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Fukushima’s Radiation Will Poison Food “for Decades,” Study Finds

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Three of the six reactors at Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi complex were wrecked in March 2011 by an earthquake and tsunami. The destruction of emergency electric generators caused a “station blackout” which halted cooling water intake and circulation. Super-heated, out-of-control uranium fuel in reactors 1, 2, and 3 then boiled off cooling water, and some 300 tons of fuel “melted” and burned through the reactors’ core vessels, gouging so deep into underground sections of the structure that to this day operators aren’t sure where it is. Several explosions in reactor buildings and uncovered fuel rods caused the spewing of huge quantities of radioactive materials to the atmosphere, and the worst radioactive contamination of the Pacific Ocean ever recorded. Fukushima amounts to Whole-Earth poisoning.

Now, researchers say, radioactive isotopes that were spread across Japan (and beyond) by the meltdowns will continue to contaminate the food supply for a very long time.

According to a new study that focused on “radiocaesium” — as the British call cesium-134 and cesium-137 — “food in japan will be contaminated by low-level radioactivity for decades.” The official university announcement of this study neglected to specify that Fukushima’s cesium will persist in the food chain for thirty decades. It takes 10 radioactive half-lives for cesium-137 to decay to barium, and its half-life is about 30 years, so C-137 stays in the environment for roughly 300 years.

The study’s authors, Professor Jim Smith, of the University of Portsmouth, southwest of London, and Dr. Keiko Tagami, from the Japanese National Institute of Radiological Sciences, report that cesium-caused “radiation doses in the average diet in the Fukushima region are very low and do not present a significant health risk now or in the future.”

This phraseology deliberately conveys a sense of security — but a false one. Asserting that low doses of radiation pose no “significant” health risk sounds reassuring, but an equally factual framing of precisely the same finding is that small amounts of cesium in food pose a slightly increased risk of causing cancer.

This fact was acknowledged by Prof. Smith in the June 14 University of Portsmouth media advisory that announced his food contamination study, which was published in Science of the Total Environment. Because of above-ground atom bomb testing, Prof. Smith said, “Radioactive elements such as caesium-137, strontium-90 and carbon-14 contaminated the global environment, potentially causing hundreds of thousands of unseen cancer deaths.”

No less an authority than the late John Gofman, MD, Ph.D., a co-discoverer of plutonium and Professor Emeritus of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, spent 50 years warning about the threat posed by low doses of radiation. In May 1999, Gofman wrote, “By any reasonable standard of biomedical proof, there is no safe dose, which means that just one decaying radioactive atom can produce permanent mutation in a cell’s genetic molecules. My own work showed this in 1990 for X rays, gamma rays, and beta particles.”

The Fukushima-borne cesium in Japan’s food supply, and in the food-web of the entire Pacific Ocean, emits both beta and gamma radiation. Unfortunately, it will bio-accumulate and bio-concentrate for 300 years, potentially causing, as Dr. Gofman if not Dr. Smith might say, hundreds of thousands of unseen cancer deaths.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/06/22/fukushimas-radiation-will-poison-food-for-decades-study-finds/

 

 

June 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Plutonium in Workers’ Urine


The Asahi Shimbun is reporting that, contrary to the reassurances made a few days ago by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (see here), workers at JAEA’s Oarai Research and Development Center, WERE internally contaminated by Plutonium:

Plutonium found in urine of 5 workers in Ibaraki accident. THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, June 20, 2017 http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201706200039.html

Minute amounts of plutonium have been detected in the urine samples of all five workers who were accidentally exposed to radioactive plutonium at Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA)’s Oarai Research and Development Center in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture, on June 6…. While maintaining the level of exposure the five workers experienced “would not have immediate effect on their health for a few months,” Akashi said their internal exposure levels are “relatively high for cases occurring in Japan as far as I know.”… 

…In urine testing, NIRS said it can detect smaller amounts of plutonium as the measurement time is much longer, while the smallest radiation doses the dosimeter for lungs can detect is between 5,000 and 10,000 bequerels.

I shouldn’t be too critical of these oscillating reports given the US won’t even admit when its workers are contaminated with Plutonium, as the recent tunnel collapse at Hanford reminds us:

Tia Ghose. May 10, 2017. Hanford Disaster: What Happens to Someone Who’s Exposed to Plutonium? Live Science, https://www.livescience.com/59042-how-does-plutonium-damage-the-body.html

Workers at a nuclear-waste site in Washington state were recently told to hunker down in place after a tunnel in the nuclear finishing plant collapsed, news sources reported yesterday (May 9)…

The tunnel was part of the plutonium and uranium extraction facility (PUREX) said to be holding a lot of radioactive waste, including railway cars used to carry spent nuclear fuel rods, news agency AFP reported. At least some of the radioactive waste at the Hanford facility contains radioactive plutonium and uranium, according to the DOE, although at least some of it is also radioactive “sludge” composed of a mixture of radioactive substances. Right now, authorities have not revealed whether radioactive substances have been released or whether people have been exposed any of these contaminants

Governments don’t want to talk too much to the public about plutonium. Every dimension of knowledge about this element seems to be weaponized. Despite the desire for secrecy, plutonium always seems to be out of bounds, contaminating some people or environment, or perhaps all people, especially men’s testes (see here).

Plutonium’s astonishing level of chemical toxicity and atomic instability are fetishized by the atomic priesthood, but the priesthood cannot control their Frankensteinan creation, as these stories and ongoing atmospheric emissions at Fukushima Daiichi demonstrate:

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http://majiasblog.blogspot.fr/2017/06/plutonium-in-workers-urine.html

June 22, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Plutonium in workers’ urine at Oarai Research and Development Center

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Traces of plutonium in workers’ urine

Doctors say extremely small quantities of radioactive substances have been detected in the urine of 5 workers who were accidentally exposed to the materials early this month at a research facility north of Tokyo.

The incident took place on June 6th at a facility of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency in Oarai Town, Ibaraki Prefecture. The workers were inspecting a nuclear fuel container when a bag inside suddenly burst, expelling radioactive powder.

