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Japan, China talks over food import ban not held for over 1 year

But China did not agree to hold panel talks when Japan in November 2021 called for them, in an apparent protest at Japan’s decision in April that year to release treated radioactive water from the crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima into the sea.

File photo shows then Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (front R) meeting with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi (opposite) in Tokyo in November 2020.

May 15, 2022

Talks between Japan and China over Beijing’s import ban on Japanese food products have not been held for over a year, sources familiar with bilateral relations told Kyodo News recently.

As China has not responded to Japan’s request for resuming the talks amid soured bilateral ties, it is uncertain when the ban will be lifted, with the deadlock possibly to affect discussions on China’s accession to a major Pacific free trade deal, the sources said.

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, Beijing banned imports of food products from Fukushima and several other prefectures over the risks of radioactive contamination. Japan has been asking China to hold a third meeting of a panel they established to discuss lifting the ban, the sources said.

Foreign ministers of the two countries agreed in November 2020 to set up the panel as Tokyo aimed to expand sales of Japanese food in the Chinese market, and Beijing, which has been at odds with the United States, hoped to improve ties with Japan.

Officials on the panel met in virtual meetings held in December 2020 and February 2021, according to the sources.

But China did not agree to hold panel talks when Japan in November 2021 called for them, in an apparent protest at Japan’s decision in April that year to release treated radioactive water from the crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima into the sea.

Bilateral relations further deteriorated as Chinese authorities detained a Japanese diplomat in Beijing temporarily in February this year for allegedly collecting information illegally.

China has banned imports of all food products from Fukushima and eight neighboring prefectures as well as food products except rice from Niigata Prefecture.

In September last year, Beijing applied to join the trade deal formally known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The trade agreement requires member countries not to unfairly restrict food imports. A Japanese government source said a positive mood for China’s accession to the deal cannot be created in Japan unless the issue of the import ban is resolved.

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/05/faca8be23a97-japan-china-talks-over-food-import-ban-not-held-for-over-1-year.html

May 15, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Citizens’ Group Urges TEPCO to Halt Construction Work to Discharge Treated Water from Nuclear Power Plants into Ocean, “Causing Further Burden and Suffering

Chiyo Oda hands a letter of request to Seiichi Iguchi, director of TEPCO’s Nuclear Energy Center (right), in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on March 13.

May 13, 2022
On May 13, the “Don’t Pollute the Sea Anymore! Citizens’ Council” formed by residents of Fukushima prefecture asked TEPCO on March 13 to refrain from constructing facilities for the ocean discharge.
 Chiyo Oda, 67, co-chairperson of the Citizens’ Council, and others handed a written request to Seiichi Iguchi, director of TEPCO’s Nuclear Energy Center, at a building near TEPCO’s headquarters in Uchisaiwaicho, Tokyo.
 Mr. Oda said, “Many people in Fukushima Prefecture are distrustful of the way TEPCO is sacrificing reconstruction by proceeding with preparations such as undersea construction and prioritizing decommissioning,” and pointed out that the ocean discharge “will impose additional burden and suffering on the victims and is unacceptable. He also criticized TEPCO’s 2015 promise to the Fukushima Prefectural Fisheries Federation that it would not discharge treated water into the ocean without the understanding of all concerned parties, saying, “If TEPCO does not keep its promise and forces the discharge, it will leave a huge mark on the future. The citizens’ meeting protested in front of the TEPCO headquarters.
 In addition to protesting in front of TEPCO’s headquarters, the citizens’ group also asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission not to approve the discharge facilities.
 Construction of undersea tunnels and other discharge facilities requires the prior approval of Fukushima Prefecture and the towns of Okuma and Futaba, which are the municipalities where the plant is located, after approval by the Nuclear Regulation Commission. However, TEPCO has partially proceeded with the construction of the tunnel, claiming that excavation of the ground is not subject to prior approval, and has installed a shield machine to dig the tunnel at the launch site, making it ready to start construction at any time. (The construction of the tunnel is ready to start at any time.)
https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/177194?fbclid=IwAR201TgVHRidyK-AQfe1ixMrV-JQX5dl6YrfuliIQ2VaWoSwuixjEXHGzZA

May 15, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Evacuation order may be lifted in part of Fukushima ‘difficult-to-return’ zone

May 13, 2022

Officials in Japan plan to lift an evacuation order for part of the area designated as a “difficult-to-return” zone in Fukushima Prefecture due to high radiation levels from the 2011 nuclear accident.

