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South Korea Expanded Japanese Fish Ban Over Fukushima Contamination

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South Korea, on Friday, expanded its ban on Japanese fisheries products over concerns of contamination from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). The government in Seoul accuses Japan of not providing enough information on the crisis.

Consumption of fish products in South Korea has dropped sharply in recent weeks as concerns grow that workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi NPP struggle to contain leaks.

Fukushima Daiichi operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) admitted that “up to 300 tons of mildly contaminated groundwater is making its way into the Pacific Ocean every day”; a situation that has been going on for years. Moreover, TEPCO recently admitted that “highly toxic water made its way into the Pacific Ocean”.

South Korea previously imposed an import ban on dozens of Japanese fisheries products produced in Fukushima and sever other prefectures following the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP following a massive earthquake and a subsequent tsunami in 2011.

The government in Seoul has now widened the ban to all fisheries products from Fukushima prefecture as well as the prefectures of  Ibaraki, Gunma, Miyagi, Iwate, Tochigi, Chiba and Aomori. South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries issued a statement stressing that:

The measure comes as our people’s concerns are growing over the fact that hundreds of tons of radiation-contaminated water leak every day from the site of Japan’s nuclear accident in Fukushima. … The government has concluded that the information provided by Japan so far has failed to make it clear how the incident will develop in the future. … Under the new measure, all fisheries products from this region will be banned regardless of whether they are contaminated or not.”

The Ministry also urged the government in Tokyo to immediately provide full and accurate information on leaks of contaminated water. A growing number of radiation and environmental health experts stress that the claim that dilution of the radioactive water in the “vast Pacific Ocean” would make it safe to ingest fish caught off shore is right-out wrong and misleading because:

  • The bio accumulation of radioactive nuclei in fish;

  • The ingestion of one single isotope may, depending on what isotope it is and where it is lodged in the human body, cause various forms of cancer.

  • Eating fish from a batch that passed a “Geiger counter” test is in other words still like “participating in a fishy cancer lottery”.

However, in Tokyo on Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga challenged South Korea over the ban and claimed:

We are carrying out strict safe management on foods, including fishery products, based on international standards. We would like the South Korean government to respond, based on scientific evidence.”

What Suga conveniently omitted was that Japan, following the nuclear disaster in 2011, changed its regulations – apparently because Japanese experts suddenly realized that the human body (and the Japanese economy) can “safely tolerate much higher doses” than thought before the disaster. Moreover, the contamination in Japan is according to many independent observers so bad that one would have to probe each single food item separately to be “relatively safe”.

Earlier this week Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged global concerns over the “haphazard” management of the crisis by TEPCO and said his administration will step in with public money to get the job done. Abe didn’t specify how this “public money” should be spent, how much will be made available, how Japan wants to end the “haphazard approach” to the crisis, and maybe most importantly, who the recipient of this money would be.

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In November 2015 former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland, Mitshei Murata called on the President of the International Olympic Committee to move the 2020 Olympics from Tokyo or to cancel the games over together.

In May 2016 private activists in Japan accused Tokyo of “cooking data”. Radiation readings conducted by private activists, 40 km from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility are about eight to ten times higher than those published by authorities, said Yoichi Tao who majored in physics.

Research by Toshihide Tsuda, professor of environmental epidemiology at Okayama University, showing that the rate of children suffering from thyroid cancer in Fukushima Prefecture was as much as 20 to 50 times higher than the national average as of 2014 is being dismissed as based on “over diagnosing”.

Moreover, Japan has introduced strict legislation that can be used to put anyone who publishes not officially approved data about Fukushima or anyone who “leaks” information rather than radiation behind bars for up to ten years. This includes investigative journalists.

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In 2014 independent journalists like Mako Oshidori received a thinly-veiled threat from TEPCO when she reported about the death of Fukushima cleanup workers, and who stressed she was “intimidated by police“. Mako courageously reported that she discovered a TEPCO memo, in which the Fukushima Daiichi operator TEPCO instructs officials to “cut Mako-chan’s (questions) short, appropriately”. Mako Oshidori was enrolled in the School of Life Sciences at Tottori University Faculty of Medicine for three years.

Mako revealed that TEPCO and the government cover-up the death of Fukushima workers and that government agents began following her around after she began investigating the cover-up. Mako said:

I heard about it from researchers who were my friends as well as some government officials. I will show you a photo I secretly took of the agent, so you know what kind of surveillance I mean. When I would talk to someone, a surveillance agent from the central government’s public police force would come very close, trying to eavesdrop on the conversation….

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 was a nurse at Fukushima Daiichi NPP in 2012. He quit his job with TEPCO in 2013, and that’s when I interviewed him. …

As of now of now, there are multiple NPP workers who 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, such as 50, 60 to 70 mili Sieverts, 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”.

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TEPCO memo, advising to “cut short” Mako Oshidori’s questions, e.t.c

 

However, the new legislation that “empowered” the government to impose ten year prison sentences for “unauthorized” journalism and dissemination of unauthorized information about the Fukushima Daiichi NPP and related issues for reasons of “national security” has since then largely silenced Mako, and many other journalists, experts in health, environmental health, environmental studies, radiation studies …

Is Seoul “over reacting” and is Tokyo’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga right when he claims: “We are carrying out strict safe management on foods, including fishery products, based on international standards. We would like the South Korean government to respond, based on scientific evidence”? What evidence, sampled by whom, analyzed on the basis of ???  . …

https://nsnbc.me/2017/03/18/south-korea-expanded-japanese-fish-ban-over-fukushima-contamination/

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Court Decision: Small Compensation for Voluntary Evacuees

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Voluntary evacuees granted only small awards in Fukushima nuke disaster damage case

While the March 17 Maebashi District Court ruling acknowledged that both the central government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) are liable for the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster, it dealt a harsh blow to those who voluntarily evacuated their Fukushima Prefecture homes in the wake of the meltdowns.
The court awarded a total of 38.55 million yen in damages to 62 of the 137 plaintiffs who fled from Fukushima Prefecture to Gunma Prefecture and elsewhere — about one-fortieth of the complainants’ total compensation demand of approximately 1.5 billion yen. This was because the court acknowledged to some extent the rationale behind the government-set “interim guidelines” for TEPCO’s compensation payment standards. The court rejected claims made by over half of the plaintiffs, saying that the amount of compensation they are entitled to does not exceed that which has already been paid by TEPCO.

The interim guidelines were set by the education ministry’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation in August 2011 to ensure swift compensation to cover damages common to many residents in the nuclear disaster-hit areas. Based on the guidelines, TEPCO set up standards for compensation payments, such as a monthly payment of 100,000 yen per person for those from evacuation zones and, as a rule, one-off payments of 80,000 yen for each voluntary evacuee. Voluntary evacuees in nuclear disaster class-action suits across the country are arguing that 80,000 yen is too small an amount, considering that leaving Fukushima Prefecture was a reasonable decision.

Some experts have criticized the district court decision, saying that it only confirmed the legitimacy of the interim guidelines. At the same time, the ruling was based on the court’s own calculation for deciding the compensation amount for each plaintiff, which set five “emotional distress” categories to be considered including the feeling of losing one’s hometown.

Nevertheless, the compensation amounts in the ruling differed greatly between the plaintiffs from evacuation zones and voluntary evacuees. Nineteen plaintiffs who used to live in areas under evacuation orders were awarded compensation payments of between 750,000 yen and 3.5 million yen each, while 43 voluntary evacuees were granted awards of between 70,000 yen and 730,000 yen.

One of the plaintiffs who had voluntarily left the city of Iwaki was awarded about 200,000 yen in damages for the 10-day period right after the March 2011 meltdowns. However, the ruling denied that the same woman’s decision to flee Fukushima Prefecture again two months after the meltdowns was rational, saying that high radiation doses were not detected in Iwaki and no other particularly concerning circumstances were present.

Attorney Tsutomu Yonekura of the national liaison association of lawyers representing Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuees said of the Maebashi District Court ruling, “The amount of compensation provided for in the ruling remains at the same level as that set in the interim guidelines, even though the court claimed to have independently calculated the compensation payments. It’s not enough as judicial redress.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170318/p2a/00m/0na/010000c

Fukushima nuke disaster evacuees disappointed by court’s compensation award

Fukushima Prefecture evacuees in a class action suit over the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster were disappointed by the 38.55 million yen in total compensation awarded on March 17 by the Maebashi District Court, as the amount was just one-fortieth what they had been seeking.
“I was expecting to hear a ruling that would support us more,” one of the plaintiffs said after the verdict, which came 3 1/2 years after they filed the suit and six years after the disaster’s onset.

“We have made the court recognize the responsibility of the central government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO). I am honestly happy about that,” plaintiff Sugie Tanji, 60, said to a gathering following the ruling. However, she continued, “The past six years was filled with many hardships. I wonder if I can convince myself to accept the ruling…”

Tanji was a resident of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture. Her 63-year-old husband Mikio ran a repair business, but orders plunged following the No. 1 plant meltdowns. Four months later, the couple voluntarily evacuated to Gunma Prefecture.

Although Tanji felt guilty for leaving fellow residents behind, she took part in anti-nuclear power rallies and demonstrations in Gunma Prefecture and joined the class action suit, believing that there must never be another nuclear disaster.

Of the 137 plaintiffs from 45 households, representatives of almost all the households appeared in court, testifying to the agony of living as evacuees and expressing their anger toward TEPCO and the central government. However, only a few of them have made their names public out of concern for possible discrimination against their children and negative effects on their jobs. Tanji herself recalls being told, “You can get money if you go to court, can’t you?”

Under government guidelines, those who evacuated voluntarily are entitled to only 80,000 yen in consolation money from TEPCO, including living expenses. The plaintiffs thought the amount was far too small considering the pain of losing their hometowns. However, only 62 of the 137 plaintiffs were awarded compensation.

“I was expecting a warmer ruling,” said a woman in her 50s who sat in on the March 17 hearing clad in mourning attire. She was working part-time for a company in Iwaki, but was fired after the nuclear disaster impacted the firm’s business performance.

This and radiation exposure fears prompted her and her husband to evacuate to Gunma Prefecture two months later. Her husband, however, developed a malignant brain tumor the following year, after the couple settled into an apartment that the Gunma Prefectural Government had rented for evacuees. Her husband died in the fall of 2014 at age 52.

The woman says she still doesn’t feel like she can start working and subsists on her savings and survivor’s pension. At the end of March, the Fukushima Prefectural Government is set to terminate its housing subsidies for voluntary evacuees. For her, the compensation awarded by the Maebashi District Court was “unimaginably low.”

“I can’t report the ruling to my husband,” she said, wiping tears from her eyes.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170318/p2a/00m/0na/017000c

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Court Ruling: Gov’t and Tepco Put Money Before Safety

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Gov’t and TEPCO put money before safety at Fukushima nuclear plant: court ruling

The Maebashi District Court ordered the central government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to pay damages in a class action lawsuit brought by Fukushima Prefecture residents who evacuated to Gunma Prefecture and elsewhere due to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. However, the amount was much smaller than what the plaintiffs had demanded, thereby failing to provide nuclear crisis victims the relief they seek.
On March 17, the Maebashi District Court recognized the responsibility of both the central government and TEPCO, operator of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. It stated that TEPCO should have been aware that the Fukushima plant could be hit by tsunami approximately nine years prior to the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, and that the state failed to order TEPCO to take appropriate anti-tsunami measures despite having the regulatory authority to do so.

“That the court recognized the central government’s liability for compensation is very significant,” the plaintiffs’ lead counsel Katsuyoshi Suzuki said at a rally that was held in Maebashi following the ruling. “It is also extremely important that the court recognized that the state was as culpable as TEPCO.”

The plaintiffs argued that TEPCO could have predicted a massive tsunami and taken measures to prevent a nuclear crisis. They also argued that the government was responsible for promoting the development and use of nuclear power. In its ruling, the court harshly criticized TEPCO, taking into account the far-reaching impacts and dangers of the ongoing nuclear disaster. “The utility must maintain a safety-first policy, but it appears to have placed priority on cost cutting,” the ruling said.

In July 2002, the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion pointed out the possibility that an approximately magnitude 8 earthquake could occur in the Japan Trench, part of which runs along the ocean floor off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture. Based on this “long-term evaluation,” TEPCO estimated in 2008 that tsunami with a maximum height of 15.7 meters could hit its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, yet no safety measures based on this estimate were taken.

Instead, TEPCO used a tsunami assessment formula created by the Japan Society of Civil Engineers (JSCE), comprising university professors and power company researchers, which put the height of tsunami that could potentially hit the nuclear plant at a mere 6.1 meters. The tsunami that slammed into the plant on March 11, 2011 hit a maximum height of 15.5 meters.

The Maebashi court took issue with the fact that although TEPCO could have instituted relatively easy anti-tsunami measures, such as relocating its emergency power source to higher ground, it had failed to do so. The Atomic Energy Damage Compensation Law — which stipulates that the business operator, regardless of whether or not they were negligent, must pay damages in the case of a nuclear disaster — was applied to reach the decision. However, the court rejected the claim for compensation based on illegal action under the Civil Code.

The ruling also went into detail regarding the government’s responsibility. In September 2006, the now defunct Nuclear Safety Committee (NSC) laid down new earthquake-resistance standards, and the government instructed TEPCO and other utilities to assess whether their nuclear power plants met the new criteria. However, in August 2007, TEPCO submitted a mid-term report to the government that did not include any anti-tsunami measures. The Maebashi District Court’s ruling pointed out that the government subsequently violated the law by not ordering TEPCO to implement anti-tsunami measures. It also said, “The state was in a position to take the initiative to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and was strongly expected to appropriately exercise its regulatory authority to prevent nuclear disasters.”

Much of the evidence and issues that were reviewed by the court are the same as those being reviewed in similar class-action lawsuits and the criminal trials of former TEPCO executives, whose pretrial conference procedures are to be held March 29.

The Maebashi ruling “made clear the government’s negligence in postponing checks on whether new quake-resilience standards were being met,” says attorney Yuichi Kaido, who will represent the victims in the upcoming criminal trial. “That matches our claims. The ruling was groundbreaking, and it will create a tide that will influence other court cases.”

Because there are many other similar cases being fought in courts nationwide, it is highly likely that the dispute will continue in an appeal trial in the Tokyo High Court. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference on March 17, “We will look closely at the content of the ruling, and deliberate a response from there,” hinting that the government will look to appeal.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170318/p2a/00m/0na/009000c

Ruling on Fukushima nuclear crisis a grave admonition of gov’t

In a class action suit filed by residents of Fukushima Prefecture who evacuated to Gunma Prefecture and elsewhere due to the ongoing Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster, the Maebashi District Court ordered both the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), and the central government to pay 62 residents a total of 38.55 million yen. It marked the first time that the judiciary recognized the state’s responsibility for negligence in the nuclear disaster.
The court ruling should be seen as admonition from the judiciary that the state has a grave responsibility over its nuclear power policy.

The main focus of the case was on whether TEPCO had been able to predict the size of the tsunami that struck the plant on March 11, 2011, and whether the state should have exercised its regulatory authority to make TEPCO implement necessary safety measures.

The plaintiffs focused on a long-term assessment on earthquakes, which the government released in 2002, as evidence to show that TEPCO had been able to predict a tsunami like the one that hit the Fukushima plant. The report stated that there was about a 20 percent chance that an earthquake of around magnitude 8 would occur off the coast between the northern Sanriku region and the Boso Peninsula within the next 30 years.

Based on this report, TEPCO predicted in 2008 that tsunami with a maximum height of 15.7 meters could hit the Fukushima No. 1 plant. The actual tsunami that hit the nuclear power station on March 11, 2011, however, was 15.5 meters tall. The plaintiffs argued that if TEPCO had taken the appropriate anti-tsunami measures based on the long-term assessment and other specific forecasts, the nuclear crisis could have been avoided.

The Maebashi District Court ruled almost entirely in favor of the plaintiffs, saying that TEPCO neglected to take measures despite having been able to predict that such a large tsunami could hit the nuclear plant, putting cost-cutting ahead of safety.

The court also handed down a similar decision regarding the culpability of the central government. Nuclear disasters cause irreparable damage over a large area. The court ruled that the fact that the central government did not exercise its regulatory authority even though TEPCO’s anti-tsunami measures were insufficient was extremely unreasonable when considering the import of the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law and other rules. It is notable, also, that the court ruled that the state’s responsibility was on par with that of TEPCO’s, and ordered the state to pay the plaintiffs the same amount in damages as the utility.

At the same time, however, the ruling was parsimonious in the compensation amount that it ordered be paid to the individual plaintiffs. Because the court deducted compensation money that TEPCO has already paid, the amount it approved was far below what the plaintiffs had demanded.

The plaintiffs had demanded 11 million yen per person — including for those who had evacuated voluntarily — citing loss of their hometowns and jobs, and grave emotional distress. For many of the plaintiffs, therefore, the ruling has likely come as a disappointment.

Around 30 similar lawsuits have been filed nationwide, by around 12,000 plaintiffs who have evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture. Rulings have not yet been handed down in any of those cases.

Why wasn’t the disaster prevented? Who is responsible? Much of the public is still seeking answers to these questions.

However, the nuclear disaster investigative committees of both the government and the Diet have disbanded, bringing their respective probes into causes of the crisis to a halt. The lessons from the ongoing disaster have yet to be learned in their entirety. It is because a single nuclear incident has grave and far-reaching consequences that an examination of its cause is so important.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170318/p2a/00m/0na/008000c

 

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Asking the tough questions on Fukushima

What a load of spun crap, to be polite: “Moreover, the government is lifting the evacuation order for any areas where annual radiation levels are “no more than” 20 mSv. The International Commission on Radiological Protection told the government that once the situation had stabilized in the affected areas, people could return if radiation dropped to between 1 and 20 mSv, but the lower the better. Exposure to 20 mSv for a short period may not be a problem, but it could have harmful effects in the long run.”

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In the thick of it: Industry Minister Yosuke Takagi (right) is exploring a variety of options to boost agricultural areas near the crippled Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant.

In January, regional newspaper Fukushima Minpo interviewed Yosuke Takagi, state minister of economy, trade and industry. While talking about reconstruction plans for areas near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Takagi mentioned resurrecting Dash-mura (Dash Village), a farm created from scratch by boy band Tokio for its Nippon TV series “The Tetsuwan Dash.”

The location of Dash-mura was always secret, lest Tokio’s fans descend on the project and destroy its rustic purity. But following the reactor accident caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake, it was revealed that the farm was in an area declared off-limits due to its proximity to the plant. It was promptly abandoned.

A different news outlet, Fukushima Minyu, clarified that the revival of Dash-mura is “nothing more than a personal idea of Takagi’s,” but that he intends to discuss it with related parties. An 80-year-old farmer who once worked with Tokio on the project told Minyu that bringing back the farm would be a great PR boost for the area’s agriculture, which is obviously Takagi’s aim. The show’s producer, however, after hearing of Takagi’s comment, tweeted that he knew nothing about the news, adding cryptically that “Dash-mura is no one’s thing.”

The Huffington Post called the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to ask if it had any intention of reviving Dash-mura. A representative only “confirmed” that Takagi had “made such a comment” and said METI had no “definite plan” to that end but might “study it.”

Nevertheless, the idea fits in with the government’s goal of getting former residents to move back to the area. Last week, authorities announced they would further reduce the evacuation zone at the end of the month, which means it will have shrunk by 70 percent since April 2014. The concern is that few people want to return. Some have already made lives for themselves elsewhere and see a lack of opportunity in their old communities.

Many also remain suspicious of the government’s assurances that radioactivity has dropped to a safe level. There is still debate among experts as to whether or not the radiation in the area is dangerous. The government says that the problems caused by the accident are now “under control,” and affected residents can soon go back to their old lives.

One media outlet who has challenged this assumption is TV Asahi’s “Hodo Station.” On March 9, the nightly news show sent its main announcer, Yuta Tomikawa, to Iitate, a village located about 40 km from the crippled nuclear facility. All 6,000 residents were eventually evacuated after the accident.

Standing in front of rows of black plastic bags, Tomikawa reported that, according to the government, decontamination efforts have been a success. A safe annual radiation level is 1 millisievert, but a local dairy farmer told Tomikawa that his own readings showed five times that level, adding that 70 percent of Iitate is wooded and forest land had not been decontaminated yet.

Moreover, the government is lifting the evacuation order for any areas where annual radiation levels are “no more than” 20 mSv. The International Commission on Radiological Protection told the government that once the situation had stabilized in the affected areas, people could return if radiation dropped to between 1 and 20 mSv, but the lower the better. Exposure to 20 mSv for a short period may not be a problem, but it could have harmful effects in the long run.

Tomikawa did not say that people who returned to Iitate would be in danger, but he did imply that the government is manipulating numbers in an attempt to persuade evacuees to return to their homes.

The web magazine Litera wrote that TV Asahi is the only mainstream media outlet to question the government line in this regard. Actually, Nippon TV did something similar, albeit indirectly. Last month, it rebroadcasted an episode of its “NNN Document” series about the married manzai (stand-up comedy) duo Oshidori Mako-Ken’s efforts to come to terms with the Fukushima meltdowns and their aftermath.

The couple belongs to the large Osaka-based entertainment company Yoshimoto Kogyo, but ever since the disaster Mako has attended about 500 related news conferences, making a nuisance of herself by plying Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings employees and government officials with questions the mainstream media don’t usually ask.

In order to gain access to the news conferences, she offered stories to the weekly magazine Spa! Her editor there told Nippon TV that Mako is now respected or resented by a lot of full-time journalists, partly because she’s a geinojin (entertainer) who has proved her mettle as a reporter, but mainly because of her hard-line queries, which put her interlocutors on the spot.

Following the disaster, Mako became suspicious when she saw people fleeing Tokyo in large numbers but heard nothing about it on the news. In order to make sense of the situation she’d watch unfiltered news conferences about the disaster on the internet. She realized only independent reporters asked tough questions, so she started attending them herself as a proxy for average people who didn’t understand what was going on. The more officials obfuscated, the more she studied.

She’s now recognized by some foreign press as one of the most informed persons on the subject — she even received a letter of encouragement from Pope Francis — and yet she’s shunned by the Japanese press. Nevertheless, she has dedicated followers, including workers cleaning up the reactor who often feed her questions to ask of officials. She’s won awards for her work, but from citizens groups, not media groups.

Nowadays, Mako and Ken do more free lectures on Fukushima No. 1 than they do comedy shows. One of their main themes is that media reports tend to confuse the public rather than inform them, but that’s really the fault of the government, which would like nothing better than for people to feel as if nothing ever happened.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/18/national/media-national/asking-tough-questions-fukushima/

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fury sparked in Japan as companies found duping foreign refugees into decontamination work in Fukushima

TOKYO, March 17 (Xinhua)– “Such scams are a shame to Japan,” said a reporter from Tokyo Metropolitan Television Broadcasting Corp., referring to a recently-exposed scandal involving labor dispatch agencies duping foreign refugees into doing decontamination work in Fukushima.

Various local media have exposed recently that some Japanese companies have swindled foreign refugees into doing decontamination work in Fukushima with empty promises that such work might help extend their visas to stay in Japan.

Fifty-year-old Hosein Moni and 42-year-old Hosein Deroaru from Bangladesh were both caught in such a scam, according to a recent report by the Chunichi Shimbun, one of the largest newspapers in Japan.

The two came to Japan in 2013 seeking to be recognized as political refugees. In Japan, foreigners are given temporary permission to stay for up to six months at one application before they are recognized as refugees and given status as residents.

According to government data, the number of refugees actually afforded recognition as refugees in Japan is disproportionately low among developed nations, while the numbers of those applying for refugee status has been rapidly increasing in recent years in Japan.

The government received some 5,000 such applications in 2014, but only 11 were granted refugee status, according to the data.

Moni and Deroaru were told by a so-called labor dispatch agency in Nagoya that they could do decontamination work in exchange for an extension of their visa.

The two, knowing little Japanese and trying to seize every opportunity they could, accepted the job and worked in Fukushima for three months in 2015.

But when they finished their work and went to the local immigration bureau to extend their stay, they were told by officers there that they knew nothing about such a policy.

They later found out that the construction company that had hired them had changed its company name, and its Fukushima branch had closed.

Half of the 20 workers that they had worked with in Fukushima were foreigners, many of whom had been applying for refugee status in Japan, the pair later recalled.

Their work mainly involved clearing away contaminated soil with spades, and while they were at work might well have been affected by high levels of radiation. “The radiation detectors we brought with us kept sounding alarms, which was rather scary,” they were quoted as saying.

The incident, after been exposed by local media, also caused a splash on social network sites. Many Japanese netizens felt indignant that such scams were happening in their homeland.

“Earthquake, nuclear plant, poverty… there are always some people trying to cheat or hurt other people here just for money,” remarked Kojima on Twitter.

“Why has my home country degenerated to such a low place,” said “Hootoo,” another netizen here.

They also called on the Japanese government to strengthen regulations on the Japanese companies to prevent such scams from happening.

Japan’s immigration bureau, for its part, said that the incident was with “vile nature”, and it would conduct investigations soon.

In fact, however, for a long time, due to lack of manpower, many of Japan’s “three-K” (kiken, kitanai, kitsui, which means dangerous, dirty and tiring) jobs have been done by foreign immigrants, as the Japanese are reluctant to do such work.

“As Japanese people don’t want to do the work, it has to be done by foreigners,” said Ishikawa, a Brazil-born Japanese who was in charge of coordinating foreign workers in decommissioning work linked to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, according to a report published by the Mainichi Shimbun last year.

Most of the foreign workers could hardly speak Japanese. As anti-radiation brochures provided by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO), were only available in Japanese or English, many of the workers could not understand it, Ishikawa was quoted as saying.

The foreign workers, to some extent, saved the contractors and TEPCO by pushing forward the decommissioning work of the nuclear plant, remarked the report.

A magnitude-9.0 earthquake in 2011 triggered a massive tsunami which destroyed the emergency power and then the cooling system of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and caused a serious nuclear disaster, forcing some 300,000 people to evacuate.

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, has said it plans to decommission the crippled reactors in about four decades.

However, the difficult tasks such as processing contaminated water, cooling the reactors and removing nuclear fuel and debris, continue to pose serious challenges to the power company as well as the government.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-03/17/c_136137295.htm

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO to decommission 1 reactor at Fukushima No. 2 plant, mulling fate of 3 others

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Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) has informally decided to decommission the No. 1 reactor at its Fukushima No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant, it has been learned.

In the wake of the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and ensuing meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in Fukushima Prefecture, local bodies and residents of the area who suffered extensive damage requested that all four reactors at the No. 2 plant also be decommissioned.

TEPCO had avoided stating a clear position on the No. 2 plant’s reactors, but there had been pressure from the government and ruling coalition for it to make a decision. The company accordingly decided to decommission the plant’s No. 1 reactor, which suffered the most damage, and will consider what to do with the other three reactors in the future.

The No. 1 reactor of the Fukushima No. 2 plant began operating in 1982. It was flooded by tsunami on March 11, 2011, and all four reactors at the plant remain idled. The No. 2 plant suffered less damage than the No. 1 plant, and if it passed screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, its reactors could be restarted. But the Fukushima Prefectural Government and all 59 local assemblies have asked TEPCO and the government to decommission all reactors in the prefecture.

TEPCO has remained busy handling compensation claims relating to the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the disaster cleanup. If it were to decommission all of the No. 2 plant’s reactors, they would lose value and it would have to write down huge losses. Company president Naomi Hirose has therefore avoided taking a clear position on the issue, saying, “I would like to consider it and make a decision as a business operator.”

Last year, however, officials decided to create a fund to cover the huge cost of handling the nuclear disaster, which is expected to reach 21.5 trillion yen, nearly double the original prediction. There was accordingly pressure from the government for TEPCO to reach an early decision on the fate of the No. 2 plant’s reactors.

The No. 1 reactor at the No. 2 plant is the oldest of the plant’s four reactors. It temporarily lost its cooling functions in the March 2011 disaster, and suffered the most damage among the four reactors. TEPCO believes that by limiting decommissioning to one reactor for the time being, it will be able to hold the decommissioning cost below 100 billion yen, minimizing the impact on company finances and on decommissioning work at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. However, a decision to decommission only one reactor at the No. 2 plant is unlikely to win public approval.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170317/p2a/00m/0na/024000c

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Robot probe of No.1 reactor started on Saturday

march 17, 2017 robot reactor 1

 

The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant started a robotic survey inside the No. 1 reactor on Saturday.

Tokyo Electric Power Company send a remote-controlled robot into the reactor’s containment vessel to look at the state of debris — a mixture of molten fuel and reactor parts. The debris is believed to be under contaminated water at the bottom of the vessel.

The utility had originally planned to start the probe on Tuesday. But it called off work when images from a camera to monitor the robot became unavailable.

The company later ascertained the cable connecting the camera to the monitor screen was broken.

TEPCO said it replaced the cable with a new one. It plans to conduct the survey for 4 days using the robot equipped with a camera and dosimeter.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170317_30/

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

For the first time Japan court rules Government negligence to blame for Fukushima

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Japanese government held liable for first time for negligence in Fukushima

Court rules government should have used regulatory powers to force nuclear plant’s operator to take preventive measures

A court in Japan has ruled that negligence by the state contributed to the triple meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011 and awarded significant damages to evacuees.

Although courts have awarded damages arising from the disaster in other cases, Friday’s ruling is the first time the government has been held liable.

The Maebashi district court near Tokyo awarded ¥38.55m (£270,000) to 137 people who were forced to evacuate their homes in the days after three of Fukushima Daiichi’s six reactors suffered a catastrophic meltdown, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Despite official claims that the size and destructive power of the quake and tsunami were impossible to foresee, the court said the nuclear meltdown could have been prevented.

The ruling said the government should have used its regulatory powers to force the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), who were also held liable, to take adequate preventive measures.

The plaintiffs – comprising forced and “voluntary” evacuees – claimed the government and Tepco could have predicted a tsunami more than 10 metres in height would one day hit the plant.

They based their claim on a 2002 report in which government experts estimated there was a one in five chance of a magnitude-8 earthquake occurring and triggering a powerful tsunami within the next 30 years.

At the time of the disaster, Japan’s nuclear regulator was severely criticised for its collusive ties with the nuclear industry, resulting in the formation of a new watchdog that has imposed stricter criteria for the restart of nuclear reactors that were shut down in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

Tepco, which faces a ¥21.5tn bill for decommissioning the plant and compensating evacuees, said it would respond after studying the ruling.

The 137 plaintiffs, who are now living in several regions outside of Fukushima, were seeking a total of ¥1.5bn as compensation for emotional distress.

They said the meltdown and resulting evacuation had ruined their livelihoods and caused disruption to their families’ lives, adding that state compensation they had already received was insufficient.

Friday’s ruling is the first of 30 lawsuits to be brought by Fukushima evacuees. Six years after the disaster, tens of thousands of people are still living in nuclear limbo, and many say they will never be able to return home. A small number have moved back to communities where the government has lifted evacuation orders.

The ruling echoed the conclusion reached by an independent parliamentary investigation, which described the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown as a “man-made” disaster caused by poor regulation and collusion between the government, Tepco and the industry’s then watchdog, the nuclear and industrial safety agency.

The report, published in 2012, accused Tepco and the agency of failing to take adequate safety measures, despite evidence that the north-east coast of Japan was susceptible to powerful earthquakes and tsunamis.

The Fukushima nuclear power plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and Tepco, and the lack of governance by said parties,” the report said.

They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly ‘man-made’.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/17/japanese-government-liable-negligence-fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-disaster

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Japan Court Rules Government to Blame for Fukushima

A court in Japan Friday ruled that Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) and the government are liable for negligence in a case involving compensation for the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the first time the judiciary has ruled the state has liability, Japanese media reported.

The district court in Maebashi, north of Tokyo, ruled in favor of 137 evacuees seeking damages for the emotional distress of fleeing their homes as radiation spread from the meltdowns at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi plant after an earthquake and tsunami six years ago, The Mainichi newspaper and other media reported.

While courts have ruled in favor of plaintiffs and awarded damages arising from the disaster, it was the first time a court has recognized that the government was liable, the Mainichi said.

TEPCO has long been criticized for ignoring the threat posed by natural disasters to the Fukushima plant and both the company and government were lambasted for their handling of the crisis.

TEPCO said in a statement it would review the contents of the ruling before making a response.

In December, the government nearly doubled its projections for costs related to the disaster to 21.5 trillion yen ($187.7 billion), increasing pressure on TEPCO to step up reform and improve its performance.

In the world’s worst nuclear calamity since Chernobyl in 1986, three reactors at TEPCO’s Fukushima plant suffered meltdowns after a magnitude 9 earthquake in March 2011 triggered a tsunami that devastated a swathe of Japan’s northeastern coastline and killed more than 15,000 people.

http://www.newsweek.com/japan-court-rules-government-blame-fukushima-569533

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

The Age of Fission with Lonnie Clark, guest Karl Grossman – The Urgency of Activism 3-17-2017

 

Karl Grossman is a full professor of journalism at the State University of New York College at Old Westbury. For more than 45 years he has pioneered the combination of investigative reporting and environmental journalism in a variety of media. He is the host of the nationally aired television program Enviro Close-Up, the narrator and host of award-winning TV documentaries on environmental and energy issues, the author of six books and writer of numerous magazine, newspaper and Internet articles.

Media

He is program host and writer of TV documentaries produced by New York-based EnviroVideo including the award-winning Chernobyl: A Million Casualties, Three Mile Island Revisited, Nukes in Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens and The Push to Revive Nuclear Power.

He is chief investigative reporter for WVVH-TV on Long Island.

He is a regular contributor to Internet sites including CounterPunch, OpEd News, Enformable, NationofChange and The Huffington Post.

His weekly column appears in The Southampton Press, The East Hampton Press, The Sag Harbor Express, The Shelter Island Reporter, South Shore Press, Sound Observer and other Long Island newspapers and on websites on Long Island including Smithtown Matters, RiverheadLOCAL and SoutholdLOCAL.

His articles also appear on LIPolitics.com

Grossman was an investigative reporter as well as columnist for the Long Island Press, a major daily newspaper serving metropolitan New York and, with the demise of the paper in 1977, continued investigative journalism in books, magazines and newspapers, on radio and TV and, in recent years, on the Internet.

His books include: Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power; The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet; The Poison Conspiracy; and Weapons in Space.

He has given presentations at colleges and universities in the United States and abroad and before other venues including at the United Nations in New York and Geneva, the Russian Academy of Sciences and the British Parliament.

Awards he has received for investigative reporting include the George Polk, Generoso Pope, James Aronson and John Peter Zenger awards. He also has received citations from the New York Press Association, Press Club of Long Island, Society of Professional Journalists, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, New York Civil Liberties Union, Long Island Coalition for Fair Broadcasting, Citizens Energy Council and Friends of the Earth. His TV documentaries have received Gold and Silver awards at the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival and other honors. His journalism has been repeatedly cited by Project Censored, the media initiative at Sonoma State University, as involving the most “under-reported” issues.

Academic work

At the State University of New York College at Old Westbury he has taught courses including: Investigative Reporting; Environmental Journalism; Politics of Media; Introduction to Journalism; TV and Radio Journalism; and TV Documentary: Theories and Techniques. He also runs an Internship in Journalism and Media program placing students at media throughout metropolitan New York.

He was honored in 2003 at the State University of New York “Chancellor’s Recognition Dinner Honoring Research and Scholarship in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.”

Bibliography

Books

  • Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power (1980)
  • The Poison Conspiracy (1982)
  • Nicaragua: America’s New Vietnam? (1984)
  • Power Crazy:Is LILCO Turning Shoreham Into America’s Chernobyl? (1986)
  • The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet (1997)
  • Weapons in Space (2001)

Articles

Grossman’s articles have appeared in many magazines and newspapers including: The New York Times, USA Today, The Village Voice, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Miami Herald, The Globe and Mail, The Ecologist, Earth Island Journal, E: The Environmental Magazine, The Crisis, The Nation, The Progressive, The Baltimore Sun, The Plain Dealer. The Orlando Sentinel, Columbia Journalism Review, Liberal Opinion Week, Science Communication. The Globe and Mail, Z Magazine, San Francisco Bay Guardian, CovertAction Quarterly, The Miami Herald, Space News, and Extra!.

Among the Internet sites he contributes articles to are: CounterPunch, The Huffington Post, Enformable, CommonDreams, Truthout, Nation of Change and OpEd News.

External links

The most recent edition of Cover Up is available free online thanks to its publisher via [2]. Grossman encourages its download and use of the material—notably facsimiles of government and industry documents useful in exposing the dangers of nuclear power—that the book contains.

Karl Grossman’s website is at: karlgrossman.com And his blog is also featured on his http://www.karlgrossman.com website.

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Nuclear | , , | Leave a comment

2020 Olympics Baseball in Fukushima

Intense lobbying finally succeeded in getting approval for the 2020 Olympics baseball and softball events to take place in Fukushima prefecture, once more proving that economic reconstruction and pro-nuclear propaganda are more important priorities for the Japanese government than the health protection  of anyone.

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Nuclear-hit Fukushima gets nod for 2020 baseball

Nuclear disaster-hit Fukushima won formal approval to host baseball during the Tokyo Olympics on Friday — and may have the honour of putting on the opening game.

Chief organiser Yoshiro Mori said the International Olympic Committee’s executive board had agreed to hold baseball and softball in Fukushima at a meeting in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The choice of Fukushima comes after the prefecture was hit six years ago by the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, some of whom are still unable to return home.

“It’s the Tokyo Games but at least one game, probably the opening game, will go to Fukushima stadium,” Mori told reporters in Pyeongchang, venue for next year’s Winter Olympics.

“That was the proposal… and everybody agreed.”

The choice of baseball is significant as it is Japan’s most popular sport and will be closely watched by domestic fans when it returns to the Olympic schedule in 2020.

World Baseball Softball Confederation chief Riccardo Fraccari gave the Fukushima move his blessing, calling it a “tremendous honour and a duty” in a statement issued by Tokyo 2020 organisers.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, which devastated a large swathe of northeastern Japan, leaving about 18,500 people dead or missing.

“Tokyo 2020 is a showcase of the recovery and reconstruction of Japan from the disaster, March 11,” Mori said.

“So in many ways we would like to give encouragement and hope to the people, especially in the affected area.”

Among similar efforts, the Olympic football tournament will hold preliminary games in Sendai, while the 2019 Rugby World Cup will take in Kamaishi — both cities in areas affected by the 2011 disaster.

While no deaths have been officially attributed to radiation exposure, some evacuees are concerned the government is moving too fast to deem closed-off areas safe to inhabit.

Government evacuation orders for some 70 percent of the originally closed off areas will be lifted by April 1, except for certain towns near the battered facility, and authorities are encouraging evacuees to return.

But Tokyo Electric Power Co, the nuclear plant operator, and the government are facing a four-decade task of cleaning up and decommissioning the facility.

The Olympic baseball and softball will be held in the Azuma stadium, which will be refurbished at the expense of the local authorities, Mori said

https://www.yahoo.com/news/nuclear-hit-fukushima-gets-nod-2020-baseball-031832337–oly.html

Anger as Fukushima to host Olympic events during Tokyo 2020 Games

The decision to hold baseball and softball matches in the city of Fukushima as part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has been criticised as a cynical manoeuvre by the Japanese government to convince the world that the 2011 nuclear crisis is over.

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games announced on Friday that the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium will host softball and baseball matches during the Games.

Venues in Tokyo will host the majority of the sporting events, which will take place nine years after a magnitude 9 earthquake struck off Tohoku, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people and the melt-down of three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which is less than 50 miles from Fukushima City.

In a statement, the committee said it believes that “the hosting of events in Fukushima will support recovery efforts in the overall Tohoku region.

“Matches played in the Tohoku region will be further evidence of Tokyo 2020’s commitment to bring sporting events to the recovering areas and will demonstrate the power of sport”, it added.

The statement makes no mention of ongoing efforts at the Fukushima plant to bring the reactors under control and recover the nuclear fuel that has escaped from containment vessels. Authorities estimate it will take 40 years for the site to be rendered safe.

Work is also continuing to decontaminate areas that were beneath the nuclear plume immediately after the accident. According to government figures, around 120,000 people are still not able to return to their homes because of the disaster.

“It’s fine for athletes and spectators to go to Fukushima for a couple of days to compete, but the Japanese government is using this to claim that everything is back to normal and that he evacuees should go back to their homes”, said Aileen Mioko-Smith, an anti-nuclear campaigner with Kyoto-based Green Action Japan.

“It’s unconscionable”, she told The Telegraph. “To tell people that because the Games are being held in Fukushima that it is perfectly safe for people to go back to their homes, for farmers to go back into their fields, for children to play in the open air is just wrong”.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/olympics/2017/03/17/anger-fukushima-host-olympic-events-tokyo-2020-games/

Fukushima to host Tokyo Olympics events to help recovery from nuclear disaster

Some baseball and softball events will be held about 70km from nuclear power plant that suffered triple meltdown in 2011

Fukushima has been chosen to host baseball and softball matches at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, organisers said on Friday, a move they hope will boost the region’s recovery from the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

Azuma baseball stadium, about 70km north-west of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, will host at least one baseball game – possibly the opening match – and one or more softball fixtures, according to Yoshiro Mori, the 2020 organising committee president.

By hosting Olympic baseball and softball events, Fukushima will have a great platform to show the world the extent of its recovery in the 10 years since the disaster,” Mori said in a statement.

It will also be a wonderful chance for us to show our gratitude towards those who assisted in the region’s reconstruction. And I’m sure the people of Fukushima are also looking forward very much to seeing Olympics events hosted there.”

Mori said the “fantastic idea” to hold baseball and softball matches in the affected area had originated in a meeting between the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, and Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, in October last year.

Two months later, however, the IOC initially declined to add Azuma to the main baseball venue in Yokohama.

Riccardo Fraccari, the president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation, welcomed the IOC’s change of heart, describing it as a “great step” that would to “inspire hope and highlight the regeneration in Fukushima”.

He added: “It is a tremendous honour and a duty we take very seriously to be a part of something so meaningful – to serve the Olympic movement and to use the power of sport to shape a better world.”

The Fukushima prefectural government has offered to cover the costs of the refurbishment and renovation work needed to bring the 30,000-seat stadium up to Olympic standards, according to organisers.

Miyagi prefecture, where almost 11,000 people died in the March 2011 triple disaster along Japan’s north-east coast, will host preliminary matches in the 2020 football competition.

No evacuation order has ever been in place in the part of Fukushima prefecture where the baseball stadium is located. The Azuma sports park complex served as an evacuation centre for people fleeing radiation caused by the triple meltdown triggered by a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011.

Nuclear power officials in Japan insist the 40-year effort to decommission Fukushima Daiichi, including the storage of nuclear waste, will not affect people visiting the region to attend Olympics events.

The IOC’s executive board, which is meeting this week in Pyeongchang, South Korea – the host of next year’s Winter Olympics – is expected to receive an update on the golf venue for 2020, which has come under pressure to change its discriminatory membership policy. Kasumigaseki Country Club, a private golf course in Saitama prefecture, north-west of Tokyo, forbids women from becoming full members and from playing on Sundays.

Last month, the IOC’s vice-president, John Coates, said organisers would have to find another venue if the club refused to drop its restrictions on female players.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/17/fukushima-to-host-tokyo-olympics-events-to-help-recovery-from-nuclear-disaster

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

More Evacuation Orders to Be Lifted in Namie and Tomioka Towns

15 March, 2017, from Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, Japan pro-nuclear website :

On March 10, the Japanese government’s nuclear emergency response headquarters decided to lift evacuation orders in two categories in Namie and Tomioka Towns: specifically, those areas where “living is not permitted” and those where “evacuation order will soon be lifted.” The orders will be lifted at 12:00 a.m. on March 31 and April 1 in Namie and Tomioka, respectively.

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Since similar orders in the same two categories will also be lifted on March 31 in Iitate Village and Kawamata Town, the latest decision means that the only areas where evacuation orders are still in effect are those where “residents will not be able to return home for a long time.” Specifically, that refers to all of Okuma and Futaba Towns, as well as certain areas of Minami-Soma City, Tomioka Town, Namie Town, Katsurao Village and Iitate Village.

Apart from those, sections of the JR Joban Line unusable since the earthquake will be reopened when the orders are lifted in Namie and Tomioka Towns: namely, the line between Odaka and Namie on April 1, and the line between Tomioka and Tatsuta in some time in October.

According to the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, area-wide decontamination has already been completed as of the end of January in nine of the eleven municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture that are now designated as “special decontamination areas,” which are directly managed by the national government. The term does not include areas where residents will not be able to return home for a long time.

The decontamination work is expected to be completed in the remaining two municipalities—Minami-Soma City and Namie Town—by the end of this month.

As for the transport of soil removed in decontamination work to sites planned for the interim storage of radioactive waste, a total of about 210,000 cubic meters has already been transported as of the beginning of March. In FY17 (April 2017 to March 2018), some 500,000 cubic meters of removed soil will be transported, in anticipation of the beginning of storage next fall, with priority to be placed on soil now stored at schools.

http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/more-evacuation-orders-to-be-lifted-in-namie-and-tomioka-towns/

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Youtube – newly available images of nuclear bomb tests

*Declassified* Nuclear Test Films Unbelievable Video !!  Kenny-Boo Hurt

Terrifying images revealed in declassified nuclear test videos uploaded to YouTube, The Age, Ben Guarino, 20 Mar 17, 

On Monday, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, located in California, uploaded to YouTube more than 60 films taken during US nuclear weapons tests between 1945 and 1962. During this time, experimental nukes were dropped from bombers or propelled by rockets to altitudes as high as space.

Their offbeat names, such as Operation Hardtack 1, Operation Plumbbob and Operation Teapot, belied the massive destruction on display. More than 200 nuclear test weapons would go off until 1963, when the Partial Test Ban Treaty required further testing to take place underground. In each instance, scientists trained multiple cameras on the explosion.

For decades afterward, thousands of these films languished in secure vaults – until Greg Spriggs, 65, a weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, decided to dust them off. Some of the films had already degraded beyond the point of restoration. “You can smell vinegar when you open the cans, which is one of the byproducts of the decomposition process of these films,” Spriggs said in a news release. “We know that these films are on the brink of decomposing to the point where they’ll become useless.”

He recruited expert archivists, including Zapruder film preservationist Jim Moye, to help digitise the footage.

“The data that we’re collecting now must be preserved in a digital form because no matter how well you treat the films, no matter how well you preserve or store them, they will decompose,” Spriggs said. “They’re made out of organic material, and organic material decomposes. So this is it. We got to this project just in time to save the data.”

Scientists are still able to wring new information from old detonations. Modern analytical techniques applied to digitised footage revealed inaccuracies in past estimates of fireball and shockwave size, which in many instances had been derived by hand.

“We were finding that some of these answers were off by 20, maybe 30, per cent,” Spriggs said. “We’ve also discovered new things about these detonations that have never been seen before.”………

Spriggs and the team of restorers have found about 6500 out of 10,000 reels from the era of above-ground nuclear tests, according to the news release. The researchers have scanned two-thirds of these films, and the Department of Energy has declassified just 750.

Why the government has only allowed the public to see the footage now was not an issue of secrecy – information about the operations had already been made public – but a matter of red tape…….http://www.theage.com.au/world/terrifying-images-revealed-in-declassified-nuclear-test-videos-uploaded-to-youtube-20170319-gv1ak3.html

March 20, 2017 Posted by | media, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea nuclear program is ‘imminent’ threat says Rex Tillerson

Tillerson says North Korea nuclear program is ‘imminent’ threat, as China urges talks
Tillerson also said that US-China relations appear to be at a historic inflection point that must be carefully managed.
Politico, By 3/18/17, 

North Korea’s nuclear program poses an “imminent” threat that nonetheless requires the United States, China, and other countries to respond with a “staged approach” that includes sanctions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a rare encounter with the media.

Tillerson, speaking to the conservative Independent Journal Review in an interview published Saturday, also said that U.S.-China relations appear to be at a historic inflection point that must be carefully managed.

China’s foreign minister, meanwhile, urged the United States to remain “cool-headed” on the issue of North Korea and to consider going ahead with talks with Pyongyang.

The U.S. secretary of state is in the final stages of a trip to Asia, having made stops in Japan and South Korea and, this weekend, in China. A good chunk of his discussions have focused on how to handle the challenge posed by the government in Pyongyang, whose recent ballistic missile tests have alarmed the international community.

Tillerson repeatedly framed the North Korean threat as “imminent,” and during his trip he has ruled out negotiations with the country while leaving open the possibility of a pre-emptive military strike to eliminate its nuclear program.

But in his interview with IJR, Tillerson did not promise any imminent public response by the U.S. and others, aside from the ongoing diplomatic flurries. Instead, he said there had to be a “staged approach” to North Korea, one that involves enforcing, and possibly enhancing, international sanctions, while persuading Pyongyang that giving up its nuclear weapons would help it on other levels………

Tillerson also downplayed, but did not entirely rule out, suggestions that Japan and South Korea should develop their own nuclear weapons in a bid to stave off the North Korean threat…….

China’s sway over North Korea is perhaps the most urgent issue the two countries must tackle, Tillerson said. The secretary of state indicated that the Trump administration believes China must do more to enforce sanctions on North Korea, which relies on Beijing as an economic lifeline.

It’s the same stance taken by the Obama administration, which toward the end of its tenure also was increasingly alarmed by the threat posed by North Korea. President Barack Obama is reported to have told Trump that North Korea is the top national security priority facing his new administration. http://www.politico.eu/article/tillerson-says-north-korea-nuclear-program-is-imminent-threat-as-china-urges-talks/

March 20, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Japanese companies exploit refugees for Fukushima radioactive clean-up work

Spotlight: Fury sparked in Japan as companies found duping foreign refugees into decontamination work in Fukushima 2017-03-17 TOKYO, March 17 (Xinhua)— “Such scams are a shame to Japan,” said a reporter from Tokyo Metropolitan Television Broadcasting Corp., referring to a recently-exposed scandal involving labor dispatch agencies duping foreign refugees into doing decontamination work in Fukushima.Various local media have exposed recently that some Japanese companies have swindled foreign refugees into doing decontamination work in Fukushima with empty promises that such work might help extend their visas to stay in Japan.

Fifty-year-old Hosein Moni and 42-year-old Hosein Deroaru from Bangladesh were both caught in such a scam, according to a recent report by the Chunichi Shimbun, one of the largest newspapers in Japan.

The two came to Japan in 2013 seeking to be recognized as political refugees. In Japan, foreigners are given temporary permission to stay for up to six months at one application before they are recognized as refugees and given status as residents.

According to government data, the number of refugees actually afforded recognition as refugees in Japan is disproportionately low among developed nations, while the numbers of those applying for refugee status has been rapidly increasing in recent years in Japan.

The government received some 5,000 such applications in 2014, but only 11 were granted refugee status, according to the data.

Moni and Deroaru were told by a so-called labor dispatch agency in Nagoya that they could do decontamination work in exchange for an extension of their visa.

The two, knowing little Japanese and trying to seize every opportunity they could, accepted the job and worked in Fukushima for three months in 2015.

But when they finished their work and went to the local immigration bureau to extend their stay, they were told by officers there that they knew nothing about such a policy.

They later found out that the construction company that had hired them had changed its company name, and its Fukushima branch had closed.

Half of the 20 workers that they had worked with in Fukushima were foreigners, many of whom had been applying for refugee status in Japan, the pair later recalled. Their work mainly involved clearing away contaminated soil with spades, and while they were at work might well have been affected by high levels of radiation. “The radiation detectors we brought with us kept sounding alarms, which was rather scary,” they were quoted as saying.

The incident, after been exposed by local media, also caused a splash on social network sites. Many Japanese netizens felt indignant that such scams were happening in their homeland…….

Most of the foreign workers could hardly speak Japanese. As anti-radiation brochures provided by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO), were only available in Japanese or English, many of the workers could not understand it, Ishikawa was quoted as saying.

The foreign workers, to some extent, saved the contractors and TEPCO by pushing forward the decommissioning work of the nuclear plant, remarked the report…..http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-03/17/c_136137295.htm

March 20, 2017 Posted by | civil liberties, employment, Fukushima continuing, Japan | 1 Comment

Russia developing Major Naval Base for Nuclear Warships in Syria

How Russia Is Turning Syria into a Major Naval Base for Nuclear Warships (and Israel Is Worried), National Interest, Michael Peck, 18 Mar 17, During the 1970s, the Syrian naval base of Tartus became a major port servicing warships of the Soviet Union’s Fifth Mediterranean squadron.

The Soviet Union is gone, and so is Syria as a unified nation. But Russia is back, and it’s building up Tartus again as a naval base that can handle Russia’s largest nuclear-powered ships.

Already, Israel says the Tartus base is affecting its naval operations. U.S. and NATO operations could be next.

Under the forty-nine-year agreement inked late last year by Russia and Syria, “the maximum number of the Russian warships allowed at the Russian naval facility at one time is 11, including nuclear-powered warships, providing that nuclear and ecological security rules are observed,” according to Russia’s RT news site. Russia will also be allowed to expand port facilities to accommodate the vessels.

The specification allowing nuclear-powered warships means that Russia wants to be able to base in Syria large surface ships, namely Kirov-class nuclear-powered battle cruisers, as well as nuclear submarines.

In addition, the treaty allows “Russia is allowed to bring in and out any kind of ‘weaponry, ammunition, devices and materials’ to provide security for the facility staff, crew, and their families throughout the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic ‘without any duties or levies,’” according to RT.

Expansion of the port will take about five years, according to an anonymous source cited in Russia’s Sputnik News. “The source added that the works would focus on dredging operations to allow cruisers and even possibly aircraft carriers to use the facility’s infrastructure,” Sputnik News reported. “According to the source, Russia also needs to develop the facility’s ground infrastructure, through construction of canalization, electricity generation facilities and barracks for the servicemen.”

Sputnik News also listed other provisions of the agreement. These include:

• Russia will be responsible for sea and air security of the base, while Syria handles the land defenses.

• Russia can deploy “temporary mobile outposts” beyond the base, as long as they coordinate them with the Syrians.

• Russia can renovate the base at will, including underwater construction, and build offshore platforms.

• Upon Syrian request, Russia will send specialists to service Syrian warships, conduct search and rescue in Syrian waters, and organize the defense of Tartus.

• Syria agrees not to “make any objections related to the military activities of the base, which will also be beyond Damascus’ jurisdiction.”

• “Syria also pledges to solve any conflicts that may arise if a third party objects to the activities of the base.”

The Tartus deal is significant on several levels…… http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/how-russia-turning-syria-major-naval-base-nuclear-warships-19813

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Russia, Syria, weapons and war | Leave a comment