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Richard Marles and Jonathan Mead babble on about nuclear submarines, (adding to the confusion)

Australia will have ‘unequivocal’ control over nuclear-powered submarines, insists chief adviser

‘When we take command of our first boat, we will have sovereign capability’, says Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead,

Daniel Hurst Guardian, 14 Feb 23,

The head of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine taskforce insists Australia will retain full operational control over the submarines, while potentially having US or British engineers on board to provide technical advice.

The comments follow renewed debate in recent weeks over whether the flagship project of the Aukus pact – which relies on support from the US and the UK – will lead to an erosion of Australian sovereignty.

The former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has been calling on the government to answer whether the submarines could be “operated, sustained and maintained by Australia without the support or supervision of the US navy”, and whether that effectively meant “sovereignty would be shared with the US”.

But the head of the taskforce advising the Australian government on the acquisition of at least eight submarines, Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead, used an interview with ABC TV on Monday evening to assert Australian control.

“When we take command of our first boat, we will have sovereign capability,” he told the 7.30 program.

“We will be commanding and controlling, under the Australian government direction, that nuclear-powered submarine.”…………………………….

Like the defence minister, Richard Marles, Mead expressed confidence that the plan to be announced soon would ensure there was no capability gap between the retirement of Australia’s existing Collins class diesel-electric submarines and the entry into service of nuclear-powered boats. But he did not provide specifics.

Mead also described the purpose of nuclear-powered submarines as being to “put the greatest question of doubt in the enemy’s mind” and “if necessary, respond with massive firepower”.

Marles used a speech to parliament last week to declare that acquiring nuclear-powered submarines would “dramatically enhance” Australia’s sovereignty, rather than undermine it………

Marles said Australia would “always make sovereign, independent decisions on how our capabilities are employed”.

In the wake of that speech, Turnbull tweeted that it was “quite a different thing to have a major platform that cannot be operated without the supervision/support of another country”

Turnbull said on Monday evening: “I think the question which has not been answered is: could the submarines be operated if US technical advice/support were withdrawn? The entire resources of the Australian news media have been unable to pin the government or the navy down on that.”

Paul Keating, the former Labor prime minister has previously raised concerns about increased reliance on US support and suggested Australia’s sovereignty was being “wilfully suborned”. 


February 13, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

NewsReal: Alien Balloon Malarkey! Setting The Stage For Proxy War Against China? 13 Feb 2023 

What in the name of God is going on in America?

Following last week’s comically bizarre ‘Chinese Spy Balloon Shoot-down’, this weekend the Pentagon declared that it shot down two MORE ‘Chinese balloons’ over Alaska and Canada, and that it scrambled fighter jets to investigate a ‘radar anomaly’ over Montana. (And, since airing, a FOURTH balloon has been downed by the US Air Force over Lake Huron.)

What’s different this week is that the Pentagon isn’t exactly confirming that these latest ‘objects’ are balloons, much less Chinese ‘spy’ ones. In fact, the media and govt spokespeople seem to be deliberately insinuating that these ‘unidentified objects’ are… extraterrestrial in origin!

February 13, 2023 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments

Pentagon testing mass surveillance balloons across the US

The Southcom surveillance tests are probably just the tip of the iceberg

Mark Harris Guardian, 2 Aug 2019

 the high-altitude balloons promise a cheap monitoring platform that could follow multiple cars and boats for extended periods.

The US military is conducting wide-area surveillance tests across six midwest states using experimental high-altitude balloons, documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reveal.

Up to 25 unmanned solar-powered balloons are being launched from rural South Dakota and drifting 250 miles through an area spanning portions of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri, before concluding in central Illinois.

Travelling in the stratosphere at altitudes of up to 65,000ft, the balloons are intended to “provide a persistent surveillance system to locate and deter narcotic trafficking and homeland security threats”, according to a filing made on behalf of the Sierra Nevada Corporation, an aerospace and defence company.

The balloons are carrying hi-tech radars designed to simultaneously track many individual vehicles day or night, through any kind of weather. The tests, which have not previously been reported, received an FCC license to operate from mid-July until September, following similar flights licensed last year.

……………….. The tests have been commissioned by the US Southern Command (Southcom), which is responsible for disaster response, intelligence operations and security cooperation in the Caribbean and Central and South America. Southcom is a joint effort by the US army, navy, air force and other forces, and one of its key roles is identifying and intercepting drug shipments headed for the United States.

“We do not think that American cities should be subject to wide-area surveillance in which every vehicle could be tracked wherever they go,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Even in tests, they’re still collecting a lot of data on Americans: who’s driving to the union house, the church, the mosque, the Alzheimer’s clinic,” he said. “We should not go down the road of allowing this to be used in the United States and it’s disturbing to hear that these tests are being carried out, by the military no less.”

……………………… The FCC documents show that Southcom’s balloons are carrying small, satellite-like vehicles housing sophisticated sensors and communication gear. One of those sensors is a synthetic aperture radar intended to detect every car or boat in motion on a 25-mile swath beneath the balloon.

The balloons also have advanced mesh networking technologies that allow them to communicate with one another, share data and pass it to receivers on the ground below.

……………………….  surveillance from stratospheric balloons is relatively new, said Michel, author of Eyes in the Sky, a recent book on wide area surveillance: “The higher the altitude of the system, the wider the area that you can cover. The trade-off is that depending on the area and the system, you may get lower-resolution images.” Balloons are also subject to fewer restrictions and regulations than drones.

……………….. The Southcom surveillance tests are probably just the tip of the iceberg. Scott Wickersham, the vice-president of Raven Aerostar, told the Guardian that it has also been working with Sierra Nevada and the Pentagon’s research arm Darpa on a “highly sophisticated and challenging development around the stratosphere”. This refers to the agency’s Adaptable Lighter-Than-Air (Alta) program, an ongoing effort to perfect stratospheric balloon navigation which has included multiple launches across the country, Wickersham said.

Ryan Hartman said that World View had also completed a dozen surveillance test missions for a customer it would not name, capturing data he would not specify……………………

February 13, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear zealot Jonathan Mead touts nuclear-powered submarines- Australia to have “full control” – (oh yeah?)

Australian commanders to have complete control over nuclear-powered submarines and reactors

ABC 7.30 / By Sarah Ferguson and James Elton, 13 Feb 23

Australian Navy commanders will have full operational control over their submarines and the powerful nuclear reactors onboard, despite the potential presence of US or UK engineers. 

Key points:

  • US or UK personnel may go to sea on Australian nuclear submarines
  • Australian technicians will understand “every detail” of how the reactors work
  • Construction in Adelaide shipyards may begin by end of 2020s

Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead, chief of the AUKUS submarine taskforce, has rejected criticisms that the nuclear propulsion program, based on US technology, would undermine Australian sovereignty. 

“When we take command of our first boat, we will have sovereign capability,” he told 7.30‘s Sarah Ferguson in an exclusive interview. 

Details of extensive plans to build a fleet of eight boats powered with weapons-grade uranium will be revealed next month. 

Vice Admiral Mead was asked what would happen onboard in the event of any dispute over the nuclear reactor, including following an accident, between a US or UK engineer and the boat’s Australian commander.

“We would expect anyone, be it a foreign engineer or an Australian engineer, to provide advice,” he said. 

But the commanding officer of that submarine, the Australian, would have “command and control over the reactor, over the submarine – unequivocal”. 

Australians will understand ‘every detail’ of welded-shut nuclear reactors

The defining feature of the submarine deal is that the highly enriched uranium reactors that power the boats will be supplied by either the US or UK, and “welded shut”.

The use of weapons-grade fuel means the reactors do not need to be opened for refuelling over the 30-plus-year life of the boat. Reactors that run on low-enriched uranium, like those used by the French and Chinese navies, do require refuelling. 

This also means Australia will not need to manufacture nuclear fuel – one of the commitments the country has made to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Vice Admiral Mead said Australia would, however, be sending people to US “design facilities” so we would understand “every element of detail of that reactor”. 

No Australian reactors … for now 

Asked if Australia is considering building its own nuclear reactors in the future, Vice Admiral Mead said: “We are not envisioning that at the moment, we haven’t gone into that at the moment.” 

The senior Navy official has spoken previously about the need for the AUKUS program to have public support. 

Asked what would happen to an Australian nuclear-propelled submarine that was hit by a missile, Vice Admiral Mead said he could not reveal the technical details but that “nuclear-powered submarines are designed for exacting standards”.

He also said that submariners receive only minimal doses of radiation onboard – less than an ordinary person walking the streets of a capital city.

UK or US-designed boat, and when will we see them?

Addressing the scale of the program, Vice Admiral Mead said if Australia wanted to begin construction of new boats in Adelaide “towards the end of this decade” the government would need to quickly finalise the construction of a revamped shipyard. 

He also described the extraordinary staffing requirements of the project, requiring nuclear physicists, chemists and engineers, as well as specialist tradesmen. 

One of the biggest questions around AUKUS is whether Australia would be left without a functioning submarine force before the new boats are launched, as the ageing Collins fleet approaches retirement.

Vice Admiral Mead said unequivocally there would be no gap, but would not be drawn on the Navy’s specific plans.

The UK defence secretary, Ben Wallace, recently suggested a new submarine design the three countries could share was under consideration. 

Asked whether that strategy would further delay the delivery of new submarines, Vice Admiral Mead reaffirmed there would be no gap in Australia’s capability. 

China is the motivation

Vice Admiral Mead said rapid changes in the Indo Pacific had sharpened strategic competition.

“We’ve also seen in recent years a significant modernisation in the Chinese military, particularly the Navy,” he said.

Australia’s current fleet of Collins class submarines run on diesel-electric engines that are extremely quiet when running off the battery. 

Nuclear submarines have massive range and the stealth advantage of not needing to resurface, but they do have reactor components that can’t be easily switched off to “go quiet”. 

The pros and cons of nuclear and conventional submarines have led defence analysts to suggest a new generation of diesel submarines should be considered as well, particularly to operate closer to the Australian coastline – while the nuclear boats could be prioritised for operations further away from the mainland.

But Vice Admiral Mead said the nuclear submarines would be a good option in both theatres.

“Nuclear-powered submarines provide a capability to deploy away from the home shore, or to deploy close to home shore,” he said. 

Pressed on whether conventional submarines would be quieter for closer operations, Vice Admiral Mead said under some circumstances nuclear submarines could be “just as quiet”. 

“It’s often more to do with the age and the technology of the submarine that we are dealing with,” he said.

Vice Admiral Mead said the purpose of nuclear-powered submarines was to “put the greatest question of doubt in the enemy’s mind” and “if necessary, respond with massive firepower”. 

This type of game-changing capability, he said, would change Australia’s “strategic personality”.

February 13, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Turkey’s Akkuyu nuclear power plant – a useless and dangerous prestige project?

This nuclear power plant is also being built in the earthquake zone. Not
far from the earthquake region in southern Turkey, President Erdoğan’s
government is currently building a nuclear power plant with Russian help.
Critics speak of a useless and dangerous prestige project.

Der Spiegel 7th Feb 2023

February 13, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

South Korea’s Nuclear Flirtations Highlight the Growing Risks of Allied Proliferation

Carnegie Endowment, ERIC BREWER,  TOBY DALTON, FEBRUARY 13, 2023

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s January comments about his country possibly acquiring nuclear weapons adds to the mounting nuclear dangers in Asia. Though he subsequently walked back his statement, the underlying motives and risks remain that South Korea could one day decide to go nuclear.

Yoon’s nuclear threat also fueled a debate among security experts in Washington about how to respond. Many nonproliferation analysts highlighted the rarity of national leaders making public allusions to acquiring nuclear weapons and argued that the United States needs to remind South Korea of its commitments not to do so. Others highlighted the dangers of a rising tide of “nuclear populism” that is driving South Korea’s nuclear discourse.  Conversely, some analysts argued that there is little the United States can do to prevent an inevitable South Korean weapon and that it is better to reduce U.S. extended deterrence commitments in conflicts that exceed vital U.S. interests. A few go even further and suggest that Washington should welcome or even facilitate a nuclear-armed Seoul.

This debate indicates a very unsettled dynamic that American and other policymakers cannot wish away or ignore. Yoon’s comments may simply be the leading edge of a trend in nuclear flirtations by U.S. allies and partners.

Since the dawn of the nuclear age, the United States has sought to stem the spread of nuclear weapons to adversaries and allies alike. This policy aims partly to preserve the U.S. nuclear advantage and to reduce the potential that nuclear weapons are used, which many experts judge increases if more states acquire them. Over the past few decades, the major proliferation fear has been about rogue actors: North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Syria, or potentially terrorist groups. The United States and the international community developed a policy tool kit to address these threats, including sanctions, technology denial, and even cyber and military attacks on nuclear facilities. Today, however, an increasing proliferation risk comes from U.S. allies and partners worried about their security and the credibility of U.S. commitments to their defense…………………………………….more

February 13, 2023 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Checking Back in on China’s Nuclear Icebreaker

Over four years after the project was announced, updates remain scarce on China’s first nuclear icebreaker.

The Diplomat, By Trym Eiterjord 13 Feb 23

In 2018, it became known that the state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) was embarking on a project to develop nuclear-powered icebreakers…………….

Over four years later, information about the project remains scarce, but a handful of patents recently filed by engineers at the CNNC Marine subsidiary would seem to indicate that development is moving forward. The content of these patents may give some insight into what is potentially China’s first nuclear-powered surface vessel.

The patents filed so far are concerned mainly with nuclear engineering. ……………………

Finally, the new subsidiary has filed a patent titled simply “A nuclear-powered icebreaker,”………………..

This is more or less the extent of new information to have come out since the project was first revealed in 2018……………………………….

The People’s Liberation Army Navy has also seemingly become interested in nuclear propulsion for polar-going icebreakers…………………….. more

February 13, 2023 Posted by | China, technology | Leave a comment

Ballooning paranoia: The China threat hits the skies

Thankfully, one or two sober notes of reflection have prevailed, even from within the military-intelligence fraternity. The Center for Strategic and International Studies has issued a few self-evident truths.  ‘Balloons are not an ideal platform for spying,’ writes James Andrew Lewis, ‘they are big and hard to hide.  They go where the winds take them’.  Such instruments ‘would be a strange choice for a technologically advanced and sophisticated opponent’.

Independent Australia, By Binoy Kampmark | 13 February 2023

Hysteria over balloons is a strange thing, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark.

HOT AIR balloons first appeared during the Napoleonic era, where they served as delivery weapons for bombs and undertook surveillance tasks. High-altitude balloons were also used by, of all powers, the United States during the 1950s, for reasons of gathering intelligence, though these were shot down by the irritated Soviets. 

On 28 January, a device reported to be a “high-altitude surveillance balloon” entered U.S. airspace in Alaska. It then had a brief spell in Canadian airspace before returning to the U.S. via Idaho on 31 January. 

On 4 February, with the balloon moving off the coast of South Carolina, a decision was made by the U.S. military to shoot it down using an F-22 Raptor from the First Fighter Wing based at Langley Air Force Base.  The Pentagon has revealed that the collection of debris is underway.

In response, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a stern note of disapproval, protesting:

‘The US attack on a civilian unmanned airship by force.’

This was ‘a clear overreaction and a serious violation of international practice’. Beijing also issued a note of apology, regretting ‘the unintended entry of the ship into U.S. airspace due to force majeure’.

A U.S. State Department official, while noting the statement of regret, felt compelled to designate:

‘The presence of this balloon in our airspace [as] a clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law.’

Rumours of a second Chinese balloon flying across Latin America were also confirmed by a spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry on 6 February, who described it as being “of a civilian nature and is used for flight tests”.The instrument had been impaired by weather in its direction, having “limited self-control capabilities”.

The Pentagon’s press secretary, Brigadier General Pat Ryder, also confirmed the existence of the second balloon, reaching the predictably opposite conclusion to his Chinese counterparts:

“We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America. We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon.”

This overegged saga has seen much airtime and column space dedicated to those in the pay of the military-defence complex. Little thought was given to the purpose of such a seemingly crude way of collecting military intelligence. Timothy Heath of the Rand Corporation went so far as to extol the merits of such cheeky devices. For one thing, they were hard to detect, making them somehow reliable.

General Glen VanHerck, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, made reference to a number of Chinese spy balloons that supposedly operated with impunity during the Trump Administration. “I will tell you that we did not detect those threats,” he said. This had resulted in a “domain awareness gap that we have to figure out”. 

The begging bowl for even larger defence budgets is being pushed around the corridors of power.

Lawyers of international law have also had their say, reaching for their manuals, and shaking their heads gravely. Donald Rothwell of the Australian National University thought that:

‘The incursion of the Chinese balloon tested the boundaries of international law.’  

Thankfully, one or two sober notes of reflection have prevailed, even from within the military-intelligence fraternity. The Center for Strategic and International Studies has issued a few self-evident truths.  ‘Balloons are not an ideal platform for spying,’ writes James Andrew Lewis, ‘they are big and hard to hide.  They go where the winds take them’.  Such instruments ‘would be a strange choice for a technologically advanced and sophisticated opponent’.……………………………..

The Chinese explanation has been scoffed at and derisively dismissed. Yet balloons are an almost quotidian feature of scientific and meteorological work, whatever the official explanation offered by Beijing might be. NASA’s own Scientific Balloon Program, for instance, has been most engaged of late. 

The organisation was keen to tout its fall 2022 campaign involving six scientific, engineering and student balloon flights in support of 17 missions.

The scale of any one mission be sizeable. ‘Our balloon platforms’, came the description from NASA’s Scientific Balloon chief Debbie Fairbrother, ‘can lift several thousand pounds to the edge of space, allowing for multiple, various scientific instruments, technologies, and education payloads to fly together in one balloon flight’.

The disproportionate nature of Washington’s reaction to Beijing over such balloons also looks rather odd in the face of the vast surveillance technologies it deploys against adversaries and friends. 

But politics is not merely the art of the possible but an opportunity for the absurd to find form and voice.  On this score, the mouse has clearly terrified the elephant.,17230

February 13, 2023 Posted by | politics international, spinbuster, USA | 2 Comments

20,000 tons of designated waste from the nuclear power plant accident are scattered in 9 prefectures (excluding Fukushima)

Designated waste by prefecture (as of September 30, 2011, Ministry of the Environment data)

February 11, 2023
Designated wastes” were generated as a result of the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011, which caused radioactive materials to spread over a wide area in eastern Japan. Progress has been slow in disposing of the 20,000 tons or so that continue to be stored outside of Fukushima Prefecture. Local governments are opposed to the national government’s policy of consolidating the waste in each prefecture and storing it for the long term. The waste continues to be dispersed and stored at farmers’ properties and municipal facilities. Some point out the risk of leakage in the event of a disaster.

 Radioactive materials released into the atmosphere during the nuclear power plant accident were spread by the wind. Designated wastes include incinerator ash and rice straw contaminated with radioactive materials and whose radioactivity level exceeds 8,000 becquerels per kilogram. After the nuclear power plant accident, the Ministry of the Environment set the standard value of 8,000 becquerels as “a value that can ensure the safety of workers during normal landfill disposal. The government decided that the disposal of designated waste is the responsibility of the government, and its basic policy is to construct a long-term management facility (final disposal site) at the expense of the government and dispose of the waste within the metropolitan prefecture where it was generated.

 According to the ministry, as of the end of September 2010, there was a total of 407,000 tons of designated waste in 10 prefectures, mainly in the Tohoku and Kanto regions. About 25,000 tons of this was stored in nine prefectures other than Fukushima Prefecture, with Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, and Chiba prefectures accounting for about 22,000 tons.

February 13, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan to Cut Number of Radioactive Substances Measured at Fukushima Plant

What about the other 33 radioactive substances, they are conveniently ignored and presumed to be harmless to marine life and to our food chain?

February 10, 2023

The Tokyo Electric Power Company(TEPCO) has notified South Korea that it is pushing to reduce the number of radioactive substances tested for in the Fukushima nuclear power plant’s wastewater before it is released in the spring.

According to documents obtained by Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Jae-jung from Seoul’s foreign ministry and the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, the Japanese entity plans to measure the levels of 31 radioactive substances contained in the contaminated water instead of the original 64.

The ministry said the adjustment, which was shared by Tokyo during director-level talks in late December, was requested by a task force at the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is verifying the safety of Japan’s water release plan.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has been reviewing the revised plan submitted by the TEPCO for three months but has yet to issue a decision.

The foreign ministry said it will continue to prioritize the safety of the South Korean public as it deals with the issue, maintaining the stance that the wastewater should be handled in a scientific manner in accordance with international law.

February 13, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Simulation to show flow of radioactive water discharged from Fukushima

An aerial view shows the storage tanks for treated water at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the town of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, Feb. 13, 2021.

February 10, 2023

By Ko Dong-hwan

Korean researchers will release next Thursday the result of a simulation they have been working on to demonstrate how radioactive water discharged from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was devastated by a tsunami 12 years ago, will flow and affect the world’s oceans.

Researchers from the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) said the simulation was designed to track tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen with a half-life of about 12 years. Emitted from nuclear facilities across the world, tritium is believed unfilterable even by ALPS, the advanced liquid processing system that is supposed to treat radioactive water now stored at the Fukushima plant before releasing it into the Pacific Ocean this spring.

The researchers said the simulation will likely show how tritium will spread through sea water. Tritium is one of the 64 radioactive nuclides believed to be contained in the radioactive water stored in more than 1,000 tanks with a total liquid volume of about 1.37 million cubic meters.

The presentation, jointly conducted by KIOST and KAERI, is part of the Korean Society of Hazard Mitigation’s academic forum to be held on Jeju Island from Feb. 15 to 17.

There has been a lot of speculation about why the results of the simulation are being first released at an academic conference instead of through a government briefing, raising concerns over the possibility that the Korean government may be reluctant to announce the findings for fear of damaging its diplomatic relations with its neighbor.

The researchers have stated that the presentation is “based on scientific findings and does not involve any political decisions.”

Following the destruction of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants in Okuma which were struck by a tsunami in 2011, the Japanese government and the International Atomic Energy Agency now plan to release some 1.3 million tons of radioactive water into the oceans over a period of 30 years starting this year. They have argued that the water will be treated by ALPS and poses no harm to the environment. But those critical of the decision say the data shared by the Japanese government with the world declaring the water’s safety is highly suspicious and lacks credibility.

The radioactive water, once discharged, is expected to flow with ocean currents around the Pacific Ocean in a clockwise direction arriving in Korean waters after about a year.

Radioactive water, even in tiny amounts, is harmful to humans after decades of exposure. The most common intake route is believed to be through food, especially seafood imported from Japan.

February 13, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Many people in the public opinion polls are opposed to the idea, and briefings are being held in various regions… but the Cabinet decides to promote nuclear power plants, ignoring the voices of “grave danger to future generations”

February 11, 2023
The government’s basic policy, which includes measures to promote nuclear power plants, such as rebuilding them and operating them for more than 60 years, received nearly 4,000 opinions (public comments), many of which were against nuclear power. However, the Cabinet decision was made on April 10 without changing the main outline of the policy. The major change in nuclear policy less than six months after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s order to study the issue has consistently failed to address the voices of the public. (The Cabinet decision was made on October 10, 2011, without any change in the major nuclear policy.)

◆Consideration of voices within the ruling party

The TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident proves that humans have no control over nuclear power plants,” and “It invites grave danger to future generations.
 The results of the public solicitation of opinions announced by the government after the cabinet decision were lined with requests for the government to reconsider its decision. A total of 3,966 opinions were received in the public solicitation, which was conducted for about a month from the end of December last year, after the basic policy was decided at the government meeting. The government has clarified the contents of 356 opinions and their responses by summarizing similar opinions.
 The government’s response to the negative opinions on nuclear power emphasized that the stable supply of electricity is in crisis due to changes in the energy situation caused by the crisis in Ukraine. The government reiterated its explanation that it will utilize nuclear power along with renewable energy and other energy sources that have decarbonizing effects.
 Since the end of the public comment period, there has been only one major revision to the basic policy, related to nuclear power. Regarding the reconstruction of nuclear power plants, which had not been envisioned by the government after the Fukushima accident, the target location was elaborated from “nuclear power plants that have been decided to be decommissioned” to “within the premises of nuclear power plants that have been decided to be decommissioned. This is a strong indication that the government took into consideration the opinions of the nuclear power prudent within the ruling party.

Not listening to the voice of the people, “They are making fun of the victims.
 The basic policy was discussed by a number of METI experts. Although a number of committee members who are negative about nuclear power plants called for a national debate, the public’s voice was not heard before the policy was decided.
 After deciding on the basic policy at the end of last year, METI began holding explanatory meetings in mid-January in 10 cities across Japan where METI and other bureaus are located. So far, they have been held in Nagoya, Saitama, Osaka, and Sendai, and will continue until early March.
 Ruiko Muto, co-chairperson of the Liaison Association of Organizations Affected by the Nuclear Power Plant Accident in Miharu-machi, Fukushima Prefecture, commented at a press conference on March 10, “I don’t understand what the meetings are for. It is ridiculous that the meeting was not held in Fukushima Prefecture, a disaster-stricken area, and that they are making fun of the victims of the disaster.

It’s conclusory, forced, and unacceptable as a method of policy making.” It is unacceptable as a method of policy making.
 Opposition to the policy is also smoldering among regulators. The basic policy stipulates that the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) will conduct rigorous examinations and regulations as a precondition for utilizing nuclear power plants. At a regular meeting of the regulatory commission on August 8, Akira Ishiwatari, a member of the commission, opposed the transfer of the 40-year operating period, with a maximum of 60 years, stipulated in the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law, to a law under METI jurisdiction, saying that it is not necessary. It became unclear whether a new regulatory system could be decided upon.
 At a press conference following the cabinet decision, METI Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura explained, “The basic policy was put together from the perspective of nuclear energy utilization policy and does not include safety regulations, so there is no problem,” and expressed his intention to continue with procedures such as amending related laws. Hajime Matsukubo, executive director of the NPO Nuclear Information and Documentation Office, who also served as a member of METI’s expert panel, commented, “They are forcibly proceeding with the conclusion that they are promoting nuclear power without listening to opposing opinions. This is unacceptable as a method of policy making.

People opposing the Cabinet decision on the basic policy in front of the Prime Minister’s official residence in Nagatacho, Tokyo, on March 10.

◆Attack on the Prime Minister’s Office
On January 10, about 100 people protested in front of the Prime Minister’s official residence in Nagata-cho, Tokyo, after the cabinet approved a basic policy that includes measures to promote nuclear power plants. In the cold rain, they called for “No new nuclear power plants” and “Don’t forget Fukushima. (Nozomi Masui)
 The event was organized by the Executive Committee for 10 Million People’s Action to Say Goodbye to Nuclear Power Plants, a citizens’ group. Members of six organizations, including environmental groups and labor unions, took the microphone.
 Natsuka Mitsuda, 55, secretary general of FoE Japan, an international environmental NGO, said, “In order for the nuclear industry to survive, future generations will have to bear a heavy burden and risk of accidents. We are firmly opposed to the cabinet decision that ignores the will of the people. Taeko Fujimura, 68, vice chairperson of the National Trade Union Liaison Council, said, “We have learned nothing from the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The operation of aging nuclear power plants is absolutely unacceptable.

February 13, 2023 Posted by | Japan | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cabinet adopts policy of using nuclear reactors beyond 60-year limit

The No. 3 reactor at Kansai Electric Power’s Mihama nuclear power plant in Mihama, Fukui Prefecture, the first nuclear reactor in Japan to operate beyond 40 years.

Feb 10, 2023

The Cabinet formally adopted a policy on Friday that will allow for the operation of nuclear reactors beyond their current 60-year limit alongside the building of new units to replace aging ones as part of efforts to cut carbon emissions while ensuring adequate national energy supply.

The government’s “green transformation” policy features extensive use of nuclear power along with renewable energy and marks a major policy shift for the country, which suffered a devastating nuclear disaster in 2011. The Cabinet decision follows a meeting in late December at which the policy was agreed upon.

The government also plans to raise about ¥20 trillion ($152 billion) through the issuance of green transformation bonds to boost investment in decarbonization projects, as it estimates public and private investment of over ¥150 trillion will be necessary over the next 10 years.

Bills necessary to implement the new policy were submitted to parliament Friday.

The new policy will effectively extend the amount of time reactors can remain operational beyond 60 years by excluding time spent on inspections and other periods they are offline from consideration when calculating their total service life.

The policy also calls for developing advanced reactors, regarded as safer than conventional ones, and only allowing them to be built within the premises of reactors destined for decommissioning. The government aims to begin operating next-generation reactors in the 2030s.

It also states the central government is responsible for the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste created through nuclear power generation. The issue has been a source of concern among the public and a challenge in advancing nuclear policy.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said at a news conference after the Cabinet meeting that the government hopes to expand the areas in which it will conduct first-stage surveys as part of the selection process for the final disposal site.

The new policy stipulates government support for local governments which accept the survey.

Public sentiment turned sour over the use of nuclear power as a national source of energy following the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear disaster in March 2011 that was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami. The government had repeatedly said it was not considering building new reactors or replacing existing ones.

But since Russia launched a major invasion of Ukraine in late February last year, a sharp rise in global energy prices has threatened the stable supply of energy for Japan, a resource-scarce country that heavily relies on fossil fuel imports, prompting officials to look into greater use of nuclear power.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida instructed the government last summer to look into how the country can maximize the use of its nuclear energy facilities most effectively.

February 13, 2023 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Cabinet decides on a policy of “maximum utilization” of nuclear power plants, a major shift from “reducing dependence on nuclear power plants,” enabling nuclear power plants to operate for more than 60 years and promoting rebuilding

Prime Minister’s Office

February 10, 2023
On February 10, the cabinet approved the government’s basic policy for decarbonization, which includes rebuilding next-generation nuclear power plants and extending their operational life beyond 60 years. In addition to renewable energy, the policy also specifies “maximum utilization” of nuclear power plants. After the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, the government has been advocating a reduction in dependence on nuclear power, but the worsening environment for procuring energy resources due to the crisis in Ukraine and other factors have led to a major shift in energy policy.
 The decision was made in the form of the “Basic Policy for the Realization of GX (Green Transformation). Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Yasutoshi Nishimura stated, “The public and private sectors will work together to accelerate efforts toward the realization of GX.
 After the compilation of the policy in December of last year, a public comment period was held, and approximately 3,300 opinions were received.
 The period of operation of nuclear power plants, which after the Fukushima accident was set at “40 years in principle, with a maximum of 60 years,” will be extended to allow operation for more than 60 years, excluding from the calculation the period during which the plants are shut down to respond to the screening process for restarting. The company will also work on the development and construction of next-generation nuclear power plants on the grounds that this will increase safety. (Kyodo)

February 13, 2023 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment


The new graphic novel relates how Naoto Matsumura risked his life to save abandoned animals in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster

February 9, 2023

The French duo of Fabien Grolleau (Audubon, On the Wings of the World) and Ewen Blain have collaborated on a new graphic novel that explores one resident’s experience in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the ensuing nuclear disaster at Fukushima. Guardian of Fukushima is the second book in TOKYOPOP’s Comics That Matter initiative (the first was Victory for Ukraine). The initiative seeks to raise awareness of import issues using the graphic novel medium. Guardian of Fukushima will be released ahead of its March 11th anniversary. 

Guardian of Fukushima is told from the point of view of Naoto Matsumura. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered a meltdown after the tsunami and spread radiation throughout the region. The Japanese government evacuated residents from the area as a preventative measure, but Matsumura the farmer risked his life to return home and care for the abandoned animals.   

Grolleau and Blein blend European art style with Japanese aesthetics. Soft expressive art complements the impactful story and characters. This original French graphic novel alludes to timeless Japanese legends as an ode to Mother Nature and human resilience.

Grolleau recalls what brought him to the project:

“When I discovered Matsumura-san’s life in the forbidden zone of Fukushima, I immediately was in awe of this man’s courage, modesty, and nobility. His story is full of hope and resonated with themes I was keen to explore as an author, such as ecology and nature, and with the vision I had of Japanese myths that I wanted to share through comics.”

Tokyo-based writer and scholar Roland Kelts provides the forward to the book. The TOKYOPOP edition also includes bonus materials by Fukushima-resident and acclaimed photographer Ko Sasaki, who provides photographs of the disaster and its aftermath. TOKYOPOP founder Stu Levy contributes photography and background information about the tragedy.

Levy speaks about his passion in bringing the book to publication:

“I will never forget my experiences in Tohoku immediately after the tsunami, especially the resilience and determination of the local people. Naoto Matsumura exemplifies this spirit – and this will to not only survive but also to ensure the survival of the creatures he loves. I am proud we can bring readers Fabien and Ewen’s extraordinary work as part of our Comics That Matter initiative, and I invite readers of all ages to discover his mission and become inspired to find ways to make a difference in their own communities.”

Guardian of Fukushima (MSRP $19.99, ISBN 9781427871367) goes on sale in bookstores on February 28, 2023 and in comics shops on March 1, 2023.

And now, here are the first 10 pages of Guardian of Fukushima. Enjoy!


February 13, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , | Leave a comment