An evacuation order remains in place for the Noyuki district, which covers about 20 percent of Katsurao Village.

Authorities aim to lift the order in about six percent of the district, which has received preferential treatment for decontamination work and infrastructure projects.

Sources say a briefing for residents about the result of the rebuilding work is scheduled for Sunday, after a delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The sources say officials from the central and prefectural governments and the village are making arrangements to lift the order on June 5 at the earliest.

It would be the first case in which people will be able to return to their homes in a “difficult-to-return” zone. Katsurao Village officials say eight people from four households are hoping to return to the area.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220513_30/

May 15, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Interview: Opposition mounts to planned release of Fukushima water into Pacific, says British expert

Professor David Copplestone on the left

Xinhua, May 13, 2022

LONDON, May 12 (Xinhua) — A leading British nuclear industry expert has called for a detailed consultation over the Japanese government’s plans to release more than a million tonnes of contaminated water from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station into the Pacific Ocean.

The concerns “should be listened to and should be considered and discussed with those who are raising those concerns,” Professor David Copplestone, a renowned expert in environmental radioactivity at the University of Stirling in the United Kingdom, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

In April last year, the government of Japan decided to release about 1.25 million tonnes of waste water into the ocean in 30 years starting in 2023. The contaminated water contains radioactive cesium, strontium, tritium and other radioactive substances.

The move drew the ire of local fishermen. Opposition parties, including the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP) of Japan, also criticized the plan and demanded its withdrawal.

“There have been impacts on the fishing industry related to the incident back in 2011,” said Copplestone, who has visited Fukushima and has undertaken extensive research worldwide with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In his opinion, “there are reputational, social and economic impacts that have occurred primarily because, quite often, people become fearful of consuming fish from these areas that may be contaminated.”

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture in Japan. An ensuing tsunami engulfed the Fukushima Daiichi plant, causing core meltdowns in three of the units and leading to the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

Eleven years after this disaster, the aftermath of the meltdown, along with the large amount of contaminated water, continue to cause headaches to Japan and the rest of the world.

Japan has claimed that the contaminated water could be diluted and discharged, but several local and international green activists have said that the claim repeatedly proved wrong as the purification equipment cannot eliminate radioactive materials completely.

“One of the main concerns here is the presence of tritium, which is a hydrogen element that is radioactive as an isotope. It is very difficult to separate it from the contaminated water,” Copplestone said.

“If we want to dispose of that water, we have to think about ways to first get rid of the radionuclides in that water — if at all this is possible. Unfortunately, it is not possible to remove tritium from that water,” he noted.

According to Copplestone, “this is about holding a really open dialogue to educate people about the consequences of the planned release.”

“It’s really important for the Japanese government to engage in dialogue with those voicing their concerns, and to listen to those concerns,” he said.

http://www.china.org.cn/world/Off_the_Wire/2022-05/13/content_78215480.htm

May 15, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Payouts for nuclear disaster in urgent need of revamp

The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant

May 12, 2022

The government’s committee overseeing compensation for victims of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has begun considering whether existing guidelines for payouts should be revised upward.

Established in the aftermath of the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the guidelines have long been denounced as woefully inadequate in light of the impact of the unprecedented accident. The committee’s decision comes far too late. Many victims are now advanced in years and there is no time to waste in revamping the guidelines.

The criteria for amounts to be paid out were drawn up in August 2011 by the government’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation as “interim guidelines.” To expedite payments, the panel set general rules concerning eligibility based on categories of damages.

The guidelines, last reviewed in December 2013, are supposed to indicate minimum amounts of compensation for different types of damages. The utility is supposed to determine the actual sums to be paid after considering the special circumstances of individual victims.

Thirty or so group lawsuits have been filed by victims asserting that estimates of damages based on this method were insufficient. The plaintiffs are also seeking to hold the government liable for damages.

More than 10,000 people are involved in these legal actions. A series of rulings by district and high courts since 2017 granted higher damages to the plaintiffs than the estimates based on the guidelines. Seven of the rulings against plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. were finalized by the Supreme Court this spring.

The cases deal with different issues. Some supported the argument that all plaintiffs in a certain area should be compensated for mental stress due to their “loss of homes,” meaning they were deprived of their livelihoods and community life. These rulings represent judicial recognition of certain kinds of damages common to many local residents that are not covered by the guidelines. The guidelines should at least be changed to address these issues. Fukushima Prefecture and other local administrative authorities have urged the central government to review the criteria based on the court decisions.

In a belated move, the committee decided to analyze the rulings and identify types of damages not covered by the guidelines. This is a necessary process, but more needs to be done. The panel should confront the diverse and complicated realities resulting from years of living in forced evacuation.

Many victims have not filed lawsuits despite their unhappiness with damage payments offered by TEPCO. The plaintiffs of the rulings contend that the amounts granted by the courts are still insufficient. The committee should listen to the opinions of the victims and local administrations involved and examine a broad range of cases. It should not hesitate to make necessary adjustments to the guidelines in line with the realities.

This problem is an acid test for TEPCO’s commitment to supporting victims of the disaster. The company has consistently refused to pay compensation beyond the amounts based on the guidelines in both class action lawsuits and in mediations by a government dispute-settlement body. It has apparently decided to wait for the committee’s decision. As the company responsible for the disastrous accident, TEPCO’s stance toward the issue raises serious doubt about its awareness of its obligation to make genuine efforts to provide relief to victims.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which is effectively the primary shareholder of the utility under state control, must instruct the company to address the problem with sincerity.

The central government and TEPCO should not forget that they bear the grave responsibility to make all possible efforts to fully compensate victims for damages caused by the nuclear disaster.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14619116

May 15, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Review the standards for compensation for nuclear accidents based on the reality of the situation

Plaintiffs march in front of the High Court decision on the nuclear power plant evacuation lawsuit.

May 12, 2022
A government panel has begun to consider whether to review the guidelines for compensation for damages caused by the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The guidelines were created immediately after the accident, and their inadequacies have been repeatedly pointed out since then. It must be said that it is too late. Many of the victims are elderly, and the revision of the guidelines needs to be hastened.

 In August 2011, the Nuclear Damage Dispute Review Panel compiled an interim guideline for compensation. The guidelines were last reviewed in December 2001, and the general framework has not changed since then. The TEPCO was supposed to determine the amount of compensation by taking into account the individual circumstances of each victim.

 However, about 30 class-action lawsuits have been filed against TEPCO based on this system, alleging that the company’s compensation is inadequate and questioning the responsibility of the government and other parties. Since 2005, the district and high courts have ordered the defendants to pay more than the calculated amount, and in seven of the cases, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of TEPCO this spring.

Although the content of the judgments differed from each other, there were several cases in which the court found that the plaintiffs in a certain area had suffered psychological damage due to the loss of their hometowns, which deprived them of their livelihood and local communities. It can be said that the judiciary recognized the existence of collective damages that the guidelines did not grasp. At the very least, it is essential to revise the guidelines in this area. Fukushima Prefecture and other local governments are also calling on the government to review the guidelines in light of the court decision.

 The Board of Inquiry has finally gotten around to analyzing the content of the court decisions and identifying the types of damages that are omitted from the guidelines. This is necessary work, but it is not the only thing that needs to be done. It is necessary to face the reality of the damage, which is becoming more diverse and complex due to the prolonged evacuation.

 Even if they were not satisfied with the amount of compensation TEPCO had awarded them, many of the victims did not take the matter to court. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit also claim that the amount awarded in the judgment is still inadequate. The Board should also listen to the opinions of the victims and local governments involved and scrutinize a wide range of cases. If there are parts of the guidelines that do not match the actual situation, the Board should not hesitate to revise them.

 TEPCO’s stance is also questionable. TEPCO has stubbornly refused to provide uniform compensation that exceeds the guidelines in class action lawsuits and in settlement mediation procedures conducted by government agencies. It is questionable whether TEPCO is aware of its responsibility as the company that caused the tragic accident to take the initiative in seeking compensation. The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, which is in effect the major shareholder of TEPCO, is required to strictly instruct TEPCO to take a sincere approach.

 It must do everything in its power to make amends to the victims until they are fully compensated. We must not forget that this is the heavy responsibility placed on the government and TEPCO.

https://www.asahi.com/articles/DA3S15291024.html?iref=pc_photo_gallery_bottom

May 15, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Efficacy unclear of problem-hit ice-soil wall at Fukushima plant

Pipes are set up around reactor buildings to form an ice wall in October 2016 at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

May 12, 2022

Technical flaws, ballooning costs and unconfirmed effectiveness have plagued the “ace card” in preventing groundwater from accumulating within the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. froze the soil to create an underground ice wall to divert the groundwater toward the ocean and away from the damaged reactor buildings where the liquid can become heavily contaminated with radioactive substances.

The 1.5-kilometer ice wall was completed in 2016 around the No. 1 to No. 4 reactor buildings of the nuclear plant. The ice barrier was initially expected to end its role in 2021, after steps were taken to prevent water leaks and plug holes at the reactor buildings.

Not only has the ice wall failed to work sufficiently, but huge amounts of public funds also continue to pour in annually for its maintenance.

“A frozen ground wall has advantages, such as a high ability to block water, but its maintenance requires huge sums,” said Kunio Watanabe, a professor of frozen soil studies at Mie University. “An easy-to-build underground ice wall was the only possible option in the early stages because of extremely high radiation readings around the reactor buildings.

“Now that it has been used for so many years, other approaches should also be weighed.”

TECHNICAL PROBLEMS, RISING SPENDING

TEPCO has used tanks to store contaminated water used to cool the melted nuclear fuel since the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami caused the triple meltdown at the plant.

But it is also storing the groundwater that keeps flowing in. Space for the water storage tanks at the nuclear plant is running out.

The ice wall was supposed to reduce the volume of contaminated water.

In October last year, TEPCO said the soil temperature was higher than 0 degrees in an area that should have been frozen. The temperature reportedly topped 0 in mid-September and increased to 13 degrees in November.

TEPCO said equipment to discharge rainwater accumulating in a different reactor building broke down. The rainwater there likely seeped into the ground and reached the spot with the temperature increase.

Steel sheets were inserted into the soil to stanch the groundwater flow.

A total of 1,568 cooling pipes extending 30 meters below the surface circulate a refrigerant of minus 30 degrees to freeze the soil.

However, 14 tons of the coolant leaked between January and February this year because of damaged pipes and slippage of rubber parts at their joints.

TEPCO located the leaks and replaced the pipes, but the coolant’s circulation was suspended during the procedure.

The barrier system was brought into operation using 34.5 billion yen ($268 million) in taxpayers’ money.

Since the soil must be kept frozen throughout the year, electricity charges and other expenses for cooling and circulating the refrigerant continue to grow.

Annual maintenance costs topped 1 billion yen immediately following the wall’s introduction, and hundreds of millions of yen are currently injected in the system each year.

UNCERTAIN VALIDITY

Despite all the fixes and expenses, the strategy’s effectiveness has yet to be verified.

TEPCO in March 2018 released an estimate arguing the frozen wall would prevent 95 tons of groundwater from entering the plant daily. That level would be half of the inflow with no underground barriers.

The prediction, however, was exclusively for winter months with less rainfall. It did not include torrential rain from typhoons that increase the amount of groundwater flowing into the reactor buildings.

TEPCO recently declined to comment on the ice wall’s effectiveness, saying it is “difficult to assess individual countermeasures because many steps are being implemented simultaneously.”

Frozen soil barriers are normally used for only several months in tunnel digging and other construction projects. There have been few large ice walls that have been operated for years.

The government and TEPCO originally planned to rely on the method “until March 2021, when countermeasures against water leaks at reactor buildings are finished.”

But they have not started on the anti-leakage process for the structures.

They do, however, plan to release treated water stored at the plant into the sea, a proposal that has been criticized by residents and the fishing industry.

Radioactive water increases by 150 tons a day at the Fukushima plant.

TEPCO set a goal of lowering the daily contaminated water rise to 100 tons or less by 2025. It described the “frozen soil wall as equipment essential for accomplishing the objective.”

TEPCO in December last year told the Nuclear Regulation Authority that it will continue to use the frozen wall system.

“We will consider the next step,” a TEPCO official said. “We are sorting out alternatives so a new approach will be realized in 2024 or 2025.”

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14605126?fbclid=IwAR3CJaz-u8n23Hpz0m8to-VNTB3xBUZKj9MuqB6M9-QKsXXSV1oo4LenWL8

May 15, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

Japanese govt. promotes regional ‘hot’ Sake from Fukushima & ‘hot’ beef from Iwate to Canada

May 11, 2022

The Japanese government has taken part in Canada’s largest food fair for the first time in 15 years. It’s part of an effort to raise food exports to 5 trillion yen, or nearly 40 billion dollars, by 2030.

The Restaurants Canada Show opened in Toronto on Monday. The three-day event features more than 500 booths showcasing cuisines from around the world.

The Japanese government teamed up with the Japan External Trade Organization to set up a booth.

They are serving up a range of regional specialties, including striped jack from Ehime, sake brewed in Fukushima, and premium beef from Iwate.

The booth is also holding live demonstrations, including a fish-cleaning show and a demonstration of an automatic rice-ball maker.

May 15, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

Semi-dried persimmon from Fukushima to the Emirates on sale in Dubai

I am not sure that the people in Dubai are well informed of the risk incurred….

Sweet Taste of Fukushima Winning Fans in Dubai

May 11, 2022

A local specialty from Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture is winning over the taste buds of people in the United Arab Emirates. The first-ever shipment of anpo-gaki, or semi-dried persimmon, from Fukushima to the Emirates has gone on sale in Dubai.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/videos/20220511161656569/?fbclid=IwAR1w5sxEyk_2qthmaZd6zowegZZX4LxCxs6wi2Dsjag1_fMxN-g2hHJHX4s

May 15, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

The current state of my hometown…” Residents of the Tsushima area measured radiation levels by themselves as evidence in court (Fukushima Prefecture)

May 10, 2022

Residents of the Tsushima area in the hard-to-return zone in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, have begun measuring radiation levels throughout the area in connection with a lawsuit against the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company.

On the first day of the trial, at 10:00 a.m. on October 10, approximately 10 residents gathered in the Tsushima area, which is in the difficult-to-return zone, to confirm the method and location of the measurements.

Measurements will be taken by dividing the entire Tsushima area into 28 sections of 2 km square, and installing dosimeters in each section. The dosimeters will be placed mainly in areas that have not been decontaminated, and many of these areas are covered with trees and grass.

According to the plaintiffs, this is believed to be the first time such measurements have been made in a class action lawsuit involving a nuclear accident.

Hidenori Konno, leader of the plaintiffs, said, “What we are appealing to the court of appeals is to ‘give back our hometown. In order to do so, we have to come up with concrete evidence of the situation in the Tsushima area…”

Hidenori Konno, the leader of the plaintiffs’ group, said at the meeting on April 4 that he intends to submit the results of the measurements as evidence in the trial.

Although a portion of the Tsushima area has been designated as a restoration site and is being decontaminated, the outlook for more than 90% of the other areas has yet to be determined.

Mr. Konno said, “At the very least, decontamination will restore the environment to near normalcy. In fact, the radiation dose has decreased so much after 12 years. We would like to use the data to prove that we can do it, especially in areas close to our homes.”

The installation work is scheduled to continue until the 15th, and the samples will be collected and analyzed three weeks later.

https://newsdig.tbs.co.jp/articles/tuf/42288?display=1

May 15, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment