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

Japan’s nuclear export industry about to get the fatal blow

Sun setting on Japan’s nuclear export sector

Post-Fukushima cost overruns may kill a giant power project in Turkey, and there are few other deals to replace it

 DECEMBER 16, 2018    Japan’s nuclear export industry could be dealt a fatal blow if Mitsubishi Heavy Industries pulls out of a massive project to build four large power plants on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, as reports have suggested.

The Sinop plant project in Turkey was seen as Japan’s best chance for an industry – battered and bruised after the 2011 tsunami and triple meltdown at Fukushima – to put together a workable export strategy that did not break the bank of potential international customers.

Aside from Sinop, the Japanese industry has only one viable export project still upcoming: Hitachi’s bid to build two reactors on the island of Anglesey in Britain. And even that deal is looking shaky.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has not pulled the plug yet on its stake in the four-reactor project on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, but a slew of domestic media reports and talk in Tokyo, suggests that, in the face of seemingly ever-rising construction costs to meet new safety standards that have been put in place since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, the company will bail.

Fukushima legacy

When the deal was signed with Ankara in 2013, the ownership profile was: 65% awarded to a consortium made up of MHI, Itochu, France’s Areva, and GDF Suez. The other 35% was covered by Turkey’s electric power utility, Elektrik Uretim.

However, in April, Itochu pulled out of the consortium, citing cost overruns. That left the consortium with 51%, and the remaining 49% owned by the Turkish utility.

Without Mitsubishi the viability of the project is in question, sources say, unless Turkey can find a new partner or is willing to take on the project without its largest foreign partner. The Russians, who are building a nuclear complex on Turkey’s southern Mediterranean coast, might be interested.

According to Kyodo, a thorough cost evaluation was to be completed by the end of this year. Itochu waited for the report to be released before bailing out of the deal. MHI is apparently waiting for the study to be completed before deciding its next move.

When the deal with Mitsubishi was signed in 2013, the estimated cost was $18 billion for four 1,100-megawatt nuclear power plants. But overall costs have soared, passing $42 billion in April – when Itochu withdrew, and is now put at about $44 billion.

Cost increases are nothing new in the nuclear power industry, but have been exacerbated in recent years by expensive adjustments phased in to meet more stringent safety concerns following the earthquake and tsunami that destroyed four units of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The Sinop cost rises, however, also encompass other problems encountered in construction.

Fukushima, one of the most serious nuclear accidents in history, turned most of Japan against nuclear power. Before March 11, 2011, Japan had 54 nuclear plants. All were shut down after the accident and some are slowly returning to service having passed scrutiny by the regulator. Five are expected to restart within the next five years, and eight will likely be decommissioned. But prospects for the remaining plants are unclear.

Aware that no new nuclear plant may ever be built at home amid the anti-atomic public mood, Japan’s nuclear vendors have turned to overseas exports as the Fukushima accident does not appear to have destroyed the Japanese industry brand in other countries.

Endgame for nuclear exports?

If Mitsubishi does pull out of the huge project in Turkey it will be a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who sees international exports of nuclear technology as an important way to boost the economy. On his many trips abroad, he often acts as a salesman for nuclear exports. For example, it was a topic of discussion with Turkish President Recep Erdogan on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Argentina.

Details of the conversation were not revealed, but it would be a good bet that they discussed the Sinop project with the threat of Mitsubishi hanging over them, and that Abe sought ways to keep the project viable.

Meanwhile, it is not just MHI that may have doubts about the sector. Japan’s nuclear export industry has suffered plenty of setbacks in the seven years since Fukushima. Questions about the future of the sector hang over all three main players in the sector.

Toshiba, one of Japan’s big-three nuclear constructors, recently pulled out of the nuclear power business overseas after incurring huge losses in the United States.

Toshiba has also suffered something of an administrative meltdown in its quest to win construction contracts in the US. In February it finally unloaded it money-losing American subsidiary, Westinghouse, for $1 billion less than it paid to acquire the company 10 years ago.

