A seismologist says about three-fifths of an active fault running more than 50 kilometers off the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima shifted in last month’s powerful earthquake.
The magnitude-7.4 quake on November 22nd registered a 5 minus on the Japanese seismic scale of 0 to 7. A tsunami 1.4 meters high was observed at a port in Miyagi Prefecture.
Professor Shinji Toda of Tohoku University analyzed the active fault that triggered the temblor, using data on seabed terrain and the locations of aftershocks.
He says a stretch of about 30 kilometers in the fault that runs from northeast to southwest shifted in the earthquake.
He believes a shift of the entire fault would have caused a more powerful quake, with a possible magnitude of 7.7.
He warns that the remaining part of the fault is close to the shore and has the potential to trigger a magnitude-7 quake.
Toda’s findings contradict a 2014 analysis of the area by Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
It stated that 2 fault lines, each about 20 kilometers long, could cause an earthquake with a magnitude of up to 7.1, much less than that of November’s quake.
Toda says it is important to improve that analysis, since the quake was more powerful than the utility’s estimate.
TEPCO says it will review its estimates if necessary.
Volunteer group continues checking fish off Fukushima as radiation levels drop
An olive flounder, estimated at 11 years old, measuring 90 centimeters long and caught in waters near the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, is seen on a ship about 2 kilometers from the plant, on Nov. 13, 2016.
IWAKI, Fukushima — As radioactive cesium levels in fish caught off the Fukushima Prefecture coast show lower levels that fall within safety limits set by the government, the Mainichi Shimbun recently accompanied a volunteer group that continues to measure these fish on one of its outings.
The group, called “Iwaki Kaiyo Shirabetai Umi Labo” (Iwaki marine investigative squad ocean lab), began its activities three years ago. Rather than relying on the national government, Fukushima nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. or others for data on radioactive pollution in the ocean off Fukushima Prefecture, the group aims to obtain this information itself and share it across the country.
On Nov. 13, a Mainichi Shimbun reporter boarded one of the group’s fishing ships, which set out from Hisanohama Port in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture. Two kilometers from the disaster-stricken plant, the group pulled up a large, 90-centimeter, 7.7-kilogram olive flounder. This fish was caught by Eriko Kawanishi, a civil servant who came from Tokyo to participate in the outing and said it was her first time ever to hold a fishing rod. A 90-centimeter fish would be a rare catch even for a veteran fisherman.
The olive flounder was refrigerated and taken back to veterinarian Seiichi Tomihara at the Aquamarine Fukushima aquarium in Iwaki for dissection. Based on the growth rings on its “otoliths,” a structure located near the brain, Tomihara estimated the fish’s age at 11 years. He said there is research estimating the life expectancy of olive flounders at around 12 years, adding, “This looks like one of the oldest (one can find).”
A 1-kilogram slice of the fish put in a detector showed 14.6 becquerels of radioactive cesium — below the 100 becquerels-per-kilogram national safety limit for regular food products. Lately the research group has found no fish, including bottom-dwelling fish like olive flounder, that exceed this limit. In addition, radiation checks done by the prefectural government find hardly any cases of fish that top the safety limit.
Riken Komatsu, 37, joint-representative for the group, says, “This is the first time for us to check such an old olive flounder, and I thought there would be dozens of becquerels detected. The result was lower than I had imagined and I feel relieved.”
Fish that were already adult at the time of the disaster, with a slowed metabolism and a narrow range of habitat, tend to show high radiation levels, Komatsu says. With time having passed since the disaster, the generational replacement of the fish in the area has moved forward. The group says the highest radiation level it has detected so far was 138 becquerels from a 56-centimeter olive flounder in July 2014.
Olive flounder caught off of Iwaki are known as “Joban-mono” and have a good reputation. There is hope among locals that the fish will regain their pre-disaster popularity.
Komatsu says, “The prefectural government and fishing cooperatives are also releasing radiation readings from fish taken off Fukushima Prefecture, but I feel there are few taken from waters near the nuclear plant. Stronger data showing the fish’s safety (like data from fish near the plant) should raise the value of Fukushima olive flounder.”
Surf clams caught in waters off Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, in June
Radiation in fish off Fukushima tests below detectable level
FUKUSHIMA–Radiation in all seafood caught off Fukushima Prefecture tested below the detectable level in November for the first time since the 2011 nuclear disaster.
Species including bass, rockfish and stone flounder–sales of which were banned by the central government–were tested between Nov. 11 and Nov. 28, and the prefectural government said they all fell below the detection threshold, meaning radioactive cesium was not detected in any samples.
The main reason is that most fish species have undergone a generation change over the past five years with the contaminated marine life dying out, said officials at the prefectural government’s fisheries experimental station.
In addition, the passage of time helped fish exude radioactive cesium from their bodies.
The prefectural government began the tests in April 2011 following the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant the previous month.
Forty thousand fish and shellfish samples have been checked from 186 species over the past five and a half years.
The initial tests found that more than 90 percent of the samples were contaminated with radioactive cesium above the central government’s safety limit of 100 becquerels per kilogram.
The percentage of polluted fish and shellfish then declined annually.
The tests since April last year showed that the pollution in all samples was within the safety limit.
The monitoring covers seafood caught in 30 locations, in waters with a depth of 5 meters and at a distance of hundreds of meters from the shore, including the area in a 20-kilometer radius of the crippled plant.
Tokyo says Tepco may stay nationalized to deal with massive cost of nuclear disaster
Faced with massive ongoing costs stemming from the 2011 nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. may remain under state control longer than initially planned, the government said Monday.
Under the current plan, the utility would gradually reduce government involvement in its management from April.
However, at a key panel meeting the government proposed a revised option in light of the huge compensation and decommissioning expenses that are involved.
The government leads the business operations of the utility, known as Tepco, acquiring 50.1 percent of its voting rights through the state-backed Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp.
Some ministry bureaucrats have also been dispatched to the utility.
It is understood the state-backed body will assess efforts to reform the company in late March and make a decision on whether to reduce state involvement.
“The direction of Tepco reform is coming into sight,” said Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko at the panel meeting. “We have to come up with a more detailed picture of the reform.”
The government is seeking to split the activities of the utility into “business operations,” including retail sales and power generation, and “Fukushima operations” related to decommissioning reactors at the disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and paying compensation, which would remain under public control.
As for Tepco’s business operations, the government plans to free them of state control at an early date, hoping to promote industry reorganization involving nuclear and energy distribution businesses.
The plan was revealed at the panel meeting at the trade ministry to study compensation and decommissioning issues facing the utility. The panel will compile proposals by the end of this year.
The government also seeks cooperation from other power companies in reactivating Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, which would be the main source of its revenue.
With the involvement of other utilities, the government hopes to ease local distrust of Tepco’s nuclear plant operations. Two reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant are under prolonged safety examinations by nuclear regulators.
State ownership of TEPCO likely to continue as costs keep rising
The government will likely prolong its effective state ownership of Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. because the expected costs for decommissioning its ruined Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and paying compensation continue to soar.
The industry ministry mentioned the rising expenses at a meeting on Dec. 5 with scholars and others.
The ministry at the meeting showed a six-item report titled, “Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the state’s role.” One pillar of the report was that the state should urge TEPCO to perform its responsibilities.
However, one of the participants said, “The state should hold a certain ratio of (TEPCO) shares for a long period.”
The government-approved Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. currently holds 50.1 percent of shares with voting rights of TEPCO.
The government planned to reduce the stake to less than 50 percent if it concluded at the end of this fiscal year that TEPCO could operate independently.
However, that scenario has collapsed.
Some sources now say total costs, including expenses for decommissioning and compensation, will probably exceed 20 trillion yen (about $176 billion).
TEPCO initially said that it would need a total of 11 trillion yen to resolve problems related to the plant that suffered a triple meltdown after being hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
That amount includes 2 trillion yen to decommission the reactors, 5.4 trillion yen to pay compensation to people affected by the disaster and 2.5 trillion yen to decontaminate areas polluted with nuclear substances.
However, an internal report worked out by the industry ministry in August showed that the costs for decommissioning would probably increase by 4 trillion yen and the compensation sum would likely rise by 3 trillion yen, making the total amount 18 trillion yen.
Cooling water briefly stopped at Fukushima plant
Injections of water to cool melted fuel in a reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant stopped briefly due to human error on Monday.
The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, says an alarm system was activated at around 10 AM when a water pump at the No. 3 reactor shut down.
An internal investigation by the utility found that a worker had mistakenly hit the pump’s switch with his elbow while checking instruments. TEPCO resumed the water injections using a different pump about 1 hour later.
The utility notified local prefectural authorities and nearby areas of the problem just one minute before it resumed the water injections.
TEPCO officials say they detected no changes in the temperature at the bottom of the reactor or in radiation levels at monitoring posts around the plant.
Also on Sunday night, cooling operations temporarily stopped in the spent nuclear fuel pool at the plant’s numbers 1, 2 and 3 reactors when some valves inexplicably opened.
TEPCO says it takes these human errors seriously and will do it best to prevent recurrences.
Fukushima reactor briefly loses cooling during inspection
One of the melted reactors at tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant had a temporary loss of cooling when a worker accidentally bumped a switch while passing through a narrow aisle of switch panels during an inspection and turned off the pumping system.
The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said cooling for the No. 3 reactor, one of the three reactors that melted following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, was out for nearly one hour Monday until a backup pump kicked in.
TEPCO said the reactor had enough water left inside and there was no temperature increase or radiation leak from the incident.
TEPCO acknowledged some other key switches are in similarly tight locations.
In the space-time of environmental devastation announced by the Anthropocene, nuclear catastrophe is a type of “fuzzy boundaries trouble” that challenges our capacity for understanding. We know from Günther Anders that it operates in the supraliminary sphere, so large that it cannot be seen or imagined, which causes cognitive paralysis. By Ulrich Beck that produces an anthropological shock, the transformation of the consciousness of the subjects in relation to the experience of insecurity and uncertainty in the face of an invisible threat. By Svetlana Alexeivich that is characterized by vagueness and indefinition, which produces a war without enemies. And by Olga Kuchinskaya that generates a politics of invisibility regarding public knowledge of its consequences for life.
As Chernobyl before, the Fukushima disaster has reached the maximum level in the scale of accidents, when several nuclear reactors melted down 200 kilometers from the most populous metropolitan area of the planet. The dangerous radionuclides, once enclosed between concrete and steel walls, began to blend intimately with the biosphere. Before this mutant ecology, the artists have responded from the first moments. Through photography, guerrilla art, dance, video art or fiction narrative, this artistic response to the nuclear crisis has faced a double invisibility: the one of ionizing radiation and the institutional invisibility – the affirmation of the authorities that the problem “is under control”.
Taking as a theoretical framework the interdisciplinary discussion of the Anthropocene and its critical epistemologies, such Jason Moore’s Capitalocene and Donna Haraway’s Chthulucene, we investigate how artists are staying with the trouble in Fukushima. Recalibrating our sensory systems to adjust them to the contradiction and volatility of industrial advances, we explore the ability of art to construct an ontology complementary to hegemonic technoscience, one that allows us a more in-depth understanding of what nature and we humans has become in the Anthropocene.
The Tokai spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Tokai, a village in Ibaraki Prefecture
TOKAI, Ibaraki Prefecture–Drums of nuclear waste are stacked in disarray within a storage pool containing unidentified floating objects. Wires in the pool are feared entangled, and containers are believed corroded, possibly leaking radioactive substances. And highly toxic liquid waste remains untreated in a potentially explosive state.
After years of apparent mismanagement, the Tokai spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant is a jumbled mess, as the operator, Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), prepares for the Herculean task of shutting down the facility.
The circumstances at the plant in this village northeast of Tokyo has raised concerns about the JAEA’s ability to dismantle it.
“A situation far from appropriate has been allowed to continue at the plant,” said an official of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the nation’s nuclear watchdog. “Not only the JAEA, but also the former Science and Technology Agency and the former Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, have all looked the other way despite their knowledge of the situation.”
According to a JAEA report submitted to the NRA on Nov. 30, it will take 70 years to complete the dismantling process, with costs estimated at 217 billion yen ($1.92 billion) for the first decade alone.
A recent visit to the plant by Asahi Shimbun reporters revealed drums containing radioactive waste stacked in a disorderly manner in a storage pool.
JAEA officials showed pictures of the pool and explained that it contains about 800 drums piled about 7 meters high. The drums hold demolished clads from spent nuclear fuel assemblies.
The officials said that when an underwater camera was placed near the drums, it stirred up brown objects.
“We have no idea if they are water scale or rust,” one of JAEA officials said.
Workers put the drums in the storage pool between 1977 and 1994 by hanging them with cables above the pool and then cutting the cables to allow them to drop in, according to the officials.
The officials said they believed the cables also fell into the pool and became entangled.
Some experts at the NRA suspect the drums are now corroded and leaking radioactive materials.
Radiation at the pool surface measured 3 millisieverts per hour, three times the safety limit for annual exposure for a person, apart from background radiation.
The pool is not equipped with purification units.
Furthermore, JAEA officials said they do not know what’s in other containers at the facility.
Workers will eventually sort them out by opening their lids, they added.
One of the most challenging tasks facing the JAEA in the dismantling work is dealing with the 400 cubic meters of high-level radioactive liquid waste at the plant.
The liquid waste, which was generated during reprocessing, emits radiation registering 1,500 sieverts per hour, which would kill a person exposed for 20 seconds.
Left intact, this waste could produce heat and hydrogen, possibly leading to hydrogen explosions.
The JAEA has put the liquid waste in six stainless tanks and kept them cool with water. A ventilation system has been used to prevent hydrogen from accumulating inside the storage facility and sparking an explosion.
Ibaraki Prefecture is located immediately south of Fukushima Prefecture.
The Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan in 2011 severed all power sources to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, leading to hydrogen explosions and the triple meltdown there.
The natural disaster also cut off electricity to the Tokai plant for more than 40 hours. But the plant rode out the contingency with emergency power generators.
The NRA is aware of risks involved in keeping the liquid waste in the current state at the Tokai plant.
In 2013, the NRA allowed the plant to resume operations to solidify the liquid waste with glass as a special case before the watchdog checked whether the plant met tougher nuclear safety regulations set after the Fukushima disaster.
Work on the solidification process resumed this year, but it has been suspended because of a series of glitches. Only one-fourth of the scheduled volume of the liquid waste has been solidified.
The reprocessing plant began full operations in 1981. It had reprocessed 1,140 tons of spent nuclear fuel before the decision was made in 2014 to close down the facility.
The mother of a fourth-year elementary school student in Niigata, who has been staying home from school since late November after being called “germ” by his peers and his teacher, spoke to the Mainichi Shimbun, saying that her son was bullied because he came from nuclear disaster-hit Fukushima Prefecture.
The family evacuated from Fukushima after the nuclear disaster. While the Niigata Municipal Board of Education has denied a link between the bullying of the student and his Fukushima roots, according to the mother, the student started being called “germ” around March of this year, which marked five years since the disaster, and this is one reason she argues that there is a connection.
According to the mother, around March 11 of this year when the nuclear disaster issue came up in class, her son proactively talked about his own experiences.
“He must have been happy to be able to give lots of answers,” she says. However, it was around that time that he started being called “germ” by his classmates.
“Some kids who knew he had come from Fukushima started calling him germ, and that led to kids who didn’t know him also calling him that, like a nickname,” she says.
In June, the student talked to his teacher, complaining that he was “being treated like a germ.” At that point the student is thought to have not considered the name as bullying, and when the teacher referred to him as “germ” after summer vacation ended, he didn’t appear to be deeply bothered by it.
In early November, though, it was reported in the news that a junior high school student in Yokohama who had evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture was bullied by being called “germ.” When the student in Niigata heard this, he said, “It’s the same as me,” and the mother says she thinks “he probably began to see himself as being bullied.” On the mother’s advice, the student talked to his teacher about it again on Nov. 17. When he came home, he triumphantly said with a smile that he had talked to the teacher.
After a strong earthquake off the Fukushima Prefecture coast early on the morning of Nov. 22 this year, the boy went off to school looking anxious, he and his mother having not yet been able to get in contact with the father, who works in Fukushima Prefecture. During recess that day, while the student was receiving teacher-parent correspondence from his teacher, the teacher called him “germ” again. The shocked student returned home, and since Nov. 24 has been staying home from school, saying, “I want to go to school, but I can’t because that teacher is there.”
According to the mother, at first school authorities denied the teacher had called the student “germ.” On Nov. 25 the father called the school and said tearfully that “There are kids who commit suicide (when they are bullied).” Although the teacher apologized, the mother says that the teacher treated them coldly, saying it was only this year that they had become the student’s homeroom teacher. The teacher has said they want to apologize to the student, but the student is refusing to see the instructor and the school principal has been visiting the family’s home every day to try and deal with the matter.
The family has been planning to move after the free rent for the government-leased apartment they are living in ends at the end of this fiscal year. The mother says, “My son had been asking that we stay in the same school district, but now that this has happened, we have no choice but to have him change schools,” adding, “We evacuated voluntarily (from Fukushima), and I don’t want to impose on the people of Niigata.”
According to the Niigata Municipal Board of Education, there are 291 children who have evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture to the city of Niigata. It holds that “there is no bullying of students related to their Fukushima roots.”
Timeline of events involving the bullying of the student:
March — The Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster occur. The student evacuates to the city of Niigata.
Around March — Student begins to be ostracized by peers and called “germ.”
April — Student enters fourth grade and homeroom teacher changes.
June — Student speaks to teacher about being called “germ.” Teacher disciplines classmates who bullied student.
Early November — News is reported of a junior high school student in Yokohama who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture and was bullied, including being called “germ.”
Nov. 17 — Student again speaks to teacher about being bullied.
Nov. 22 — During recess, student is called “germ” by teacher in classroom in front of classmates.
Nov. 24 — Student begins to stay home from school (Nov. 23 was a school holiday).
Nov. 29 — School questions students about incident. Multiple students testify that teacher called student “germ,” and teacher also says it is true.
(Based on sources including student’s parents and the Niigata Municipal Board of Education)
TOKYO — One of the melted reactors at the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant had a temporary loss of cooling Monday when a worker accidentally bumped a switch while passing through a narrow isle of switch panels during an inspection and turned off the pumping system.
The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said cooling for the No. 3 reactor, one of the three that melted following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, was out for nearly an hour before a backup pump kicked in.
The reactor had enough water left inside and there was no temperature increase or radiation leak from the incident, TEPCO spokesman Yuichi Okamura said at a news conference.
Even though there was no radiation leak or overheating of the core, or any injuries, the incident was a reminder that Fukushima’s decommissioning work is running on a very fragile system.
The plant was largely running on makeshift pipes, wiring and other equipment in the first two to three years following the 2011 disasters, suffering a series of minor blackouts – including those caused by rats chewing cables – cooling stoppages and other problems.
The plant has since largely stabilized, but it remains vulnerable to unanticipated incidents as it continues to struggle with decommissioning work, which is expected to last decades.
Monday’s incident occurred when the worker was passing by a dimly lit isle that was only 85 centimeters (2.8 feet) wide, flanked by tall switch panels on both sides, Okamura said. With radiation levels still high, the worker was wearing a full-face mask and hazmat suit when he lost his balance while carrying equipment. His elbow jammed into the switch, breaking off its safety cover and inadvertently turning the lever to turn off the water injection pump to the No. 3 reactor.
Okamura acknowledged the lack of space at the site and said that the plant will seek ways to eliminate human errors like one on Monday.
Food products from Japanese areas are not on sale: agency
The Food and Drug Administration yesterday rejected as rumors claims that food products produced in Japanese prefectures surrounding the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant can be purchased in Taiwan, urging the public not to buy food products without Chinese-language labels.
The Council of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health and Welfare last month presented a two-stage plan to ease a ban on food imports, which was imposed in March 2011, from five Japanese prefectures near the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Taichung City Councilor Tuan Wei-yu (段緯宇) last week said that wine and snacks from the five prefectures could be purchased at department stores.
However, the Taichung Department of Health said that alcoholic products from the five prefectures can be imported if they have passed batch-by-batch radiation examinations, while the snacks Tuan used as examples were made in other prefectures.
One rumor that has recently spread across social networks claims that Japanese food products labeled as being made in Tokyo that have a “K” appended to the expiration date on their packaging are actually from Fukushima Prefecture.
The administration issued a statement clarifying that letters appended to expiration dates are in fact codes representing different areas for different food companies.
Consumers can check Japanese companies’ official Web sites to verify where products were made, the agency said, adding that, for example, an “A” appended to the expiration date on the packaging of products by Nissin Foods means they were made in Toride, Ibaraki Prefecture.
The administration urged people to only buy food products with Chinese-language labels, not believe everything they read online — especially information without reliable sources of scientific evidence — and avoid spreading false information.
Dr Mousseau’s lecture on consequences of Chernobyl and Fukushima on plants and animals. Nov 4 2016
Dr. Timothy Mousseau speaks Nov. 4, 2016 to students and faculty of U of T about his research into the consequences of the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents on plants and animals. His research shows increased mutations, genetic damage, poorer performing and malformed sperm, sterility, pollen inviability, cancers, cataracts, mental retardation, fewer species, fewer numbers, deadzones, and no evidence of adaptation.
Koodankulam struggle: Western nations are learning from their mistakes, India is not, The Weekend Leader, By Nityanand Jayaraman & Sundar Rajan, 30 Nov “…..In Jadugoda, Jharkhand, where India’s uranium is mined by the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd, the effects of radiation among the local adivasi population are horrendous.
Indian Doctors for Peace and Development, a national chapter of the Nobel-winning International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War, recently published a health study on Jadugoda. The study found that:
• Primary sterility is more common in people residing near uranium mining operations.
• More children with congenital deformities are being born to mothers living near uranium mining operations.
• Congenital defects as a cause of death of children are higher among mothers living near uranium mines.
• Cancer as a cause of death is more common in villages surrounding uranium operations.
• Life expectancy of people living near uranium mining operations is lower than Jharkhand’s state average and lower than in villages far removed from the mines.
• All these indicators of poor health and increased vulnerability are despite the fact that the affected villages have a better economic and literacy status than reference villages….. http://www.theweekendleader.com/Causes/833/Nuking-myths.html
A citizens’ group supporting the people in Fukushima Prefecture who have fled from their homes in the wake of the March 2011 nuclear disaster has submitted a petition to the Diet with nearly 200,000 signatures asking for the continuation of public housing assistance for the evacuees. The prefectural government announced last year that it plans at the end of next March to terminate the assistance for people who voluntarily left their homes. However, most such evacuees have yet to find new residences.
Halting the housing assistance will place a heavy financial burden on low-income evacuees. Fears also persist over the radioactive contamination in the areas where they lived before the nuclear crisis. Not only the prefecture but the national government, which pays for a large portion of the assistance, should rethink the decision.
As of July, some 89,000 Fukushima people continued to live away from their homes — 48,000 inside the prefecture and 41,000 elsewhere in Japan — after they fled from the dangers posed by the triple meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant. Some evacuees followed the government’s designation of their hometowns as no-go zones due to the high levels of fallout, while others left their homes on their own out of fear of radiation exposure, particularly for their children, and other reasons even though they lived outside the designated evacuation zones.
The Fukushima Prefectural Government has since been providing housing assistance to the nuclear refugees regardless of whether they stayed within the prefecture — and regardless of whether they were forced out by government order or fled by choice — to cover their rent, including for public housing units owned by local governments. Fukushima has offered the aid by annually renewing the application of the Disaster Relief Law, under which a prefectural government carries out relief measures to residents in the event of a disaster — including supply of food, water, clothing and medical services as well as emergency repairs to damaged homes — with a large portion of the cost coming from national coffers. The national government has shouldered most of the expense of the housing assistance regarding Fukushima.
The prefectural government announced in June last year that it would end the assistance for voluntary evacuees at the end of next March. Gov. Masao Uchibori said the termination is aimed at prompting the evacuees to return to their original homes and at helping promote their sense of self-reliance. He explained that living conditions in the prefecture have improved with the development of public infrastructure and progress in the cleanup of radiation-contaminated soil.
According to a prefectural report based on a survey conducted in January and February, the decision will halt housing assistance for 12,436 households. Of the 3,614 households that voluntarily evacuated but remained in the prefecture, 56 percent have not yet found a place where they can live once the assistance is halted. The corresponding figure for the 3,453 such households living outside the prefecture is much higher — nearly 78 percent. The prefecture should pay serious attention to these findings. Some families may not be able to find and pay for a new home, although the prefecture reportedly plans to offer small subsidies for low-income and single-mother households after the large-scale assistance is ended.
The voluntary evacuees are confronted with various difficulties, both financial and psychological. The amount of compensation they received from Tepco is much smaller than that paid out to evacuees from the no-go zones. They also do not receive the monthly damages of some ¥100,000 that Tepco doles out to cover the mental suffering of those from the designated evacuation zones. Many of them face hardships ranging from the loss of their former jobs to separation from family members, long-distance commuting and divorces of couples due to differences over evacuating. The loss of housing assistance will likely result in even more hardships, both financial and emotional.
Many of the voluntary evacuees remain reluctant to go back to their hometowns for a variety of reasons, including the persistent fear of radiation, the desolate conditions of their original homes, and anticipated low levels of medical and other services in their former communities. The national government says it is safe for evacuees to return if the annual cumulative dose in the area is 20 millisieverts (mSv) or less, but that level is much higher than the legal limit of 1 mSv allowed for people in ordinary circumstances. In Ukraine, hit by the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe, people are required to migrate if the annual cumulative dose in their area is 5 mSv or more and have “the right to evacuate” if the rate is between 1 mSv and 5 mSv. The national government and Fukushima Prefecture need to address why many of the volunteer evacuees are reluctant to return.
The national government may want to highlight the reconstruction in areas devastated by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami as well as the Fukushima nuclear disaster when Tokyo hosts the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. However, this should not result in the premature termination of vital relief measures for the affected people or untimely lifting of the designation of danger zones hit by the nuclear crisis. The government, which has sought to reactivate the nation’s nuclear power plants idled since the 2011 disaster, should understand why the evacuees felt they had to flee from their homes in the first place. It should not give up its duty of adequately helping the disaster victims.
Fukushima evacuee hurt by teacher’s remark
Education authorities in Niigata City, north of Tokyo, have apologized after learning that a school teacher used a word that can mean “germ” to address a pupil. The boy had evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture after the 2011 nuclear accident.
Officials of the city’s education board said on Friday that the 4th grader has not been able to attend his elementary school for more than a week because of what happened.
They say the boy consulted his homeroom teacher several days before the incident. He said his classmates were calling him “kin”, which can mean “germ”.
The teacher has reportedly explained that the students had a habit of adding “kin” to each other’s names, as a way of showing friendliness to their classmates.
He said this also made them sound like “Anakin” Skywalker in the Star Wars movie series and other celebrities.
The teacher said he added the suffix to the students’ names, but he never intended to refer to them as “germs”.
But the officials said the teacher’s use of the term was inconsiderate and hurt the feelings of the pupil, who felt he was being bullied and was seeking help.
They said the teacher will visit the boy and his parents to apologize, and the education board will offer support so he can return to his school.
In a similar recent case, another young evacuee from Fukushima said he was called a “germ” at his school in Yokohama and he thought of killing himself many times.
His parents have criticized school and local education board officials for failing to promptly act on their complaint.
Teacher ‘insulted’ Fukushima boy in latest school bullying case
NIIGATA–In the latest classroom bullying case involving children from Fukushima, a fourth-grader has not attended school for more than a week due to the alleged victimization by a teacher as well as his classmates.
The municipal board of education here is investigating the harassment of the boy who had the derogatory term “germ” added to his name by his classmates, which was then apparently emulated by his teacher.The boy has been absent from his elementary school since his homeroom teacher, who is in his 40s, is alleged to have used the insult on the boy. The teacher has denied the accusation, but other pupils have corroborated the boy’s account.
The school’s principal has admitted that the teacher’s behavior was problematic.
The principal also said in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun on Dec. 2 that the school will provide an opportunity for the teacher to apologize directly to the student and his parents.
The case is the latest to have surfaced of the potentially widespread bullying at their new schools of Fukushima students who fled the 2011 nuclear disaster.
Last month, media reports on a 13-year-old junior high school boy who moved to Yokohama recounted his experiences at his elementary school through his handwritten notes, sparking huge repercussions across the country.
In Tokyo, another Fukushima boy attending junior high school described his ordeal at his elementary school in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun later that month.
The two boys were called “germ” by their classmates, who also harassed them in other ways.
But in the Niigata case, the teacher called the boy by the insulting name in front of other students when he handed his pupil a correspondence notebook on Nov. 22, according to the boy’s mother.
The boy appeared to be devastated by the teacher’s behavior, which compounded the anxiety he already felt when his family was unable to contact his father to make sure he was safe after a powerful quake jolted Fukushima Prefecture earlier that day. His father works in the prefecture.
The following day was a national holiday and the school was closed. The boy has not attended the school since Nov. 24.
The boy’s family moved to Niigata over concerns about radiation in 2011 following the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March that year.
According to his mother, some of his classmates began ostracizing him and calling him “germ” when he was in the third grade.
When he entered the fourth grade, some children threw away his stationery and broke his umbrella, and the harassment later escalated.
Although his mother was worried about him, he reassured her, saying, “I have friends who are trying to protect me. I will be OK.”
But he became visibly depressed when he learned of the report about the bullying the boy in Yokohama went through, according to his mother.
“My son must have thought that he is also the victim of severe harassment,” his mother said.
Urged on by his mother, he told his homeroom teacher on Nov. 17 that he, too, was being called “germ” by other children.
Five days later, however, he found that his teacher had joined in the name-calling.
His mother contacted the school to raise the issue. The teacher initially denied the allegation when school officials inquired.
“I have never said such a thing, given that the boy came to me for counseling,” the teacher was quoted by one of the officials as saying.
But the teacher was found to have actually used the insult when other teachers interviewed all the students in the boy’s class on Nov. 29. Some students admitted that they called the boys by an unkind name and that the teacher, too, had done the same.
According to the principal, the homeroom teacher said he wanted to apologize for being insensitive.
This Sunday, December 4th, 2016, I was invited to the premiere of a documentary film, produced by a couple, Lucas Rue, the french husband, and his Japanese wife Chiho Sato, from Fukushima.
Their documentary film titled “Les voies silencieuses” (The silent voices) in my humble opinion is definitely the best documentary film I have seen about the Fukushima catastrophe.
First because this documentary was made, written, directed by someone who is native of Fukushima. Only a person from Fukushima could penetrate in such manner the social fabric of the Fukushima people, to bring out the inner perspective of what the Fukushima people are living right now. An outsider, Japanese not from Fukushima or a foreigner could never penetrate the intimacy, the reserve of the people in such manner that Chiho Sato did.
Second, this film exposes very well the left unsaid things and the paradoxes in which the population of Fukushima is forced to live.
This film will help many people to better understand the dilemma in which these people live, bringing this living perspective from the inside that was really lacking, which is quite difficult to be understood by those who are not living it, living in it.
They are working right now to produce the english version to be soon screened. This Fukushima documentary is a must, to not be missed, to be absolutely watched by the many. I am also convinced that this documentary film will become THE film of Fukushima, and will win certainly some trophies for its excellency.
Thank you to both Lucas Rue and Chiho Sato for this absolutely excellent, quite unique documentary about Fukushima.
NIIGATA, Japan (Kyodo) — An elementary school pupil who evacuated from Fukushima in the wake of the 2011 nuclear disaster has skipped school for more than a week since a male teacher added “germ” to his name when addressing him in late November, a local education board said Friday.
The fourth-grade pupil told the teacher, in his 40s, before the summer holidays that he was distressed as other pupils were addressing him by adding “germ” to his name.
According to the education board, the teacher then added “germ” while addressing the boy in a classroom on Nov. 22, just five days after the boy approached the teacher again about his treatment by fellow pupils.
Nov. 22 was also the day of a strong earthquake off Fukushima in the early morning, reminding many of the massive March 2011 quake and tsunami that triggered the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
On Nov. 24, the boy’s parents complained to the elementary school and other teachers interviewed every pupil in the class five days later.
“Despite being approached by the pupil for help, the teacher said something extremely inconsiderate and inappropriate,” an official of the education board said.
The case follows an earlier report of bullying in Yokohama, where a 13-year-old evacuee from Fukushima was verbally and physically attacked as he comes from the devastated prefecture. The elementary school and local education board failed to offer meaningful support in that case, according to a third-party panel of the city’s education board.
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