The agency initially said as much as 22,000 becquerels of plutonium-239 were detected in the lungs of one of the workers. But they were discharged from hospital by Tuesday of last week after repeated examinations at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences detected no plutonium in their lungs.

On Monday, the institute said checks of the 5 workers’ urine later revealed extremely small amounts of plutonium and other radioactive materials.

It says the workers have so far suffered no damage to their health, but that they have reentered hospital to take medicines that will purge the plutonium from their bodies. They will take the drug for 5 days, after which doctors will decide if further medication is necessary.

An official related to the institute says the radioactive materials in the workers’ bodies are at levels that will not immediately affect their health.

Meanwhile, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which employs the 5 workers, on Monday submitted to the country’s nuclear regulator an interim report on how the accident unfolded.

The agency’s president, Toshio Kodama, told reporters that he apologizes to the public for the incident. Kodama added that his organization may have problems sensing and foreseeing risks.

Kodama said the agency has to work on organizational issues, including worker awareness.

The agency says it plans to conduct a detailed investigation into the cause of the accident. It says it will consider measures to prevent recurrences and report to the regulator.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170619_27/

Tokyo, June 19 (Jiji Press)–Trace amounts of plutonium have been detected in the urine of all five workers exposed to radioactive materials at a nuclear research facility in eastern Japan earlier this month, a radiological research center treating them said Monday.
 The radioactive substances detected in the urine were plutonium-239, plutonium-238 and americium-241, the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, or NIRS, said.
The results showed that the workers at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s Oarai Research and Development Center in Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo,
suffered internal radiation exposure, the NIRS said.
The NIRS plans to continue examining the five workers for about a month to estimate levels of exposure.
   The exposure is unlikely to reach levels that cause symptoms, said Makoto Akashi, a senior official at the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, which oversees the NIRS.

http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017061901238

Plutonium found in urine of 5 workers in Ibaraki accident

Minute amounts of plutonium have been detected in the urine samples of all five workers who were accidentally exposed to radioactive plutonium at Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA)’s Oarai Research and Development Center in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture, on June 6.

The test results were announced June 19 at a news conference by the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS) within National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology (QST).

The revelation marks the latest twist in the changing assessment of severity of the health risks in the accident. Initially JAEA announced on June 7 that one of the five workers had suffered an internal exposure of 22,000 bequerels during an inspection at the nuclear energy research center. On June 9, JAEA said no plutonium was detected in any of the five workers’ lungs in further testing by NIRS.

Makoto Akashi, an executive of QST, said at the news conference the latest finding confirmed that the workers did “suffer an internal exposure.”

While maintaining the level of exposure the five workers experienced “would not have immediate effect on their health for a few months,” Akashi said their internal exposure levels are “relatively high for cases occurring in Japan as far as I know.”

He also added that long-term observation may be necessary depending on the level of internal exposure.

JAEA’s initial “internal exposure of 22,000 bequerels” assessment was hastily done on the night of the accident on June 6. The five workers were examined using a dosimeter that can detect small traces of X-rays emitted by plutonium particles inhaled into the lungs.

However, the next day, NIRS staff discovered that four of the workers did not have all the plutonium on their bodies completely removed. After thorough decontamination efforts, they were retested for plutonium in the lungs, which was “not detected.”

It is believed the initial assessment came back with a high reading, as the dosimeter also picked up the radiation from the plutonium residue on their bodies.

In urine testing, NIRS said it can detect smaller amounts of plutonium as the measurement time is much longer, while the smallest radiation doses the dosimeter for lungs can detect is between 5,000 and 10,000 bequerels.

The latest test result suggests the possibility that some plutonium particles inhaled into the workers’ lungs have been absorbed into the bloodstream, then discharged into the urine.

The five workers had been discharged and are in stable condition, but were readmitted to the institution for further treatment on June 18. They started receiving medication via intravenous drip injections to speed the excretion of radioactive substances in their bodies from June 19, according to NIRS.

It is the second time they have received this medication. NIRS confirmed the treatment’s effectiveness as the amount of plutonium in their urine increased after the first round of injections compared to the amount found prior to receiving the drug.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201706200039.html

June 22, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

New South Korean president vows to end use of nuclear power

Moon Jae-in said he would lead country towards a ‘nuclear-free era’ following fears of a Fukushima-style meltdown

4967.jpgMoon Jae-in speaks at an event to mark the closure of South Korea’s oldest nuclear plant, Kori-1.

 

South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, has vowed to phase out the country’s dependence on nuclear power, warning of “unimaginable consequences” from a Fukushima-style meltdown.

Moon, a left-leaning liberal who won last month’s presidential election by a landslide following the impeachment and arrest of Park Geun-hye, said he would increase the role of renewable energy and lead South Korea towards a “nuclear-free era”.

Speaking at an event to mark the closure of the country’s oldest nuclear plant, Kori-1, he said: “So far, South Korea’s energy policy pursued cheap prices and efficiency. “Cheap production prices were considered the priority while the public’s life and safety took a back seat. But it’s time for a change.

We will abolish our nuclear-centred energy policy and move towards a nuclear-free era. We will completely scrap construction plans for new nuclear reactors that are currently under way.”

Moon added that he would not extend the operation of ageing reactors, many of which will come to the end of their lifespans between 2020 and 2030.

Weaning South Korea off nuclear power, however, could take decades, and there is expected to be opposition from construction companies, which have increased technology exports under Moon’s nuclear-friendly predecessors.

The country was the fifth-largest producer of nuclear energy last year, according to the World Nuclear Association, with its 25 reactors generating about a third of its electricity.

The former president Lee Myung-bak saw nuclear as an important source of clean energy, while Park wanted to increase the number of reactors to 36 by 2029.

Moon recognised the role of nuclear power in South Korea’s rapid economic development, but added that Japan’s Fukushima disaster – which prompted the evacuation of tens of thousands of people – had convinced him that his country must look to new sources of energy.

The country’s economic status has changed, our awareness on the importance of the environment has changed. The notion that the safety and lives of people are more important than anything else has become a firm social consensus,” he said.

Anti-nuclear campaigners have long warned of the potentially disastrous consequences of a meltdown at a nuclear plant in South Korea, where many reactors are close to densely populated areas.

The public’s support for nuclear power has weakened since the 2011 Fukushima meltdown and a 2013 corruption scandal over fake safety certificates for reactor parts.

The Fukushima nuclear accident has clearly proved that nuclear reactors are neither safe, economical nor environmentally friendly,” Yonhap news agency quoted Moon as saying.

South Korea is not safe from the risk of earthquakes, and a nuclear accident caused by a quake can have such a devastating impact.”

He also plans to close at least 10 ageing coal-fired power plants before his term ends in 2022 and to boost renewables’ share of the energy mix to 20% by 2030.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/19/new-south-korean-president-vows-to-end-use-of-nuclear-power

June 19, 2017 Posted by | South Korea | | Leave a comment

Denuclearization Started by the Newly Elected South Korea’s Administration

South Korea’s administration has learned well from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, whereas Japan’s administration is still living in denial orchestrating cover-up and lies.

 

southkoreacu.jpgSouth Korea currently operates 25 nuclear reactors, which generate about 30 percent of the country’s power supply

 

S. Korea to scrap all plans to build new nuclear reactors


South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-In vowed on Monday to scrap all plans to build new nuclear reactors as he seeks to steer Asia’s fourth-largest economy clear of atomic power.

Moon, who swept to power with a landslide election win last month, campaigned on promises to phase out atomic energy and embrace what he says are safer and more environmentally-friendly power sources including solar and wind power.

The Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan sparked by a powerful earthquake in March 2011 sparked widespread public concern in neighbouring South Korea over its own aged atomic plants.

“We will dump our atomic-centric power supply and open the door to the post-nuclear era,” Moon said in a speech marking the decommissioning of the country’s first nuclear reactor, the Kori-1.

“I will scrap all preparations to build new reactors currently underway and will not extend lifespan of current reactors,” he said.

Many reactors are located dangerously close to residential areas in the densely-populated nation, Moon said, warning of “unimaginable consequences” in case of a nuclear meltdown.

“South Korea is not safe from the risk of earthquake, and a nuclear accident caused by a quake can have such a devastating impact,” he said.

South Korea currently operates 25 nuclear reactors, which generate about 30 percent of the country’s power supply.

Many of them will see their lifespans expire between 2020 to 2030, with decisions on whether to extend some of their operations set to be made during Moon’s 2017-2022 term.

Moon, during his presidential campaign, vowed to try to eventually shut down all nuclear power plants across the country, although doing so will likely take decades.

Major corruption scandals involving state nuclear power agencies in recent years and a series of earthquakes last year further fanned public distrust and concerns over the safety of the plants.

Moon on Monday also vowed to decommission “as soon as possible” another aged atomic plant in the southeast, whose original 30-year lifespan had been extended by another decade to 2022.

He also vowed to introduce “post-coal” policy in line with his campaign promise to abandon coal power to ease air pollution in the country, which has the highest level of small air pollutant particles among OECD member nations.

But experts say shutdown of coal power plants could dramatically hike utility cost in the country where coal power generates about 40 percent of entire power needs.

https://phys.org/news/2017-06-korea-scrap-nuclear-reactors.html#jCp

Korea’s oldest nuclear reactor ceases operation

Kori No. 1, South Korea’s oldest nuclear reactor located in Busan, ceased operation Sunday at midnight after four decades.

Its operator Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. said that it cut the power supply Saturday and began the cooling-down process of the reactor.

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Kori No.1, South Korea’s first and the oldest nuclear reactor is seen in southern city of Busan.

 

It was officially decommissioned, with the temperature of the reactor gradually dropping to 90 degrees Celsius, from its normal operation at 300 degree Celsius, the KHNP said. Officials will then relocate the spent nuclear fuel stored inside the rector to a liquid sodium-cooled reactor for reprocessing.

The actual dismantling of the facilities is expected to start no later than 2022. The KHNP expects that at least 634 billion won ($559 million) is required for the dismantling. They also need to submit a dismantlement plan within five years for the NCCS’ approval.

The state-run Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, which approved earlier this month the permanent shutdown of Kori No. 1, said it will continue to check the safety management of the suspended reactor on a regular basis until the dismantlement.

Following the government’s approval in 2007, Kori No. 1’s operation was extended by 10 years after a 30-year run.

Some experts oppose the planned reprocessing of nuclear waste, saying the technology, though effective in reducing the volume of waste, could complicate waste disposal by creating different types of radioactive waste.

Under President Moon Jae-in, the South Korean government aims to close all nuclear power plants by shutting down aged facilities and eventually phasing out the rest over the next 40 years.

http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170618000190

Korea’s first nuclear plant suspended after 40 years of operation

Built as Korea’s first nuclear power plant at Gijang County, Busan, Gori-1 came to a halt after completing its four decades of service, providing electricity since 1978. Gori-1 ended its chapter in the history of Korean nuclear power generation, being the first-ever nuclear powerhouse and the first of its kind to be out of service for good.

The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) opened its 70th meeting on Friday and announced that it has approved the permanent suspension of Gori-1, requested by the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) last June. Under the recent approval, KHNP will stop operating the aged plant, and will cool nuclear fuels as of midnight on June 19. KHNP plans to dissemble the plant in earnest starting in 2022.

Gori-1 opened an era of commercial nuclear power generation in Korea on April 29, 1978. Meeting the rapidly increasing power demands amid economic growth, it has layed grounds for the nation to develop into an industrial state. While it reached its design life (30 years) in June 2007, the plant was resuscitated and was operated for an additional 10 years after undergoing full repair and consensus with residents.

Some view the first permanent suspension of a Korean nuclear plant as the first step towards denuclearization by the new administration. During his campaign, President Moon Jae-in pledged to immediately close down outdated nuclear plants and reduce nuclear power generation. Under the recent decision made by NSSC, experts view that the extension policy for the lifecycle of a nuclear plant will be set as “once for 10 years.” KHNP will hold a ceremony to celebrate the permanent halt of Gori-1 on June 19.

http://english.donga.com/List/3/04/26/948991/1

 

 

June 19, 2017 Posted by | South Korea | | Leave a comment

Plutonium found in urine of 5 workers exposed to radiation

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TOKYO (Kyodo) — A small amount of plutonium was found in the urine of five workers exposed to radiation in an accident earlier this month at a nuclear research facility in Ibaraki Prefecture, a hospital operator said Monday.

The result shows that the five workers have suffered internal radiation exposure following the June 6 accident at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s Oarai Research & Development Center in the coastal town of Oarai.

They had been receiving medication to facilitate the discharge of radioactive materials from their bodies since the accident and will continue to do so, said the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, the operator of the hospital.

The five, although showing no signs of deterioration or notable change in their health, were hospitalized again from Sunday for the treatment.

In the accident, radioactive materials were released into the air in the room where the five were working when one opened a metal container holding plutonium and uranium powder samples and a plastic bag containing the samples inside suddenly ruptured.

Initially, the agency said up to 22,000 becquerels of plutonium-239 were found in the lungs of one of the five workers, while up to 5,600 to 14,000 becquerels of the radioactive substance were found in the lungs of three other workers. It said at the time that the four had suffered internal radiation exposure.

But the facility operator has since said a subsequent check by the National Institute of Radiological Sciences has found no plutonium in the lungs of any of the five workers. It has not ruled out the possibility that what was actually detected was radioactive substance left on the workers’ bodies after decontamination.

Also on Monday, JAEA President Toshio Kodama again apologized over the accident, saying at a press conference, “The agency as a whole had problems in the prediction of risks.”

He said he has no intention of resigning for now but will take “appropriate” responsibility depending on the cause of the accident.

The agency submitted a report compiling the causes of the accident and measures to be taken to prevent a recurrence to the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the state’s nuclear safety watchdog.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170619/p2g/00m/0dm/074000c

 

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

For Fukushima returnees, security a growing concern in deserted towns

n-fukushimafile-a-20170619-870x577.jpgThe deserted streets of the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, are seen at night after its evacuation order was lifted in this undated photo.

 

Via Fukushima Minpo –  It’s like a dream to once again be able to live in my “home, sweet home.”

That’s what Hidezo Sato, 72, says he feels every day since returning to his fallout-hit hometown of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture.

The government partially lifted its nuclear evacuation order on March 31, six years after radiation from the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant forced them to evacuate.

Now, friends come by to chat at his home in the Gongendo district, which is much more comfortable than where he spent the past six years living as a Fukushima evacuee.

But one thing still bugs him — he doesn’t feel safe at night.

According to town officials, only about 300 residents have come back so far.

Many of the houses in Sato’s neighborhood remain uninhabited. So when he spots a car parked in the dark, it frightens him.

If safety and security aren’t ensured, there won’t be more people coming back,” Sato said.

Sparked by returnees’ concerns about security, many recovering municipalities have set up neighborhood watch groups, installed security cameras and taken other measures to increase safety.

In December, two men were arrested on theft charges after spotted by security cameras.

In Minamisoma, City Hall is installing home security systems for returnees in the Odaka district that allow them to alert a security company simply by pushing a button. As of April 27, about 240 households, or 30 percent of the roughly 770 households that have returned, had the system installed by the city.

The number of police officers brought in from outside Fukushima to help patrol the no-go zone has been reduced to 192, or about 150 fewer than five years ago. The police presence is expected to decline further as decontamination progresses, raising concerns on how to ensure security there in the future.

Many municipalities have been funding security costs with central government subsidies, but it is unclear whether that will continue after fiscal 2020, when the state-designated reconstruction and revitalization period is scheduled to end. The Reconstruction Agency is also slated to be dissolved by then.

A top Reconstruction Agency official would only say it will “consider the issue in the future.”

For its part, the town of Namie is expected to spend about ¥700 million in fiscal 2017 to fund the neighborhood watch teams and surveillance systems. But town officials are worried whether they’ll be able to afford the systems once the subsidies dry up.

Reconstruction minister Masayoshi Yoshino, a Lower House politician representing the Fukushima No. 5 district, said in April that he will consider creating a new government entity to take over the work of the Reconstruction Agency.

I want the government to tell us that it will continue to fund” such projects, said Namie Deputy Mayor Katsumi Miyaguchi.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/18/national/fukushima-returnees-security-growing-concern-deserted-towns/

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Radiation research foundation to apologize for studying but not treating hibakusha

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Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) Chairman Ohtsura Niwa

HIROSHIMA — The chairman of a joint Japan-U.S. research organization studying the long-term effects of radiation exposure on humans is expected to apologize to hibakusha — survivors of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — who were studied but generally not treated by the organization’s American predecessor, it has been learned.

Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) Chairman Ohtsura Niwa will give his apology at a June 19 ceremony here commemorating the 70th anniversary of the organization’s establishment, to which hibakusha will be invited.

It is believed that this will mark the first time for a top RERF official to offer a direct, public apology to its subjects and those of its predecessor. “There’s an ironclad rule that one must develop relationships with human research subjects,” Niwa says. “But that sort of thinking didn’t exist in the 20th century. We must improve our relationships with hibakusha.”

Established in 1947 under the orders of U.S. President Harry Truman, the RERF’s predecessor, the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC), began to collect data on hibakusha in Hiroshima. The ABCC began similar studies on hibakusha in Nagasaki the following year. In both cities, subjects, as a rule, went untreated. Japanese authorities also took part in the research, following up on hibakusha years after they were exposed to the bombs. In 1975, the ABCC was reorganized into the bi-national RERF.

Hibakusha have said that the ABCC forcibly took them to research facilities where they were stripped to have their photos taken. Many have been angry with the ABCC for treating them like guinea pigs and violating their human rights, and the organization has long been criticized for gathering data from hibakusha but not treating them.