If the export program is to remain viable, it may be in Wales, where the British government is seeking to build a two-reactor nuclear power plant on the island of Anglesey. Among those bidding for the project is Japan’s third nuclear constructor, Hitachi, through a subsidiary called Horizon Nuclear.

In the nuclear world, there are constructors – like MHI, Toshiba and Hitachi – and operators, who run the plant after it is completed, and they are not always the same. Japan learned from Korea’s successful bid to build six nuclear plants in the United Arab Emirates that offering to build and also run them – a one-stop service – is key to making sales.

Hitachi is teaming up with the Japan Atomic Power Company, which operates two plants in Japan (although both are currently shut down pending the review by regulators). The plan is to present the British with a package deal.

Now, there are worries that Hitachi might pull out of the British project. Chairman Hiroaka Nakanishi was quoted in the Times of London saying his company was “facing an extreme situation,” and that a final decision on whether to stay with the project or leave it will be made next year.

If Mitsubishi does, as is widely expected, pull out of the huge project in Turkey, the only egg left in Japan’s overseas nuclear export basket will be Wales.

December 18, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, politics | Leave a comment

USA Congress Democrats and Republicans want strict controls on any nuclear deal with Saudi Arabia

Lawmakers Want a Greater Say as U.S. Seeks a Saudi Nuclear Deal, Members of Congress from both parties demand that an agreement to sell Riyadh civilian nuclear technology be based on stringent controls, WSJ . By Michael R. Gordon, Dec. 16, 2018 

The Trump administration’s push to sell civilian nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia is emerging as the next battleground in the struggle between the White House and Congress over U.S. policy toward Riyadh following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The debate over Riyadh’s nuclear ambitions intensified last week after Energy Secretary Rick Perry brushed aside congressional appeals that nuclear talks be suspended because of Mr. Khashoggi’s killing and traveled to Saudi Arabia, where he accentuated the role American companies could play in helping the country establish a nuclear energy program.

…….But the CIA assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman likely ordered Mr. Khashoggi’s killing has fueled concerns in Congress that the Saudi leader is too ruthless to be entrusted with nuclear technology. Saudi Arabia has repeatedly said the crown prince had no knowledge of the operation.

Lawmakers of both parties are demanding a deal be based on the most stringent nonproliferation controls. And some are now pushing legislation that would give Congress more of a say by requiring that a nuclear accord with Saudi Arabia be approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“Before Khashoggi, I would say our chances were quite modest,” said Rep. Brad Sherman, a California Democrat, referring to prospects of House legislation he is drafting. “Now I would have to say our chances are better than 50-50.”

An identical measure is being prepared in the Senate by Sens. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) and Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), though the prospects for winning approval are likely to be more challenging.

The prospective nuclear deal comes amid a broader debate over Saudi policy, including a Senate vote last week to halt U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition that is fighting in Yemen.

Even since the Trump administration signaled its interest in a nuclear agreement with Saudi Arabia last year, there has been debate about proliferation controls that should be imposed under an accord authorizing the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology, known as a 123 agreement.

……..Nuclear experts have also said that it would be important for Saudi Arabia to agree to the “Additional Protocol,” a formal arrangement with the International Atomic Energy Agency that provides for far-reaching inspections. The Saudis have been resisting that step, former officials who have been tracking the talks say. A spokeswoman for the Saudi embassy didn’t respond to a request for comment..

……..Under current law, a nuclear cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia would go forward unless congressional opponents backed a joint resolution against it. That means that two-thirds of the lawmakers would need to oppose the accord so Congress could overcome a potential veto.

Mr. Sherman’s new bill aims to put nuclear accord skeptics in a more favorable position by requiring the administration to win approval from both the Senate and the House. That means a simple majority in one legislative chamber would be enough to block the agreement…….

December 18, 2018 Posted by | politics, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

USA government will appease murderous Saudi Arabia regime – or maybe not?

US Nuclear Energy Policy & Khashoggi Murder: Appeasement Or Threat? Clean Technica, December 12th, 2018 by Tina Casey 

The horrific murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October continues to fester, and some of the blowback has been falling on the shoulders of the US tech sector. Rightfully so, considering the connection between Saudi wealth, Japan-based SoftBank, and Silicon Valley A-listers. Meanwhile, US President* Donald Trump has dismissed evidence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was directly responsible for the crime, but a recent nuclear energy announcement could indicate that someone in Trump’s cabinet is stirring the pot.

Khashoggi Or Not, Trump Administration Still Sharing Nuclear Energy Love With Saudi Arabia…

There is also a nuclear weapons angle to the story, but for now lets focus on the nuclear energy angle.

Despite its vast solar and wind resources, Saudi Arabia has expressed a growing interest in building a fleet of power plants fueled by nuclear energy.

CleanTechnica has been among those taking note, though not in any particular depth — until earlier this week, when the US Department of Energy released a readout of Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s recent visit with the Saudi Minister of Energy, as well as the CEO of Saudi Aramco and other officials.

The readout hit the Intertubes just about the time word leaked out that there is now a written transcript of the audiotape that recorded the last minutes of Khashoggi’s life.

Anyone — even those who do not speak Arabic — can now read and understand the last words that Khashoggi screamed out in the course of his murder.

So, was the readout yet another example of Secretary Perry tone deafness? Or was it yet another one of his curiously timed missives that undercut White House policy even while seeming to affirm it.

Here, you do the math. This is where the readout deals with the visit to Saudi Arabia (Perry also went to Qatar on the same trip):

…the Secretary expressed that the United States continues to view Saudi Arabia as an important ally, particularly in the energy space. Perry and Al-Falih spoke about last week’s OPEC announcement of production cuts and Perry reiterated the need for stable supply and market values. They also discussed the 2018 increase in Saudi oil production and the impact it has had on world markets in the wake of the Iran sanctions.

And, here’s the summary message (emphasis added):

Secretary Perry underscored the message that he carries all over the world: any nation seeking to develop a truly safe, clean, and secure nuclear energy program should turn to American companies who have the ability to provide the technology, knowledge, and experience that are essential to achieving that goal.

The US nuclear energy industry is in a state of near collapse, domestically speaking. As with coal power, the only hope for growth is to export the technology elsewhere…but the readout makes it clear there are standards to be met.

Or Not

The readout is not particularly startling in and of itself, though there is a lot to chew on between the lines.

What really sticks out is the summary message. It could be read in two different ways.

Number one, Secretary Perry was blithely pitching the US nuclear energy industry to the Saudi government, ignoring — as per White House policy — the latest revelations about the Khashoggi murder.

That would be consistent with the Rick Perry, who toes the Trump line on a whole host of other issues, inside and outside of the energy space.

Number two relates to the other Rick Perry — the one who has consistently pushed for the Department of Energy’s scientific and renewable energy missions, even when (or perhaps especially when) those missions clash with Trump’s anti-science, pro-coal rhetoric.

In this scenario, the nuclear message is not a pitch. It’s practically the opposite: a reminder that the US holds the nuclear energy cards.

To be clear, the US doesn’t hold all the nuclear energy cards, but it does hold enough of them to make trouble. Earlier this fall, for example, the Trump administration announced new restrictions on nuclear technology exports to China. Though some have downplayed the impact, that’s gotta hurt.

As applied to the Saudi government, Perry could wield the authority of his agency under its nonproliferation mission as a stick, not a carrot.

Or, maybe not. If you apply Occam’s razor to the readout, it is just what it is: a message that, Khashoggi or not, it’s business as usual between Saudi Arabia and the US.

What do you think? Drop us a note in the comment thread! …………

December 18, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear a more serious problem than climate change – a thinker reflects on the nuclear future

Opinion from a concerned reader, 18 Dec 18  I think the nuclear problem is more serious than climate change.
I do not know if anything can be done, to shut down enough reactors in time, in the world, to stem the dangerous massive creation of hi level waste, and prevent more fukushimas. That is, before it goes beyond the point of no return, where there is so much radionuclides poison , in the environment, that life on earth is doomed and cannot come back. It maybe too late already.
Too much radionuclides waste in the environment.

I feel like hot-button issues like nuclear, are used by propagandists as propgens, to insidiously pawn-off their polarizing propaganda memes or just throw-out rightwing propaganda- blurbs going at opportune moments.
As far as ideological memes go, we are constantly presented, with smoke screens and false dichotomies.
There is the soros meme. He is like the evil enemy of the state in Orwells1984.

do not know what he really is. I do not think he is a radical leftist. Are globalists, radical leftists? No they are part of the neoliberal and neoconservative elites.

More rightwing groups, that have elements of the same neoliberal, neoconservative, corporatist elements, with strong racist-authoritarian inclinatibons are not really populist and do little for common people.
They border on fascism, or are fascist.

What is very scary is the fact that the Paris demonstrations are laying the groundwork for another election in France.
The demonstrations are setting up the groundwork for the fascist Marine La Pen to take power. Very topsey-turkey to me.

If the French go with La Pen as Macron loses it, the Frences, and worlds, troubles have only begun. They will be like The USA, Japan, The Ukraine, Brazil, eastern Europe. More appeasement of the rich and corporations.

Hate and racism will grow more pitched.

Superficially, it will look like things are better because they will appease corporations, and make it appear to be cutting taxes for all classes . There maybe some extra low wage jobs created. They will keep reactors open, to appease nuclear workers and privatize the nuclear industry, more. There will be less security for pensioners, not more, as trump has done . There will be more cuts to commons and loss of civil liberties in favor of corporations.

There will be greater risk of nuclear accidents, of war, of civil unrest . Nuclear will again be highly favored in France, like it is in the rash of eastern European authoritarian regimes.  More dangerous reactors will be kept open or maybe all of them, with attempts to build new ones. The nationalist scree, will call for greater resource exploitation in their old colonies in Africa. They will probably jump on board with new the new calls from mics and the emboldened neoconservatives in America for new arms race plans.
So crazy

December 18, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Numerous nuclear accidents at sea (doesn’t inspire confidence for nuclear-powered space travel)

Explosive Accidents: The Lost Nuclear Arsenal at the Bottom of the Sea–PFmFciWyMO28xaa1nU7OFMlC7UfuQwjMFh4

Sep 3, 2018 Ian Harvey In July of 2018, Andrew Thaler wrote for Southern Fried Science that there were at least two nuclear capsules, four unarmed weapons, and one armed nuclear weapon sitting on the ocean floor, that he was aware of.

His information was based on declassified U.S. Department of Defense narrative summaries of accidents involving U.S. nuclear weapons.

He noted that the documents he had access to only covered the period of time between 1950 and 1980. Any more recent data would still be classified. There is reason to believe that his estimated numbers for nuclear material in the oceans are far too low.

Business Insider in 2013 wrote that since 1950 there have been 32 nuclear weapon accidents, known as Broken Arrows, where an unexpected event involving nuclear weapons resulted in the firing, launching, theft, or loss of said weapon.

BI reported in this piece that there were six nuclear weapons that have been lost and never recovered. The time frames for the BI list continued into the 2000’s, but this is also a lowball number.

According to a 1989 article in the New York Times, however, there have been at least 50 nuclear warheads and nine reactors scattered on the ocean floors since 1956.

These were the result of various accidents on the part of U.S. and Soviet bombers, ships, and rockets, according to a study of naval accidents that was published by Greenpeace and the Institute for Policy Studies.

The study outlines 1,276 accidents, both nuclear and non-nuclear, on the part of the world’s navies, and has some, more limited, information on another 1,000 accidents. The study points out that the total number of incidents amounts to one major peacetime accident a week

Information for the study was gathered mostly through the Freedom of Information Act, which included American intelligence assessments of Soviet naval accidents.

Eighty days after it fell into the ocean following the January 1966 midair collision between a nuclear-armed B-52G bomber and a KC-135 refueling tanker over Palomares, Spain, this B28RI nuclear bomb was recovered from 2,850 feet (869 meters) of water and lifted aboard the USS Petrel (note the missing tail fins and badly dented “false nose”).

The authors also received information from the governments of other nations. The report said that the worst accident occurred in 1986, when a Soviet submarine sank 600 miles northeast of the Bermuda coast, depositing two nuclear reactors and 32 nuclear warheads on the bottom of the ocean.

That one accident left more nuclear material under the sea than the authors of the first two pieces posited, combined. The study also notes that it doesn’t reflect data on any of the “many hundreds” of Soviet accidents about which little is known, and suggested that the Soviet Navy has far more accidents than those of America.

The accidents are, for the most part, due to human factors, ranging from issues of faulty navigation to outright sabotage.

So far, the U.S. has admitted to knowing of one hydrogen bomb that is leaking radioactive material. That bomb was accidentally dropped into the sea south of Japan in 1965 by an aircraft carrier.

Read another story from us: The Missing Nuclear Weapons Lost Off The Coast Of Bermuda

There is some likelihood that other bombs may have also begun to leak radiation into the water, and are just unknown as yet. Even if it hasn’t happened yet, the chances of such leaks will increase over time as the weapons degrade, having the potential to cause untold harm to the oceans and our planet as a whole.

December 18, 2018 Posted by | incidents, oceans, Reference | 1 Comment

Hitachi having trouble financing new nuclear reactors in Wales – may pull the plug on Wylfa project

Hitachi may freeze British nuclear project due to swelling costs,

KYODO 17 Dec 18Hitachi Ltd. is considering freezing its plan to build nuclear reactors in Wales after facing difficulties in finding investors to finance the project’s ballooning costs, sources close to the matter said Sunday.

If the Japanese conglomerate freezes the ¥3 trillion Wylfa Newydd plant construction, all of the overseas nuclear projects promoted by the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as part of his growth strategy would have faltered.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. is mulling withdrawing from a nuclear project in Turkey amid swelling safety-related costs following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, while Toshiba Corp. has decided to exit from the nuclear plant business outside Japan after incurring huge losses in the United States.

Hitachi has said it wants to lower its stake in Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd., a wholly owned unit it acquired in 2012 from two German electric utilities to take over the nuclear project, to below 50 percent to limit the impact on the Hitachi group of the construction of two advanced boiling water reactors on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales.

Hitachi is likely to have told the British and Japanese governments of its plan to freeze the project, the sources said. The issue will likely be discussed at the planned meeting between Abe and British Prime Minister Theresa May in January, they said.

The company has been contacting prospective investors in the project, including Japanese utilities, but little progress has been made amid concerns that costs will further swell, they said.

Hitachi also remains at odds with the British government over the purchase price of electricity to be generated by the plant, a key factor in determining the project’s profitability for the company and potential investors.

Given the current turmoil in British politics over May’s proposed deal with the European Union on the United Kingdom’s departure from the bloc, price-setting talks are at a “deadlock,” a senior Hitachi official said.

December 18, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, UK | 1 Comment

Cost of Chinese-designed and largely Chinese-owned nuclear reactor for Bradwell UK will probably blow out hugely

Dave Toke’s Blog 16th Dec 2018 The UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has requested a long series of safety improvements to the proposed design of the Chinese HPR1000 (‘Hualong’) reactor proposed to be built at Bradwell in Essex. Previous experience suggests this could presage a big increase in costs for the plant which is likely to cost a lot more than similar plant built in China. The HPR100 design Bradwell, UKis based on one being built in China at by China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN). CGN will own around two-thirds of the project, with EDF owning the remaining share.
In a judgement issued last month the ONR rapped the CGN/EDF developers for the ‘slow’ development of the safety case and said that their ‘response revealed a number of potential shortfalls related to the status of the safety case planning and arrangements (including organisational)’. Most tellingly, the ONR has given the developers a large number of ‘follow-up’ points to which they need to adequately respond before they can be given the go ahead after the later stages in the ‘generic design assessment’ (GDA) process run by the ONR.
Although the ONR has stressed that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the developer’s proposals, the evidence is that the sheer extent of
‘follow up’ point materials must severely question any financial estimates of the plant’s costs that have been based on the plant being built in
This is the ‘Fanggchengang 3’ power plant being built in South China. This conclusion is based partly on the experience of the last GDA process which involved the approval of Hitachi’s ABWR plant which is earmarked for development in Wylfa. The construction of the Wylfa ABWR plant is now doubtful following reports that Hitachi cannot find investors.
This failure has been ascribed, at least in part, to extensive cost increases racked up as a result of safety improvements needed for the plant. The cost of building the plant increased by more than a third after the ONR’s GDA was completed in 2017.

December 18, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, China, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Hitachi calling on Britain to further subsidise new nuclear reactors for Wales

Hitachi to ask UK for further funding as nuclear project stalls

Company struggles to find other Japanese parties willing to invest  TAKAFUMI HOTTA and SHINICHIRO IBUSUKI, Nikkei staff writers, DECEMBER 18, 2018 

TOKYO — Hitachi will ask the British government for additional support for a nuclear power project in Wales as it struggles to recruit other Japanese investors amid international headwinds for atomic energy.

The company will consider scrapping the project, worth more than 3 trillion yen ($26.6 billion), should negotiations with London fail to reach a conclusion by January.

Aborting Japan’s last active proposal to build an overseas nuclear power plant would deal a blow to the government’s plan to expand exports of energy-related infrastructure, as similar projects face setbacks around the world.

“It is a fact that it is facing a difficult situation,” Hitachi Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi said at a news conference Monday. “I told the British government that we are already reaching the limit.”

Nakanishi was speaking in his capacity as chairman of the Japan Business Federation, the nation’s top business lobby, better known as Keidanren. The news conference was held after reports emerged that Hitachi is considering scrapping the project altogether due to the difficulty of securing funding from Japanese companies.

With aid from the British government, Hitachi’s nuclear power segment intends to build two reactors on the Welsh island of Anglesey through British subsidiary Horizon Nuclear Power. It was scheduled to make a decision on the project’s economic feasibility sometime in 2019 but will probably push that decision forward by more than six months as the business environment worsens.

Nuclear power is losing its competitiveness as the price of renewable energy falls. The U.K. government also plans to buy electricity from the Wales plant for lower prices than those charged by other nuclear power facilities.

The Japanese government has promoted overseas nuclear power plant construction as a pillar of its strategy to boost infrastructure exports. Since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, no new reactors have been approved inside Japan. To maintain nuclear expertise and talent, Japan’s public and private sectors have teamed up to sell the technology abroad.

But ground has not broken on any project to date. A Japanese public-private consortium led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is planning to scrap a nuclear power plant in Turkey, for instance. Should the nuclear industry lose its legs, it could affect the restating and decommissioning of existing plants.

Hitachi has said it will move forward with the project if it can limit its exposure by reducing its 100% stake in Horizon Nuclear to around 30%. The U.K. has pledged more than 2 trillion yen in loans for the project, with the remaining cost of about 900 billion yen to be split among investments from Hitachi, the British government and business as well as the Japanese government and businesses.

Lining up Japanese investors, however, has proved to be a challenge. Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings, also known as Tepco, is reluctant to provide funding. Chubu Electric Power and other Japanese companies probably will follow its lead. Without other investors on the horizon, Hitachi is asking the British to share more of the burden.

Aside from Tepco and Chubu Electric, Hitachi also solicited investments from Japan Atomic Power, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, the Development Bank of Japan and other parties. But the industrial conglomerate is having trouble gathering the necessary 300 billion yen.

The British government is no position to acquiesce to these demands. Having already pledged around $18 billion in loans, it risks backlash from the public by providing further financial support. Prime Minister Theresa May can ill afford another fight as her government risks collapse over negotiations to leave the European Union.

At a separate news conference held by Hitachi, Toshiaki Higashihara, the company’s president and CEO, did not attempt to downplay the situation. “Hitachi is a private company,” he said, “and there is a limit to how much risk it can take. If the project is not economically rational, it is possible that the project will be halted.”

Higashihara added that the final investment decision will be made by the end of 2019.

Hitachi Executive Vice President and Executive Officer Toshikazu Nishino also spoke, saying the company “has not given up yet,” though it recognizes “the negotiations are not easy.”

December 18, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CFTPP) held over Taiwan , because of its referendum rejecting food from Fukushima


I T IS UNSURPRISING that Taiwan will not be admitted to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CFTPP) because of the referendum vote against food imports from Fukushima-affected areas held in late November concurrent with nine-in-one elections. Namely, the issue of food imports is one upon which Taiwan has long been pushed around by larger, more powerful countries, who dangle the threat of being denied admittance to international free trade agreements if Taiwan does not allow food imports.

The Abe administration has in the past made allowing food imports from Fukushima-affected areas a condition for stronger diplomatic relations with Japan. This would be part of a more general effort by the Abe administration to promote the prefecture of Fukushima as safe, with concerns that lingering radiation may still cause harmful effects in the region after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The Abe administration has thus attempted to promote food exports from the area, as well as to encourage tourism to the area.

Concerns over whether food from Fukushima is safe are valid, seeing as this is an issue of contention in Japan itself. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is deeply wedded to the Japanese nuclear industry, with an unusual willingness to push for nuclear energy in spite of outbreaks of large-scale public protest. Concerns have also been longstanding that the LDP has been unwilling to provide accurate nuclear assessments for the Fukushima area, or sought to mislead through official statistics.

After the results of the referendum in late November, in which 7,791,856 voted against allowing food imports from Fukushima, the Japanese government initially expressed understanding regarding the results of the referendum, suggesting that not allowing food imports from Fukushima would not be an obstacle for Japan-Taiwan relations going forward. However, this appears to have not entirely been the truth.

Indeed, as the KMT was a powerful force behind the push for the referendum, it is likely that the KMT sought to use the issue of food imports from Fukushima-affected areas as a means to not only to attack the DPP with the accusation that it was endangering public safety but also sabotage closer relations between Japan and Taiwan. Apart from that the KMT’s Chinese nationalism has a strong anti-Japanese element, the KMT is pro-unification and so opposes closer ties between Japan and Taiwan, seeing as Japan could be a powerful regional ally that interceded on behalf of Taiwan against Chinese incursion.

The CFTPP is a regional free trade agreement that is the form that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) took on after America withdrew from the trade agreement under Donald Trump. Despite the fact that the TPP was orchestrated under American auspices as a means to counter growing Chinese influence in the Asia-Pacific region, the Trump administration favored protectionism instead of free trade, seeing free trade as overextending American resources rather than expanding its economic reach.

Japan subsequently became the dominant power among former TPP signatories, continuing to push for the agreement because it was still beneficial to Asia-Pacific nations to economically integrate as a regional bloc against the threat of China.

This would not be the first time that food imports have been used as a condition of Taiwan’s admittance to or denial from the TPP framework. America previously made allowing American beef imports into Taiwan to be a condition of Taiwan’s possibly entering into the TPP, seeing as there were in concerns in Taiwan that the use of the hormone ractopamine—banned in most of the world’s countries but not in America—was unsafe. This, too, was a valid concern regarding food safety, but the KMT was interested in the issue because it hoped to use this as a wedge issue to sabotage relations between Taiwan and the US.

Now that Japan is the primary driving force behind the CFTPP, as the renewed version of the TPP, food imports from Fukushima-affected areas have taken priority as the issue which would determine Taiwan’s admittance or non-admittance to the CFTPP. As free trade agreements are more generally a way for large, powerful countries to coerce smaller, weaker countries into relations of economic subordination, this would be nothing surprising.

More generally, free trade agreements have also long been held over the heads of Taiwanese voters in order to influence how they vote, as observed in the examples of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement or the Cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement under the Ma administration. But in light of the issue of food imports from Fukushima-affected areas being a contested issue in Taiwan, it remains to be seen whether the CFTPP will become a significant wedge issue in Taiwanese politics going forward.

December 18, 2018 Posted by | Japan, politics international, Taiwan | Leave a comment

High Iodine distribution, low intake among children after Fukushima nuclear accident    Despite a high distribution rate of stable iodine after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, only 63.5% of parents reported children took the tablets, with many citing safety concerns in questionnaires, according to findings published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism.

The intake of stable iodine after a nuclear emergency is a key strategy for preventing childhood thyroid cancer, along with evacuation and other measures, Yoshitaka Nishikawa, MD, a physician and medical researcher in the department of internal medicine at Hirata Central Hospital in Fukushima, Japan, and colleagues wrote in the study background. The timing of iodine administration is optimally between 24 hours before and up to 2 hours after the expected onset of exposure, they noted; however, iodine is still reasonably effective when taken up to 8 hours later. To date, there is limited information about the acceptability and feasibility of implementation of iodine distribution in actual cases, they wrote.

“To prepare for future nuclear emergencies, investigations of the operational issues in an actual case are needed,” the researchers wrote.

In a retrospective, observational study, Nishikawa and colleagues analyzed data from 961 children from Miharu, a town in Fukushima prefecture, who underwent biennial thyroid screenings at Hirata Central Hospital between August and November 2017 (median age at time of accident, 5 years). In addition to the Fukushima Health Management Survey, Miharu has continued thyroid screenings for all primary and secondary school students.

In Miharu, health care professionals distributed stable iodine to 3,134 households (94.9% distribution rate) after explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant caused by the 2011 earthquake in eastern Japan, along with instructions provided by the local government. Screening and questionnaire records included age of participants at the time of the nuclear accident, sex, region of residence before the accident, whether the participant was evacuated, whether the child and parents took stable iodine orally after the accident and dietary habits, including iodine intake. Researchers used logistic regression models to identify factors associated with stable iodine intake.

Within the cohort, 610 children (63.5%) had taken stable iodine, according to questionnaire data.

Researchers found that children were more likely to take stable iodine provided after the accident if their parents took stable iodine (OR = 61; 95% CI, 37.9-102.9). Compared with preschool and school-aged children, infants (aged 2 years or younger) were less likely to take stable iodine (OR = 0.21; 95% CI, 0.11-0.36).

In assessing questionnaire data from parents who reported children did not take stable iodine (n = 351), concern about safety was the most frequent reason provided (n = 164; 46.2%), followed by evacuation to other areas, no national or prefectural instruction and iodine not being delivered.

“Qualitative analysis revealed that concern about safety was the major reason for avoiding intake,” the researchers wrote. “Other issues related to distribution methods, information about the effects and adverse events and instruction about intake. In future nuclear disasters, it would be important to explain to both children and parents the effects and adverse effects of iodine intake and to provide detailed instructions about the intake of iodine by infants.” – by Regina Schaffer

DisclosuresThe authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

December 18, 2018 Posted by | children, Japan, Reference | Leave a comment