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“The nuclear plant took everything…”

“The nuclear plant took everything…” Kenichi Hasegawa was the local leader of Maeta District of Iitate Village, where even today mountains of bags of contaminated soil stand out. “The nuclear plant took everything. There used to be children here. When the kids were still here, we went to the hills together all the time. We picked many things, taught them all about it, it was natural. We can’t do anything like that any more. I mean, even the children are no longer here,” he says.

https://311mieruka.jp/index_en?fbclid=IwAR3zrBtrrkMhJ_gZeWTEzgt4RcTkehWePR7Q-Mzvg9fsW6Jk4Rq9vx3_snQ

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive soil plan casts shadow over Fukushima village

Keiko Shigihara used to make pickles out of flower petals from a cherry tree at her former home in Fukushima Prefecture.

Sep 11, 2020

Keiko Shigihara, 58, soaks up the summer sun as she looks over her property in the village of Iitate in Fukushima Prefecture, from where she evacuated after the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The land where her home used to be is now an empty lot. Cherry trees and oak trees are the only things left.

Shigihara remembers the days when she used to make homemade salted cherry blossoms and rice cakes wrapped in oak leaves.

“It’s sad but there’s nothing to be done now except look forward,” said Shigihara, who evacuated to the city of Fukushima after the calamity.

Iitate’s Nagadoro administrative district, where her home was located, was designated a no-go zone due to its high radiation levels. But the Environment Ministry later designated the district as an area where radiation-tainted soil removed as part of the decontamination process would be reused to fill the land for farming.

The project is slated to begin by March 2021.

Shigihara was born in the town of Futaba, which is located on the coastline of Fukushima Prefecture — one of the areas hardest hit during the 2011 earthquake.

After graduating from high school in Futaba, she met Yoshiyuki, now 59, a native of Iitate, and the two married. She moved into his home, where her in-laws also lived, in Nagadoro in 1988 and helped out with farming. She raised her two daughters there, too.

The Nagadoro district, which is located in the southern part of the village, is a well-preserved area surrounded by mountains.

Different types of fish can be found in the nearby Hiso River, and Shigihara often made meals with fresh vegetables grown in the fields or plucked from the mountainsides.

“I bet you’re glad you married someone living in Iitate,” Shigihara’s late father-in-law used to say.

That peaceful lifestyle was upended in 2011. Life in evacuation, bleak as it was, continued for years, and the family did not know if they could ever return or what would happen to their home.

But, at the end of 2016, the government said, out of the blue, that it was planning to bury the contaminated soil to create arable land.

“Contaminated soil was supposed to be taken to an intermediate storage facility” where it’s preserved safely, Shigihara said. She was worried whether it was safe to bury it in the ground.

Naturally, the plan drew concern from local residents.

Deliberation between the central government, the village and its residents spanned a year.

Local residents were worried about whether it was possible for people to live there again if they were to go ahead with the project, or that a damaging reputation would haunt agricultural products harvested there.

But the government pressed on, saying it will be an experimental case to reuse contaminated soil in local areas. The government ensured it would also closely monitor radiation levels in the air and conduct tests to make sure the produce is safe.

In the end, locals gave in and the project was given the green light in November 2017.

In April 2018, 186 hectares of the Nagadoro administrative district’s 1,080 hectares were designated for the project. The village of Iitate proposed in May to lift evacuation orders.

At the end of last year, Shigihara’s cherished home was demolished for the plan. Watching it be torn down would have been too painful, so she waited to return until after it was done.

“Anything to help my hometown recover,” she said.

Fresh produce is being cultivated nearby and experiments have been conducted to plant crops on contaminated soil without adding a layer of uncontaminated soil.

In the long wait for Nagadoro’s residents to return home, the clock has finally begun moving again.

This section features topics and issues covered by the Fukushima Minpo, the prefecture’s largest newspaper. The original article was published Aug

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/09/11/national/iitate-fukushima-contaminated-soil/

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Has Turned These Grandparents Into Avid Radiation Testers

Takenori Kobayashi (left) and his wife Tomoko Kobayashi bring soil samples into what they refer to as a “grandma and grandpa lab” to test it for radiation, in Fukushima prefectures

September 11, 2020

Takenori Kobayashi lugs a garbage bag full of soil across a parking lot to an unmarked office. His wife, Tomoko, holds the door to a tiny work space with lab equipment and computers set up. On the edge of Fukushima’s former nuclear exclusion zone, this is the place the couple likes to call their “grandma and grandpa lab.”

It started as a makeshift operation in the city of Minamisoma the year after the 2011 nuclear disaster, when people — mostly elderly — returned to the area and were worried about high radiation levels in their food and soil.

“We’ve given up hope that our children and grandchildren will come back to live here,” Tomoko, 67, says. Most young people decided to start lives elsewhere rather than return, not wanting to take the risks with radiation. “But in order for them to come back and visit us,” she continues, “we need to know everything is safe. So we test it all.”

Citizen science like this flourished in Fukushima after the nuclear disaster in 2011, when a tsunami triggered explosions at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The wind carried radioactive material for miles, covering whole towns and neighborhoods with dangerous, yet invisible, particles. For weeks after the disaster, information was scarce and trust in the Japanese government plummeted. And now, almost a decade later, wide arrays of residents have taken it upon themselves to collect radiation data — from mothers worried about their kids to surfers monitoring beaches to individuals with Geiger counters in their homes — to help regain a sense of control.

Tomoko measures soil into a container that will go through a donated gamma counter, a big cylindrical machine that measures radioactive particles.

Inside the lab, the Kobayashis pair get to work. One measures out soil into small containers, the other starts labeling — so coordinated and practiced, it’s almost like a dance. They put the samples through a donated gamma counter, a big cylindrical machine that measures radioactive particles. Today, they’re testing soil from a nearby farm.

A handful of other residents help run the lab, and throughout the years, experts from nearby universities have come to teach them all about the different equipment and radiation science.

“All the grandparents here are radiation professionals now,” Takenori, 71, says with a smile.

Before the disaster, he was an accountant, and Tomoko helped run a nearby inn that has been in her family for generations. When the disaster happened, they were forced to evacuate for five years. But when they were allowed to come back home in 2016, they reopened the inn — and learned everything they could about radiation.

“We never thought we’d be doing this. What normal person would expect this?” says Tomoko with a chuckle. “But anyone who faces this kind of situation has to become a scientist to survive.”

Tomoko and Takenori were forced to evacuate Minamisoma after the disaster, but after five years, they returned to reopen Tomoko’s family inn.

Takenori points to colorful radiation maps of the area hanging on the wall. The couple made them, along with a team of volunteers, using donated Geiger counters — hand-held devices used to measure radiation — over the past few years as more neighborhoods reopened to the public.

“It is important for us to visualize the invisible,” he says. “We needed to see it.”

The maps show that Fukushima’s radiation levels are decreasing, because of both natural decay of particles and large-scale Japanese government decontamination efforts. But there are still a lot of hot spots — places where radiation is worryingly high. The authorities have tried to ease concerns, testing food in supermarkets and setting up radiation monitors in public parks, outside train stations or flashing along highways, but trust in the government is still extremely low. Many residents say they still feel best collecting information themselves.

Maps hang on the wall of the lab where the Kobayashis do radiation testing. The maps, one part of their work, were created by a team of volunteers who took air measurements. The maps show that the radiation levels in Fukushima are decreasing.

One of the original citizen data operations in Fukushima is called Safecast. The nonprofit organization formed in the immediate days after the disaster, when it became clear that accurate radiation information was not available. Safecast started building and distributing radiation monitors in Fukushima, and then putting all the data online for public use.

Now, nearly a decade later, Safecast has hundreds of devices in the area around the Daiichi nuclear power plant, with dozens of local residents helping to take hundreds of readings a day. There’s even one hanging in the Kobayashis’ inn.

“We found that simply allowing people to take measurements themselves, and have a way to compare it to government data was really important for their peace of mind, for their sense of agency,” says Azby Brown, the lead researcher at Safecast.

Azby Brown is the lead researcher at Safecast, an organization that formed in the immediate days after the disaster. It builds and distributes radiation monitors in Fukushima, and puts all the data online for public use.

Part of the reason people want to collect data themselves and compare it is because even after more information became available, it was often contradictory. The United Nations and the International Commission on Radiological Protection have published reports saying that radiation risks in Fukushima are low. Other organizations, like Greenpeace, dispute those findings. The Japanese government insists that the areas being reopened are safe. But many are quick to point out that the government raised the legal limit of radiation exposure in this part of Fukushima prefecture after the disaster — meaning that many of these areas wouldn’t necessarily be considered safe in other parts of Japan or the world.

Brown says that giving people the ability to collect and understand their own data can help them ease their anxiety and make decisions based on their personal comfort.

People stand near the ocean in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture, commemorating the ninth anniversary of the tsunami and nuclear disaster.

“Some people will look at the data and say, ‘Oh my God, I’m leaving,’ ” Brown says. “Other people will say, ‘Oh, you know, it’s not as bad as I feared, maybe I’ll stay.’ And yet others will say, ‘Well, it’s pretty bad, but now at least I know what I’m facing and I know how hard it’s going to be.’ “

That last option is ultimately how the Kobayashis felt when they decided to come back after their neighborhood was reopened in 2016. By that point, Tomoko had gotten a Geiger counter. She remembers how empowering it felt to know and understand the reading. It was low enough for the pair, something they both felt comfortable with.

“I was so relieved,” she says, “I knew I could come home.”

But now, Tomoko says, a new invisible threat has her worried — the coronavirus. She says a lot of the anxiety everyone is feeling now reminds her of how she felt back in 2011. She has stocked up the inn with cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and cloth face masks. But the travel sector has plummeted during the pandemic.

Tomoko stands at the inn in Fukushima prefecture that has been in her family for generations.

“Radiation is a bit similar to the virus,” she says sitting at the kitchen table of her inn. “It doesn’t have any smell, you can’t feel it, you can’t see it.”

Tomoko says she is, of course, aware that the two are very different, but the parallels have been striking to her. She remembers back in March and April, when she saw cities like London and New York looking abandoned and empty on TV. It reminded her of the towns in Fukushima, right after the disaster. It brought back a lot, she says.

“As long as you have a Geiger counter, you can detect radiation,” she says. “But with the virus, there is no Geiger counter.”

Tomoko says, like many of us, she’s eager for science to help find one.

https://www.npr.org/2020/09/11/907881531/fukushima-has-turned-these-grandparents-into-avid-radiation-testers

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Mr Sugeno Seiji, farming organically in Nihonmatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture

September 11, 2020

Through the nuclear power plant disaster, Mr Sugeno reaffirmed the values of farming. His words leave a strong impression: “The nuclear plant stole our hometowns, they create divisions. This must not be repeated.” “We people of Fukushima need to share our story. To change lifestyles, to change policies. To stand up to the government, to farm our fields, this is want we want to continue to do.”

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Many Fukushima evacuees die away from home

September 9, 2020

NHK has learned that more than 2,600 people have died over the ensuing years after being evacuated from their hometowns following the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011.

NHK contacted local governments in Fukushima Prefecture and found that at least 2,670 people, about 10 percent of the original population, had died as of August. More than 26,500 people lived in seven municipalities near the plant. Where they lived have been designated no-entry zones for nearly nine and a half years because radiation levels remain high.

By municipality, 895 people from Okuma Town have died, 792 from Futaba Town, 576 from Namie Town, 362 from Tomioka Town, 32 from Iitate Village, 12 from Katsurao Village, and one from Minamisoma City.

The Japanese government is conducting decontamination work and rebuilding infrastructure in some areas with the aim to allow residents to return in two or three years.

But there is no concrete plan to make other parts, or 92 percent of the no-entry zone, habitable again, despite the strong hope of residents to return home.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200909_06/

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Tokyo Olympics must be held at ‘any cost’, says Japanese minister

Seiko Hashimoto says country is planning for event next year even though a widely available vaccine is unlikely

A man wearing a protective face mask walks past an Olympic Rings monument near the national stadium, the main venue of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

 

September 8, 2020

The Tokyo Olympics must be held “at any cost”, Japan’s Games minister, Seiko Hashimoto, has said, as organisers continue to weigh up options for staging a “post-pandemic” celebration of sport in the city next summer.

“Everyone involved with the Games is working together to prepare, and the athletes are also making considerable efforts towards next year,” Hashimoto told reporters on Tuesday.

The former Olympian suggested the priority had shifted from planning for the “complete Games” once favoured by the outgoing prime minister, Shinzo Abe, towards an event that would enable athletes to compete regardless of the status of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I think we have to hold the Games at any cost,” she said. “I want to concentrate all our efforts on measures against the coronavirus.”

There is also a growing belief within national olympic committees that the Games will go ahead following lengthy discussions over the summer about how they can be staged safely. The Guardian understands that proposals under discussion include:

  • Potentially keeping athletes in preparation camps for longer before they move into the Olympic village, enabling them to be tested regularly for Covid-19 and cleared before competing.
  • Asking athletes to leave the athletes’ village immediately after they have competed, rather than stay until after the closing ceremony as is traditional.
  • Having reduced capacities in stadiums observing social distancing rules.

However, suggestions that there could be a downsized Olympics, with fewer athletes and staff, are being downplayed by senior sources.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed in March as the coronavirus began its rampage through Europe, the US, Brazil, India and other parts of the world.

With health experts warning that a vaccine is unlikely to be widely available by the time the opening ceremony is due to take place on 23 July 2021, a task force of organisers, national and local government officials and health experts met for the first time last week to consider anti-virus measures.

The group, which is expected to release an interim report at the end of the year, is sifting through more than 200 proposals on how best to prevent an Olympic-related outbreak while enabling around 11,000 athletes from more than 200 countries to travel to Japan.

“While living with the coronavirus, we need to make sure that athletes can perform at their best and audiences enjoy the Games safely,” the deputy chief cabinet secretary, Kazuhiro Sugita, said at the meeting. “To achieve that, we will adjust border controls, testing and medical systems and the operations of the venues.”

Last week, the Tokyo chief executive, Toshiro Muto, insisted the Games could be held even if a vaccine was not available.

“It’s not a prerequisite,” he said. “It’s not a condition for the delivery of the Tokyo 2020 Games. A vaccine is not a requirement. Of course, if vaccines are developed, we’ll really appreciate it. And for Tokyo 2020 that would be great.”

While the delayed start of domestic and international sports competitions show it is possible to reduce the risks to athletes, it will be harder to ensure the safety of huge numbers of spectators from overseas.

“As far as spectators, we don’t have any conditions yet, but we’d like to avoid no spectators,” Muto said.

The comments from Hashimoto, who represented her country in speed skating and track cycling, echo those made on Monday by John Coates, vice president of the International Olympic Committee [IOC]. He said the event would go ahead next summer “with or without Covid”.

“The Games were going to be … the ‘reconstruction Games’ after the devastation of the tsunami,” Coates said, referring to the disaster that struck north-east Japan in 2011.

“Now very much these will be the Games that conquered Covid, the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Public support is waning in Japan, however, with two-thirds of respondents to a poll in July saying they would prefer the Olympics to be postponed a second time – an option organisers and the IOC have ruled out – or cancelled.

Organisers said they had been encouraged to see international sports events such as the US Open tennis and the Tour de France go ahead in the midst of the pandemic, and by reports that Japan’s government is considering allowing more fans into stadiums to watch domestic baseball and football matches.

“This has been a big, big encouragement for the staff at Tokyo 2020,” organising committee spokesman Masa Takaya told reporters on Tuesday. “We feel that is another step towards seeing sports in action in our society.”

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/sep/08/tokyo-olympics-must-be-held-at-any-cost-says-japanese-minister?fbclid=IwAR0Ot_OQz-lfiMe3hjrCVRFjhT52hid2mE5gdQr19xTHKWW2zkSYWxk8FSA

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

IOC Vice President Says 2021 Tokyo Olympics Will Happen

September 7, 2020

The Tokyo Summer Olympics are taking place next year regardless of the coronavirus pandemic, according to International Olympic Committee Vice President John Coates.

“It will take place with or without COVID. The Games will start on July 23 next year,” Coates told news agency AFP on Monday, according to multiple outlets.

“The Games were going to be, their theme, the Reconstruction Games after the devastation of the tsunami,” he added, referring to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011. “Now very much these will be the Games that conquered COVID, the light at the end of the tunnel.”

In late March, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the Summer Games would be rescheduled for the same time slot next year due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The Olympics will now be held from July 23 through August 8, 2021.

There is still much uncertainty regarding the games, however. In June, various Japanese media sources published stories indicating that the Olympics will be “downsized,” “simplified” or “very different.”

Officials have not yet announced any specific modifications, but the reports indicated that athletes may face quarantines and coronavirus testing and seating could be reduced.

Following the published reports, Tokyo Olympics spokesman Masa Takaya appeared in an online news conference but did not confirm any of the leaked information about downsizing.

He did, however, address concerns about reducing the amount of seating, as millions of tickets have already been sold. “We want to brush away these concerns,” Takaya said, speaking to ticket holders.

“We understand that countermeasures for COVID-19 next year, particularly during games time, is one of the biggest things to address in preparing for the games next year,” he added. “But once again these countermeasures will be discussed in more depth from this autumn onward.”

Adam Rippon Says 2020 Winter Olympians Are ‘Grieving’ Amid Postponement

Figure skater Adam Rippon won a bronze medal in the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang

Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto said that costs must be cut for the rescheduled games, but added that ensuring athletes’ safety may lead to higher expenses.

“Unless safety and security are ensured, there will be uncertainty for the athletes-first point of view,” she said, according to the Associated Press. “We must study measures including virus testing in order to ensure safety and security.”

The delay marks only the fourth time in modern Olympic history that the games have been disrupted.

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/ioc-vice-president-says-2021-155509392.html

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster museum to open in Futaba town

A theater at the museum of Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear disaster that will open to the public on Sept. 20 in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture

Whiteboards and other items that reveal the tense post-accident situation are on display at the new museum of the Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear disaster in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture.

An exhibit about decontamination work after the 2011 accident at the new museum of the Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear disaster in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture

September 7, 2020

FUTABA, Fukushima Prefecture–A new 5.3 billion yen ($50 million) museum here is entrusted with the mission of keeping lessons from one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters alive.

The museum of the Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear disaster in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, which co-hosts the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, is now complete and waiting to welcome visitors on Sept. 20.

It will feature firsthand accounts from survivors of the massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant accident, which devastated areas of Japan’s Tohoku region in March 2011, and an array of artifacts reflecting the events.

The museum’s collection includes roughly 150 items selected from the 240,000 items that the prefectural government collected after the triple disaster.

Exhibition floors are divided into six zones by themes such as “responses to the nuclear accident” and “challenges for reconstruction.”

A video detailing the natural disaster and subsequent meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., will be shown on a giant screen.

Toshiyuki Nishida, an actor from the prefecture, narrates the video, in which he encourages viewers to reflect on lessons from the disaster.

Items left abandoned at a local elementary school after residents evacuated are on display, including a bookbag, a glove and a folding umbrella.

Another item, a can of food left behind at a deserted house, conveys just how dire the post-disaster situation was: a wild boar seeking sustenance tore it open.

A large photo of a now infamous signboard that used to be on display in the center of Futaba town to promote the safety myth of nuclear power is also among the exhibited items.

Twenty-nine people who survived the disaster in and out of the prefecture are scheduled to share their experiences with visitors at the museum.

The central government, in principle, was responsible for financing the museum’s construction, including funds spent on collecting items and curating materials.

Akira Imai, a former public policy professor at Fukushima University, lamented something missing from the museum.

“It seems there are not many exhibits focusing on the lack of preparedness before the nuclear accident,” he said.

In order to carry out its mission, “the museum should enhance its investigative and research division and reflect the cautionary tale of the accident in its exhibits,” Imai said.

(This article was written by Shoko Rikimaru and Shinichi Sekine.)

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13705514

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Prefecture Announces New “High-Quality” Rice, Branding

September 4, 2020

With the announcement of a new variety of top-tier rice, Fukushima hopes to further unravel the unfair stigma of the 2011 tsunami.

On Monday, Fukushima Prefectural Governor Uchibori Masao stood before the gathered press and held aloft an indigo-blue print. The painterly, dark-blue brushstrokes depicted rice fields, mountains, and farmers planting and harvesting grains. Below, in the same vibrant indigo, were the words 「福、笑い」: Fuku, Warai, or “Luck, Laugh.” This was the just-announced official design for Fukushima Prefecture’s new high-quality rice cultivar. Fittingly for Fukushima (福島, literally “Lucky Island”), the brand would bear that same “lucky” kanji in its name.

The global image of Fukushima, of course, is not one most would describe as “lucky.” Indeed, the vast prefecture – Japan’s third-largest by area – is often intrinsically associated with the 3/11/2011 nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Infamously, the disaster resulted in a zone of exclusion which forced 165,000 residents from their homes. Early government mismanagement of the crisis resulted in a Japanese populace who often distrusted official statements about local food safety. With the name “Fukushima” appended to the plant, the reputation of the entire prefecture and its people suffered.

This was doubly true for those who worked in Fukushima’s vaunted agricultural sector.

A Prefecture Recovering, an Industry Besmirched

Nearly a decade on from the disaster, the zone of exclusion has shrunk dramatically. Villages, once ghost towns, are reopening. Less than 3% of the prefecture remains off-limits. (In fact, at its greatest extent, the ZOE covered less than 6% of the prefecture.) Years of stringent testing have long proven Fukushima-grown produce to be safe. Yet, still, the stigma lingers. The South Korea Olympic Committee announced last year that it planned to bring radiation detectors and Korean-produced food to the (now-postponed) 2020 Tokyo Olympics. They aimed to avoid athletes consuming any Fukushima products.

Such fear-mongering has been especially difficult for farmers in Fukushima. This is in part because the prefecture was actually famous for its high-quality produce previous to the disaster, Fukushima produced 20.6% of the country’s peaches and 8.7% of its cucumbers. The prefecture’s real agricultural showstopper, however, is its rice.

Lucky Island, Lucky Rice

Fukushima is a mountainous land. In particular, parts of the western Aizu region have nary a flat plain in sight. Here, snowmelt from the mountain peaks runs down into regional rice paddies. This pure water helps to give Fukushima rice its high-quality flavor.

The soil, too, assists in producing good rice, as do the prefecture’s hot days and cold nights. Popular rice cultivars like Koshihikari and Hitomebore are grown, as well as numerous sake rice varieties. Fukushima rice is of such high-quality that it famously trades off taking first place with neighboring Niigata in national rice flavor competitions most years. Recently, Fukushima rice was honored three years running. The Japan Grain Inspection Association Rice Taste Rankings awarded multiple Fukushima rice brands its “Special A-Class,” leading the prefecture to take first place in 2017 through 2019.

The high-grade rice also yields high-quality sake (日本酒; nihonshu). The perfect combination of rice and water, paired with breweries with long years of experience, has resulted in some of the country’s best rice wines. Subterranean rivers flowing from Mt. Bandai; water sourced from the Abukuma-do cave; Aizu snowmelt; all these waters serve to help make Fukushima’s sake special. In 2018, Fukushima sake won the coveted National Research Institute of Brewing title for an unprecedented sixth year in a row. Breweries like Suehiro, Okunomatsu, and Kokken are just a few of its renowned sake producers.

Yet the perception of Fukushima rice – even that produced in Aizu, more distant from the nuclear disaster than parts of other prefectures – as being potentially contaminated continues to damage the Fukushima agricultural industry. Governor Uchibori almost certainly had this in mind as he sought to create excitement around Fukushima products with the announcement of the prefecture’s new cultivar.

The Birth of Fuku, Warai

Despite the timeliness of its announcement, the prefecture in fact first began designing this new rice strain 16 years ago. According to the rice brand’s official website, “Niigata no.88, descendant of Koshihikari, is its mother; prefectural cultivation-type Gunkei 627, descendant of Hitomebore, is its father.” Quality and taste-testing repeated since 2006. In 2019, the prefecture official decided to promote the rice. After the rice was announced, 6,234 Fuksuhimans submitted possible names for the cultivar; the government chose “Fuku, Warai” so that it might “bring a smile to the faces of those who produce it, those who eat it, and make them all happy.”

More than that, the prefecture announced an even loftier accomplishment. “Through these 14 months and years, we’ve put our all into creating the ideal rice. We’ve arrived at a new rice, brimming with “Fukushima Pride.”

In a promotional video produced by the prefecture, Sakuma Hideaki, head of the horticulture department of the Fukushima Agricultural Research Center, had the following to say regarding the new rice strain: In terms of its flavor, the grain is quite large and possesses a sweet quality. It has a distinct aroma. You could say it has a soft texture as well. These are special qualities that distinguish this rice from previous Fukushima Prefecture original products up until now.

Ritzy Rice

The new cultivar is being produced as a premium rice, meant to compete with the most luxurious rice strains in Japan. The aim is to have the rice on specialty store shelfs by next fall, following a special preview harvest conducted on 6/6 hectares by 13 specially-picked rice producers.

The new packaging announced on Monday was illustrated by Yorifuji Bunpei (寄藤文平), well-known for his “please do it at home” public service posters on the Tokyo metro. Koriyama-native Yanai Michihiko handled the art direction. Regarding the design, Governor Uchibori said, おいしさや魅力がより伝わるよう、関係者と力を合わせてプロモーションに取り組む。 We’ve put together this promotion by joining with those involved in order to properly convey [the rice’s] deliciousness and value.

With any luck, Fuku, Warai will help with the continued rehabilitation of Fukushima’s impressive agricultural industries. Better yet, it may indeed serve as yet another point of pride for the people of Fukushima.

Sources

(2020年09月01日). 福島県オリジナル米「福、笑い」パッケージ青基調 先行販売へ。Fukushima-Minyu Newspaper.

Official Fukushima Prefectural Fuku, Wari Website.

Sternsdorff-Cisterna, N. (2015). Food after Fukushima: Risk and Scientific Citizenship in Japan. AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST, Vol. 117, No. 3, pp. 455–467,

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

There are 15 nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture.

By Akihiko Tamai

Fukui SEISMIC INTENSITY 5 weak epicenter, fault expert, chain warning ′′ it can be connected to a big earthquake ′′

According to Professor Taku Okamoto (Earthquake) of fukui college of technology, there is a fault in the hirano part of the epicenter of the earthquake that observed the maximum SEISMIC INTENSITY OF 5 in Fukui Prefecture on the morning of September 4th It was possible to wake up In the future, if the earthquake of magnitude (M) 5 0 class is frequent, it is a chain with the surrounding fault, and it is pointed out that ′′ it can be connected to a big earthquake like the kumamoto earthquake 5

According to Professor Okamoto, the next wave that does not appear if it is not a fault-specific structure near the epicenter of this time is observed in the past earthquake, and in the west rim of fukui hirano, it is a fault that penetrates the confluence of the kuzuryu and hinogawa to the north It is said that there is a.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, this earthquake is a ′′ reverse fault type ′′ that is pushed from both sides and moves in the upper and lower direction. Professor Okamoto points out that the fault of the fukui hirano west rim may have caused the fault of the estimated fault and epicenter.

The Epicenter of this time is about 5 km away from the fukui hirano fault belt, which caused the fukui earthquake on June 28, 1948, and it is not directly related. Also, the earthquake of 4 or more seismic intensity that epicenter the north of the north of the north of the north of the north of the north of the north of the

The current situation is close to the earthquake of the shaking aftershocks, but in the future, if there is a similar earthquake as this time, there is a sabae fault in the south, so it is pointed out that ′′ chain leads to a big earthquake On Top of that, ′′ I need to carefully look at the progression of aftershocks activities for 1 OR 2 weeks

The earthquake is also called ′′ emergency earthquake breaking news is not in time In the future of aftershocks, I’m calling ′′ if you feel the tremor, I want you to lower your posture and take action to protect your head (Fukui Shimbun September 5)

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Tokyo Olympics will be most costly Summer Games, Oxford study shows

In this June 3, the Olympic rings float in the water at sunset in the Odaiba section in Tokyo.

September 4, 2020

TOKYO

The Tokyo Olympics are already the most expensive Summer Games on record with costs set to go higher, a wide-ranging study from Britain’s University of Oxford indicates.

The Tokyo cost overrun already exceeds 200%, lead author Bent Flyvbjerg explained in an interview with The Associated Press. This is even before several billion more dollars are added on from the one-year delay from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Flyvbjerg is an economist at Oxford’s Said Business School. His entire study is available here, and it’s set to be published on Sept. 15 in the journal “Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space.” It’s titled “Regression to the Tail: Why the Olympics Blow Up.”

Tokyo, postponed until July 23, 2021, is only a small part of the focus. The study — the third in a series following editions 2012 and 2016 — looks at Olympic costs since 1960 and finds they keep increasing despite claims by the International Olympic Committee that costs are being cut.

Flyvbjerg cites many reasons for the rising costs and cost overruns, and offers solutions for the IOC. The vast majority of costs are picked up by governments with the IOC contributing only a small portion.

“The Olympics offer the highest level of risk a city can take on,” Flyvbjerg told AP. “The trend cannot continue. No city will want to do this because it’s just too expensive, putting themselves into a debt that most cities cannot afford.”

In his paper, Flyvbjerg cites Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose city is to hold the 2028 Olympics following Paris in 2024.

“Most cities, unless you have a government that’s willing to go into debt or pay the subsidy of what this costs, most cities will never say ‘yes’ to the Olympics again unless they find the right model,” he quotes Garcetti as saying.

By the right model, Garcetti means lower costs.

Tracking Olympic costs is difficult, a dense maze of overlap and debate. Politicians and organizers always argue over what are — and what are not — Olympic expenses.

Flyvbjerg writes: “Unfortunately, Olympics officials and hosts often misinform about the costs and cost overruns of the Games. … We therefore cannot count on organizers, the IOC, and governments to provide us with reliable information about the real costs, cost overruns, and cost risks of the Olympic Games.”

Flyvbjerg looks only at costs to operate the games — the operating costs and capital costs — the cost to build sports venues. He leaves out a third category, which is usually many times larger: renovating roads, building airports, and what he calls “sprucing up projects,” which also fall to taxpayers.

“Our estimates are conservative because there are lots of costs that are hidden that we can’t get into,” Flyvbjerg said. “And there are lots of costs we decided not to include because it’s too complex. We include the things we can get the most reliable numbers for and we do it in the same way for each city that we study.”

He also excludes the cost of debt, and the future cost of running sports venues after the Olympics leave, and inflation.

According to the Oxford numbers. Tokyo’s spending is at $15.84 billion, already surpassing the 2012 London Olympics, which were the most expensive summer games to date at $14.95 billion. He expects several billion more from the cost of the one-year delay.

Tokyo organizers say officially they are spending $12.6 billion. However, a national auditor says the actual costs are twice that high, made up of some expenses that the Oxford study omits because they are not constant between different Olympics.

Tokyo said the cost would be $7.3 billion when it won the bid in 2013.

“They (IOC) obviously don’t like our results, but it’s very difficult to counter a piece of rigorous research like this,” Flyvbjerg said. “And they haven’t done that, and they can’t do that. Our research is a problem for them.”

In an email to Associated Press, the IOC said it had not seen the latest Oxford study and declined to comment.It referenced another study by Mainz and Sorbonne universities.

This study also found Olympic cost overruns but said they were in line with other large-scale projects. Flyvbjerg’s study finds they are not.

Flyvbjerg said he has been in touch on and off with the IOC and had sent a colleague to an IOC workshop. He said a major reason for the rising costs is that the IOC does not pay for them. He also cited rising security costs, and moving the games around the world. He calls this the “Eternal Beginner Syndrome” with new host cities starting basically from scratch.

He’s said the IOC has tried recently to rein in costs, but the effort is “too little, too late.”

“They (IOC) define the specs but don’t pay for them,”Flyvbjerg said. “This is pretty similar to you and I giving the specs for a house that we are going to live in, but we don’t have to pay for it. How do you think we’d spend? We’d gold-plate it. This is what has happened over time.”

Flyvbjerg said he’s relish a chance to sit and talk with IOC President Thomas Bach. He calls himself a fan of the Olympics.

“It’s not that the IOC hasn’t been willing to talk, or I am not willing to talk,”he said. “We certainly are. We have communicated in writing to keep the IOC informed. But yes, we would like to sit down with Thomas Bach.”

https://japantoday.com/category/sports/oxford-study-tokyo-olympics-are-most-costly-summer-games

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Video analysis prompts new theory on Fukushima explosion

Septembre 4, 2020

Experts revise their theory surrounding a hydrogen explosion at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011 based on Nippon TV’s reprocessing of footage an affiliate took of the event.

http://www.ntv.co.jp/englishnews/fukushima-update/video_analysis_prompts_new_theory_on_fukushima_explosion/?fbclid=IwAR2NBAl2bb6F5NmdAQ4cFBvfFwkooOyvsDs9rF2ISYyRLOlLZ9f6L8J9-nU

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

“KURENAI”Written by KUNIHIRO SUZUKI

Foreword

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit the Eastern Coast of Japan, which triggered the nuclear core meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. This is known as the Triple Disasters of 3.11. Even now, nine years later, the damaged power plants are continually releasing massive amounts of radioactive materials.

The Japanese government has changed the radiation safety standards. Restrictions of radiation exposure to residence was loosened to 20 times than before the disaster. The government has forcefully carried out repatriation policies for us to return home despite high levels of radiation contamination in the area. Few people have returned home. Once lively towns are now silent.

Inconsistency in evacuation policy after the nuclear disaster has left many local communities divided. In the name of the Olympic games, the government placed numerous policies in arbitrary manner, and as a result the people of Fukushima are left in pieces.

Overflowing memories were fiddled bluntly and drifting apart with nowhere to go

Only people continue on as if nothing happened

Convenient excuses alone cannot refill abandoned houses

Beautiful flowers painfully contrast with flexible container bags*, echoing hollowness

*Flexible container bags contain contaminated materials

Exposed to Mushubutsu*, what have the Seven Gods of Fortune witnessed, and what have they pondered?
*TEPCO claims that fallen-out radioactive materials belong to no one (Mushubutsu) and thus they are not responsible for it.

Evacuation orders have been lifted, and new nuclear facilities appear

Cherry blossom festivals bring momentary liveliness

While childless villages are left to decay

Under a clear blue sky, flowers flourish, birds squeal, wild animals and insects rejoice freedom

Because Mushubutsu is invisible, Because Mushubutsu is odorless

Villages with no more people, Villages with no sound, Villages left to decay, Villages to be abandoned

Is this heaven or hell? Mountains, rivers, grass and trees

Only people are missing here

The broken nuclear plants that once tore so many hearts, continue puffing out fumes

Will it continue to tear us apart?

Please, no more.

Afterword

I got the idea of this book in April 2019, when I was on my way to a cherry blossom festival in Tomioka Town, Fukushima. The airborne radiation level of a street was 0.2~0.7 μSv, and the next street was 1.0μSv. The barricade divided the cherry blossom street. There were young children and elderly couples, families with their pets, full of smiles and happiness. But at the same time, there were those who worryingly gazed out beyond the barricade.

There were many street vendors lined up in the nearby middle school playground for the festival. There was even an informational booth from the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA). Next to the ground, there was a gymnasium. The gymnasium was left there as if frozen in time, in preparation for the graduation ceremony right before the earthquake hit. As I was walking through this chaotic town alone, I thought to myself, “I wish the sky would turn red.”
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics have also been called the “Recovery Olympics.” The governor of Fukushima has asserted that he will show the world “the light and the darkness” of Fukushima. But how is the “dark” side of Fukushima going to be revealed? To name one, the route of the torch relay seems to imply otherwise.
While chanting such optimistic terms like “ties” (kizuna), “Cheer up!” (ganbarou), “I’m doing well” (genkidesu), aren’t we trying to look away from tens of thousands of evacuees or those who have returned only to face a life of sorrow and pain?
As many people have begun to forget about the “darkness” in Fukushima, I feel obliged to keep drawing about it. Perhaps, the decommissioning of the reactors won’t be completed in my life time.

https://www.behance.net/gallery/102307827/Poetry-Books-KURENAI?fbclid=IwAR1gsxzJ42z6Ki08h-qlrKF-uNxU_KajhKhodDychKDtRuZF7-OXPWH0Yvg

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste disposal is a matter of environmental concern

Aug 31, 2020

It has been reported that the town of Suttsu in Hokkaido is considering applying for a two-year “literature research” into the possibility of storing high-level radioactive nuclear waste. A maximum of ¥2 billion in subsidies will be granted by the central government.

“The future of the town is financially precarious,” said Haruo Kataoka, the mayor of Suttsu, in an interview.

But the money that is thought to revive the town cannot reverse what the nuclear waste is likely to cause.

It is, in my opinion, never a financial issue, but a matter of environmental concern.

What is in question here is high-level radioactive nuclear waste, which can be dangerous for at least 200,000 years and therefore must be handled with the utmost care. It is indeed a problem that any country with nuclear power plants needs to address, however thorny it is. Any indiscreet decision is deemed extremely irresponsible and profoundly unethical.

“Financially precarious,” I must stress, is by no means comparable to environmentally threatening. Besides, it is specifically stated in a Hokkaido ordinance that nuclear waste is hardly acceptable in the prefecture.

Before a final disposal site is selected, or even before an application for research is submitted, the scientific facts ought to be thoroughly understood and the residents properly informed.

The span of recorded history is merely 5,000 years, while 200,000 years is far beyond human experience and comprehension. We certainly cannot live to see what is going to become of the nuclear waste, but I believe that we do not want to leave the thorny problem unaddressed to haunt our future generations.

Jive Sun

Sapporo

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2020/08/31/reader-mail/nuclear-waste-disposal-matter-environmental-concern/

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Low Dose Ionizing Radiation Shown to Cause Cancer in Review of 26 Studies

These results contradict the claims of the Japanese authorities who keep repeating that there is no impact observed below a dose of 100 mSv.

The US National Cancer Institute has dedicated an entire volume of its scientific journal, Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs, to the impact of low doses of radiation on cancers. The articles are open access.

 

jncmon_2020_56cover

July 13, 2020

An international team of experts in the study of cancer risks associated with low-dose ionizing radiation published the monograph, “Epidemiological studies of low-dose ionizing radiation and cancer: Summary bias assessment and meta-analysis,” in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on July 13, 2020.  

It is well established that ionizing radiation causes cancer through direct DNA damage. The general public are exposed to low doses of ionizing radiation from medical exposures like computed tomography (CT) scans, naturally occurring radiation (emitted from bedrock with the earth’s crust and cosmic rays emitted by the sun), and occupational exposures to medical, aircrew and nuclear workers. A key question for low-dose exposures is how much of the damage can be repaired and whether other mechanisms, including inflammation, also play a role. This critical question has been long debated for radiation protection standards.

After combing data from 26 epidemiological studies the authors found clear evidence of excess cancer risk from low dose ionizing radiation: 17 of 22 studies showed risk for solid cancers and 17 of 20 studies showed risk for leukemia. The summary risk estimates were statistically significant and the magnitude of risk (per unit dose) was consistent with studies of populations exposed to higher doses.

A novel feature of the research effort was the investigators’ use of epidemiological and statistical techniques to identify and evaluate possible sources of bias in the observational data, for example confounding, errors in doses, and misclassification of outcomes. After a thorough and systematic review, they concluded that most did not suffer from major biases.

The authors concluded that although for the most part, absolute risk of cancer will be small, the data reinforce the radiation safety principle to ensure that doses are “as low as reasonably achievable” (ALARA).   

Additional research is needed to explore risks for cardiovascular disease (CVD) at low doses. Because CVD is a very common disease, even small risks at low doses could have important implications for radiation protection and public health.  

The 26 epidemiological studies were published between 2006 and 2017 and included a total of 91,000 solid cancers and 13,000 leukemias. Studies were eligible if the mean dose was <100 mGy. The study populations had environmental radiation exposure from accidents, like Chernobyl, and natural background radiation, medical radiation exposure like CT scans and occupational exposure including nuclear workers and medical radiation workers.   

Reference:

Epidemiological studies of low-dose ionizing radiation and cancer: Summary bias assessment and meta-analysisExit Disclaimer,” JNCI Monographs. Volume 2020. Issue 56. July 2020.

https://academic.oup.com/jncimono/issue/2020/56

https://dceg.cancer.gov/news-events/news/2020/low-dose-monograph

September 1, 2020 Posted by | radiation | , , , | 1 Comment