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No Damages to Nuclear Plants after 6.8 Magnitude Earthquake ‘according’ to TEPCO and Trade Ministry

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No Damages To Nuclear Power Plants Reported After Earthquake In Japan – Trade Ministry
June 18, 2019
No damages have been reported so far on Japan’s nuclear power plants after the north of the country got hit by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said
MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 18th June, 2019) No damages have been reported so far on Japan’s nuclear power plants after the north of the country got hit by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.
“There is no information of damage inflicted on the following Nuclear Power Stations (all in shutdown or in decommissioning). Tokyo Electric Power: Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant / Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant / Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant, Tohoku Electric Power: Higashidori Nuclear Power Plant / Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant,” the ministry said on Twitter.
 
No impact from the earthquake on primary TEPCO power facilities
June 19, 2019
At around 10:22 PM on June 18th, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Yamagata Prefecture, Japan.
Field patrols at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, Fukushima Daiichi and Fukushima Daini nuclear power stations did not find any abnormalities with equipment at any of the stations. And, no abnormalities were found in monitoring post or plant parameter data.
There was also no impact from this earthquake on other primary TEPCO power facilities, such as hydroelectric power facilities and transmission facilities in Niigata Prefecture.
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June 20, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Nuclear washing machine for soil decontamination?

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Technology to clean radioactive contaminated soil
Tuesday, June 18, 15:14
Japanese researchers say they have developed technology to clean soil contaminated by radioactive fallout from accidents at nuclear power plants.
Waseda University Professor Masahiko Matsukata and his team developed the technology.
The technology involves removing the contaminated particles of soil by adding a special chemical to high-pressure water that is used to clean the soil.
The researchers say their technology needs less electricity and chemicals than conventional methods, reducing costs by more than two-thirds.
Large volumes of soil affected by the fallout from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident have been removed during decontamination work in Fukushima Prefecture.
The government aims to bring the soil to intermediate storage facilities and lower the concentration of pollutants or recycle it so that the amount of soil for final disposal will be reduced.
The Waseda team plans to use soil from such intermediate storage facilities in testing its technology before it can put it to practical use.
Matsukata said the team has proven that its technology can reduce the volume of contaminated dirt at low costs. He said he aims to further test the technology and put it into practice in the affected areas.

June 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | 1 Comment

Torchbearer application for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay opens Monday

The first 3 days of the 2020 Olympic Torch Relay to start and go thru Fukushima prefecture.
Quote from Robin Lawrence: “The route seems like a ridiculously cynical one. Doublespeak played out before a watching world.
No one would conduct such a relay in the Chernobyl exclusion zone but this? The IOC, the Japanese government and the UN hierarchy would endorse turning a blind eye into farce.
The civilisation that this symbolism represents exhibits no heart or care for our future wellbeing. A facile attitude.”
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Torchbearer application for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay opens Monday
The torchbearer application for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay opened Monday, which is the relay that brings the Olympic flame from Olympia, Greece, to Tokyo, Japan, for the beginning of the Summer Games.
June 17th 2019
Megan Marples and Katia Hetter, CNN – The torchbearer application for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay opened Monday, which is the relay that brings the Olympic flame from Olympia, Greece, to Tokyo, Japan, for the beginning of the Summer Games.
About 10,000 torchbearers, half of which will be members of the public, will wind their way through all 47 Japanese prefectures to safely deliver the flame to the Olympic cauldron.
Each leg of the relay is about 200 meters (656 feet), although one leg could be longer than the other. The route was designed to be easily accessible for almost everyone in Japan, with 98% of the population being within an hour car or train ride away from the route.
The relay will begin on March 26, 2020, at the J-Village National Training Centre in Fukushima Prefecture and will last 121 days.
The application says that all people are eligible to apply, regardless of nationality, age, gender or impairment. Applicants must be born on or before April 1, 2008. Children 17 and younger on March 1, 2020, will need a parent or guardian’s permission to participate.
“In 2020, the Olympic flame will not only symbolize the sunrise of a new era spreading the hope that will light our way, but will also serve to spread the joy and passion of the Japanese around the Olympic movement as the Games approach,” the Tokyo Organising Committee said in a statement.
Three categories are outlined in the application to describe the selection approach.
The first is “spirit of reconstruction and perseverance,” which applies to people who have demonstrated the ability to overcome great adversity.
The second category is “tolerance to embrace diversity” for people who have united a diverse group of individuals.
The third category is “unity experienced through the celebration” for people who can bring together a community by acting as torchbearers.
In honor of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, there will be a special display called “Flame of Recovery” before the official relay begins. It will begin on March 20, 2020, and last for two days each in the Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures.
Daisuke Obana, the torch relay uniform designer, commented on the significance of the display.
“In Japan, these Games are being referred to as ‘the Recovery Games’ and so the Olympic flame will start its journey from an area affected by recent natural disasters. I hope that the Olympic flame that is transported to Japan will bring with it the encouragement and thoughts of people from all over the world,” Obana said in a statement.
Application details can be found here. Successful applicants will be notified on or after December 2019.

June 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | 1 Comment

First 3 Days of 2020 Olympic Torch Relay Race Route Thru Fukushima

olympic torch race relay course

 

By Kolin Kobayashi
June 19, 2019
The Tokyo Olympic Committee has published the Olympic torch relay race route. It is clear that they are trying to “normalize”, and sweep “the traces of the Fukushima disaster.
The Tokyo Olympics are the denial of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. We will not let them do this unopposed.

June 19, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Researchers Find Radioactive Particles from Fukushima or other Nuclear Disasters Could Stay in Environment, Human Lungs for Decades

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Aftermath of the Fukushima 2011 earthquake.
June 17, 2019
Q&A with Professor Rodney C. Ewing, Frank Stanton Professor in Nuclear Security and co-director at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI). Interview with Katy Gabel Chui.
Your previous research with this team helped identify the types of radioactive particles that can become airborne and were transported away from Fukushima during the 2011 nuclear disaster.
This most recent paper goes further to show how these Cesium (Cs)-rich silica particles behave in several types of fluids, including simulated human lung fluid, concluding that the particles are fully dissolved in the latter after more than 35 years. What might that mean for human health in the Fukushima area and beyond?
The first breakthrough was the recognition that such particles, a few microns in diameter, existed, a discovery by Japanese scientists at the Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, in 2013. The particles are important because they were dispersed over distances of tens of kilometers and were “carriers” of highly radioactive Cs. Our team’s previous work, led by Professor Satoshi Utsunomiya, mainly focused on the characterization of the particles and their constituents at the atomic-scale and surveyed their distribution in the area away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants. Our earliest work from 2016 can be found online. A good summary of the history of the work on these cesium-rich microparticles was recently published in Scientific American.
This latest paper published in Chemosphere is the 6th in a series of papers on the Cs-rich microparticles. We describe the behavior of these particles when exposed to different types of fluids: ultra-pure water, artificial sea water and simulated lung fluid. The microparticles dissolve in all three fluids, reaching a long-term but a continuing, slow rate of release after just three days. Essentially, the calculated release rate of cesium depends on the rate of dissolution of the silica glass matrix and the initial size of the particles. In the simulated lung fluid, the particles are modelled to fully dissolve after more than 35 years.
What is the simulated lung fluid made of, and how does it work in simulation? How do you estimate 35 years?
The constituents of typical lung fluid were simply mixed to simulate its composition based on a recipe reported by previous studies. The lung fluid is different from the other solutions because it contains organic compounds and has a different chemistry, i.e., higher sodium and chlorine content. The estimates of residence time in the body assumes that the particles are inhaled and find their way to the pulmonary system. The calculation of residence time is based on assumptions about the size and composition of the microparticles, and we used the long-term release rate from the experiments. We assumed a spherical shape and a constant decrease in size as the leaching process continued. The rate can vary depending on the actual shape, internal texture, composition (such as occurrence of intrinsic Cs-phase inclusions), and precipitation of secondary phases that may form a “protective” coating on the cesium-rich microparticles (CsMPs). The rate of release was fastest in the simulated lung fluid.
The important result is to realize that the Cs-rich silica particles dissolve slowly in the environment and in the body. Essentially, the release extends for several decades.
How can nuclear energy experts and policy makers use this research to avoid future risk?
Understanding the form and composition of materials that host and disperse radionuclides is the first step in completing a careful dose calculation. Based on these results, the fraction of Cs contained in the silica particles will not be rapidly “flushed” through the environment or the body, but rather will be released over several decades.

June 19, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Children and Youth Thyroid Cancer Cases in Fukushima and East Japan

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By Mari Inoue
June 17, 2019
OurPlanet-TV, an alternative media, is probably the only media in Japan that has been closely monitoring thyroid cancer cases among children and youth in Fukushima and East Japan.
It is sad to learn that thyroid cancers among children outside Fukushima Prefecture are already reported. OurPlanet-TV reports that 9 thyroid cancer cases were already found among children in Tokyo and 7 cases each in Saitama and Kanagawa Prefectures, and 6 cases in Miyagi Prefecture, according to the data from “3.11 Fund for Children with Thyroid Cancer”, an NPO that provide financial aid to families of children who were 18 or younger at the time of the nuclear accident in 2011.
 
Info on 3.11 Fund for Children with Thyroid Cancer is here: https://311kikin.org/english
fbclid=IwAR1geAYvJdadKYdExEx5ABRObrYub6VeSclAJXEp–6Jqa7jwRjr6RoDsp0

June 19, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

AECOM signs agreement with Toshiba to perform nuclear decommissioning services in Japan

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The signing of the collaboration agreement. From left to right: Dan Brouillette, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy; Mark Whitney, Executive Vice President and General Manager for AECOM’s Nuclear & Environment strategic business unit; Goro Yanase, Chief Nuclear Officer, Toshiba ESS; and Taizo Takahashi, Commissioner, Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE).
June 17, 2019
LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–
The partnership will expand access to the key Asian market that is valued at $50 billion and further underscores AECOM’s leading nuclear decontamination and decommissioning capabilities
AECOM (ACM), a premier, fully integrated global infrastructure firm, and Toshiba have signed an Alliance Agreement to work together on decommissioning nuclear reactors in Japan. This is a major step forward that combines AECOM’s 30 years of experience in nuclear decommissioning with Toshiba’s long history of supporting the nuclear industry. The alliance will offer comprehensive services to Japanese government organizations and commercial power utilities that plan to decommission their reactors and nuclear facilities.
This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190617005844/en/
“We are proud to be in an Alliance with such a respected company and excited about marketing our collective capabilities to the Japanese government and utilities,” said Michael S. Burke, AECOM’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We believe this Alliance has the right experience, capabilities, skill mix and resources to meet the needs of this nuclear cleanup market. We have had tremendous success in nuclear decommissioning for the U.S. Department of Energy and the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, as well as commercial clients around the world, and we look forward to supporting the Japanese utilities through this Alliance.”
AECOM is the market leader in the U.S. and U.K. for managing high-hazard, complex nuclear decommissioning programs. This includes work for the U.S. Department of Energy at key sites, such as Hanford, Savannah River, Oak Ridge and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. AECOM also is a leader in the U.K. decommissioning market with major contracts at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority facilities at Dounreay and the Low Level Waste Repository. Including the Company’s work for commercial nuclear utilities, such as at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in Southern California, AECOM is viewed as a world leader in this expanding clean-up market. Combining AECOM‘s expertise with the local knowledge and capabilities of Toshiba, the Company can expand the full range of required decommissioning services to Japan.
“We are excited to partner with Toshiba and further expand our expertise in the nuclear D&D market,” said John Vollmer, AECOM’s president of its Management Services group. “In addition to our ongoing work at key U.S. Department of Energy sites and our recent selection for the $400 million Dounreay decommissioning framework, our teams have demonstrated a high level of success as we continue to expand our share within this high-growth market.”
Within the nuclear decommissioning sector, AECOM provides program management; planning, design and engineering; systems engineering and technical assistance; construction and construction management; operations and maintenance; environmental remediation; waste management and decommissioning, dismantling and closure services to a broad range of clients.
About AECOM
AECOM (ACM) is built to deliver a better world. We design, build, finance and operate critical infrastructure assets for governments, businesses and organizations. As a fully integrated firm, we connect knowledge and experience across our global network of experts to help clients solve their most complex challenges. From high-performance buildings and infrastructure, to resilient communities and environments, to stable and secure nations, our work is transformative, differentiated and vital. A Fortune 500 firm, AECOM had revenue of approximately $20.2 billion during fiscal year 2018. See how we deliver what others can only imagine at aecom.com and @AECOM.

June 19, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

NRA safety license for Sendai reactors legal, Fukuoka court finds, dismissing volcano risk lawsuit

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“The plaintiffs argued the Nuclear Regulation Authority gave the green light without sufficiently assessing the potential risk of eruptions at nearby Mount Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture and four other volcanoes.”
June 17, 2019
FUKUOKA – A district court said on Monday it found nothing illegal with a safety clearance granted to two reactors in Kyushu that were restarted after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, dismissing a demand for a retraction filed by plaintiffs who said it ignored the risk of volcanic eruptions.
The lawsuit was filed by 33 plaintiffs against a license authorizing design changes at reactors 1 and 2 at the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture under tougher post-Fukushima safety regulations.
They were the first commercial reactors in the nation to be restarted after the crisis.
The plaintiffs argued the Nuclear Regulation Authority gave the green light without sufficiently assessing the potential risk of eruptions at nearby Mount Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture and four other volcanoes.
In the first ruling of its kind, the Fukuoka District Court concluded the license issued was not illegal.
“Japanese laws on nuclear power do not go so far as to require that regulators consider the impact of a catastrophic volcanic eruption that is impossible to predict and highly unlikely to occur,” Judge Moriharu Kurasawa said.
But Kurasawa acknowledged there were “doubts” over the NRA’s standard for volcanic risk assessment, given no methodology exists for accurately assessing volcanic activity.
Kyushu Electric Power Co. described the ruling as “appropriate,” but the plaintiffs, who came from 10 prefectures, said they might appeal.
During the trial, authorities said that the rules were rational based on the latest analysis and that there was nothing wrong with the approval process.
The plaintiffs argued it is difficult to predict exactly when an eruption could occur and how big it could be, and said current safety standards underestimate their impact.
“It is regrettable,” plaintiff Ryoko Torihara, 70, of Kagoshima Prefecture said after the ruling. “The lessons of the nuclear accident have not been learned.”
Another plaintiff said, “The frequency of a catastrophic eruption may be low, but it could happen tomorrow. I’m very disappointed that the ruling appears to be just following (what) the state (wants to do).”
While the government is aiming to bring dozens of reactors back online after the triple reactor core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 complex led to a nationwide suspension of nuclear power, a number of lawsuits have been filed to stop the drive.
The two reactors at the Sendai plant were rebooted in August and October 2015, respectively, after the license was issued in September 2014.
A suit demanding an injunction to halt them was rejected by the Kagoshima District Court in April 2015, a decision that was upheld by the Miyazaki branch of the Fukuoka High Court in April 2016.
Volcanic hazards have been a major concern in regard to nuclear plant operations, with similar injunction requests filed elsewhere.
The Hiroshima High Court in December 2017 halted the restart of the No. 3 unit at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture with a provisional injunction, citing the potential hazard from Mount Aso, around 130 km away.
But the court later accepted an appeal by the utility to reactivate it, saying worries over a volcanic eruption damaging the unit were “groundless.”
In March 2018, the Saga District Court rejected a demand by residents to suspend the restart of two reactors at Kyushu Electric’s Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture due to the risk of a volcanic eruption in the region.

June 19, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

At Fukushima’s ground zero, a town slowly comes back to life

The orchestrated delusion that people can live with radiation
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Akiyoshi Fushimi and his wife, Teru, carry a painting of hollyhocks into a new housing unit for evacuees in the town of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 1.
June 16, 2019
Shigeru Niitsuma moved back into Okuma’s Ogawara district on June 1 — the first day residents were allowed to move into disaster-relief housing since the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant forced them to leave town in 2011.
“I feel at home in Ogawara, where I was born and raised,” said the 70-year-old, who carried a washing machine and TV set into his new home.
It makes him smile to water the marigolds and other flowers in his new garden.
The evacuation order for the neighborhood was lifted in April after decontamination work lowered radiation levels there.
Before the crisis, he was a farmer who grew rice and vegetables. Now he lives in the unit alone while his family remains in Takahagi, Ibaraki Prefecture, where they fled during the nuclear crisis.
The house where he used to live in Ogawara had to be demolished because of damage caused by boars, dogs and mice.
Niitsuma still visits it from time to time to tend to his flowers and vegetables and participate in neighborhood watch duties.
“It will be best if young people come back, which will revive the town,” he said. “In the meantime, I want to show everybody that it’s safe to return.”
Akiyoshi Fushimi, 68, and his wife, Teru, 66, moved into their disaster-relief unit from Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture. The Great East Japan Earthquake struck just three months after they had built a house in Okuma, which co-hosts the now-defunct power plant.
Though they can’t return to their former home, which remains in a no-go zone, it still brings them joy to live nearby.
As they entered their new home, the couple brought in a painting of hollyhocks made by Teru, taking a moment to appreciate the work.
The couple said it was difficult to be happy while thinking about those unable to return, but they agreed it was important for those able to return to do so.
The disaster-relief housing in Ogawara includes 40 shared units and 50 two- or three-bedroom units with kitchens, living rooms and dining rooms. Workers were still coming and going on June 1 to get them ready and help people move in.
As of Friday, the town was still recruiting potential residents for the shared units.
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In the meantime, to cater to residents and construction workers in the area, a convenience store opened on June 3 right in front of Okuma’s new town hall.
Yamazaki Shop sells about 700 products including bread, bento, instant noodles, snacks, alcohol, cigarettes, general supplies and newspapers. With about 30 sq. meters of floor space, the tiny store is intended be a makeshift facility until a commercial complex under construction in Ogawara is finished.
For now, the store is scheduled to operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Saturdays. It will be closed on Sundays except for special events.
On the first day, residents and construction workers came in to search for lunch.
“I want to build up this store together with customers,” said the manager, Takashi Akama, 29. “If there’s a product people want, they should feel free to let me know.”
This section features topics and issues from Fukushima covered by the Fukushima Minpo, the largest newspaper in Fukushima Prefecture.

June 19, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Theater Play: “Forgetting the Future”

Bugs, Bots, and Ghosts
Non-human theatre both provokes and comforts in a post-Fukushima world.
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The cast of Shu Matsui’s 2013 play “Forgetting the Future.”
 
BY KYOKO IWAKI
June 12, 2019
Just as, for many Americans, it is difficultto reflect on 9/11 without mass disquietude, for many Japanese 3/11 is not merely another day.
At 2:46 p.m. on March11, 2011, the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami—better known today as the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster—rippled along the Northeastern coastline of the island country. This unprecedented triple attack included a magnitude 9.0 earthquake that moved Japan eight feet east, a 9.8-foot tsunami that killed over 15,000 people,and a Level-7 nuclear melt-through of three nuclear vessels.
 
This multivalent catastrophe, both natural and man-made, might be said to have created an almost complete tabula rasa. In addition to the earthquake and tsunamis,which disrupted tangible space, radiation extinguishes another intangible dimension:time. Considering that Plutonium 239 has a half-life (the period in which 50 percent of nuclides will have undergone nuclear decay) of 24,110 years, nuclear aftermaths indeed seem to defy a human conception of time.
 
Unfortunately humanity’s sense of emergency does not last for 20,000 years, for good reason: If we were to continue to dwell at length in the same level of hypertension, our nervous systems would soon collapse. That is why, in the current daily life of Japan, the repercussions of Fukushima seem invisible (unless you’re near the epicenter).
As early as September 2013, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo unabashedly declared, before the International Olympic Committee, that Fukushima is “under control,” an assurance that was probably crucial to Japan winning the 2020 Olympics. Ostensibly the country has regained its peace, yet one must never forget that this peace is only a palimpsest,resting upon a constant effort to silence anxieties.
 
If nuclear time defies human time, nuclear fallout deceives human perception. That’s why for some people in Japan (and the rest of the world), the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe was absent to begin with: out of sight, hence out of mind.
On the other hand, for others, it is omnipresent. Owing to this simultaneous absence and presence,many Japanese are impelled to broach uncharted domain—that is, they are compelled to seek a new language to aptly express their uncertainties, to rebuild collective values that could mend divided narratives, and to construct a new way of life that is not merely situated prior to but is always aligned with death. When it comes to trying new languages, values, and Lebenschauung (or views of life), theatre—with its physical presence, emotional eloquence, and fictional safeguards—naturally becomes a useful testbed.
 
Not that theatre has taken what may seem the most obvious reaction and approach: an ecocritical theatre demanding a full cessation of the 54 nuclear power plants in Japan,or a head-on political theatre rigidly questioning the legal liabilities of Tokyo ElectricPower Company. Instead a gradual yet sturdy “non-human” turn has been evident. For various reasons, theatre makers have become noticeably more attracted to cyborgs,animals, insects, and ghosts. In its most obvious renditions, human actors perform roles of anthropomorphized non-human beings. One could argue that this is just another form of the techno-animistic imagination prevalent in Japan since long before 3/11.But what must be noted here is that the rationales underpinning this turn toward the non-human have shifted in subtle yet interesting ways after Fukushima.
 
Japan is considered by many to be a trailblazer of industrial robots and futuristic imagination. From the mangas of Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy (1952) and MitsutruYokoyama’s Ironman 28 (1956), ideal human-robot kinships have been dreamt of by boys, girls, and many still-adolescent adults. Before 3/11, most of these robots were designed to serve humans as part of a better society, not built to supersede or replace us. In this unthinkingly human-centric register, robots were acknowledged to be essentially inferior to humans; that’s why Atom, the humanoid nine-year-old in AstroBoy, always longed to be treated like a human child.
 
Since the Fukushima catastrophe, this human-robot hierarchy has been subtly inverted. Forced to realize how easily destructible their social bonds are and how
physically vulnerable their bodies could be, many Japanese theatre makers have created androids who “act” on stage as symbols of indestructible immortality—a thing humans have yearned for half-eternally.
 
Oriza Hirata—playwright, director, leader of Seinendan (Youth group) Theatre Company, and a usual suspect in Francophone theatre festivals—is generally considered the forerunner of Japanese robot theatre. Working with Hiroshi Ishiguro, aroboticist at Osaka University, Hirata has created eight robot theatre productions,including robotic versions of Kenji Miyazawa’s Night on the Galactic Railroad (2013),Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis (2014), and the Hamburg State Opera’s Stilles Meer (Silent Sea, 2016) in which a robot (Robovie-R3 by Vstone) appears as a nuclear poweplant worker. Hirata even sometimes talks about a near future in which human actors could be completely replaced by androids, reasoning, “They could act in any language; travel cheaply; never get sick; and never complain.”
 
In his post-3/11 robot theatre productions, Hirata sheds light on the concepts of immortality and integrity. In his android version of Chekhov’s Three Sisters (2012), for instance, the Fukazawa sisters live in a rural town with a formerly thriving robot industry. Their late father, a renowned robot scientist, created an android of his youngest daughter, Ikumi, before he died. (The real Ikumi seems also to have died,though we later learn that she is still alive but has become a hikikomori
—a social recluse.) While the older sisters visit their father’s grave to commemorate his death, android Ikumi refrains, because “death does not concern” her; mortality is a purely abstract concept in her mind. Meanwhile other family members seem agonized by the impending death of their community in the face of a declining birthrate, a labor shortage, and fading hope overall—an almost prophetic vision of a near-future Japan. And while they dodge the gloomy topic around the dinner table, the robot Ikumi, programmed to articulate unequivocally, can only reveal the awkward truth. Next to this logically impeccable and immortal robot, humans come to seem increasingly more fragile, flawed, and duplicitous.
 
This Three Sisters forces the post-Fukushima audience to question whether or not they,like the Fukazawa family, are hiding behind a veil of escapism; indeed they might even envy the fearless “human integrity” so well represented by the android. At the sametime, shrewd observers may begin to feel that accepting faults, fragilities, and failures might be the crux of humanity. Either way, Hirata’s Three Sisters demands that were consider what is putatively morally “human.”
 
From the outset of his career, director-playwright Shu Matsui has been questioningthe validity of several key concepts of Western humanism, including coherent logic,subjectivity, and individualism, which, in certain cases, seem to run against harmony-oriented Japanese norms. But it wasn’t until the 3/11 catastrophe that Matsui clearly imagined a non-human theatrical universe favoring collectivism over individualism,relativity over subjectivity, and affect over logic.
 
In Forgetting the Future (Mirai o wasureru, 2013), a character called Shimada Burio (the name is a spoof on the Japanese word for “embryo”) is presented as the world’s first cockroach-human hybrid. In addition to fluently speaking a human language, Burio can also talk through a Deleuzian language of “molecular vibration, chirring, buzzing,clicking, scratching, and scraping,” enabling him to go beyond the formal limits of communication that inevitably draw a boundary between the subject and the object, between me and you.
 
When facing vulnerable situations like the aftermath of 3/11, Matsui proposes that people must cease prioritizing cognitive functions, at least temporarily, to enjoy a non-linguistic and non-logical form of unity, which he calls “environmental symbiosis.” We must learn to herd with others like critters, in other words, to avoid untoward confrontations in an already calamitous situation. Indexes such as reason, subjectivity,and criticality must be reassessed, as they may be only onerous abstractions that needlessly complicate our already intractable lives.
 
Toshiki Okada, the writer-director with the theatre company called chelfitsch (a coinage meant to evoke a child attempting to say the English word “selfish”), is amongthe leading theatre artists in Japan. He initially received acclaim for voicing the uncertainties of the economically vulnerable Lost Generation in productions using“super-real” colloquial Japanese speech matched with ungainly yet eloquent body movements. In 2007 Okada ventured into the international theatre circuit when he was invited to the Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels to present Five Days in March(Sangatsu no itsuka kan).
 
Since then, though, he has expanded his theatrical vision beyond the solipsistic aesthetics of super-real Japanese. Four months after 3/11, he relocated to Kumamoto,760 miles south of Tokyo, after living in the suburbs of the metropolis for 38 years. He felt that after the disaster he could no longer “identify” himself with Tokyo, even considering the capital city “something already over, or already lost—at least for me.”His world view thus changed, Okada could not help but change the “reality” in his stagecraft.
 
If, in the pre-Fukushima years, Okada was interested in writing about present reality,after the catastrophe he became increasingly interested in fiction—or, in his own words, “alternative realities.” He also looked back to a 600-year-old theatre tradition: In trying to give voice to someone (family, friends, or neighbors) or something (like Tokyo), he adopted the structure of the dream noh (mugen noh), in which the protagonists (shite) are most often resentful or regretful dead spirits. He’s written three plays responding to the Fukushima disaster: Time’s Journey Through a Room (Heyao nagareru jikan no tabi, 2016), Current Location ( Genaichi, 2012), and Ground and Floor ( Jimen to Yuka, 2013)—a three-hander in which the protagonist is the wife of a 30-something man who now fancies another woman. Until midway through the performance, the audience does not know that the protagonist is actually dead, as she is the one narrating the proceedings, describing the minutest details of everyday life, as if to never forget the life she had led. After providing her tranquil yet unyieldingly articulate monologue, she presses her husband as to whether he remembers the same details she does.
 
The production seems to find Okada divided between narratives of remembering and forgetting. We humans could not survive a single day if we remembered all the details of the past. But for the dead, the act of forgetting implies their complete disappearance. With the many lives lost in 3/11, theatre makers have begun to feel the obligation to reconsider not only the politics of humans but also those of the dead. Okada has said that “the ghost is a great invention of humans,” a way for us to give body to our imaginations and to our struggles with the past.
 
Whether looking to the future through androids and hybrid bugs, or veering toward the past through the visions of ghosts, Japanese theatre artists are imagining a time well beyond the lifespan of a single human being. The 3/11 catastrophe may not have changed Japanese society for the better, but it has surely stirred the imaginations of theatre directors and playwrights—and audiences. The non-human turn in post-Fukushima theatre is a clear embodiment of the ways Japanese artists feel responsible for giving voice, not only to those who survived but also to the dead and the unborn.
 
Kyoko Iwaki, a scholar of Japanese modern and contemporary theatre and performance, is a researcher at Waseda University

June 17, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Abe pushing idea that Fukushima nuclear disaster is ‘under control’

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe inspects the premises of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on April 14. Its No. 3 and No. 4 reactors, from left, are seen behind in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture.
June 11, 2019
Without special protection against radiation, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stood on elevated ground about 100 meters from the three melted-down reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
“I was finally able to see the view just wearing a normal suit without having to wear protective clothing and a mask (for radiation),” he said on April 14 after hearing explanations from Tokyo Electric Power Co. officials. “The decommissioning work has been making progress in earnest.”
An act of bravado, perhaps. But it was more likely one of the ways Abe and his government want to show that the Fukushima disaster is, as he famously said, “under control.”
Progress has been made, albeit slowly, for the monumental task of decommissioning TEPCO’s crippled nuclear plant.
But radiation levels in certain areas of the plant are still lethal with extended exposure. The problem of storing water contaminated in the reactors continues.
And only recently was TEPCO able to make contact with melted nuclear fuel in the reactors through a robot. The means to extract the fuel has yet to be decided.
However, the government keeps touting progress in the reconstruction effort, using evacuee statistics, which critics say are misleading, to underscore its message.
Abe’s previous visit to the nuclear plant was in September 2013.
“When I conducted an inspection five years ago, I was completely covered in protective gear,” he said at a meeting with decommissioning workers in April. “This time I was able to inspect wearing a normal suit.”
Officials in Abe’s circle acknowledged that they wanted to “appeal the progress of reconstruction” by letting the media cover the prime minister’s “unprotected” visit to the site.
The inspection ground where Abe stood, 35 meters above sea level, and the insides of buses are the only places in the area where protective clothing and masks are not required.
His visit in a business suit was possible largely because the ground was covered in mortar and other materials that prevent the spread of radioactive substances, not because decommissioning work has lowered radiation levels as a whole.
The radiation level at the elevated inspection ground still exceeds 100 microsieverts per hour, making it dangerous for people who remain there for extended periods.
Abe’s inspection ended in six minutes.
The prime minister raised eyebrows, particularly in Fukushima Prefecture, in 2013 when he gave a speech to promote Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Concerning the Fukushima nuclear plant, he told International Olympic Committee members, “Let me assure you, the situation is under control.”
An hour before he inspected the plant in April, Abe attended the opening ceremony of the new government building of Okuma, one of the two towns that host the nuclear plant.
The ceremony followed the lifting of an evacuation order for part of the town on April 10.
“We were able to take a step forward in reconstruction,” Abe said.
The central government uses the number of evacuees to show the degree of progress in reconstruction work.
In April 2018, Abe said in the Diet that the lifting of evacuation orders has reduced the number of evacuees to one-third of the peak.
According to the Reconstruction Agency, the number of people who evacuated in and outside of Fukushima Prefecture, including those who were under no orders to leave, peaked at about 160,000. But the initial evacuation orders for 11 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture have been gradually lifted, and the agency now puts the total number at about 40,000.
About 71,000 people were officially registered as residents of areas that were ordered to evacuate. Now, only about 11,000 people live in those zones.
This means that about 60,000 people have not returned to the homes where they were living before the nuclear accident unfolded in March 2011.
The gap of 20,000 can be attributed to how the agency classifies or declassifies evacuees.
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NOT COUNTED AS EVACUEES
The Reconstruction Agency sent a notice in August 2014 to all prefectures that have counted the number of evacuees.
It defined “evacuees” as people who moved to different places because of the nuclear disaster and have the “will” to return to their original homes.
The notice also said that if it is difficult to perceive their “will,” they can be regarded as people who have ended their evacuation if they bought new homes or made arrangements for new accommodations.
Based on the notice, people in Fukushima Prefecture who have bought new homes during their evacuation or settled down in public restoration housing or disaster public housing are regarded as living “stable” lives and are not counted as evacuees.
“It is not a problem because we continue supporting them even if they are removed from the evacuee statistics,” a prefectural government official said.
An official of the Reconstruction Agency said, “The judgment is made by each prefecture, so we are not in a position to say much.”
However, the prefecture has not confirmed all evacuees’ will to return to their homes. In addition, those who are removed from the list of evacuees are not informed of their new status.
Many people bought homes in new locations during their prolonged evacuations although they still hope to return to their hometowns in the disaster area.
Yumiko Yamazaki, 52, has a house in Okuma in a “difficult-to-return” zone.
But because she moved to public restoration housing outside of the town, she is not considered an evacuee by the agency and the prefecture.
“I had to leave my town although I didn’t want to,” Yamazaki said. “It is so obvious that the government wants to make the surface appearance look good by reducing the number of evacuees.”
“I can’t allow them to try to pretend the evacuation never happened,” Yamazaki said.
Critics say the central government’s emphasis of positive aspects and the downplaying of inconvenient truths in the evacuee statistics have much in common with its response to the suspected nepotism scandals involving school operator Moritomo Gakuen and the Kake Educational Institution.
“This is an act to socially hide the real number of evacuees, which could lead to a cover-up of the seriousness of the incident,” said Akira Imai, chief researcher of the Japan Research Institute for Local Government who has conducted surveys among evacuees. “The evacuee number is an index that is used to consider measures to support evacuees. The current situation should be reflected properly in the numbers.”
But the central government continues to appeal “reconstruction” to the public.
On the night of May 10, Abe had dinner with all-male idol group Tokio at a pizza restaurant in Tokyo.
The four-member group has been promoting products from Fukushima Prefecture, which are still struggling to overcome public fears and false rumors about radiation.
Two days after the dinner, Abe posted a picture of him with Tokio on Twitter and commented, “They have been making efforts to reconstruct Fukushima Prefecture.”

June 17, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Fishermen Release Flatfish Fry

Flat fishes mostly feed at the bottom of the sea close the coast, where the highest radioactive pollution has accumulated…..
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June 10, 2019
Iwaki, Fukushima Pref., June 10 (Jiji Press)–Fishermen in Iwaki in Fukushima Prefecture in northeastern Japan began releasing young flatfish into the sea from Hisanohama Port in the city on Monday.
The release came after a new prefecture-run facility for raising flatfish fry was completed in Soma, another city in Fukushima, in 2018. The previous such facility was destroyed in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which also led to an unprecedented triple meltdown accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
About 100,000 juvenile flatfish, about 6 to 9 centimeters in length, were released into the Pacific Ocean amid rough weather on Monday.
A total of about one million young flatfish will be released from ports around the prefecture by the end of June, bringing the number of released flatfish up to the pre-disaster level for the first time in nine years.
Before the 2011 disaster, fishery products from Fukushima were prized for their taste and sold for hefty prices at places such as the now-defunct Tsukiji wholesale food market in Tokyo.

June 17, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Comic tale of aging bar hostesses with social punch

I am surprised that this article was published on Yomiori Shimbun (Japan News), usually a pro-government media, with biased information.
This sentence must have escaped the censoring eyes of their editor.
I particularly like the: “Like Chihama, Arata comes from Fukushima Prefecture, where her parents’ home was destroyed in the Great East Japan Earthquake. Brazil in the past and contemporary Fukushima begin to look very similar, in the sense that “those affected are not told the truth.”
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June 10, 2019
This week’s manga Sono Onna Jilba (Jitterbug The Forties)
By Shinobu Arima (Shogakukan)
Arata Usui has a job dealing with customers in a major supermarket chain store when she is transferred to the stockroom, out of sight. This was inevitable, as she is already past 40 and no longer young. Still single, with no boyfriend and no savings, she lacks confidence. One day, Arata is surprised to see a help-wanted notice for bar hostesses in the entertainment quarter of town. The criteria: women 40 or older! Is this some kind of a mistake? Mustering her courage, she opens the door to the Bar Old Jack & Rose, a watering hole aimed at senior citizens in which the average age of the hostesses is 70. Mesmerized by a world completely different from her own, she begins a side job as a trainee hostess under the alias of Arara. She soon learns about the legend of Jilba, the founder and inaugural manager of the bar.
“Jitterbug The Forties” is a comedy with cheering messages for an aging society, played out by lively bar hostesses who seem almost supernatural. The story starts out in such an atmosphere, which in itself is entertaining enough. But readers are taken to a much deeper level. As the hostesses recount their pasts, an alternative postwar history emerges that we have never been told. This transforms it into a work that offers a completely different impression.
Jilba, born Chihama Hoshi, emigrated to Brazil from Fukushima Prefecture. One thing that I learned from this manga was that immediately after the end of World War II, Japanese immigrants in Brazil were divided into two groups regarding the outcome of the war. One group, the “kachi-gumi” (the victors), blindly believed the false information that Japan defeated the United States. This group far outnumbered the other group, the “make-gumi” (the defeated), which believed that Japan lost. Conflicts between the groups eventually led to terrorist attacks, and there were scams targeting immigrants hastily trying to return to “victorious” Japan. Chihama, who loses her husband and children amid the chaos, arrives alone in a Japan that is little but burned-out ruins. She gathers women in similar dire straits and opens the bar. This is the other story line told in “Jitterbug The Forties.”
Like Chihama, Arata comes from Fukushima Prefecture, where her parents’ home was destroyed in the Great East Japan Earthquake. Brazil in the past and contemporary Fukushima begin to look very similar, in the sense that “those affected are not told the truth.” Quite impressed, I realized just how much of a hard-hitting, socially aware work this actually is at its core.
Even so, “Jitterbug The Forties” never loses its balance as a comedy, impressively maintaining a cheerful disposition over five volumes right up to its conclusion. “Jilba” is Japanese-English, originating from the American social dance known as the Jitterbug. No matter how arduous your past was, sweep it away with song and dance. Regardless of your age, life is not to be thrown away. This is a masterpiece that resonates with a powerfully encouraging message to all generations.
Ishida is a Yomiuri Shimbun senior writer whose areas of expertise include manga and anime.

June 17, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

According to Japan govt’s official statistics on pediatric cancer, children cancers doubled since Fukushima

From the Japan govt’s official statistics of children cancers:
 
The country has been taking statistics on pediatric cancer since 1975. Every year, 2,000 to 2,500 people were affected.
The least was in 2006, where there were 1861 people affected, the year before the Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake.
 
But the numbers of children cancers really much increased after Fukushima. In 2015, 3246 people, in 2016, 3161 people, in 2017, 3279 people.
 
I think the incidence of children cancers will continue to increase in the coming future.
 
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June 10, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | 1 Comment

Last fishing port in Fukushima to reopen

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June 4, 2019
A fishing port in Tomioka in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture is expected to reopen next month after being closed for more than eight years.
The massive earthquake and tsunami that hit eastern Japan in 2011 caused the severe Fukushima nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture.
Nine of the prefecture’s 10 fishing ports affected by the triple disaster have already reopened.
Tomioka Port is known as the main port for catching tasty flatfish and flounders.
Its wharves and breakwater were damaged by the quake and tsunami, and an evacuation order was issued for Tomioka and other fishing ports in Fukushima Prefecture.
That evacuation order was lifted in April 2017, and work has been underway to rebuild the port.
Fishing boats based at Tomioka Port were sent to other ports in the prefecture, such as Iwaki City and Namie Town. Officials say these boats are expected to return to Tomioka.
Tomioka Town and the local fisheries cooperative plan to hold a ceremony in July to celebrate the return of the fishing boats and fishers to the port.

 

June 10, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment