claims John Vidal. Whereas, Chernobyl was only one reactor in an area of 7 million people.
John Vidal, environmental editor, The Guardian newspaper (UK), traveled to Chernobyl:
Five years ago I visited the still highly contaminated areas of Ukraine and the Belarus border where much of the radioactive plume from Chernobyl descended on 26 April 1986. I challenge chief scientist John Beddington and environmentalists like George Monbiot or any of the pundits now downplaying the risks of radiation to talk to the doctors, the scientists, the mothers, children and villagers who have been left with the consequences of a major nuclear accident. It was grim. We went from hospital to hospital and from one contaminated village to another. We found deformed and genetically mutated babies in the wards; pitifully sick children in the homes; adolescents with stunted growth and dwarf torsos; fetuses without thighs or fingers and villagers who told us every member of their family was sick. This was 20 years after the accident, but we heard of many unusual clusters of people with rare bone cancers… Villagers testified that ‘the Chernobyl necklace’ – thyroid cancer – was so common as to be unremarkable.9
Konstantin Tatuyan, one of the ‘liquidators’ who had helped clean up the plant [Chernobyl], told us that nearly all his colleagues had died or had cancers of one sort or another, but that no one had ever asked him for evidence. There was burning resentment at the way the UN, the industry and ill-informed pundits had played down the catastrophe.10
And still more yet:
Alexy Yablokov, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and adviser to President Gorbachev at the time of Chernobyl: ‘When you hear no immediate danger [from nuclear radiation] then you should run away as far and as fast as you can’… At the end of 2006, Yablokov and two colleagues, factoring in the worldwide drop in births and increase in cancers seen after the accident, estimated in a study published in the annals of the New York Academy of Sciences that 985,000 people had so far died and the environment had been devastated. Their findings were met with almost complete silence by the World Health Organisation and the industry.11
The environment is devastated and almost one million dead. Is nuclear power worth the risks? Chancellor Merkel doesn’t seem to think so.
Of the three major nuclear disasters, Fukushima has its own uniqueness. The seriousness of the problem is immense, far-reaching, and daunting as its containment vessels are leaking radioactivity every day, every hour, every minute. How to stop it is not known, which is likely the definition of a nuclear meltdown!
The primary containment vessels at Fukushima may have prevented a Chernobyl-type massive release of radioactivity into the atmosphere in one enormous explosion. Even though, Fukushima did have four hydrogen explosions in the secondary containment structures, and as previously mentioned, according to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute:
When Fukushima exploded… levels of cesium-137 and 134, two of the most abundant radioactive materials released, peaked at more than 50,000,000 times above background levels.
But, more significant, troublesome, and menacing the primary containment vessels themselves are an afflictive problem of unknown dimension, unknown timing, unknown levels of destruction, as the nuclear meltdown left 100 tons of white-hot radioactive lava somewhere, but where?
“Hell is empty and all the devils are here,” William Shakespeare The Tempest.
Postscript: Quietly into Disaster is an alluring, exquisite, handsome full-length film that examines the consequences of nuclear fission, Produced by: Holger Strohm, Directed by Marcin El.
Source: Dissident Voice
Retired Ghibli feature director also drew art for center for families after 2011 quake
Anime director and Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki donated 300 million yen (around US$2.4 million) to the town of Kumejima, Okinawa for the construction of an “Interaction Center for Children” in the town’s Zenda Forest Park. The project’s supervisor and Miyazaki’s friend Tomohiro Horino expects the project to take around two years to complete.
The facility will include a two-story, 1,000-square-meter building. The town has allotted 10,000 square meters of the Zenda Forest Park for the project. The project will solicit opinions and suggestions for the project from the town’s citizens on a regular basis.
The project was revealed last year. Miyazaki drew the concept illustration above for the facility.
Miyazaki was also asked by a friend last year to draw a logo for the new facility on Kumejima. The facility is intended for families and children, who were displaced from Fukushima, to be outdoors; due to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station leak after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, there are areas in Fukushima that are no longer safe for children to play.
Source: Okinawa Times
SEJONG, June 26 (Yonhap) — Talks between South Korea and Japan over Seoul’s ban on fishery imports from the neighboring country ended without any progress as they stuck to their guns, the government here said Friday.
Seoul imposed an import ban on 50 fishery products from Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture shortly after the major earthquake and tsunami caused a nuclear reactor there to melt down in March 2011.
The ban was expanded to cover all fishery products from Fukushima and seven adjacent prefectures in September 2013 following reports that massive amounts of radioactive materials and contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant were being dumped in waters surrounding Japan.
“The government held bilateral consultations with Japan on June 24-25 at the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva over our country’s import restrictions on Japanese fishery products, but the talks ended after the countries confirmed their differences,” the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a press release.
Japan argued South Korea’s import ban had no scientific justification, demanding Seoul remove all its import restrictions at the earliest date possible.
South Korea maintained its measures were still necessary to ensure the safety of its people and that they were in line with the WTO’s sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
This week’s talks came after Tokyo requested bilateral consultations with Seoul under a dispute settlement framework of the WTO.
Japan could ask the WTO to set up a dispute settlement panel if the countries fail to reach a deal within 60 days following Japan’s request for bilateral consultations.
Seoul’s trade ministry said it was not clear whether Tokyo will ask for additional consultations, but that it will be fully prepared to deal with any legal processes.
“Japan has expressed its position that it will decide its next step after reviewing the outcome of this week’s bilateral consultations,” the ministry said.
“The government will begin preparing for WTO’s dispute settlement process as Japan is expected to ask for the establishment of a dispute settlement panel.”
Source : Yonhap News
The central government approved a ¥6.5 trillion, five-year program to help areas hit by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster to recover, under a plan that will see local governments begin to shoulder part of the cost.
Local governments in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures are expected to pay about ¥22 billion. The remainder will be covered by the central government in the five-year period starting in April 2016, according to officials.
It program represents a policy shift by the central government because it has paid for all costs for reconstruction projects thus far.
The central government has cited the need to consolidate its debt-ridden finances, instead encouraging disaster-hit regions to promote reconstruction without relying too much on the state.
Under the program, local authorities are required to bear 1.0 to 3.3 percent of the costs for reconstruction work, one-tenth or less of the levels set for public works projects, the officials said.
Local authorities had demanded the state shoulder all the costs for reconstruction work, saying a fiscal burden will undermine their recovery efforts and hit financially weak municipalities.
However, the governors of the three prefectures on Monday indicated they would accept the new formula after the state reduced their share from about ¥30 billion to about ¥22 billion.
According to the officials, the program will allocate ¥3.4 trillion for rebuilding homes and communities damaged by the disaster.
Some ¥500 billion will be earmarked for reconstruction related to the nuclear disaster at Tepco’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant, and ¥400 billion for supporting survivors.
The state is calling the five years from April 2016 a “revival and creation period,” aiming to finish reconstruction work in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures and to speed up the reconstruction of the nuclear crisis-hit Fukushima Prefecture.
Including the ¥6.5 trillion, the total reconstruction costs for a 10-year period from the 2011 calamity will amount to ¥32 trillion.
Source : Japan Times
FUKUSHIMA – University students in Fukushima Prefecture have begun providing elderly refugees from the nuclear disaster with a unique form of assistance just by living in the same temporary housing complex where they now live.
By staying close to the seniors and associating with them across generational lines, the young volunteers hope to revitalize their communities.
The aid project was proposed by the Fukushima University Disaster Volunteer Center, which has promoted volunteer visits to temporary housing in the radiation-tainted prefecture. It was adopted by the Reconstruction Agency as a state-subsidized “mental reconstruction” project.
The project involves a temporary housing complex in the Iizaka district in the city of Fukushima where 269 people from the town of Namie, in the exclusion zone near the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 power plant, have taken shelter. About 60 percent of the residents are 60 or older.
Two students will live in the complex for three months, followed by another pair each new quarter, for an entire year. The students will meet the residents and gauge how they are getting by, shop on their behalf and support the activities of the residents’ association.
Last Sunday, about 10 students helped the first two move in, cleaning their dwelling and carrying in furniture.
“Instead of working too hard to fulfill the role of a volunteer, I aim to be accepted as a resident,” Shunichi Sato, a 22-year-old Fukushima University student who volunteered. “I’m looking forward to talking with people who I’ve had few chances to get to know.”
Source : Japan Times
Japan’s nuclear regulators have come up with a revised plan to provide emergency medical care to residents after accidents at nuclear power plants. The government has until now helped set up hospitals near nuclear plants to treat small numbers of workers exposed to radiation in accidents.
But in the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, local medical facilities were unable to adequately treat the many residents thought to have been exposed to radiation. At their meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday, the NRA, presented a draft of revised guidelines for creating a network of medical facilities. The plan proposes that prefectures within 30 kilometers of plants designate 1 to 3 hospitals as base facilities to deal with nuclear disasters.
The hospitals are to have teams of experts treat patients after accidents and go to other prefectures where nuclear accidents occur.
The draft also calls for designating hospitals and other facilities within around 30 kilometers of nuclear plants as “cooperating organizations.” The facilities would check evacuees for exposure to radiation and treat the injured and sick. The NRA is to decide on the revised guidelines after soliciting opinions from the public for 30 days from Thursday.
The top official of a group of nuclear energy experts says the Fukushima Daiichi accident has made it difficult for Japan to properly train enough nuclear specialists.
Hiroshi Uetsuka, the new president of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, told reporters on Wednesday that every research reactor housed at universities and other institutes across Japan is idled.
Uetsuka said the operators of those institutes are unable to meet regulations that were revised following the nuclear accident. He said the budgets and staff for the research reactors have been cut.
The president called the situation very serious because of the challenges that both decommissioning and restarting reactors present.
He said his society will put together proposals to address the problem.
Uetsuka said the cause of the Fukushima Daiichi accident is well understood, but investigations have yet to determine what exactly is going on inside the reactors.
Uetsuka said the society will continue to study the accident. He said its members, along with officials of the Nuclear Regulation Authority and power companies, will discuss how to apply their findings to reactor regulations.
Source : NHK
In 2013, two years after the disaster, Japan’s permanent radiation-exclusion zones were unveiled in the Japanese media.
The Japanese government identified areas measuring between 20 and 50 millisieverts a year as suitable for restricted living (visitation but not yet permanent inhabitations).
Areas measuring fewer than 20 millisieverts a year of annual exposure were designated as habitable zones and preparations were made for lifting evacuation orders in these areas (“About 60 Percent,” 2013.)
In effect, Japan increased its national exposure level from one, to up to 20 millisieverts a year, while allowing partial habitation in areas with up to 50 millisieverts. In comparison, the Soviets set the Chernobyl exclusion zone at five millisieverts a year “Japan Groups Alarmed,” 2011. This elevated level applied for children as well as adults.
In November 2013, Japan announced it was changing its method of atmospheric monitoring to an individualized badge system. According to a November 9, 2013 report from The Asahi Shimbun, the badges underestimated exposure levels by seven times when compared to the atmospheric monitoring technique that had previously been deployed by aircraft “Lower Radiation Readings,” 2013. This change essentially increases permissible exposure levels.
Source : Majia’s Blog
As June wanes we find more delays, more problems and new admissions about the extent of the disaster.
TEPCO introduced a new roadmap plan. At the same time they announced that spent fuel removal work for units 1-3 would be delayed again. Currently they are attempting to remove the cover on unit 1 but this process has not actually begun based on visual evidence at the plant. Work at unit 3 had been underway in early spring to remove parts of the crane that fell into the fuel pool. An oil leak was found as they attempted to remove a portion of the crane. Around the same time they discovered damage to the metal gate that connects the spent fuel pool to the reactor well. After this discovery, removal work at unit 3 appeared to cease.
Newer reports also showed that the earlier concept of flooding the reactor containments to remove damaged fuel debris is being phased out. This will require research to be focused on ways to remove fuel without doing so under water. Something that has not been done is to drill under the reactor buildings to check for fuel debris that may have burned through the basement of the reactor buildings. At this point the melted fuel at units 1-3 has not been located. Delays in investigation efforts and denial of the potential extent of the damage will only drive up costs and create years of additional delay.
Bags of contaminated soil stored at sites around Japan and in Fukushima prefecture have began to fail. It was not mentioned how they would remediate the damaged bags or what precautions would be used to prevent bags from failing during the transportation process. Contaminated soil is to be moved to two new storage facilities near Fukushima Daiichi.
The government has decided to allow businesses back into the evacuation zone. Nahara is also a location where reactor debris was discovered. A group of shareholders seeking to hold TEPCO accountable for the nuclear disaster uncovered a 2008 document where TEPCO admits the tsunami risk and that something must be done. Somehow after that 2008 report was discussed by TEPCO executives they managed to bury the document and do nothing to prevent what happened in 2011.
In a recent Mainichi interview, new details of the chaotic evacuations during the nuclear disaster were revealed. Officials raised the contamination level where they would attempt to decontaminate someone from 13,000 CPM to 100,000 CPM. All parties acknowledged that removing people from the unsafe areas was a larger priority than decontaminating them.
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Govt. to allow businesses in evacuation zones
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Two men have been charged in Taiwan related to the importing of banned foods from Japan. Authorities in Taiwan have asked Japan to investigate the crime on their end, so far they have received no response.
At the same time Japan is being uncooperative with Taiwan, they are asking China to ease food import restrictions. Japan recently took South Korea to the WTO in an attempt to force them to remove restrictions on suspect food imports. So far there has been no indication Japan intends to do the same to China.
The higher restrictions in place in China have created an additional problem for Japan. If they are able to comply with China’s stringent documentation requirements they have little ability to claim less onerous documentation rules in other countries are too difficult to meet. ipei Times
South China Morning Post
China banned imports of food produced in 10 prefectures in Japan including Miyagi, Nagano and Fukushima following the crisis
A Japanese farm ministry official met a senior Chinese official in charge of food inspection on Friday to request the easing of restrictions on food imports introduced after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, sources said.
A director general at the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries used the meeting in Beijing to stress the safety of Japanese food, the sources said.
China banned imports of food produced in 10 prefectures in Japan including Miyagi, Nagano and Fukushima following the nuclear crisis.
The beginning of such talks reflects an improvement in relations between the two biggest Asian economies.
Ties had deteriorated after the Japanese government bought a major part of the Japanese-administered Diaoyu Islands – known as Senkaku in Japan – in the East China Sea, from a private Japanese owner in 2012. The islands are claimed by China.
Both countries’ leaders have met twice since November, indicating a thaw in their tense relations.
The sale and use of Japanese food products has dropped sharply at department stores, supermarkets and restaurants in China since the import ban went into effect.
But potential demand remains strong for such products.
The two countries are expected to set up another meeting of higher-ranking officials.
In another development, Beijing is set to hold a press conference on the arrangements for a grand military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of second world war, another grievance between the two nations.
Qu Rui, deputy director of the Military Parade Leading Group, is scheduled to attend the press conference.
The parade, to be held in September, is seen as an attempt by Beijing to exert pressure on Japan over wartime disputes.
But Beijing has said the parade is not targeted at any particular country.
China has said it will invite leaders of other nations to attend the parade.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to be a guest, but it is not known if Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be invited.
Source: South China Morning Post
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