“Officially, the ABCC did not provide treatment, and instead ran tests on hibakusha and sent them home. It’s only natural that hibakusha harbor negative feelings toward the organization, and that they have had such feelings has been made clear from various records,” RERF Chairman Niwa told the Mainichi Shimbun. “I must apologize.”

There are no records of the organization’s past chairmen or other top officials directly apologizing to hibakusha, and the RERF says it is highly likely that Niwa’s apology will be the first.

In a speech at the outset of the upcoming ceremony, Niwa is expected to say something about the ample criticism and protest against the fact that researchers from the very country that dropped the atomic bombs had collected data from hibakusha, and that he is sorry that such an unfortunate period existed. Content similar to that of the planned speech was included in an RERF pamphlet published in 1995, but few people know about it.

As for hibakusha being stripped naked for tests and bereaved families being asked to donate the bodies of family members who died from radiation exposure, Niwa says, “The U.S. side was not knowledgeable about Japanese culture and traditions, so there was cultural friction. But such steps were necessary for the sake of science.”

Satoru Ubuki, a member of a committee for the preservation of historical records at the RERF, a former Hiroshima Jogakuin University professor, and an expert on the history of atomic bombing, said of the upcoming apology, “The RERF probably determined that to continue conducting research on second- and third-generation hibakusha, it will be more likely to gain their cooperation if the organization apologizes.”

Meanwhile, Nagoya University researcher Hiroko Takahashi, who is well-versed in the ABCC, says, “While there is significance to reflecting on and offering regret for the past, the remarks (Niwa makes) must not justify all research carried out by the RERF. The organization receives funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, and just as the ABCC had military objectives, that fundamental characteristic of the organization remained even after the RERF succeeded the ABCC. Among the data that was sent to the U.S. military in the early days of the RERF are many whose purpose remains unclear, so studies conducted at the time should be verified with the participation of a third party.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170617/p2a/00m/0na/016000c

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

A-bomb survivors submit petition for nuclear ban

 

Representatives of Japanese atomic bomb survivors have compiled a petition of nearly 3 million signatures calling for a nuclear weapons ban treaty. The group handed the document to the chair of the ongoing UN meeting on the convention.

The second round of negotiations aimed at concluding the world’s first-ever nuclear weapons ban treaty started on Thursday at UN headquarters in New York.

On the second day of talks on Friday, representatives of atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Toshiyuki Mimaki and Masako Wada presented the petition to the chair of the meeting, Costa Rica’s envoy Elayne Whyte. They say their groups collected 2.96 million signatures over just more than a year since last April.

Wada handed the petition over along with a paper crane, a symbol of peace. She said the signatures represent the voices of atomic bomb survivors and citizens, and thanked the chair for her leadership.

Whyte responded that the main purpose of the treaty is to eliminate the suffering caused by nuclear weapons. The representatives applauded her when she said the signatures are very important for the negotiators.

After the handover, Wada observed that the draft treaty incorporates the Japanese word “hibakusha,” meaning atomic bombing survivor. She said she believes this shows the delegates have recognized the group’s long years of anti-nuclear activities.

Also in New York, atomic bomb survivor Masao Tomonaga from Nagasaki met Japan’s UN Ambassador Koro Bessho to relay a message from the Nagasaki mayor, Tomihisa Taue.

The message described a feeling of disappointment that is spreading among Nagasaki citizens over Japan’s absence from the negotiations.

Tomonaga said Bessho told him he understands their feeling, but Japan cannot decide on its own to leave the nuclear umbrella, and has had to make a difficult choice regarding the ongoing talks.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170617_15/

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Submersible robot ‘little sunfish’ to inspect the damaged primary containment vessel (PCV) of Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3

Swimming robot ‘little sunfish’ to inspect crippled Fukushima plant

 

Japan has unveiled a small swimming robot that will inspect the damage at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant. The device weights 2kg, is 13cm in diameter and will be able to swim deep into the melted reactor, its developers say.

The Japan-based International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID) unveiled the robot, dubbed ‘mini manbo’ (little sunfish) in the media, together with Toshiba group on Thursday.

The robot “is small enough and resilient enough to enter and inspect the damaged primary containment vessel [PCV] of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Unit 3,” a statement from the IRID said, adding that the device will be deployed this summer.  

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The device is equipped with two cameras and can be remotely controlled via a wire, while operators can record its progress through the coolant. ‘Little sunfish’ will deliver a video feed that “will clarify damage to the PCV interior and information on how best to retrieve fuel debris,” the IRID added.

The major advantage of the robot is that it “can avoid various obstacles,” Tsutomu Takeuchi, a senior manager at the nuclear energy division of Toshiba, told AP. The company is tasked with helping to clean up the damaged plant.

The device was created for inspection of the primary containment vessel (PCV) of Unit 3 of the crippled plant. Unit 3 was flooded with coolant to a depth of about 6 meters (20ft) and in order to make a proper clean-up, such a coolant must be located and mapped, according to the IRID.

The penetration hole giving access to the PCV is only 14cm in diameter, limiting the size of any robot that can be deployed,” the IRID added.

Thus, the newly-presented robot seems ideal for the job. 

The robot’s radiation resistance is approximately 200 Sievert (Sv), according to its characteristics. For comparison, an exposure of about 1 sievert can cause biological damage to living tissue, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  

Scientists developed ‘mini manbo’ with the aim of operating in a highly radioactive environment,” Goro Yanase, general manager of Toshiba’s Nuclear Energy Systems & Services Division, said.

We succeeded in developing a small robot with high-level radiation resistance, and through its deployment we expect to get information that will support the advance of decommissioning,” he added.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered a blackout and subsequent failure of its cooling systems in March 2011, when it was struck by an earthquake and tsunami. Three of the plant’s six reactors were hit by meltdowns, making the disaster the worst since the Chernobyl catastrophe in the USSR in 1986.

Japanese authorities have repeatedly sent robots to inspect the contained area of the crippled plant but the devices either broke down or the missions were aborted. In February, such an attempt ended in failure as a clean-up robot stopped working two hours after it was sent to the inactive Reactor 2 at the nuclear complex.

Following the failure, Naohiro Masuda, president of Fukushima Daiichi Decommissioning, said that more creativity was needed to produce robots that can find and assess the condition of melted fuel rods at the high-level radiation site. 

https://www.rt.com/news/392441-japan-underwater-robot-fukushima/

 

Toshiba unveils submersible video robot to probe reactor 3 at Fukushima No. 1 plant

 

YOKOSUKA, KANAGAWA PREF. – Toshiba Corp. unveiled on Thursday a submersible robot to take live video of reactor 3 at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant to confirm whether fuel debris is sitting at the bottom of a pool of radioactive water inside.

The location and condition of the fuel in the three reactors hit by core meltdowns is critical information for Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., which runs the plant. Removing the fuel debris is considered the most difficult part of decommissioning the complex.

Unit 3 has the highest level of water inside at 6 meters. The fuel debris inside is presumed to have melted through its pressure vessel and settled at the bottom of its primary containment vessel.

Until today, no one has seen the situation inside reactor 3,” said Tsutomu Takeuchi, senior manager at Toshiba’s Fukushima Restoration and Fuel Cycle Project Engineering Department.

If we can observe the situation inside the reactor, that would be a huge leap in our ongoing effort to extract the debris” and eventually shut down the wrecked plant, he said during a demonstration of the robot at the Port and Airport Research Institute in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Co-developed with the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning, the cylindrical 30-cm robot, dubbed the “mini manbo” (miniature sunfish), has a camera that can move 180 degrees vertically on its front and a fixed camera on its rear, allowing it to crawl through the water while capturing images.

Tepco plans to send the remotely controlled robot into the reactor as early as mid-July. A camera inserted into the reactor in October 2015 was unable to reach the bottom of the containment vessel.

No probe has been able to confirm the location or condition of the nuclear debris in any of the three crippled reactors.

Tepco sent a scorpion-shaped robot developed by Toshiba and the institute into reactor 2 in February, but it broke down before reaching its target under the pressure vessel after a tire got stuck.

In March, Tepco’s five-day robot-based investigation failed to capture an image of what was thought to be fuel debris in reactor 1.

A separate Tepco probe in January found black lumps in reactor 2’s pressure vessel but couldn’t immediately confirm they were fuel.

In December, the government estimated that the total cost of the Fukushima disaster would reach ¥21.5 trillion, including ¥8 trillion for decommissioning. That was almost doubled the initial estimate of ¥11 trillion.

Takeuchi of Toshiba did not reveal how much it cost to develop mini manbo.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/15/national/toshiba-unveils-submersible-video-robot-probe-reactor-3-fukushima-no-1-plant/#.WUK8RTdpzrc

n-robot-a-20170616.jpgTsutomu Takeuchi, senior manager at Toshiba’s Fukushima Restoration and Fuel Cycle Project Engineering Department, shows off a robot it claims can probe water-filled reactor 3 at the defunct Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

 

Swimming and wriggling robots unveiled for Fukushima clean-up

University and industry scientists have demonstrated new robots specialised for moving through and searching scenes of destruction that are impossible or dangerous for humans to enter.

Hardy, agile, remote-controlled robots will be vital for the decommissioning of power plants, particularly in the case of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which suffered a meltdown in 2011 following a devastating tsunami and earthquake.

Robots can spend hours or days in environments so highly radioactive that a human worker would be killed in seconds.

The Japanese government hopes to start the challenging task of removing hundreds of tonnes of melted fuel after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, potentially beginning work in 2021. For this to be possible, engineers need to know the exact location of the fuel, and understand the extent of the structural damage to the reactors.

Among other efforts, a snake-like robot was used in 2011 to explore the reactors, but was trapped repeatedly by obstacles and its camera was blocked. A “scorpion” inspired crawling robot also failed to navigate the site and was abandoned inside.

Years later, a new version of the snake-like robot has been revealed by Japanese scientists, including a team from Tohoku University in Sendai: a region severely affected by the tsunami and earthquake.

The robot stretches to eight metres in length, has a camera attached to the front and can move at speeds of up to 10cm per second.

It wriggles in a serpentine motion, propelled by the vibrations of the brush-like hairs that cover its body. Unlike any other robot, it can also “rear” its tip like the head of a snake, shooting a small jet of air to lift it. This allows it to climb over obstacles – such as debris in a disaster zone – up to 20cm in height.

According to Professor Satoshi Tadokoro of Tohoku University, the robot could search for people trapped in collapsed homes following earthquakes, and test the structural safety of damaged buildings. The researchers hope to have it ready to assist in search and rescue operations and other tasks within three years of durability testing.

swimming-robot
Meanwhile, an alternative disaster relief robot has been unveiled by Toshiba and the public International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning. This swimming robot is the size of a loaf of bread is and fitted with lights, camera and tail propellers.

It is designed specifically to inspect meltdown damage at the Fukushima nuclear plant, and will enter the primary containment vessel of Fukushima’s Unit 3 this summer to locate melted fuel in radioactive water.

https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2017/06/swimming-and-wriggling-robots-unveiled-for-fukushima-clean-up/

 

June 16, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 1 Comment

Incoming Tepco chief vows decision on whether to scrap Fukushima No. 2

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The incoming president of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. has expressed eagerness to accelerate moves for tie-ups with other companies in an effort to revive its business following the meltdowns at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex in 2011.

Capital strength is important to seriously embark on growth businesses,” Tomoaki Kobayakawa, the head of Tokyo Energy Partner Inc., Tepco’s electricity retail arm, said in a recent interview. The 53-year-old is set to assume the post of president on June 23.

His remarks were in line with Tepco’s new business turnaround plan announced on March 22, in which it said it aims to realign and integrate its nuclear and power transmission and distribution businesses with other utilities to improve profitability.

The company, burdened with massive costs stemming from the Fukushima disaster, was placed under effective state control in exchange for a ¥1 trillion ($9 billion) capital injection in 2012.

Compensation and disaster cleanup costs have continued to rise, with the latest estimate reaching ¥22 trillion — twice the sum expected earlier.

Kobayakawa said JERA Co., a joint venture of a Tepco unit and Chubu Electric Power Co. in the area of coal power generation, is a “good example” of a tie-up, as enlarged capital has allowed it “to move powerfully.”

He said the power transmission and distribution businesses will also “produce outcomes if we can (align with other companies) and cover a wide network.”

I want to make more and more proposals,” he said, pointing to the possibility of forming alliances with businesses overseas, given that domestic demand for electricity is on the decline.

On the resumption of nuclear power generation, Kobayakawa expressed his intention to respect the view of local municipalities in restarting reactors 6 and 7 at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast.

Masahiro Sakurai, the mayor of Kashiwazaki, the city that hosts the nuclear plant along with the neighboring town of Kariwa, has said that the decommissioning of one of reactors 1 to 5 at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant would be a condition for the restart of reactors 6 and 7.

I haven’t met (the mayor) in person. I would like to confirm his intention,” Kobayakawa said.

Kobayakawa also reiterated the company’s position that it will decide “comprehensively” on whether the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant, located around 12 km south of the crippled Fukushima No. 1, would be scrapped as the prefectural government has urged the decommissioning of the plant.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/15/business/corporate-business/incoming-tepco-chief-eager-tie-ups-raise-funds-vows-decision-whether-scrap-fukushima-no-2/#.WUKt5zdpzrc

June 16, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Court dismisses request to halt restart of Saga reactors

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People stage a protest rally in front of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s office in the city of Saga on Tuesday after a district court rejected an injunction request to halt the restart of two reactors at the utility’s Genkai power plant.

 

SAGA – A district court on Tuesday dismissed a request from about 230 local residents for an injunction to stop the restart of two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture over safety concerns.

The Saga District Court handed down the ruling concerning reactors 3 and 4 at the complex as the utility prepares for their restart this summer or later, having secured the necessary consent of the governor of Saga and the mayor of Genkai. The town hosts the four-reactor power station.

Reactors 3 and 4 have cleared Nuclear Regulation Authority screenings that were based on safety standards revamped after the Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In Tuesday’s decision, presiding Judge Takeshi Tachikawa said the new safety standards are “reasonable.” The court has found no issues with earthquake resistance or steps taken against serious accidents and does not see any specific danger of radiation exposure at the plant, he added.

The focus of the lawsuit, filed by the residents in July 2011, was whether the operator has adequate measures in place against earthquakes. The plaintiffs argued that serious accidents could occur due to degradation in piping.

The court is supposed to help the weak, but the ruling is based on economics and politics,” said Hatsumi Ishimaru, 65, who leads the group of residents. “We will continue to fight until we stop the nuclear plant.”

The plaintiffs said they will immediately appeal the decision to the Fukuoka High Court.

Kyushu Electric said in a statement it considers the latest decision “appropriate” and will continue to try to ensure safety at the plant.

The ruling may inject momentum into the government’s policy to restart nuclear plants that have fulfilled the new safety standards.

While declining to comment on the court decision itself, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government respects the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s judgment that the reactors meet the new safety standards.

Tuesday’s ruling followed a series of court decisions rejecting similar suits seeking to halt the operations of nuclear power plants.

In March, the Osaka High Court overturned a lower court order to halt two nuclear reactors at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture, while in the same month the Hiroshima District Court dismissed a request by local residents to order the halt of a nuclear reactor that was restarted last year at the Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture.

Of the more than 40 commercial reactors nationwide, five are currently in operation. At the Genkai plant, the No. 1 unit is set to be decommissioned due to aging.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/13/national/crime-legal/court-nixes-request-halt-restart-saga-reactors/#.WUDy_jekLrc

June 16, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Former chief of Fukushima probe criticizes reactor restarts

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The leader of the Diet investigation into the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster blasted the Abe administration’s policies on restarting reactors, noting that proper evacuation plans are not in place.

What are you going to do if a tsunami comes?” Kiyoshi Kurokawa, former chairman of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, said at a June 12 meeting of the Lower House ad hoc committee for research of nuclear power issues. “How can you go (there) to rescue people if cars cannot move forward on roads?”

Kurokawa was referring to the restarts of the No. 4 and No. 3 reactors of the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture in May and June.

The reactors cleared the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety standards that were established after the accident unfolded at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said these standards are the strictest in the world.

But Kurokawa said, “I cannot accept such rhetoric.”

Kurokawa, also a professor emeritus of medical science at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, was selected as chairman of a third-party advisory body established by the ad hoc committee in May.

He and other experts of the advisory body responded to questions at the meeting of the ad hoc committee on June 12.

Kurokawa also raised questions about the rules for personnel at the NRA, the country’s nuclear watchdog.

In January, Masaya Yasui, an official of the Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry, assumed the post of secretary-general of the NRA’s secretariat

Kurokawa said he was concerned that an official of the economy ministry, which has promoted nuclear power generation, is now at the top of the secretariat.

Previously, a “no-return rule” was in place that prohibited employees of the NRA secretariat from returning to the economy ministry.

However, the Abe administration changed the rule to allow them to return to the ministry at bureaus not directly related to nuclear power generation.

Regarding the change, Kurokawa said, “The most important thing is to protect the no-return rule.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201706130017.html

 

 

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Fukushima may get rice variant that absorbs less radiation

Thank you, now I feel so much safer:

Mutant rice to be introduced into Fukushima prefecture as part of efforts to dispel lingering negative publicity.

Capture du 2017-06-13 18-25-17.pngThe Koshihikari rice variant with low cesium absorption, right, looks almost indistinguishable from normal Koshihikari rice.

 

TSUKUBA, Ibaraki Prefecture–A new type of the famed Koshihikari rice strain that absorbs just half as much radioactive cesium as the regular variety may be grown in Fukushima Prefecture.

The National Agriculture and Food Research Organization hopes to introduce it into the prefecture as part of efforts to dispel lingering negative publicity after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster of 2011.

Satoru Ishikawa, who leads NARO’s Crop Safety Unit, and his co-workers used ion-beam irradiation to cause a gene mutation in Koshihikari to block the discharge of sodium ions from its roots. That enhanced the concentration of sodium ions in its root cells and suppressed the intake of cesium.

When the mutant was test-grown on contaminated soil alongside conventional Koshihikari, the cesium concentration in the mutant turned out to be 55 percent lower in unpolished rice grains and 59 percent lower in rice straw, both well below the government’s safety limit.

The mutant had about the same number of rice ears and about the same yield of unpolished rice grains as traditional Koshihikari, and its taste was evaluated by an external organization as being “almost equal” to that of the parent strain.

The use of potassium ion fertilizer to suppress cesium absorption has been effective in reducing cesium, but that method is expensive and labor intensive.

(Use of the mutant suppresses cesium uptake) more effectively when combined with the use of potassium fertilizer,” Ishikawa said. “We hope introduction of the mutant will be considered as an option in areas where farming is going to be resumed.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201706130005.html

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan accused by UN special rapporteur of eroding media freedoms and stifling public debate of issues such as the Fukushima nuclear meltdown

2738The government of Shinzo Abe has been vocal about ‘unfair reporting’.

 

Japan accused of eroding press freedom by UN special rapporteur

Investigation prompted by concern over government pressure on country’s media over issues such as Fukushima and WW2

The UN’s special rapporteur on freedom of expression has accused Japan of eroding media freedoms and stifling public debate of issues such as the Fukushima nuclear meltdown and the country’s actions during the second world war.

In a report submitted to the UN human rights council, David Kaye said he had identified “significant worrying signals” about Japan’s record on freedom of expression.

His investigation – the first into freedom of the press in Japan – was prompted by concern over mounting government pressure on the country’s media.

Critics have cited the domestic media’s delay in reporting that the March 2011 accident at Fukushima had caused a nuclear meltdown – a decision believed to reflect official attempts to play down the severity of the disaster.

In 2014, the Asahi Shimbun, under pressure from the administration of the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, retracted an article claiming 650 workers had fled the Fukushima Daiichi plant soon after the disaster, defying an order by its then manager, Masao Yoshida, to stay and make a last-ditch effort to regain control of the reactors.

The paper later admitted its account, based on the newspaper’s interpretation of leaked testimony by Yoshida, was mistaken. Significantly, however, the report’s retraction led to the breakup of an Asahi investigative team that had produced several scoops critical of the government’s handling of the crisis.

While Kaye did not refer to specific reports on the Fukushima meltdown, he did voice concern over the removal from school textbooks of references to Japan’s wartime use of sex slaves.

Kaye noted the gradual disappearance of references to “comfort women” – tens of thousands of women, mostly from the Korean peninsula, who were forced to work in Japanese military brothels before and during the war.

In 1997, all seven history textbooks approved for use in junior high schools addressed wartime sexual slavery, yet none referred to the issue between 2012-15, and only one mentioned it last year.

Kaye said the lack of public debate over Japan’s wartime role, restrictions on access to information, and government pressure that has led the media to practise self-censorship “require attention lest they undermine Japan’s democratic foundations”.

Japan responded angrily to claims that media freedoms were at risk under Abe.

Its ambassador to the UN, Junichi Ihara, accused Kaye of peddling “inaccuracies” about the government’s commitment to a free press. In a statement to the UN human rights council on Monday, he said: “It is regrettable that some parts of [Kaye’s] report are written without accurate understanding of the government’s explanation and its positions.”

Ihara rebutted Kaye’s claim that a law permitting the government to suspend broadcast licences for TV and radio networks for “unfair reporting” was being used to pressure senior editors into underplaying or ignoring sensitive political stories.

Last year, the internal affairs minister, Sanae Takaichi, prompted an outcry after saying that broadcasters that repeatedly failed to show fairness in their political coverage, despite official warnings, could be taken off the air.

Soon after, three veteran news anchors – all with a reputation for grilling government politicians – left their jobs almost simultaneously, sparking allegations that they had been pressured to quit after Abe and his colleagues complained about them during private dinners with media executives.

Ihara noted that no minister had ever suspended a broadcasting licence, adding that the law “does not give rise to any pressure on the media”.

Kaye’s report was similarly critical of the 2014 state secrets law, under which journalists can be imprisoned for up to five years for reporting classified information passed on by whistleblowers. He said the law was “overly broad” and risked being applied arbitrarily, adding that the government “should not be in the position of determining what is fair”.

Ihara countered: “Information designed as specially designated secrets is limited under strict conditions,” adding that “information-gathering activities performed by journalists are not punishable under the act”.

The rift between Japan and the UN widened after Joseph Cannataci, special rapporteur on the right to privacy, said an anti-conspiracy bill being debated in parliament could “lead to undue restrictions to the rights to privacy and to freedom of expression”.

The government insists the new law is necessary for Japan to fulfil its international obligation to deter acts of terrorism. Abe denounced Cannataci’s assessment as “extremely unbalanced” and said his conduct was “hardly that of an objective expert”.

Confrontations between Japanese and UN representatives have grown more heated in recent years. In 2015, Tokyo suspended payments to Unesco after it included disputed Chinese documents about the Nanjing massacre in its World Memory List.

Yoshihiko Noda, the secretary general of Japan’s biggest opposition party, accused Abe’s government of “slamming the door” in the faces of UN special rapporteurs, according to the Mainichi Shimbun.

Earlier this year, Reporters Without Borders ranked Japan 72nd in its global press freedom index – the lowest among the G7. The country has slid down the rankings since 2010, when it was placed 11th.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/13/japan-accused-of-eroding-press-freedom-by-un-special-rapporteur

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment