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Greenpeace study slams Japan’s plan to dump radioactive Fukushima water into the ocean

 
Greenpeace slams Japan’s plan to dump radioactive Fukushima water into the oceanThe decision by the government and the tsunami-devastated plant’s operator to release contaminated water into the Pacific was ‘driven by short-term cost-cutting’, a new study has found, SCMP. Julian Ryall Tuesday, 22 January, 2019  Greenpeace has slammed a plan by the Japanese government and an electric utility company to release into the ocean highly radioactive water from the tsunami-devastated Fukushima Daiichi power plant, saying in a new report the decision was “driven by short-term cost-cutting”.

Released on Tuesday, the Greenpeace study condemns the decision taken after the disaster to not develop technology that could remove radioactivity from the groundwater, which continues to seep into the basement levels of three of the six nuclear reactors at Fukushima.

An estimated 1.09 million tonnes of water are presently stored in more than 900 tanks at the plant, which was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, with up to 4,000 tonnes added every week.

The decision by the government and the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), to avoid developing the relevant technology “was motivated by short-term cost-cutting, not protection of the Pacific Ocean environment and of the health and livelihoods of communities along the Fukushima coast”, said Kazue Suzuki, campaigner on energy issues for Greenpeace Japan.

“We have raised the water crisis with the UN International Maritime Organisation and firmly stand with local communities, especially fisheries, who are strongly opposed to any plans to discharge contaminated water into their fishing grounds.”

The backlash against the plan jointly put forward by the government and Tepco began late last year after the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) held public hearings in Tokyo and Fukushima designed to convince local people that releasing the water into the ocean would have no impact on marine or human life.

Anti-nuclear and environmental groups had obtained data leaked from government sources, however, that showed that the water was still contaminated, triggering public anger. Tepco was forced to admit late last year that its efforts to reduce radioactive material – known as radionuclides – in the water had failed.

The company had previously claimed that advanced processes had reduced cancer-causing contaminants such as strontium-90, iodine-129 and ruthenium-106 in the water to non-detectible levels.

Despite the much-vaunted Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) plant at Fukushima, Tepco has confirmed that levels of strontium-90, for example, are more than 100 times above legally permitted levels in 65,000 tonnes of water that have already been through the ALPS system.

In one of the hearings, Tatsuhiko Sato, a resident of Naraha who only returned to his home last spring because of contamination from the nuclear accident, accused Tepco of “not gathering all the data” and failing to adequately investigate reports that dangerous levels of radionuclides were still in the water after it was treated.

Local fishermen used the public hearing to express their “strong opposition” to plans to release the water, with one, Tetsu Nozaki, pointing out that while levels of radiation in locally caught fish and shellfish have been at or below normal levels for the past three years, releasing contaminated water would “deal a fatal blow” to the local fishing industry.

There has also been anger in some nearby countries, with environmental groups demonstrating in Seoul in November and Korea Radioactive Watch declaring that releasing the water “will threaten the waters of South Korea and other neighbouring nations”.

………..The Greenpeace report concludes that the water crisis at the plant will remain unresolved for the foreseeable future – and that the only viable option to safeguard local communities and the environment is to continue to store the water.

“The Japanese government and Tepco set an objective of ‘solving’ the radioactive water crisis by 2020 – that was never credible,” said Shaun Burnie, a nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany.

“The reality is that there is no end to the water crisis at Fukushima, a crisis compounded by poor decision-making by both Tepco and the government. Discharging into the Pacific is the worst option and must be ruled out.”https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/east-asia/article/2183175/greenpeace-slams-japans-plan-dump-radioactive-fukushima-water

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January 24, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un continuing to play to the vanity of Donald Trump?

While Kim plays to Trump’s ego, he builds his nuclear arsenal, CNN, By Samantha Vinograd,  January 20, 2019  “……..When President Donald Trump met Kim Jong Un in June 2018, they came to a vague agreement that North Korea would work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But, as Vice President Mike Pence stated last week, North Korea has failed to take concrete steps toward giving up its nuclear weapons, and it still represents a serious nuclear threat.

January 21, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | 1 Comment

The threat to millions of people, as glaciers in Central Asia melt

Melting glaciers spell trouble for millions in Asia, SMH, By Henry Fountain,19 January 2019  On a summer day in the mountains high above Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, the Tuyuksu glacier is melting like mad. Rivulets of water stream down the glacier’s thin leading edge.

In Central Asia, a warming climate is shrinking many glaciers. The Tuyuksu is losing ice every year. Around the world, vanishing glaciers will mean less water for people and crops in the future. Here, the people need to prepare sooner.

As she has for nearly two decades, Maria Shahgedanova, a glaciologist at the University of Reading in England, has come here to check on the Tuyuksu. As one of the longest-studied glaciers anywhere, the Tuyuksu helps gauge the effect of climate change on the world’s ice.

Glaciers represent the snows of centuries, compressed over time into slowly flowing rivers of ice, up to about 300 metres thick here in the Tien Shan range of Central Asia and even thicker elsewhere. They are never static, accumulating snow in winter and losing ice to melting in summer.

But in a warming climate melting outstrips accumulation, resulting in a net loss of ice. That is what is happening in Kazakhstan and all over the globe.

The world’s roughly 150,000 glaciers, not including the large ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, cover about 500,000 square kilometres of the Earth’s surface. During the last four decades they have lost the equivalent of a layer of ice 20 metres thick.

Most are getting shorter, too. Small ones in places like the Rockies and Andes have disappeared. And researchers say that even if greenhouse gas emissions were sharply curtailed immediately, there has already been enough warming to continue shrinking glaciers around the world.

This great global melting contributes to sea level rise. It affects production of hydroelectricity. It leads to disasters like rapid, catastrophic floods and debris flows. It alters rivers and ecosystems, affecting the organisms that inhabit them.

But here in the Tien Shan, the biggest effect may be on the supply of water for people and agriculture. ……..The researchers analyse samples from streams to determine the mix of water sources, which is important for forecasting how the rivers will fare over time. A melting glacier can at first increase stream flow, but eventually the glacier reaches a tipping point, called peak flow, and meltwater begins to taper.

“At some point they cannot produce the water they are providing right now,” said Matthias Huss, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. “It’s really important for water managers to know when this tipping point is reached.”

Glaciers elsewhere in Central Asia – in China to the east, and Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the south – will eventually decline as well. But the biggest effect will be further south, where countless glaciers feed the great river basins of Asia.

Across the Tibetan Plateau and in the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges, the glaciers number in the thousands and the people who rely on them in the hundreds of millions, along rivers like the Indus in Pakistan, the Ganges and Brahmaputra in India, the Yellow and Yangtze in China and the Mekong in south-east Asia……… https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/melting-glaciers-spell-trouble-for-millions-in-asia-20190118-p50sb6.html 

January 21, 2019 Posted by | ASIA, climate change | Leave a comment

The pitfalls of Direct Democracy- Taiwan’s referendum and the vote on nuclear power

How Direct Democracy Went Nuclear in Taiwan, A contentious vote on Taiwan’s nuclear future showed how the country’s public referendums went haywire. The Diplomat , By Nick Aspinwall, January 18, 2019 It only took one month for Huang Shih-hsiu, a 31-year-old nuclear energy advocate, to upend a core energy policy of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. The policy, prior to its downfall, stated that Taiwan would decommission its three active nuclear power plants by 2025.

It makes for an entangled web of policy which, ideally, a direct democracy would sort out through a patient and measured process of public debate, consultation with experts, and consensus-building to avoid polarization and finger-pointing. Everyone does seem to agree on one thing, however: This did not happen in Taiwan.

Will the World Learn From Taiwan?

Matt Qvortrup, a professor of political science at Coventry University and leading referendum expert, has watched referendums surge in popularity throughout Europe and, gradually, to corners of the world like Taiwan, whose large-scale plebiscites provided lessons for global democracies in what, or what not, to do.

Qvortrup is a believer in referendums, but with conditions. “Democracy is discussion and deliberation,” he says, and that does not happen when voters are rushed to the polls. “To have meaningful democracy,” he says, “you need to have time to debate things.” Taiwan’s CEC-sanctioned TV debates were held in a cramped three-week window – five public forums each for 10 referendum questions.

He noted that debate on the high-interest issue of same-sex marriage dominated much of Taiwan’s already congested pre-referendum discourse, drowning out interest in the intricacies of energy policy. “That’s bad, because people will be voting on things they haven’t had the opportunity to talk about,” Qvortrup says.

Chao of RSPRC agrees, saying there was far from enough time for voters to have an informed debate. Shortly after the referendum, his center published a study showing that voters were not informed on nuclear power – most were unaware of the details of Tsai’s phaseout proposal, and 44 percent believed nuclear power provides most of the island’s energy. (It produces just over 8 percent, far behind coal-fired power.)

“For democracy to work, it has to be limited to relatively few issues,” says Qvortrup. “If you have too many issues on the ballot, people just get saturated. They turn off, they can’t be bothered. You need to save up your civic reserves.”

Taiwan’s nuclear power plebiscite was not even the only energy-related measure on the ballot: Two separate measures, both successful, called for Taiwan to reduce thermal power and stop expansion of coal-fired power plants. A measure to maintain Taiwan’s ban on food imports from the Fukushima disaster area also passed, angering Japan.

The team at Cofacts, a collaborative social media fact-checking platform that monitored online discussion leading up to the referendums, says it observed a combination of disinformation and voter apathy ahead of the energy plebiscites. “In comparison to other issues, nuclear power was one of the less popular topics,” writes Rosalind, a Cofacts editor, in an open response to questions from The Diplomat. “Even when people talked about it, they were actually talking about air pollution, reducing thermal power generation plants, new alternative energy, and polluted foods.” This did not allow voters to consider the nuances of the issues, such as whether Taiwan does in fact face a looming electricity shortage, says Rosalind.

“The people wanted to be on the ‘winning’ side of these yes/no questions, even though most of them did not know the referendum topics until the day of the election,” says Cofacts founder Johnson Liang. He notes that online discussion on nuclear power paled in comparison to talk of the same-sex marriage referendums. “There were way too many topics to vote [on] within a timespan that is too short, and they did not have time to follow the television debates.”

It takes a resonant message to cut through an overload of information and mangled discourse, and Huang Shih-hsiu had one: Nuclear Mythbusters ran with the slogan “Nuclear energy is green energy,” sizing it up against a future coal-fired dystopia and dismissing the present-day viability of affordable renewables, all while cutting through the opposing stance that nuclear power is an environmental crisis waiting to happen.

This approach has always been effective, but it’s especially potent in the digital age, says Dion Curry, senior lecturer of public policy at Swansea University. Public figures with “little political power, but immense media power” – he cites Brexit’s Nigel Farage as an example – can strategically reach voters through targeted Facebook ads and participation in social media “echo chambers,” he says………. https://thediplomat.com/2019/01/how-direct-democracy-went-nuclear-in-taiwan/

January 21, 2019 Posted by | politics, Reference, Taiwan | 1 Comment

Japan’s plans to sell nuclear plants overseas have been derailed

Plans to sell nuclear plants overseas derailed, Japan Times, 20 Jan 19, With the decision by Hitachi Ltd. to “freeze” its plan to build two nuclear power reactors in the United Kingdom, all of the overseas nuclear power plant projects pursued by Japanese firms — with the backing of the government seeking to promote export of nuclear power technology as a key pillar of its efforts to boost infrastructure sales in overseas markets — have now effectively been derailed.

……… Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has long taken the initiative to promote the overseas sale of Japanese nuclear power plants through top-level diplomacy. However, the nuclear power plant business cannot be a part of the nation’s growth strategy if its business feasibility is in doubt. The government and related industries need to face up to the situation surrounding the nuclear power business — which continues to face difficulties domestically as well — and reassess the way forward.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster, triggered by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, has radically changed the global nuclear power market landscape. The cost of nuclear power, which had been promoted as a relatively inexpensive and “clean” source of energy that does not emit carbon dioxide, spiked as additional safety investments inflated plant expenses.

The cost of Hitachi’s project to build the two reactors in Anglesey, Wales, which began in 2012, has ballooned from the initial estimate of ¥2 trillion to ¥3 trillion. Another project pursued by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to build four reactors in Turkey has also been hampered by the swelling cost — which reportedly shot up from an initially estimated ¥2.1 trillion to ¥5 trillion. Toshiba Corp. has pulled out from the overseas nuclear power business after the huge losses incurred by its subsidiary Westinghouse Electric Co. in its nuclear power plant projects in the United States.

Even with a spike in plant construction costs, the nuclear power business would make economic sense if the expected earnings surpass the investments. But Hitachi reportedly decided to halt the U.K. project after it became clear that even with public support from the British government it could not possibly realize profits………

Behind the government’s drive to promote the sale of nuclear power plants overseas has been the domestic market’s bleak business prospects. While the government and the power industry have pushed for restarting the nation’s nuclear power plants idled in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, once they have cleared the tightened plant safety standards, only nine reactors at five plants have been put back online. The additional costs of safety investments required under the new Nuclear Regulation Authority standards to make the plants more resilient to natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunami — estimated to range from ¥100 billion to ¥200 billion for each reactor — have prompted power companies to decide to decommission 23 aging reactors so far (including the six at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 plant).

As popular opposition in Japan remains strong against reactivating the idled plants, there is no prospect that the construction of new plants will be approved in the foreseeable future. The drive to promote the export of nuclear power plants may have been intended to make up for the loss of demand in the domestic market. But earlier plans for Japanese makers to build plants in Lithuania and Vietnam were canceled, while a civil nuclear cooperation pact signed with India in 2016 — which was aimed at paving the way for Japanese nuclear plant exports to the country — has not resulted in any deal. Along with Hitachi’s decision to halt the U.K. project, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is reportedly set to abandon its plan in Turkey.

Even without construction of new plants, there will be demand for maintaining Japan’s existing nuclear power plants, and for decommissioning its aging plants. What to do with the spent nuclear fuel and the high-level radioactive wastes from the plants will also be among the challenges that confront Japan’s nuclear power business. There will be plenty of work for the industry, and it will be crucial to develop and maintain the technology and manpower to deal with the tasks. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2019/01/20/editorials/plans-sell-nuclear-plants-overseas-derailed/#.XETUVtIzbGg

January 21, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Trump plans North Korea nuclear summit with Kim Jong Un for February 

Jan. 19, 2019, By Jonathan Allen, Abigail Williams and Dan De Luce

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump plans to meet face-to-face with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month for a second nuclear summit, the White House announced Friday. …..https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/trump-meets-top-north-korean-official-second-kim-summit-possibility-n960301

January 21, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

How US and China’s African nuclear mission could provide model for disarming North KoreaSC

MP,  Lee Jeong-ho, 20 Jan 19, 

  • The recent joint operation to remove uranium from Nigeria could provide a template for denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula
  • Although the two countries have proved they can still work together, the challenges posed by North Korea are likely to prove far more challenging
China and America’s recent joint nuclear non-proliferation mission in West Africa could provide a precedent for dismantling North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, analysts have said, but warned that the scale and political complexity of the task will be far greater.

This week it emerged that Chinese and American nuclear experts had cooperated on a project to remove highly enriched uranium (HEU) from a reactor in Nigeria to prevent the material falling into the hands of terrorists.

The mission last year, which also involved British and Norwegian experts along with contractors from Russia and the Czech Republic, was completed within a day despite violent clashes in Kaduna province where the reactor was located, according to Defensenews.com.

The logistics and security arrangements needed to fly the material to China were completed within six weeks, showing the capacity of both the US and China to set aside their differences and cooperate when their mutual interests are at stake.

The Nigerian operation was not the first time the two countries had worked together to prevent nuclear proliferation in West Africa; a similar operation to remove HEU to China was carried out in Ghana in 2017.

Because neither China nor America’s interests are served by a nuclear-armed North Korea, similar work could be carried out in the future should talks on denuclearisation come to fruition.

Miles Pomper, a senior fellow at the James Martin centre for non-proliferation studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said: “It is conceivable in the case of denuclearisation that North Korea’s nuclear weapons or material could be taken to China.

“Given the fact that China already has nuclear weapons, the US could likely accept that although the US would likely then push for their disassembly.”

Bruce Bennett, a senior defence researcher at the Rand Corporation, said the two countries would continue to cooperate on dismantling nuclear weapons.

“If instability developed in North Korea, China may well be at greater risk from terrorists or Chinese dissident groups seizing North Korean nuclear weapons and using them against China,” he said……… https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2182564/how-us-and-chinas-african-nuclear-mission-could-provide-model

January 21, 2019 Posted by | China, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Time to retire Japan’s aging nuclear reactor at Genkai 

Decision looms on aging nuclear reactor at Genkai  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190117_34/ The operator of a nuclear power plant in western Japan says it plans to decide early this year whether to scrap one of the plant’s reactors, or extend its life.

On Thursday, Kyushu Electric Power Company President Kazuhiro Ikebe revealed the plan during a meeting with the governor of Saga Prefecture that hosts the Genkai plant.

Ikebe said his firm is looking into technical aspects of the plan, including whether the aging reactor could meet the stricter regulations introduced after the March 2011 nuclear accident.

The No.2 reactor at Genkai will turn 40 years old in March 2021. It has been offline since January 2011.

Post-disaster guidelines limit the operation of reactors to 40 years in principle, but allow extensions of up to 20 years with approval of the nuclear regulation authority.

Governor Yoshinori Yamaguchi told Ikebe that he hopes society will reduce its dependence on nuclear energy and eventually be nuclear-free.

Yamaguchi said the utility must understand that the decision it takes will come under public scrutiny.

Kyushu Electric put Genkai’s No.3 and No.4 reactors back online last year, but decided to decommission the No.1 reactor.

If the utility wants to extend the operation of the No.2 reactor, it must file an application with the government by March next year and take additional safety measures.

January 21, 2019 Posted by | decommission reactor, Japan | Leave a comment

Locals to go to court against public hearing for jetty near nuclear plant

  https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/locals-to-go-to-court-against-public-hearing-for-jetty-near-nuclear-plant/article26044843.ece  Alok Deshpande, MUMBAI, JANUARY 21, 2019 As the district administration went ahead with the public hearing for building a jetty next to the proposed 9,900 MW Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP) despite instructions against it from the State Environment minister and adverse reports from research institutes, locals have decided to approach the court and the Centre.

I Log Ports Private Limited has proposed developing a jetty at Nate village in Rajapur taluka of Ratnagiri, next to the site selected for the JNPP. The Hindu on Saturday reported that the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) in its letter to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board pointed out that proposed jetty violates conditions stipulated in the clearance for the JNPP. Senior Shiv Sena leader and Environment minister Ramdas Kadam also wrote a letter to Ratnagiri collector Sunil Chavan to not conduct the public hearing on Saturday.

On Saturday, the hearing was conducted amid opposition from locals. District authorities said, they were asked to register their objections but no one came forward.

Satyajit Chavan, convener, Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti, said the public hearing was illegal and unconstitutional. “The hearing shouldn’t have been held as there are legitimate questions against the environment impact assessment report. This project is against the very principle of clearance given to nuclear plant and the minister himself had ordered not to hold the hearing,” he said. There was no question of submitting objection in an illegally-held public hearing. “It was done at the behest of a private company and is unjustified for locals.”

In his letter, BNHS director Deepak Apte said that the proposed captive jetty is against the very principle of the JNPP clearance. The letter also said that Terms of Reference have not been fulfilled and so the project warrants out right rejection, making the public hearing untenable.

January 21, 2019 Posted by | India, Legal | Leave a comment

Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of the Japan Business Federation gave a gloomy view of nuclear power’s future

Hitachi chief’s remarks on nuclear industry spark debate, Japan Times, BY PHILIP BRASOR , 20 Jan 19, On Jan. 1, Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), held press interviews on the outlook of the business community and, at one point, the discussion turned to nuclear energy.

Nakanishi is also the chairman of Hitachi Ltd., a major supplier of nuclear technology, and he said that the commercial possibilities for nuclear energy in Japan, for both “clients,” meaning power companies, and “vendors,” meaning plant manufacturers such as Hitachi, were increasingly limited. If clients can’t make a profit, then neither can vendors, and that will continue to be the case as long as the public is opposed to nuclear energy. The industry can’t force nuclear power on the citizens of a democracy.

Major media were presumably represented at the interviews, but only one outlet, All-Nippon News Network (ANN), reported Nakanishi’s nuclear-related comments. Jan. 1 was a newspaper holiday, which means that no newspapers were published on Jan. 2, but there was still no other mention of his remarks on Jan. 3. On Jan. 5, journalist Hajime Takano commented on this lack of interest to former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on the latter’s web channel for his East Asian Community Institute. The head of Hitachi, a key company in nuclear technology, had said that the business of nuclear energy is impossible without public support. Since nuclear energy is national policy, the ramifications are huge, Takano said, and yet no other major media had covered the remarks or ANN’s report. Were they afraid of upsetting the government?

As Takano pointed out, the Tokyo Shimbun, which as a regional newspaper doesn’t qualify as “major media” and tends to question the government’s nuclear policy, did mention Nakanishi’s remarks on its front page on Jan. 5, suggesting that the Hitachi chairman was no longer aligned with the administration on nuclear energy. Almost eight years after the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, no nuclear plants in eastern Japan have resumed operation and, without an economic rationale for nuclear power, the policy is pointless.

But the Tokyo Shimbun also reported that Nakanishi said Japan does not have the right environment for renewable energy. This qualification seemed to imply that nuclear power was still preferable, but only if the public could be persuaded to accept it. So while part of Nakanishi’s remarks might give the impression that Japan’s nuclear power industry is throwing in the towel, they need to be contextualized within the larger picture of Hitachi’s business.

……… Ever since Japanese nuclear plant expansion ground to a halt after the Fukushima disaster, the government has promoted overseas nuclear development as a growth strategy, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as the lead international salesman. However, proposed projects in Vietnam, Taiwan and other places have stalled one after another. The collapse of the British project, which was formally announced Thursday, may be the final nail in the coffin.

In that light, Nakanishi’s new year remarks sound fatalistic, but pundits hear something different. Nikkan Gendai interviewed former trade ministry official Shigeaki Koga, who pointed out that Japan’s nuclear energy players are dependent on the government. Without support, there was no way private power companies or vendors could have made money on nuclear energy. They essentially stuck with it because it was national policy. Nakanishi’s remarks, Koga said, were really veiled threats directed at the government: If you don’t help us financially and legally, then we will have no choice but to get out of the nuclear business. If you want us to continue, he added, it’s your job to convince the public that nuclear energy is worth it………. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/01/19/national/media-national/hitachi-chiefs-remarks-nuclear-industry-spark-debate/#.XETXadIzbGg

January 21, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment

Hitachi boss just like proverbial general fighting the last war

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A new nuclear power plant planned by Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd., a subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd., would have been situated on the island of Anglesey in Wales
January 19, 2019
“Generals always fight the last war” is an aphorism meaning that military leaders tend to draw upon their experiences from the previous war when planning a new strategy.
Their strategy is doomed to failure because of their inability to keep up with the times by staying abreast of technological renovations and exploring new types of warfare.
Their counterparts seem to exist in present-day Japan.
Trying to “fight the last war,” such individuals are to be found among nuclear plant manufacturers as well as within the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Apparently, they cannot forget the good old 2000s, the era of global “Nuclear Renaissance.”
Memories of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl were starting to fade into oblivion then, and that helped revive nuclear plant construction. And with the nuclear industry becoming energized in various countries, Japan was determined to grab a share of the pie, and both the public and private sectors joined forces to push nuclear plant export.
And unbelievably, they keep this up even after the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011.
Did they believe the Fukushima disaster would have little impact on the rest of the world?
They were utterly wrong, of course. Nuclear plant construction costs skyrocketed due to reinforced safety standards.
One after another, export projects were aborted. A Hitachi project in Britain was frozen. Losses amounting to 300 billion yen wiped out the bulk of annual profit.
It is hard to believe that Japanese industry and the government, which bear grave responsibility for the Fukushima disaster, could have been so oblivious to change.
Or could it be that they were simply unable to think straight because they could not find a business they could sell to the rest of the world?
Hitachi Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi is also chairman of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation). At a recent news conference, Nakanishi created a stir by strongly advocating restarts of off-line nuclear reactors.
Is he growing frustrated and impatient over stalled exports? He obviously is totally out of touch with Japanese public opinion that has grown sensitive to the risks inherent in nuclear power generation.
I am convinced Nakanishi is the proverbial general who keeps fighting the last war.

January 20, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Koizumi says Japan must say ‘no’ to nuclear energy

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Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi speaks about his zero nuclear power proposal during a Dec. 12 interview in Tokyo.
January 17, 2019
When he was prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi championed the use of atomic power to generate electricity.
Then the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster struck, triggering a crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.
Koizumi, in office from 2001 to 2006, and widely regarded as one of Japan’s most popular postwar leaders, started reading up on the nuclear issue, and had a change of heart.
Koizumi, 76, published his first book by his own hand titled “Genpatsu Zero Yareba Dekiru” (We can abolish all nuclear plants if we try) in December. It is available from Ohta Publishing Co.
In it, he lambasts consumers for lacking a sense of crisis and simply believing a serious accident like the Fukushima disaster will never happen again in Japan during their lifetime.
In a recent interview with The Asahi Shimbun, Koizumi said it was “a lie” to claim that nuclear power is “safe, low-cost and clean,” although that is precisely what he espoused when he held the reins of power.
* * *
Excerpts from the interview follow.
Question: An opinion poll by The Asahi Shimbun in February 2018 showed that 61 percent of people oppose the restart of idle nuclear reactors, and yet, reactors are successively being brought back online. What is your view about this?
Koizumi: Many people still support the zero nuclear power generation policy. When I teamed up with Morihiro Hosokawa, (a former prime minister), who ran for the Tokyo governor’s election (in 2014), to call for abolition of nuclear power facilities, voters on the streets showed a positive reaction.
But now many people do not realize how dangerous nuclear reactors are. They probably believe a nuclear accident will never occur again while they live because of all the attention that has been paid to safety since the Fukushima crisis.
However, in the 2012 report compiled by the government’s panel to investigate causes of the disaster, the panel’s chair said, “Things that are possible happen. Things that are thought not possible also happen.”
In other words, there are no totally safe technologies.
Q: Many people seemingly believe that they have no choice but to accept nuclear power because it costs less than other types of electricity generation and electricity rates are cheaper. Do you agree?
A: The argument is doubtful. Nuclear power is relatively cheap just because the government covers part of the costs. Nuclear plants cannot be operated without assistance from the government. Private financial institutions would not extend loans to operators of nuclear facilities if the state did not provide guarantees.
Were it not for governmental support and taxpayers’ money, nuclear power would be more expensive than other kinds of energy.
Renewable energy (such as solar and wind power) currently accounts for 15 percent of total power production in Japan. The percentage is much higher than before the Fukushima crisis. Even if costs slightly increase, citizens would accept the zero nuclear policy.
Q: Is it really possible to replace all the nuclear reactors with other sorts of power plants?
A: No reactors were operated for two years after the Fukushima disaster. But no power shortages were reported during the period. That means Japan can do without nuclear plants. It is a fact.
Q: During your tenure as prime minister (between 2001 and 2006), it emerged in 2002 that Tokyo Electric Power Co. had concealed problems at its nuclear facilities. Didn’t that cause you to lose your trust in nuclear power even then?
A: No. Power supply is important and the risk of power failures could damage the economy. It was then said to be difficult to replace (nuclear plants that produced) 30 percent of the nation’s electricity needs with other power sources.
As there were few facilities to generate power based on renewables at the time, I believed nuclear reactors were essential. I simply trusted the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which said “nuclear energy is safe, low-cost and clean.”
But that was a big lie.
Although some people argued “nuclear plants are dangerous” even before the Fukushima crisis, I was deceived by the ministry and did not take their words seriously.
I did some soul-searching and decided I ought to spread the word that Japan can do without nuclear plants.
Q: You said “deceived.” Are you working to rectify your past mistake?
A: Yes. I am touring across Japan as I am keen to share my thoughts with many people.
Q: The issue of nuclear plants and their safety has hardly featured in recent national election campaigns. What’s your take on this?
A: The construction of a nuclear reactor is estimated at 1 trillion yen ($9.28 billion) now. Building reactors requires many materials, so many companies are involved in the nuclear power business.
Many tiny, small and midsize companies benefit from nuclear plants. Many of them insist that abolishing nuclear power would throw people out of work.
Some labor unions that support opposition parties are engaged in the nuclear power generation industry, though the (main opposition) Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan says it is in favor of the zero nuclear power policy.
Q: What do you think is important in realizing a nuclear-free society?
A: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe insists nuclear plants are essential, so many lawmakers remain silent about the issue. But there are lawmakers even in the (ruling) Liberal Democratic Party who support the zero nuclear power policy.
If Abe declares the state will abolish all nuclear plants, the situation will drastically change. Both ruling and opposition parties can cooperate over the issue.
Why hasn’t the government set dream-inspiring goals to promote solar, wind and geothermal power generation?
Q: Could you explain the words in your book that “it is regrettable and irritating that I was deceived”?
A: When meeting with Abe, I always tell him, “Be careful not to be deceived by the economy ministry.” But he just smiles a wry smile and does not argue back.
He should not miss the current political opportunity that he has the upper hand (to change the government’s conventional nuclear energy policy).
Q: Do you talk with your son and Lower House lawmaker Shinjiro Koizumi about the issue of nuclear plants?
A: He knows my opinion all too well. He is still young, so he should do what he wants after gaining power.
(This article is based on an interview by Asahi Shimbun Staff Writer Takashi Arichika.)

January 20, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Resona bans lending to those developing, making or possessing nuclear weapons

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This screen capture shows a Resona statement prohibiting lending to entities that develop, produce or possess nuclear weapons.
January 7, 2019
TOKYO — Resona Holdings Inc., a major financial group in Japan, has announced a policy of not extending loans to borrowers that are involved in the development, production or possession of nuclear weapons.
The statement, the first of its kind by a major Japanese banking institution, came amid similar moves by an increasing number of European banks and institutional investors following the adoption at the United Nations of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017.
Whether other Japanese corporations will follow Resona’s action is a focus of attention for the future. There were other lenders banning loans for the production of nuclear weapons, but the Resona policy prohibits any loans to such companies even when such transactions are for non-nuclear related purposes.
The new posture was incorporated in a document titled “Efforts toward socially responsible investment and loans,” which was announced in November last year. According to the paper, Resona refuses to lend to those that are associated with the development, production or possession of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, or inhuman weaponry including antipersonnel mines and cluster munitions. Entities that can be subject to relevant restrictions or sanctions, or even those with the potential to be hit with such punitive measures, will be rejected as borrowers, the document says.
An official with Resona, which has never lent to companies making nuclear weapons, explained that the banking group decided to introduce the policy “because we thought it important for providers of funds to make such efforts toward a sustainable society.”
According to the Dutch nongovernmental organization PAX, 63 financial institutions had similar lending policies as of October 2017, an increase of nine from the previous year.
A Mainichi Shimbun poll of four Japanese mega banks — Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Mizuho Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings — as well as four major life insurance companies — Nippon, Dai-ichi, Meiji Yasuda and Sumitomo — found that all of the eight companies and groups have policies to refrain from lending and investment over inhuman weapons. Yet the entities did not specify the production of nuclear weapons as a condition to disengage from borrowers.
Officials at Sumitomo Mitsui and Mizuho replied that their companies ban loans to be used in the production of nuclear weapons, while a Mitsubishi UFJ official explained that the company is “making careful judgment in each transaction.”

January 20, 2019 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

 Nagasaki: Life after Nuclear War – the past and the future

Ground Zero Nagasaki: Living the nuclear past – and future, Asia Times, By SUSAN SOUTHARD JANUARY 18, 2019  “………. Much of Nagasaki and the world have, of course, moved on from that terrible morning when a 5-ton plutonium bomb plunged at a thousand kilometers an hour toward the city of 240,000 people. Forty-three seconds later, it detonated half a kilometer above Nagasaki’s Urakami Valley. A super-brilliant blue-white flash lit the sky, followed by a thunderous explosion equal to the power of 21,000 tons of TNT. The entire city convulsed

Based on my book Nagasaki: Life after Nuclear War, I often give talks in the US about that unforgettable (or now often-too-forgettable) day when, for only the second time in history, human beings deemed it right to assault their own species with apocalyptic power. At these book talks, I’ve learned to be prepared for someone in the audience to say that the Japanese deserved what they got. It’s still hard to hear.

At its “burst point,” the Nagasaki blast reached temperatures higher than at the center of the sun, and the velocity of its shock wave exceeded the speed of sound. Within three seconds, the ground below had reached an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 degrees Celsius. Directly beneath the bomb, infrared heat rays instantly carbonized human and animal flesh and vaporized internal organs. Did the men, women, and children of Nagasaki really deserve that?

As the mushroom cloud rapidly ascended 3km over the city and eclipsed the sun, the bomb’s vertical blast pressure crushed much of the Urakami Valley. Horizontal blast winds tore through the region at two and a half times the speed of a Category 5 hurricane, pulverizing buildings, trees, animals, and thousands of people.

The blazing heat twisted iron, disintegrated vegetation, ignited clothing, and melted human skin. Fires broke out across the city, burning thousands of civilians alive.

And though no one knew it yet, larger doses of radiation than any human had ever received penetrated deeply into the bodies of people and animals.

…………. the United States bombed and incinerated all or parts of 66 Japanese cities, killing, maiming or irradiating more than 668,000 civilians. In Nagasaki alone, by the end of 1945 when a first count was possible, 74,000 men, women and children were dead. Of those, only 150 were military personnel. Seventy-five thousand more civilians were injured or irradiated.

Today, this kind of indiscriminate killing and harm to civilians would be called “terrorism.”

Despite the history most Americans have learned – that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were military necessities that ended World War II and saved a million American lives by obviating the need for an invasion of Japan’s home islands – there is no historical evidence that the Nagasaki bombing had any impact on Japan’s decision to surrender.

What we aren’t taught are the political and military complexities of the last few months of the war or how, in the postwar years, the US government crafted this end-of-war narrative to silence public opposition to the atomic bombings and build support for America’s fast-expanding nuclear-weapons program.

What many don’t realize is that this misleading version of history allows us to turn away from what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and continue to support the development and proliferation of nuclear weapons without ever having to think about what those weapons do.

Still, so many decades later, in a world in which the Trump administration is preparing to withdraw from a key Cold War nuclear agreement with Russia and the US nuclear arsenal is being modernized to the tune of up to $1.6 trillion, it’s worth recalling the other side of the story, the kind of suffering the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings caused in August 1945 and long after.

Within weeks, people in both cities began experiencing mysterious symptoms: vomiting, fever, dizziness, bleeding gums, and hair loss from what doctors would later understand as radiation-related sickness. Purple spots appeared all over their bodies. Many died in excruciating pain within a week of the first appearance of such symptoms. Fear gripped Nagasaki. From one day to the next, no one knew when his or her time might come.

In those first nine months, pregnant women suffered spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, or the deaths of their newborn infants. Many of the babies who survived would later develop physical and mental disabilities.

Five years after the bombings, thousands more began dying from leukemia and other illnesses caused by high-dose radiation exposure, initiating cycles of higher than normal cancer rates that would last for decades. The bombs had, from the survivors’ perspective, burned their bodies from the inside out. Parents exposed to radiation feared possible genetic defects in their children and hovered over them year after year, terrified that what looked like a simple cold or stomach ache would lead to severe illness or death.

Even today, radiation scientists are still studying second- and third-generation hibakusha (atomic-bomb-affected people) for genetic effects passed down from their parents and grandparents, reminding us how much we still don’t understand about the insidious nature of radiation exposure to the human body…….. http://www.atimes.com/ground-zero-nagasaki-living-the-nuclear-past-and-future/

January 19, 2019 Posted by | Japan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Top North Korea envoy meets Trump at White House for nuclear talks

Straits Times, WASHINGTON (REUTERS) 18 Jan 19, – A top North Korean nuclear envoy met President Donald Trump at the White House after holding talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday (Jan 18) in a diplomatic flurry aimed at laying the groundwork for a second US-North Korea summit.

The visit of Kim Yong Chol, Pyongyang’s lead negotiator with the United States and a hardline former spy chief, marked a rare sign of potential movement in a denuclearisation effort that has stalled since a landmark meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore last year.

Kim Yong Chol and Pompeo, with tight smiles, posed together for photographs at a Washington hotel before holding about 45 minutes of talks that could help determine whether the two sides can make headway.

After that meeting, the White House said Trump hosted Kim Yong Chol in the Oval Office to “discuss relations between the two countries and continued progress on North Korea’s final, fully verified denuclearisation.”

There has been no indication of any narrowing of differences over US demands that North Korea abandon a nuclear weapons programme that threatens the United States or over Pyongyang’s demand for a lifting of punishing sanctions.

Hours before Kim Yong Chol’s arrival on Thursday, Trump – who declared after the Singapore summit in June that the nuclear threat posed by North Korea was over – unveiled a revamped US missile defence strategy that singled out the country as an ongoing and “extraordinary threat.”

The State Department said after Friday’s meeting that Pompeo had a “good discussion” with Kim Yong Chol “on efforts to make progress on commitments President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un made at their summit in Singapore.”

But it provided no specifics.

The high-level visit could yield an announcement of plans for a second summit. Both Trump and Kim have expressed an interest in arranging but some US-based analysts say it would be premature due to the lack of obvious progress so far………. https://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/north-korea-envoy-in-us-for-talks-with-secretary-of-states-mike-pompeo-possibly

January 19, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment