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The Julian Assange Hearings: National Security on Trial and Plan to Spy on Assange — Rise Up Times

After hearing four weeks of evidence in the extradition trial of Julian Assange, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser announced on Thursday she will pronounce judgement on January 4.

The Julian Assange Hearings: National Security on Trial and Plan to Spy on Assange — Rise Up Times

October 2, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New START: Arms Control or Arms Racing? — IPPNW peace and health blog

Largely held under the radar, the talks between the USA and Russia have been spectacularly unsuccessful so far. If they do not succeed, then the last bilateral arms control treaty New START will expire in February, going the same way as the INF Treaty before it and taking the last vestiges of our security with […]

New START: Arms Control or Arms Racing? — IPPNW peace and health blog

October 2, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Court rules Fukushima nuclear disaster preventable, increases liabilities

Fukushima nuclear disaster preventable, court rules, with more damages claims likely

Government and company Tepco ordered to pay some damages for 2011 event, but ruling could spur further claims

Plaintiffs and their supporters march in Japan ahead of the court ruling in Sendai on the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster on Wednesday.

Oct 1, 2020

A Japanese court has found the government and Tepco, the operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, negligent for failing to take measures to prevent the 2011 nuclear disaster, and ordered them to pay 1bn yen ($9.5m) in damages to thousands of residents for their lost livelihoods.

The ruling on Wednesday by Sendai high court could open up the government to further damage claims because thousands of other residents evacuated as reactors at the coastal power station overheated and released a radioactive cloud, following the devastating tsunami. While some people have returned home, areas close to the plant are still off limits.

The plaintiffs had sought monthly compensation of about 50,000 yen ($470) per person until radiation levels subside to pre-disaster levels, seeking a total of 28bn yen ($265m).

The plaintiffs’ head lawyer, Izutaro Managi, hailed the ruling as a major victory, saying: “We ask the government to extend relief measures as soon as possible, not only for the plaintiffs but for all victims based on the damage they suffered.”

The latest ruling follows 13 lower court decisions, which were divided over government responsibility in the disaster. The latest ruling doubles the amount of damages against Tepco ordered by a lower court in 2017

In 2011, 3,550 plaintiffs were forced to flee their homes after a magnitude-9 earthquake triggered a tsunami that devastated the country’s north-east and crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant, known as the triple disaster.

Decommissioning work is underway at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, north-eastern Japan.

Radiation that spewed from the plant’s melted reactors contaminated the surrounding areas, forcing about 160,000 residents to evacuate at one point. More than 50,000 are still displaced because of lingering safety concerns. The plant is being decommissioned, a process expected to take decades.

The court said that the government could have taken measures to protect the site, based on expert assessments available in 2002 that indicated the possibility of a tsunami of more than 15 metres, reported public broadcaster NHK, which aired footage of the plaintiffs celebrating outside the court after the ruling.

The government has yet to say whether it will appeal in the supreme court against the decision. “We will consider the ruling and take appropriate action,” chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato said after the ruling.

Officials at Tepco were unavailable when Reuters tried to reach them outside regular business hours.

In court, the government argued it was impossible to predict the tsunami or prevent the subsequent disaster. Tepco said it had fulfilled its compensation responsibility under government guidelines.

Plaintiffs said the ruling brought some justice, but that their lives could never return to normal and their struggle was far from over.

“For more than nine years, I have planted seeds on the contaminated soil and grown vegetables, always worrying about the effects of radiation,” plaintiff Kazuya Tarukawa, a farmer from Sukagawa in Fukushima, said at a meeting after the ruling. “Our contaminated land will never be the same.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/01/fukushima-nuclear-disaster-preventable-court-rules-with-more-damages-claims-likely?fbclid=IwAR36150Www7rdCRHKktTAwu57KZ3tOYGqCCm5pczYANUxAnF3aLgvQq7ngs

Court increases state liability, compensation for nuclear disaster

Plaintiffs hold up signs in front of the Sendai High Court on Sept. 30 stating victory in their lawsuit against the central government and Tokyo Electric Power Co.

October 1, 2020

SENDAI—A high court here on Sept. 30 more than doubled the amount of compensation awarded to victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and issued a scathing critique against the central government for its inaction.

The Sendai High Court found the central government equally at fault as plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. for failing to take anti-tsunami measures and ordered the defendants to pay a total of about 1.01 billion yen ($9.6 million) to around 3,550 evacuees and residents living in Fukushima Prefecture and elsewhere.

It was the first high court ruling in various lawsuits seeking compensation from TEPCO and the central government for the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant caused by a quake-triggered tsunami in March 2011.

In October 2017, the Fukushima District Court ordered the defendants to pay about 500 million yen to about 2,900 evacuees. That decision was appealed to the Sendai High Court, which increased both the compensation amount and the number of recipients.

“We won a total victory over the central government and TEPCO,” Izutaro Managi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said. “The effect on the various lawsuits to be decided in the future will be huge.”

A major point of contention in the case was a long-term assessment of the probability of major earthquakes released by the science ministry’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion in 2002. The report pointed out that Fukushima Prefecture could be hit by a major tsunami.

The high court found the assessment to be a “scientific finding that had a considerable level of objective and rational basis,” making it an important perspective that differed greatly from various views presented by individual scholars or private-sector organizations.

The court ruled that if the economy minister at the time had immediately ordered TEPCO to calculate the height of a possible tsunami, a forecast could have been made of the likelihood of a tsunami striking the nuclear plant.

But the ruling said, “The regulatory authority did not fulfill the role that was expected of it” and that “not exercising regulatory powers was a violation of the law regarding state compensation.”

The Fukushima District Court found that the central government only had a secondary responsibility to oversee the utility.

The high court, however, ruled that the government had the same level of responsibility. It said both the central government and TEPCO avoided making tsunami calculations because they feared the effects that would arise if the urgent measures were taken.

The high court ruling also expanded the range of plaintiffs who could receive compensation to people living in the Aizu district of Fukushima Prefecture as well as Miyagi and Tochigi prefectures where evacuation orders were not issued.

Experts said the high court ruling is a game-changer because of the positive assessment given to the long-term evaluation about possible tsunami.

Other district courts have ruled that the central government was not responsible because even if it had ordered measures to be taken, there would not have been enough time to complete such steps to prevent damage from the tsunami.

“Plaintiffs in the other lawsuits have provided testimony at a similar level so this could turn the tide in the recent trend of plaintiffs losing their cases,” said Masafumi Yokemoto, a professor of environmental policy at Osaka City University who is knowledgeable about nuclear plant issues.

Yotaro Hatamura, a professor emeritus of engineering at the University of Tokyo who headed the government panel that investigated the Fukushima nuclear accident, said, “This was an unprecedented ruling that pointed out in a rational manner the stance of both the central government and TEPCO of not looking at data that they did not want to see.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at his Sept. 30 news conference that the central government would carefully go over the court ruling before making a decision on whether to appeal.

TEPCO also issued a statement with similar wording.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13777556?fbclid=IwAR36TBfK7X8gdO1FuWLG0rLq0XhEN3hofWwWufZ1bjHuPk3CJcUvXu1WCOM

October 2, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | 2 Comments

Japanese Government Is Ordered to Pay Damages Over Fukushima Disaster

The Sendai High Court said the state and the plant’s operator must pay $9.5 million to survivors of the 2011 nuclear accident. They have until mid-October to appeal to the country’s Supreme Court.

A damaged reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan in 2011.

September 30, 2020

TOKYO — A high court in Japan on Wednesday became the first at that level to hold the government responsible for the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, saying in a ruling that the state and the plant’s operator must pay about $9.5 million in damages to survivors.

The overpowering earthquake and tsunami that ripped through northern Japan in March 2011 caused a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, leading to the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

Under Wednesday’s ruling by the Sendai High Court, the government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company, known as Tepco, must compensate 3,550 plaintiffs, the Kyodo news agency reported. The plaintiffs had sought monthly compensation payments of about $475 per person until radiation at their homes returns to pre-crisis levels.

In 2017, a lower court had ordered the government and Tepco to pay about half that amount to about 2,900 plaintiffs. But the ruling by Sendai’s high court, one of eight such courts in Japan, is significant because it could set a legal precedent for dozens of similar lawsuits that have been filed across the country.

The government has long argued that it could not have prevented the tsunami or the nuclear accident, while Tepco says it has already paid any compensation that was ordered by the government. Last year, a Japanese court acquitted three former Tepco executives who had been accused of criminal negligence over their roles in the accident.

Hiroshi Kikuchi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, called Wednesday’s decision “groundbreaking.”

“The court carefully collected facts for this judgment,” Mr. Kikuchi said at a news conference. “We feel now it will largely impact on other actions nationwide.”

Workers removing the top soil from a garden in Naraha, inside Fukushima’s evacuation zone, in 2013.

Izutaro Managi, another lawyer on the team, said in a brief interview that if the government and Tokyo Electric Power appeal the decision, he expects it to go to the country’s Supreme Court. The deadline for filing that appeal is Oct. 14.

Tepco said in a statement on Wednesday that it would examine the judgment before responding to it.

“We again apologize from our heart for giving troubles and concerns to people in Fukushima as well as in the society largely caused by our nuclear power plant’s accident,” the statement said.

Toyoshi Fuketa, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, an agency that was created after the Fukushima accident, said on Wednesday that he would not comment until the details of the judgment were released.

“The Nuclear Regulation Authority was set up based on reflection over, and anger against, the nuclear accident in Fukushima,” Mr. Fuketa added. “I would like to advance strict rules on nuclear power so that a nuclear accident will never happen again.”

Takashi Nakajima, one of the plaintiffs in the case, told reporters that the ruling was a reminder that the consequences of the Fukushima disaster were still real, even if many people in Japan were starting to forget about it.

“Some people say that I’m damaging Fukushima’s reputation,” Mr. Nakajima said. “But now I think we are encouraged by the court to say what we think.”

Another plaintiff, Kazuya Tarukawa, said in a tearful statement that he had been tilling contaminated soil in the area for nearly a decade, and waiting for the government and the plant’s operator to take responsibility.

He said the money was beside the point, and that the ruling raised a larger question about the long-term risks of nuclear energy.

“What will come of Japan if there is another nuclear disaster like that?” he asked.

A roadblock in a contaminated area northwest of the nuclear plant in 2013.

October 2, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Sendai court upholds ruling that state and Tepco must pay Fukushima evacuees

A group of plaintiffs demanding compensation for the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster rally in Sendai on Wednesday prior to the high court’s ruling that held the state and Tepco responsible.

September 30, 2020

Sendai – The Sendai High Court on Wednesday ordered the state and the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to pay ¥1 billion ($9.5 million) in damages to residents over the 2011 earthquake- and tsunami-triggered disaster.

It was the first time a high court has acknowledged the state’s responsibility for the incident in about 30 similar lawsuits filed nationwide.

The Sendai court told the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to pay about ¥1.01 billion to 3,550 out of some 3,650 plaintiffs, up from the sum of ¥500 million that a lower court ordered them to pay to around 2,900 plaintiffs in an October 2017 ruling.

In line with the 2017 ruling by the Fukushima District Court, the high court made its decision based on three points in dispute, including whether a major tsunami could have been foreseen.

The two other points were whether countermeasures could have been implemented to prevent a disaster, and whether the compensation levels outlined by the government were sufficient.

The plaintiffs had sought monthly compensation payments of around ¥50,000 per person until radiation at their residences returns to the pre-crisis level, bringing their total final demand to approximately ¥28 billion.

The state, meanwhile, argued it was impossible to predict the tsunami and prevent the subsequent disaster. Tepco claimed it had already paid compensation in accordance with government guidelines.

In the district court ruling, the government and Tepco were both blamed for failing to take steps to counter the huge tsunami.

It ruled that the two should have been able to foresee the risks of a maximum 15.7-meter-high wave, based on a quake assessment issued in 2002, and that the disaster could have been prevented if the state had instructed the operator to implement measures that year.

The magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck Tohoku on March 11, 2011, causing multiple meltdowns and hydrogen blasts at the nuclear power plant.

Around 55,000 people remained evacuated both within and outside Fukushima Prefecture as of the end of August.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority issued a comment that said, “We will consider appropriate ways to respond while closely examining the ruling and consulting with relevant authorities.”

Tepco said in a statement, “We deeply apologize again for causing great trouble and worries to the people of Fukushima Prefecture and the whole of society because of the nuclear power plant accident. We will closely examine the ruling by the Sendai High Court and consider ways to respond.”

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/09/30/national/crime-legal/sendai-court-tepco-fukushima-evacuees/

October 2, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO: 11m seawall completed at Fukushima plant

September 29, 2020

The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it has completed an 11-meter-high seawall to protect the facility from tsunami waves.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, erected the barrier based on a government panel warning three years ago. It said that a mega-quake along the Chishima Trench, beneath the sea near northern Japan, could cause a tsunami to hit the compound.

TEPCO announced that a 1.7-meter-high concrete wall was built atop elevated ground stretching 600 meters on the sea side of the No.1 to No.4 reactors.

The firm says the barrier stands 11 meters above sea level and it was completed on Friday.

TEPCO next plans to build another seawall measuring up to 16 meters high, based on a new projection made by a government panel in April.

The projection says if a mega-quake were to occur along the Japan Trench off the northeastern coast, a tsunami could be higher than the newly-built seawalls.

TEPCO says it aims to complete the taller seawall by fiscal 2023.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200929_11/?fbclid=IwAR3uKs4W2maNQiasfnFMKbXItn3x_r1irLsCDEwnD5EepYSdTSUwKe1-RxE

October 2, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

In Rural Fukushima, ‘The Border Between Monkeys And Humans Has Blurred’

Shuichi Kanno, 79, walks in front of his home at dusk. Kanno has been dealing with hordes of macaque monkeys in his neighborhood in Japan. They frequently wake him up as they climb over his roof in the early morning hours.

September 10, 2020

Shuichi Kanno rips tape off the top of a large cardboard box at his house in the mountains in Fukushima prefecture in Japan. He opens the box and rustles around to pull out pack after pack of long, thin Roman candle fireworks. The words “Animal Exterminating Firework” are written in Japanese on the side of each canister.

Kanno has been battling hordes of macaque monkeys that have encroached upon his neighborhood in a rural area of Minamisoma. These fireworks are his main deterrent — not to cause the monkeys any physical harm, but to scare them away with a loud bang. That is, until they regain their confidence and come back a few days later, which they do like clockwork, Kanno says.

Kanno stacks fireworks on his coffee table to distribute to neighbors. The fireworks make a loud noise meant to scare, not injure, the monkeys.

“In the early morning while I’m sleeping, just when I’m about to wake up, I hear the noise,” the 79-year-old says in Japanese as he stacks the fireworks on his living room table. “The sound of the monkeys running around on the roof, getting into the gardens, eating all my food. I have to fight them.”

Hundreds of thousands of people evacuated this area nine years ago, fleeing plumes of radioactive material after three reactors exploded at the Daiichi nuclear power plant, one of the most serious nuclear disasters in history. Whole towns and neighborhoods like Kanno’s were left empty of human life for years — and, much like Chernobyl, nature started to reclaim the space. Plants poke through sidewalks and buildings, while wild boar, raccoons and foxes roam the streets. But in recent years, many evacuation orders have lifted and people have started to return, meaning humans and animals are having to figure out new ways to coexist — or not.

A macaque monkey in a tree in Fukushima prefecture. After the 2011 nuclear disaster, towns and neighborhoods in Fukushima were left devoid of humans for years, and nature started to reclaim the space.

“The monkeys never used to come here, but after the disaster, the border between monkeys and humans has blurred,” Kanno explains. “The houses were empty, but the gardens were still growing — plums, pears, chestnuts, persimmons. It was a wonderland for monkeys, an all-you-can-eat buffet. And they remembered that.”

His neighborhood is on the very edge of the evacuation area, relatively far from Daiichi. People stayed away for only a few years, but by the time they came back, the monkeys had become comfortable. And, Kanno points out, half the houses are still empty and only older people came back. They just don’t have the numbers they need to win the battle against the monkeys without backup.

From left: Shuichi Kanno, Shigeko Hoshino, Hiroyuki Shima and Hachiro Endo are neighbors who moved back to Fukushima after the nuclear disaster and who get regular visits from monkeys that eat fruits and vegetables from their gardens.

That is where the fireworks come in, subsidized by the local government after residents complained. The governments here have provided several different kinds of tools, such as wild boar traps and electric fences for farmers, to help communities with animal problems.

Yuriko Kanno, 75, Shuichi’s wife, comes into the living room, looks at the pile of fireworks and laughs. “I’ve been worried that this village is going to become like that movie, the monkey planet one,” she says, referring to Planet of the Apes. “I’ve seen it — it could happen!”

She walks away giggling. Shuichi Kanno is laughing too. The monkeys are annoying, yes, but they’re also a source of entertainment for the aging residents, he concedes.

Yuriko Kanno, 75, is amused by the battle between her husband and the monkeys.

“Look, I think they’re cute. I would absolutely never hurt them,” he says. “None of this is their fault. It’s nuclear power’s fault. It’s the fault of humans.”

Shuichi Kanno is a leader in the neighborhood, and he’s in charge of distributing the fireworks to any of his neighbors who want them. The neighbors all have to sign an agreement saying they understand the dangers and — most importantly, he says — that they will not hurt any animals.

He loads the fireworks into the trunk of his car and drives down forest roads from house to house, dropping off packs of fireworks at every stop. As he drives, he points to all the natural beauty in the area. The nuclear disaster didn’t just change his relationship with monkeys, he says.

“I loved hiking, and foraging for wild vegetables, finding wild mushrooms. But now it’s so dangerous,” Kanno explains, referring to the high levels of radioactive cesium still present in the dense forests here. “We can’t have a relationship with nature anymore. It’s gone.”

Kanno drives his truck down a main road in his neighborhood, chasing monkeys that he saw scampering around his house not long ago.

He pulls up to the house of Hachiro Endo, 77, whose family has been in the area for generations. The home has a beautiful garden in front and long strands of drying persimmons hanging in the garage.

Endo is delighted by the delivery. He has gone through his entire stockpile protecting his garden. “I’m alert all the time,” Endo sighs. “The monkeys, they’ve taken over my life.”

He says he remembers a time when he was little and his grandfather tried to lure the monkeys down from the mountains into the village, hoping to boost tourism to the area by becoming a monkey town. He was never successful — the macaques were too afraid of humans to come down and stay.

“If only he could see it now,” he says with a laugh.

A troop of monkeys scampers across a road in Fukushima prefecture.

A few days later, Kanno is out on monkey patrol. He has just seen a troop of monkeys running from his house out into the neighborhood. He’s wearing knee-high rubber boots, a bright orange jacket and a baseball cap while clutching a firework in one hand and the steering wheel of his pickup truck in the other.

He drives slowly, leaning forward to scan the hills as he goes. And then suddenly, he slams on his brakes.

“There they are!” he shouts, pointing behind a shed. Dozens of monkeys are jumping toward the forest, scrambling up trees and crawling up the hillside.

He jumps out of the truck and pulls the firework from underneath his jacket, loading it onto a kind of stick so he can hold it far away. He lights the fuse and smiles, pointing it toward the hill.

Kanno grins after shooting off a firework to scare off monkeys that were roaming through the neighborhood.

Three loud booms echo through the trees. The monkeys scatter. Kanno bursts into a grin, giggling. Then he runs to every house nearby, making sure his neighbors know that he just saved their gardens from almost certain devastation.

“They won’t be back tomorrow!” Kanno calls, waving the spent firework, giddy with excitement. “I won today!”

But even as he says that he loads a fresh firework and tucks it into his coat. The monkeys will be back, and the battle will continue.

October 2, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment