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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

June 21 Energy News

geoharvey

Science and Technology:

¶ An electric plane project is in the works at NASA, and the new aircraft is called the X-57. It’s an initiative to demonstrate that electric-powered aviation can be clean, quiet, and quick. With 14 small engines means the X-57 will need less energy to cruise at a speed of 175 mph. [Fox News]

Artist's concept of the X-57. (NASA Langley / Advanced Concepts Lab, AMA, Inc.) Artist’s concept of the X-57. (NASA
Langley / Advanced Concepts Lab, AMA, Inc.)

¶ Planet OS, a provider of online geospatial environmental data, announced a data intelligence system to help wind farm operators and renewable energy service providers boost power output by up to 30%. RWE has joined forces with Planet OS as the launch partner. [GISuser.com]

¶ A study says temperatures are rising faster than the development of crop varieties that can cope with them. Researchers found that it can take 10-30 years before farmers can grow a…

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June 21, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

South Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission and terrorism risks

Nuclear Australia

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Nuclear Waste Brief (June 2016) by David Noonan, Independent Environment Campaigner

Proposed International nuclear waste storage exposes Australia to risks of terrorism “In the event of a major nuclear accident, adverse impacts on the tourism, agriculture and property sectors could potentially be profound.” Nuclear Royal Commission Finding 155 Feb 2016, Impacts on other Sectors p.28

An International nuclear waste storage agenda exposes Australia to a range of potential profound adverse impacts in major nuclear accidents and in nuclear insecurity as a target for terrorism.

The SA Nuclear Royal Commission Final Report (9 May 2016, 16 Mb) flagged risks in proposed high level nuclear waste transport and storage and concluded that terrorist attack scenarios are conceivable and rocket attack has the greatest potential to cause a release of radiation from impacted waste transport and storage casks (Appendix L – Transport risk analysis p.312).

In an age of terrorism following the devastating…

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June 21, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Another Ridiculous Ridge — Western Wildfires Grow as US Heatwave Casualties Mount

GarryRogers Nature Conservation

GR.–It’s 107 degrees F (42 degrees C) at my house again today.  Previous record here at our shady place at 4500′ altitude in central Arizona was 101 F (38 degrees C).

RobertScribbler.–“In Borrego Springs, CA at 10 AM this morning, the temperature was a scorching 116 degrees F. Temperatures today are expected to hit 122 degrees F (50 degrees C) for this California location — which would tie the all-time high for any date there. But it’s just a microcosm of the record-shattering heat that is now settling in over the US West. Heat that looks like it will remain in place for days and possibly weeks. Heat that is now resulting in tragic instances of loss of life even as it is sparking numerous massive widlfires, melting snowpacks, worsening droughts, and otherwise sparking conditions that are related to a human-forced heating of the globe.

(Sections of Phoenix scorched…

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June 21, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fukushima 3/11 Breeds Cynicism

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There’s an old saying “disasters bring out the best in people,” but Fukushima 3/11 of March 11, 2011 has put an exclamation point on cynicism rather than heartfelt concern.

Similar to America’s experience of outright lies by its government about the Iraqi Massacre, the blowback of cynicism and contempt bring forth a strain of populism, rejecting establishment, attracting lowly dishonorable politics, as America gooses-up an abomination!

Fukushima’s a horror story of hidden agendas, lies, scare tactics, and harsh secrecy laws, yet it’s held up as a icon of safe nuclear power by clever mastery of pro-nuke Oceania Newspeak, which, in the novel 1984 penalized “rebellious thoughts” as illegal, similar to Japan’s 2013 secrecy law wherein the “act of leaking itself” is bad enough for prosecution, regardless of what, how, or why, off to jail for 10 years. These decadent precepts are hard to accept with a straight face.

However, the day is fast approaching when the pro-nukie crowd, which claims Fukushima 3/11 caused few, if any, major radiation casualties, will be forced to “munch on their own words.” As time passes, it becomes ever more obvious that pro-nuke arguments, supporting big fat cumbersome nuclear power plants, metaphorically, hang by fingertips on an electric fence.

As an aside, it is rumored, thru the grapevine in Japan, that hospitals have been instructed to categorize, and officially report, patients’ radiation symptoms as “stress-related cases.” Hmm!

As for pro-nuclear news:

In spite of this whole theatrical drama the result was…nobody killed or injured, and no indication of long term negative radiation effects on people. So the lesson of Fukushima is that nuclear power is much safer than people thought,” Kelvin Kemm, The Lesson of Fukushima – Nuclear Energy is Safe, Cfact, Feb. 16, 2015.

Another example:

No one has been killed or sickened by the radiation — a point confirmed last month by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Even among Fukushima workers, the number of additional cancer cases in coming years is expected to be so low as to be undetectable, a blip impossible to discern against the statistical background noise,” George Johnson, When Radiation Isn’t the Real Risk, New York Times, Sept. 21, 2015

And, one more:

There were no cases of radiation sickness among plant workers, because their radiation doses were too low to produce sickness,” Georgetown Radiation Expert, Author Reflects on 5th Anniversary of Fukushima Meltdown, Georgetown University Medical Center, Newswise, Feb. 23, 2016.

Bunk! To the contrary, not only have several independent sources in Japan reported cover ups of Fukushima worker deaths, bodies incinerated with ashes hidden in Buddhist temples, and instances of hair falling out, nose bleeding, and assorted serious ailments unique to radiation poisoning, now several deaths of U.S. sailors may be closely linked to this disaster that a pro-nuclear crowd claims demonstrates how “safe” nuclear power really is.

Thus, begging the question: Are the pro-nukites liars and/or are they being lied to, or what’s up? Who knows, and who really cares which, but their published articles, grandstanding nuclear power, are prominent throughout mainstream big time, and small time, magazines and newspapers and hyperspace, Oceania redux.

Whereas, in vivid contrast to this pro-nuke claptrap, one of Japan’s most eminent former prime ministers Junichiro Koizumi (2001-06) declares support for the U.S. sailor’s TEPCO lawsuit, more on this later.

Additionally, PM Koizumi has repeatedly urged PM Abe to halt efforts to restart Japan’s nuclear reactors. He is the second former Japanese prime minister, including PM Naoto Kan (2010-11), to plea for a halt to nuclear power. They claim nuclear power is not safe!

Luckily for the nuclear power industry, Abe is the prime minister.

Yet, there’s a festering problem, prevalence of radiation-poisoned deaths:

The ashes of half a dozen unidentified laborers ended up at a Buddhist temple in this town just north of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Some of the dead men had no papers, others left no emergency contacts. Their names could not be confirmed and no family members had been tracked down to claim their remains. They were simply labeled “decontamination troops” — unknown soldiers in Japan’s massive cleanup campaign to make Fukushima livable again five years after radiation poisoned the fertile countryside,” Mari Yamaguchi, Fukushima ‘Decontamination Troops’ Often Exploited, Shunned, AP & ABC News, Minamisona, Japan, March 10, 2016.

And, here’s another:

It’s a real shame that the authorities hide the truth from the whole world, from the UN. We need to admit that actually many people are dying. We are not allowed to say that, but TEPCO employees also are dying. But they keep mum about it,” Katsutaka Idogawa, former mayor of Futaba (Fukushima Prefecture), Fukushima Disaster: Tokyo Hides Truth as Children Die, Become Ill from Radiation – Ex-Mayor, RT, April 21, 2014.

And, one more:

Mako Oshidori, director of Free Press Corporation/Japan, investigated several unreported worker deaths, and interviewed a former nurse who quit TEPCO: “I would like to talk about my interview of a nurse who used to work at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) after the accident… He quit his job with TEPCO in 2013, and that’s when I interviewed him… As of now, there are multiple NPP workers that have died, but only the ones who died on the job are reported publicly. Some of them have died suddenly while off work, for instance, during the weekend or in their sleep, but none of their deaths are reported.”

Not only that, they are not included in the worker death count. For example, there are some workers who quit the job after a lot of radiation exposure… and end up dying a month later, but none of these deaths are either reported, or included in the death toll. This is the reality of the NPP workers,” (The Hidden Truth about Fukushima by Mako Oshidori, delivered at the international conference Effects of Nuclear Disasters on Natural Environment and Human Health held in Germany, 2014 co-organized by International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War).

Still and all, PM Abe insists upon fireside chats with pro-nuke campers whilst reopening nuclear power plants even though Japan survived just fine for five years without. He appears to have ants in his pants, pushing hard to restart the ole nuke plants A-SAP.

Meanwhile, in another universe, former PM Koizumi supports the lawsuit of U.S. sailors aboard the USS Ronald Reagan that participated in Operation Tomodachi, providing humanitarian relief after the March 11th Fukushima meltdowns. Allegedly, they were assured that radiation levels were okay!

There is no excuse for Tokyo Electric Power Co. not to give the 400 U.S. sailors and marines who are now suing the company the proper facts. Things are looking especially good for the plaintiffs now that former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is backing the lawsuit over the Fukushima radiation,” Support for U.S. Sailor’s Tepco Suit, The Japan Times, June 17, 2016.

Undoubtedly, Koizumi was convinced to help the sailors because they now suffer from radiation poisoning. He said: ‘Those who gave their all to assist Japan are now suffering from serious illness. I can’t overlook them,” Ibid.

According to lawyers representing the sailors, Charles Bonner & Cabral Bonner & Paul Garner, Esq., Sausalito, CA, seven sailors have already died, including some from leukemia.

With passage of time, the number of plaintiffs and numbers of deaths grows as the latency effect of radiation sets in. Thus, over time, the latency effect works against the pro-nuclear squawk talk that “all’s clear.”

Initially, the lawsuit represented less than 200 sailors but over time, the latency effect brings forward 400 sailors claiming radiation-poison complications, including leukemia, ulcers, gall bladder removal, brain cancer, brain tumors, testicular cancer, uterine bleeding, thyroid illness, stomach ailments, and premature deaths. These are youngsters.

The lawsuit process has been exacting for the young sailors: “Lindsey Cooper, for example. The woman who started the whole thing was torn apart on a CNN program by atomic energy experts and was later mocked on conservative radio shows,” Alexander Osang, Uncertain Radiological Threat: US Navy Sailors Search for Justice After Fukushima Mission, Spiegel Online International, Feb. 5, 2015.

As it happens, it’s not disasters that turn people’s stomachs as much as cover-ups and lying, bringing forth cynicism, contempt, and ultimately populist blowback as people get fed up with establishment politics.

It is very likely that, similar to American populist blowback, Japan will meet the same fate.

On second thought:

There is one thing that really surprised me here in Europe. It’s the fact that people here think Japan is a very democratic and free country.” (Mako Oshidori, director/Free Press Corporation/Japan, speech in Germany)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/06/21/fukushima-311-breeds-cynicism/

 

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Aging reactors 20-year extension fuels concerns

License renewal of aging reactors betrays promise, fuels concerns

The Nuclear Regulation Authority on June 20 approved 20-year operating extensions for two reactors at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, both of which had been in service for more than 40 years.

Kansai Electric Power Co., which operates the plant, plans to restart the No. 1 and the No. 2 reactors as early as autumn 2019 after taking the required additional safety measures.

Following the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011, Asahi Shimbun editorials have been arguing for phasing out nuclear power generation in two to three decades.

We believe high-risk or aging reactors should be decommissioned while allowing the minimum number of necessary reactors to continue operations.

The NRA’s decision for the two aging reactors has raised serious concerns that license renewals could be approved for many reactors judged deemed capable of operating profitably by utilities. We are opposed to the decision.

One source of worry is the stance of the nuclear safety watchdog itself.

One challenge at the Takahama plant is making electric cables less vulnerable to fires. The NRA has accepted Kansai Electric Power’s plan to cover cables with a fire-resistant sheet in places where it is difficult to replace them with flame-retardant cables.

The NRA has also allowed the utility to delay required earthquake-resistance tests that involve the actual shaking of important equipment within the containment vessels of the reactors.

The regulator has given the go-ahead to the company’s plan to carry out such tests after taking the additional safety measures.

The licenses for reactor operations can be renewed only once for up to an additional 20 years. But this provision was introduced to prevent emergencies, such as serious power crunches.

The NRA itself described its permission for extended reactor operation as an “extremely exceptional” measure and “hard to obtain.”

An even more serious problem is the stance of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government toward nuclear power generation.

In response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Democratic Party of Japan-led government revised the law to set 40 years as the lifespan of nuclear reactors.

The revision was made amid broad public consensus on lowering the nation’s dependence on nuclear power.

Initially, the Abe government, inaugurated in December 2012, also repeatedly promised to reduce Japan’s dependence on nuclear power generation as much as possible.

But the Abe administration has since gradually switched its position to maintaining nuclear power generation. It has even designated nuclear power as one of the core energy sources for the nation.

The administration’s recent refrain is: “Reactors that have been judged safe by the NRA will be restarted.”

The NRA, for its part, emphasizes that its mandate is limited to assessing the safety of individual reactors. The existence of an appropriate and workable evacuation plan is not a factor checked in the watchdog’s safety inspections.

The NRA has also avoided directly addressing the risks involved in the concentration of nuclear power plants in certain regions, such as Fukui Prefecture, where the Takahama plant is located.

In March, the Otsu District Court issued an injunction to suspend operations of the No. 3 and the No. 4 reactors at the Takahama plant, which had just been restarted.

The court’s decision reflects one important lesson from the Fukushima meltdowns: One key factor behind the accident was the tradition of leaving policy decisions about nuclear power regulation entirely to experts.

The revision to the law to establish the 40-year legal lifespan for nuclear reactors was based on an agreement among the DPJ, Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, now the ruling party, and the LDP’s junior coalition partner, Komeito.

The government must not be allowed to betray its promise to the public to reduce Japan’s reliance on nuclear power while using the NRA as a cover to obscure its policy shift.

The Abe administration should offer a clear and detailed explanation about its position on the 40-year life rule.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201606210041.html

NRA gives two-decade extension to 40-year-old Takahama reactors; residents’ reactions mixed

The Nuclear Regulation Authority on Monday approved an additional 20 years of operation for two aging reactors on the Sea of Japan coast that will become the first such units to be rebooted under new rules introduced after the Fukushima disaster.

The atomic regulator green-lighted Kansai Electric Power Co.’s plan to restart its No. 1 and No. 2 reactors — both more than 40 years old — at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture.

But the reboot is unlikely to happen soon, with the company eyeing an October 2019 timetable for completing the final screening measures.

The rules, which were tightened after the 2011 triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant, in principle set the maximum operational life span for nuclear reactors at 40 years. However, the regulations also stipulated that operations can be extended by an additional 20 years if the NRA approves.

Meanwhile, Takahama’s two other reactors — No. 3 and No. 4 — remain idle after the Otsu District Court rejected a bid Friday by Kepco to lift an injunction preventing their restart.

The utility has condemned the court’s move.

Kepco had been closely monitoring the condition of the two aging reactors in a stricter manner than regular checkups since December 2014 as it sought to obtain approval for extending their life spans.

After confirming there were no abnormalities, the utility applied for an NRA screening in April last year.

The utility had been required to complete three procedures by July 7 to obtain permission for restarting units No. 1 and No. 2. While they had already passed a test for compatibility with the new rules and received approval for a construction plan detailing equipment design, the only remaining test had been of the reactors’ anti-degradation measures.

In that screening, regulators asked that the utility address the potential for long electrical cables to catch fire and how it would cover the containment vessels with concrete in the event of a serious accident. NRA chief Shunichi Tanaka said he hopes the power company will conduct inspections more often than required to ensure the facilities are safe.

The utility will spend ¥200 billion ($1.9 billion) to improve the reactors’ safety over the next 3½ years. They are expected to be restarted sometime after fall 2019.

Reactors 1 and 2 will thus reach the end of service in November 2034 and 2035, respectively.

Residents had mixed reaction to the decision.

The town of Takahama “has lived with the nuclear power plant for a long time. I hope the (reactors’) resumption will help revitalize the local economy,” a woman in her 20s said, though admitting she is worried about their safety.

While Takahama Mayor Yutaka Nose welcomed the decision, he said he will ask the regulator and plant operator for detailed explanations of the safety steps to respond to residents’ concerns.

Kansai Electric said in a press release that it believes permission for reactors to run beyond the 40-year limit heralds the restart of more of Japan’s aging reactors.

The government is pushing to bring dozens of reactors back online after the Fukushima disaster prompted a nationwide shutdown, as it looks to atomic power to provide 20 to 22 percent of its electricity by 2030.

The government will need a dozen aging reactors running beyond the four-decade limit to meet its goal, experts say, given the difficulty of building new reactors now that Japan’s long-held nuclear safety myth has been shattered by the triple meltdown in Fukushima.

The No. 1 reactor began operating in November 1974, while the No. 2 reactor did so in November the following year. Both reactors have been suspended since regular checkups in 2011

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/20/national/nra-looks-ok-2019-restart-aging-kepco-reactors-fukui-coast/

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO admits meltdown cover-up

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TEPCO admits meltdown cover-up

The president of Tokyo Electric Power Company has admitted the company concealed the reactor meltdowns at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant immediately after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The utility did not officially admit the meltdowns until more than 2 months after the accident.

In February this year, it was revealed the utility could have ascertained a meltdown 3 days after its occurrence if workers had followed an in-house manual.

TEPCO asked a third-party panel to investigate the matter. Last Thursday, the panel released a report that said the company’s then-president, Masataka Shimizu, had instructed officials not to use the words “core meltdown.”

TEPCO President Naomi Hirose said at a news conference on Tuesday that the company’s concealment of the meltdowns at the order of its then-president is a grave issue. He said it is natural for the public to interpret the decision as a cover-up, and he apologized.

The panel report said TEPCO’s then-president received instructions on the matter from the prime minister’s office. But it’s not known what exactly he was told or who gave the orders.

Both then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan and then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano have denied giving such instructions.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160621_35/

Fukushima meltdown apology: “It was a cover-up”

TOKYO — The utility that ran the Fukushima nuclear plant acknowledged Tuesday its delayed disclosure of the meltdowns at three reactorswas tantamount to a cover-up and apologized for it.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Naomi Hirose’s apology followed the revelation last week that an investigation had found Hirose’s predecessor instructed officials during the 2011 disaster to avoid using the word “meltdown.”

“I would say it was a cover-up,” Hirose told a news conference. “It’s extremely regrettable.”

TEPCO instead described the reactors’ condition as less serious “core damage” for two months after the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, wrecked the plant, even though utility officials knew and computer simulations suggested meltdowns had occurred.

An investigative report released last Thursday by three company-appointed lawyers said TEPCO’s then-President Masataka Shimizu instructed officials not to use the specific description under alleged pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office, though the investigators found no proof of such pressure.

The report said TEPCO officials, who had suggested possible meltdowns, stopped using the description after March 14, 2011, when Shimizu’s instruction was delivered to vice president at the time, Sakae Muto in a memo at a televised news conference. In a video from that day, a company official rushes over to Muto, showing the memo and telling him that the Prime Minister’s Office has banned the word.

Government officials also softened their language on the reactor conditions around the same time, the report said.

Former officials at the Prime Minister’s Office have denied the allegation. Then-top government spokesman Yukio Edano, now secretary general of the main opposition Democratic Party, criticized the report as “inadequate and unilateral,” raising suspicion over the report by the lawyers seen close to the ruling party ahead of an upcoming Upper House election.

TEPCO has been accused of a series of cover-ups in the disaster, though the report found TEPCO’s delayed meltdown acknowledgement wasn’t illegal.

Hirose said he will take a 10 percent pay cut, and another executive will take a 30 percent cut, for one month each to take responsibility.

The report said Shimizu’s instruction delayed full disclosure of the plant’s status to the public, even as people who lived near the plant were forced to leave their homes, some of them possibly unable to return permanently, due to the radiation leaks from the plant.

TEPCO reported to authorities three days after the tsunami that the damage, based on a computer simulation, involved 25 to 55 percent of the fuel but didn’t say it constituted a “meltdown,” even though the figures exceeded the 5 percent benchmark for one under the company manual.

TEPCO in May 2011 publicly acknowledged “meltdown” after another computer simulation showed significant meltdown in three reactors, including one with melted fuel almost entirely fallen to the bottom of the primary containment chamber.

The issue surfaced earlier this year in a separate investigation in which TEPCO reversed its earlier position that it had no internal criteria regarding a meltdown announcement, admitting the company manual was overlooked.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fukushima-tepco-power-japan-nuclear-meltdown-apologizes-cover-up/

Tepco head apologizes for 3/11 ban issued on ‘meltdown’

The head of Tokyo Electric Power Co. apologized Tuesday over his predecessor’s order to not use the term “core meltdown” to describe the situation at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in the early days of the March 2011 crisis.

It is extremely regrettable. People are justified in thinking it as a coverup,” Tepco President Naomi Hirose said at a news conference in Tokyo.

The remarks came after a report published last Thursday said that then-President Masataka Shimizu instructed a vice president, who was taking part in a news conference on March 14, 2011, not to use “core meltdown” to describe the states of the reactors.

Tepco reported to authorities on March 14, based on a computer simulation, that the event damaged 25 to 55 percent of the fuel rods, but the utility did not say it constituted a meltdown, the report said.

The company’s internal manual defined a meltdown as damage to more than 5 percent of the fuel.

The utility used the less serious phrase “core damage” for two months after the disaster began. In May 2011, Tepco finally used “meltdown.”

The report suggested that efforts were made to make the nuclear crisis look less severe than it actually was at a time when attention was riveted on the condition of the six-reactor complex following a massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.

The utility said it will cut Hirose’s salary by 10 percent for a month.

Shimizu likely issued the instruction due to pressure from the office of then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan, according to the report, compiled by a third-party commission set up to investigate the utility’s handling of the disaster. But it did not explain how pressure was exerted by the prime minister’s office, citing fading memories of the people involved.

The commission said it had not interviewed Kan or Yukio Edano, who was then chief Cabinet secretary in the administration, in the course of compiling the report because it was not authorized to do so.

The two denied the allegation.

On Friday, Edano called a special news conference to refute the panel’s finding, saying that neither he nor Kan ordered or requested then-President Shimizu to avoid using the term “meltdown” under any circumstance.

He said the party will consider taking legal action against Tepco and a third-party panel that compiled the report. Edano criticized the report as “inadequate and unilateral.”

Edano also said the timing of the report was suspicious ahead of the Upper House election. Kan has suggested it might be some kind of bid by Tepco and the ruling parties to sling mud on the opposition Democratic Party.

The DP is the successor to the Democratic Party of Japan, to which Kan and Edano belonged, before it merged with Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party) on March 27.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/21/national/tepco-head-apologizes-311-ban-issued-meltdown/

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

The French embassy in Japan held a dinner party with Fukushima food

 

France being one of the major exporters of nuclear, to be expected that its Embassy in Tokyo would collaborate with the Japanese Government to put on a show that Fukushima products are safe, that Fukushima is no more contaminated, that everything is great.

The event certainly  was organized behind the scenes by the Project ETHOS, financed by the nuclear lobby, whose main mission is to minimize the gravity of any nuclear catastrophe in the mind of the affected population, so as to encourage the People to stay and live with the “non-harmful” radiation. Ethos did the same propaganda campaign, same program during the Chernobyl catastrophe.

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According to the French embassy in Japan, they held Fukushima food dinner party on 6/17/2016.

Fukushima governor. Uchibori, Minister for Reconstruction. Takagi, and a French singer. Charles Aznavour were invited by the Ambassador of France. Thierry Dana.

Fukushima beef, Cherry, and locally raised chicken were served as French cuisine.

In the press release, the major retail company Aeon is mentioned as a partner of this event.

CEO of Aeon is the older brother of Japanese Democratic Party’s leader. Okada.

Fukushima Governor commented they have not detected excessive density of radioactive material in any of their agricultural products over the past year.

http://www.ambafrance-jp.org/article10203

file:///Users/user/Desktop/fukushimabrochure_vf2.pdf

http://fukushima-diary.com/2016/06/the-french-embassy-in-japan-held-a-dinner-party-with-fukushima-food/

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima rice to be sold in Britain

It’s horrible to think that if the rice is over 99 Bq/kg it cannot be sold in Japan yet it can have up to 600Bq/kg (?) of Cs137/134 and be sold in the EU. One man’s poison is another man’s food …

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Rice harvested in Japan’s Fukushima region, heavily affected by a nuclear meltdown in 2011, is returning to the EU, starting with Britain next month, the Japan Times reports.

A total of 1.9 tons of Fukushima rice called Ten no Tsubu will be sold in London, making the UK the first EU nation to import the region’s produce after the nuclear disaster. The sale became possible after a long campaign from Fukushima natives in London to fend off rumors about the potential danger of the crops, the media said.

With the UK as a foothold, we hope to expand the sale of prefecture-produced rice to other EU member countries,” said Nobuo Ohashi from Japanese farmers group Zen-Noh.

Brussels requires rice from Fukushima to undergo a radiation test in Japan or the importer country.

It’s bright news for Fukushima, which has been struggling with the import restrictions. We will make further efforts so the restrictions will be lifted entirely,” said a spokesperson for a prefectural office.

The disaster at the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Plant was caused by a tsunami that resulted in the meltdown of three nuclear reactors and the release of radioactive material. It was the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl accident in 1986, and the second to receive the highest level classification on the International Nuclear Event Scale. 

A March report by the US National Academy of Sciences said that five years following the disaster, most seafood caught off the coast of Japan is now safe to be consumed, adding, “the overall contamination risk for aquatic food items is very low.”

https://www.rt.com/business/347459-fukushima-rice-japan-meltdown/

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ghosts of Fukushima

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ABOVE: Radioactive waste from the evacuation zone is stored at massive dump sites. In Naraha, thousands of decontamination workers dug up and disposed of a two-inch layer of soil around every building in town.

Hisao Yanai, a one-armed, chain-smoking, retired yakuza boss, stands alone behind the bar at Ippei, the restaurant he owns in the Japanese town of Naraha. There are no customers today. The streets outside the restaurant are deserted. Five years ago, on March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake and tsunami triggered a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, located ten miles north of Naraha, forcing the evacuation of roughly 160,000 people. Half of them still cannot go home. Last fall, Naraha became the first town in Fukushima’s mandatory evacuation zone to reopen fully, allowing all 7,400 residents to return. Nothing like it had ever been attempted before. Could a town despoiled by radiation be summoned back to life?

When I visit Naraha in the fall of 2015, not long after it reopens, only 150 residents have returned. (The number has since risen to 500.) Most are elderly. The town seems abandoned, like a seaside resort in the off-season. With no functioning banks, schools, or even a post office, Naraha has reverted to the rural backwater that Yanai escaped 50 years ago as a high school dropout. At 15, he ran off to Tokyo and learned to drive a dump truck during the construction boom leading up to the 1964 Olympics. At 16, he lost his left arm to a conveyor belt at a quarry. Eventually, he returned to Naraha and went to work at Fukushima Daiichi, which was flooding the area with high-paying jobs and government subsidies. Naraha, once known in Japan as “the Tibet of Fukushima,” had suddenly been thrust into the nuclear age.

“The nuclear plant changed the history of this town,” Yanai says. “They told us it was 100 percent safe.”

Naraha still has the outward appearance of a sleepy farming community, with tidy neighborhoods separated by rice paddies, fruit orchards, and two rivers tumbling to the sea from the nearby Abukuma Mountains. Since decontamination began about 18 months after the disaster, thousands of workers equipped with little more than garden tools have cut down trees, power-washed streets, and peeled off a two-inch layer of radioactive soil in a 65-foot perimeter around every structure in town. Vast fields and mountainsides have been left largely untouched, save for large burial mounds of black plastic bags filled with low-level radioactive waste that metastasized across the landscape as the work progressed.

There’s no blueprint for remediating a radioactive town and then moving people back into it. After the 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, the Soviet Union simply abandoned scores of towns. But in a country as densely populated as Japan, abandoning an area the size of Connecticut wasn’t an option. In a concerted push to resettle all but the most severely contaminated areas, the government has spent $31 billion on the cleanup effort, and a staggering $58 billion in compensation payments to evacuees.

The government maintains that it is safe for residents to return to Naraha. Radiation levels in the central part of town average less than 1 millisievert per year—the maximum allowable exposure for ordinary citizens under guidelines set by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. An annual dose of 1 millisievert would increase a resident’s risk for cancer by .005 percent. For a smoker like Yanai, cigarettes pose a far greater threat than radioactive fallout.

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Hisao Yanai, a retired yakuza boss, returned to Naraha without his wife and daughter.

Like many residents, however, Yanai distrusts the government. Surveys indicate that half of all evacuees don’t plan to return home. The cleanup effort is widely viewed as political theater, designed to whitewash Fukushima in time for the 2020 Olympics. Encouraging evacuees to return home now would also put an early stop to some compensation payments, which aren’t set to expire until 2018. The government, in short, has a financial incentive to strong-arm mayors into reopening towns before they’re ready, or even properly decontaminated.

“The central government pressured us to lift the evacuation order,” Yanai says. “Nobody in town wanted it, because nothing is prepared.” His restaurant remains the only place in Naraha where you can get a beer. In the two weeks I spent in town, I saw only two people dining at Ippei. Behind the bar, the hands on the clock are frozen at 2:47, the moment when the earthquake hit. Yanai has vowed not to reset it until life in Naraha returns to normal.

One day, Yanai invites me to his home, to see the results of the government’s decontamination program. His house sits on a hilltop, ringed by a concrete wall. When I arrive, Yanai is sitting at a picnic table, smoking. Thick weeds mark the border of the decontaminated buffer zone around his house. Before it was decontaminated, radiation levels in Yanai’s yard measured 10 microsieverts per hour—nearly 50 times higher than the government’s allowable limit.

“There are still places in town that measure 10 micro-sieverts,” Yanai says. He walks over to the corner of his garage, which houses a dusty Mercedes resting on flat tires, and points to a patch of gravel beneath a downspout. This particular spot, he says, was decontaminated three times, because rain kept washing radioactive particles off the garage roof. Government contractors excavated the hot spot each time, but only after Yanai filed a request through the town office.

“If you don’t ask,” Yanai shrugs, “they won’t do it.”

The government has strict decontamination guidelines, but in the field practices are often improvised. At Yanai’s house, contractors dumped wheelbarrow-loads of contaminated dirt in a corner of his garden.

“Look, I’m a nice guy,” says Yanai, grinning. He crushes a cigarette butt into the gravel with his heel. “I said, ‘Fine, if you want to dump it there, I’m not going to say anything. But if you do the same thing in the neighbor’s yard, they might shoot you.’ ”

Yanai is keen to show me his menagerie. His prized specimen is Boo, a boar named for the sound, in Japanese, that a pig makes. After the Fukushima disaster, wild boars came down from the mountains and roamed the evacuation zone, tearing up gardens and ransacking houses. They can still be seen in Naraha, trotting along the road at night. Boo is the size of a small, snaggle-toothed dog. He snorts and gnaws at Yanai’s shin. “They’re not very friendly to people,” says Yanai, shooing the pig away with his foot. “But I’m determined to make him my pet.”

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Of the 500 villagers who have returned to Naraha, most are elderly. It is a town without children.

Although Yanai professes to be retired from the Japanese Mafia, his years as a yakuza boss have left him with wealth, influence, and a fearsome reputation. It was rumored that he’d served time in prison for assault. After the nuclear disaster, he used his mojo to force the big construction companies in charge of the cleanup to hire local firms as subcontractors. “In a way,” he says, “the disaster was a good thing.”

Stepping onto the patio in back of his house, Yanai reaches into a galvanized steel tub full of water and pulls out a goldfish as big as a grapefruit. There is a technique to feeding them, he observes. “Do it too quick and they die.”

It’s obvious that Yanai misses being a yakuza boss. He is still bending creatures to his will, only now it’s a quirky hobby. He has a wife and daughter, but they live in Tokyo.

“It must get lonely here,” I venture.

“That’s true,” says Yanai, releasing the goldfish back into the tub. He watches the fish rejoin its companions. “When I get home they’re waiting for me. They don’t complain if they’re hungry, but they’ll die if I don’t take care of them.”


At the ceremony to mark Naraha’s reopening, Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto performed the banal civic rituals required of mayors everywhere. He planted a tree using a gold shovel, celebrated with a group of children, and projected confidence while posing next to a brightly colored illustration of Naraha’s future. “The clock that was stopped,” he declared, “has now begun to tick.”

A few weeks later, I meet Matsumoto at the town hall. Scattered among the office’s sober furnishings are stuffed toys portraying Naraha’s mascot, an anthropomorphic yellow citrus fruit named Yuzutaro. Between sips of green tea, Matsumoto speaks in a soft monotone. To hear him tell it, running a radioactive ghost town for more than three years was marginally more eventful than a meeting of the zoning commission. He attended countless meetings with government officials and oversaw infrastructure repairs. When he speaks of the town, the word “radiation” rarely crosses his lips. Instead, he prefers vague euphemisms like “environment.”

I ask him to describe what evacuees are most concerned about. At first, he says, they were “quite angry” about “the environmental conditions of the town.”

“And now?” I ask.

“Now there are no problems,” he says, “and people have become tranquil.”

Later, as I talk to more residents, it becomes clear that this characterization is a vast overstatement. It’s obvious to even the most casual observer that only old people are returning to Naraha. If young people are afraid to raise children here, I ask Matsumoto, what kind of future is there for Naraha?

“Naturally we want everybody to come back,” he says. “Elderly people are coming back first.” He places his teacup on the table. “But if the children do not come back here, the town cannot exist.”

For a moment, Matsumoto seems surprised by his own candor. Then he hastens to obfuscate it. Leaning forward in his chair, he redefines Naraha’s existential dilemma as a simple misunderstanding. Naraha is completely safe, he asserts. Parents with young children just need a little more convincing to return. One thing his office could do, he suggests, is to “make the environment around the schools better. Also we need to do something to make the parents understand.”

“Understand … what?”

“Regarding the issue of—radiation,” says Matsumoto, searching for a more diplomatic word. “People have their own ideas about what’s safe. But actually, in Naraha, it’s lower than 1 millisievert per year, which is what the government set for exposure to the public. That’s the reality I want people to understand.”

I ask him if he is happy with the government’s decontamination efforts. Matsumoto chuckles. “Let me say I’m not 100 percent satisfied,” he says. For further details, he refers me to Hiroyuki Igari, the town’s director of radiation measurement.

A week later I speak to Igari, a churlish man with a dosimeter badge—a device that measures a person’s cumulative radiation exposure—hanging on a lanyard around his neck. If anything, he insists, the government is actually overstating the amount of radiation that residents are being exposed to. “I live in Naraha,” he says. “I commute to work. Sometimes I stop by the store. Then I go home. That’s my routine.” He yanks on the dosimeter. “After two weeks, it’s obvious from this dosimeter that my exposure won’t exceed 1 millisievert per year.”

While Igari doesn’t put any stock in the notion that the government is pressuring towns like Naraha to reopen prematurely, he acknowledges that the cleanup is imperfect. In his view, the government has done a poor job of educating people about radiation, and its standards for mopping up recurring hot spots like the one in Yanai’s yard are nonexistent. But he believes that radiation isn’t a determining factor in whether people choose to return.

“People who were stressed in the temporary houses, they just want to come home. They don’t care about dose rates,” Igari says. “People who don’t return are used to their new lives. They’re used to living under one roof. But now they’re split up, and they don’t want to leave their families again.”

But dosimeter readings and official reassurances have done nothing to alter a more fundamental reality: In post-Fukushima Japan, nuclear safety is a bankrupt concept. Officials like Mayor Matsumoto who use the word “safe” in an absolute sense echo the corporate propaganda of companies like Tokyo Electric Power Company, the disgraced utility that owns Fukushima Daiichi. As the son of a TEPCO salaryman, Matsumoto has spent his career working the levers of a political machine that is oiled with money from the nuclear industry. Yet in the aftermath of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters, he still believes himself to be a credible authority on the relative safety of low-dose radiation.

The truth is that there’s no such thing as a “safe” dose of radiation, only gradations of risk. Epidemiological studies show that cancer risk increases in tandem with radiation dose, but we know very little about the risks associated with doses below 100 millisieverts per year. Denying that risk contradicts most people’s inherent understanding of safety as a cost-benefit equation. A patient who agrees to a CAT scan of their head, for example, knows that the diagnostic benefit outweighs any increased risk for brain cancer.

Matsumoto prefers to focus on the benefit side of the equation, which doesn’t require him to invent new euphemisms for “radiation.” He points to the brand new secondary school that will open next year, as well as a $50 million retrofit of J-Village, a national soccer training facility presently serving as a staging ground for 7,000 nuclear workers, which will open in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“It’s going to be big news,” says Matsumoto.

There are also plans for a new hotel, office building, and a “compact town” that will house a supermarket, pharmacy, home center, and medical clinic. A robotics research facility is due to open this summer. And thanks to government subsidies, ten companies, including a battery-maker, a pharmaceutical firm, and a steel manufacturer, are thinking of moving to Naraha.

For its investment in Naraha, Tokyo got a showpiece to justify the trillions of yen it’s pouring into Fukushima. Since the disaster, only two of Japan’s 42 operable nuclear reactors have reopened over public protests, and the nuclear industry is desperate for a public relations coup. As we part, Matsumoto repeats the promise he made personally to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “I told the prime minister that we’re not going to simply reconstruct the town—we’re going to be a model town of the reconstruction,” Matsumoto says, beaming with conviction. “We’re going to do that, and you’re going to see it.”


Convoys of construction vehicles rumble continuously down Route 6, the coastal highway that runs through Naraha and connects the boomtown of Iwaki to the ghost towns of the restricted zone clustered around the nuclear plant. Built for the 1964 Olympics, Route 6 was instrumental in nudging the region out of rural isolation and onto the planning maps of authorities in charge of Japan’s nascent nuclear energy program. Within a decade, Naraha and its neighbors became charter members of Japan’s “nuclear village,” a network of company towns that received government subsidies in return for hosting nuclear power plants.

Tokuo Hayakawa was a young man in 1967 when TEPCO began building Fukushima Daiichi. He is the chief monk at Naraha’s 600-year-old Hyokoji temple, and an ardent antinuclear activist. I visit Hayakawa on two occasions, and each time he wears a white NO NUCLEAR PLANT button pinned to his lapel.

“Since TEPCO started operating here, nobody believed what they were saying about safety,” Hayakawa says. And yet the utility was able to build not just one, but two nuclear plants in Fukushima prefecture: Daiichi and Daini. (Daini was also damaged by the tsunami, narrowly averting a meltdown.) How could TEPCO accomplish this, I ask, if nobody thought the plants were safe?

“As a foreigner, it’s really difficult for you to understand,” Hayakawa says after a long pause. “There’s an atmosphere that keeps people from raising their voices. If something is dangerous, they can’t say it’s dangerous. If something isn’t right, they can’t say it’s not right.”

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Tokuo Hayakawa, chief monk at Naraha’s 600-year-old temple, believes the town can’t be revived: “Naraha isn’t a place to live anymore.”

Social unity is a bedrock feature of Japanese culture, especially in rural areas. The inbred politics of the nuclear village exploited this tendency, fusing the emphasis on communal harmony with corporate interests. Questioning the safety of the nuclear plant was akin to disavowing one’s family, friends, and neighbors. For decades, skeptics bit their tongues, government regulators promoted the absolute safety of nuclear power, and TEPCO executives operated with little or no oversight. This conspiracy of complacency led to dangerous practices, such as locating diesel generators at Fukushima Daiichi in areas that were vulnerable to flooding—a factor that contributed directly to the disaster. Last February, three former TEPCO executives were charged with criminal negligence for their role in the nuclear meltdown.

Hayakawa didn’t want to return to Naraha, but he had no choice. “I cannot abandon the temple,” he says. “There are family tombs here.” Besides, he feels too old to start a new life. He had his hopes set on his grandson taking over for him. But the disaster eliminated that possibility. “I am definitely the last one,” he says. “It’s clear that Naraha isn’t a place to live anymore.”


“The monk was opposed to the nuclear plant from the beginning,” says Toshimitsu Wakizawa, a gregarious 67-year-old newspaper deliveryman who seems to know everybody in Naraha. “And everything he said came true.”

When I approach him, Wakizawa is gathering sticks in his front yard. Japanese people don’t generally engage in conversations with strangers, to say nothing of American journalists who walk up to them unannounced. But Wakizawa chats with me as if we’ve been neighbors for years. He points to houses that are going to be demolished because their owners aren’t coming back.

“I thought 30 percent might return,” he says, “But now I think it’ll be 20 percent, or even less.”

Wakizawa doesn’t blame his neighbors for preferring the conveniences of city life in Iwaki, where 80 percent of Naraha’s evacuees went during the disaster, to the preternatural quiet of their hometown. “It’s even worse here than before the nuclear plants were built 40 years ago,” he says. “When I drive up Route 6, I don’t see any life, not even insects. Around 8 o’clock it’s scary, because nobody’s here.”

Wakizawa is preparing to move back to Naraha in a few days to restart his newspaper delivery business. “People want to read the obituaries,” he says. “That’s why they want the local newspapers—to see who died and what the radiation levels are.”

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In May, residents planted one of the town’s first rice crops since the disaster. Many believe Naraha’s water is still too contaminated to drink.

Today there are only 50 houses on Wakizawa’s delivery route, down from 250 before the disaster. “The town is disappearing,” he says. He’s troubled by the sense of alienation he feels in Naraha’s desolate neighborhoods. People live alone, outside the traditional support networks of neighbors and extended families. Somebody could die at home and nobody would even know. When I tell him that such deaths aren’t an unusual occurrence in the United States, he looks aghast. “That never happens here! We always talk to our neighbors!” He shakes his head, as if attempting to dislodge the thought of a world where neighbors are strangers and people die alone.

“It’s all mixed up,” he says. “Everything is so confused.”

I leave Wakizawa and drive to the ocean, hoping to find some trace of the houses swept away by the tsunami. Instead I find a vast radioactive waste dump, half-hidden behind flimsy white panels decorated with pictures of birds and trees. I stand with my back to the sea, looking west over the dump toward the dark-shouldered mountains. The river plain is a ragged checkerboard of fallow rice paddies dotted with mounds of black decontamination bags. It is a sobering sight in a country where every inch of arable land is intensively cultivated. The Japanese expression for it is mottainai, a feeling of sorrow for something wasted.


Naraha’s “business district” consists of a single prefab metal shed tucked in a corner of the town hall parking lot. It contains a diner named Takechan, owned and operated by Miyuki Sato and her husband, who commute an hour to and from Iwaki each day. The original Takechan, now overrun with vermin and mold, was a neighborhood fixture in Naraha for 40 years. The reincarnated version has all the charm of a hospital cafeteria, with white laminate walls and glaring fluorescent lights. It is packed with decontamination workers in gray uniforms bent over steaming bowls of ramen.

After the lunch rush one day, I sit down with Miyuki. A television reporter from Sweden had interviewed her earlier in the week. “What do you think about the radiation?” Miyuki intones in mock seriousness. Then she claps her hand over her mouth to stifle a giggle. “So we finished the interview very quickly.”

The Satos haven’t yet found a place in Naraha to relocate. They are eager to leave Iwaki, though, partly because of the long commute, and partly because the evacuee community there isn’t as tranquil as the mayor has suggested. Residents are bitterly divided over his decision to reopen Naraha, Miyuki explains. She is reluctant to say more, except that she has been criticized for cooking with the town’s contaminated tap water. She shows me a certificate from the water authority taped to the wall, guaranteeing that Takechan’s water meets health standards.

“We just wanted to open Takechan, that’s it,” she sighs. “But some people don’t take it that way.”

The director of the local water authority, Haruo Otsuka, shows me a machine that tests the county’s drinking water every hour for cesium-137, the primary isotope in Fukushima’s fallout. The results are always undetectable. I tell Otsuka about evacuees who have criticized the Satos. “Those people are just looking for a reason not to come back,” he scoffs. “At first they said radiation levels in the rice paddies were too high. Then it was the roads. Now they’re blaming the water.”

Tensions among evacuees, however, continue to run high. Hiroko Yuki’s family runs the Shell gas station around the corner from Takechan. Although the Yukis were the first to reopen after the disaster, they have recently bought a house in Iwaki. They aren’t moving back to Naraha.

“We say it’s a house provided by the government,” Yuki says.

“Why is that?”

“People are jealous,” she shrugs. “We work all day, morning to night, and profit margins are slim in this business. We’re not making big money, but people don’t believe it.”

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Hiroko Yuki runs the Shell gas station in Naraha. His family has decided not to move back to the village.

Such petty resentments seem unrelated to the serious disagreements among evacuees about resettling Naraha that Miyuki Sato had alluded to. I didn’t understand why anyone would begrudge their neighbors the choice to return—or not. The whole dynamic felt very—Japanese.

“Yes, that’s right, it is very Japanese,” replies Yuki, unfazed. She stands with her hands clasped behind her back, chin tilted in the air, looking a bit like a soldier with her buzzed hair and black Shell uniform. “Japanese people—we always care about how we’re perceived by others. That’s even more true here in the countryside.”

In Japanese society, self-interest is inextricably tied to family, work, and community. But the Fukushima disaster has sliced through those ties like an axe coming down on a bundle of rope. Virtually overnight, tens of thousands of people were set adrift. What looks on the surface like frivolous squabbles are expressions of the profound anxiety many people feel about their place in post-Fukushima Japan. The question of returning home has become a kind of loyalty test that nobody can pass, because home no longer exists.

Nobody understands this better than Kiyoshi Watanabe, president of Naraha’s commerce and industry association and a stolid member of the generation that had a duty, as he puts it, “to keep the house and the family tombs.” Watanabe has returned to Naraha to help “create more opportunities over the next three to five years for younger people to come back and find work.” It won’t be easy. Paradoxically, the disaster has liberated young people from traditional obligations that kept families bound to the same area, even the same house, for generations. Naraha has to reinvent itself to attract new blood.

“In the past, even if the first son lives in some other place, he has to come back to take care of his parents if they ask,” Watanabe explains. “But now he has a good excuse not to: radiation. The parents can’t say anything.”

Glimmers of Naraha’s future can be seen in the recent sale of seven residential lots near the Kido River. A few of the lots, which sold out immediately, went to buyers from Tomioka, a town bordering Naraha that is next to be reopened.

“Naraha won’t take the same form in the future,” Watanabe says. “New people will be moving in, and we have to think about making a new community for them.”


The half-life of cesium-137 is 30.17 years. What’s the half-life of a broken social bond?

“After five years, it’ll be hard to repair,” says Fumiko Yokota. “People just get used to things, good or bad.”

A stout septuagenarian with a mischievous cackle, Yokota lives alone in the hills above Route 6. On my last full day in Naraha, we talk in her kitchen as a warm breeze lifts the sheer curtains over a window offering a distant view of the ocean. Yokota is glad to be back in Naraha. Life in Iwaki “was quite depressing,” she says. But she recognizes that the younger generation has grown accustomed to “living the evacuee life,” and for them there is no looking back.

I ask her what’s so great about life in Iwaki.

“There’s more beautiful people in Iwaki, that’s the biggest difference,” says Yokota, laughing herself into a fit of coughing. “Now maybe this is the twisted idea of an old lady, but I think for some young people the disaster was a stroke of luck.”

Naraha was the kind of place young people forsook for the big city if given the chance, just as Hisao Yanai did 50 years ago. The Fukushima disaster was that chance. Yokota pushes herself up from her chair and goes to the window. Just across Route 6, an elderly couple from Tomioka has built a new house. Yokota met the woman in passing and got a good feeling from her. “I’m thinking we could be friends,” she muses. “It’s not going to happen fast, but gradually this is how we’re going to rebuild Naraha. I can only do what I can do, and that’s not always easy at my age.”

“Bring her a pie,” I joke.

Yokota chuckles. “We’re not like Americans. We’re really shy. I’m not sure they’re looking for friends. But everybody needs to talk to their neighbors.”

Squinting against the sunlight, she clears her throat, her voice a hoarse whisper, and says, “I hope we can be friends.”

https://newrepublic.com/article/133890/ghosts-fukushima

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima village reaches out to single-parent families after evacuation order lifted

Very few evacuees want to return to live in contaminated villages, those villages therefore have to offer many incentives to people if they want to repopulate, and not remain just the ghost towns that they became.

KAWAUCHI, Fukushima — The municipal government here, where an evacuation order, issued following the 2011 outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, was lifted on June 14, is encouraging single-parent families in urban areas to move to the village in a bid to put the brakes on its population decline and aging.

To that end, the Kawauchi Municipal Government plans to provide up to 800,000 yen in subsidies to each single-parent family that moves to the village.

“It’s possible to live more comfortably in the village than in Tokyo and other urban areas,” says an official of the municipal government in charge of the program.

A total of 51 people in 19 households in the Ogi and Kainosaka districts in eastern Kawauchi were affected by the evacuation order that was lifted on June 14. Most of these people have no plans to return home.

Evacuation orders had been lifted in all areas in the village apart from Ogi and Kainosaka by October 2014. Nevertheless, only about 1,800 of some 3,000 residents who had lived in the village before the disaster had returned by April 1 this year.

Approximately 40 percent of those who have returned are elderly people aged 65 or over.

As countermeasures against population decline and aging, the Kawauchi Municipal Government has decided to offer financial incentives to encourage single-parent households outside the village, including those in urban areas, to move in.

Specifically, the municipal government will provide 600,000 yen to each single-parent household that will live in the village to help them buy a car and move into their new home, and 50,000 yen per person (for up to four people) to cover miscellaneous expenses.

The maximum amount of the subsidies is 800,000 yen for a family comprising a parent and three children. The municipal government will introduce full-time jobs at companies operating in the village to those who move there, and provide a subsidy to cover half of the rent of privately owned apartments (up to 20,000 yen).

The municipal government will organize a two-day tour for those who are interested in the program July 29-30, and will begin to accept applicants for the tour as early as this week.

The village will use grants from the national government, which are part of measures to revitalize local economies, to finance the program. Under the program, the municipal government is considering accepting five to 10 new residents a year through fiscal 2017, and about 15 residents per year beyond that.

Moreover, a consultative council encouraging single-parent families to move into the village will be set up with the participation of a local women’s association. Elderly women living in the village will support new residents’ childrearing. Day care services are provided for free in the village.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160619/p2a/00m/0na/004000c

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment