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South Korea express concern about food from Fukushima as Tokyo 2020 Chef de Mission Seminar begins

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August 20, 2019

The Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KSOC) has written to Tokyo 2020 organisers to express concern about food from Fukushima being served at the Games.

Organisers confirmed to Reuters that a letter on the issue had been sent on the opening day of the Tokyo 2020 Chef de Mission Seminar.

Fukushima was struck by one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit Japan in 2011, when a devastating earthquake and tsunami caused an accident at a nuclear power plant.

Around 16,000 people lost their lives in the tragedy.

Both Tokyo 2020 and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have been keen to promote the Games as a tool which could help with the region’s recovery.

Baseball and softball matches will be staged there and Fukushima prefecture will also host the start of the Japanese leg of the Torch Relay.

Produce from Fukushima has been served at official events, including IOC Coordination Commissions, but the KSOC said they are worried about contamination.

Their letter comes at a period of increasing tension between Japan and South Korea.

“Within our planning framework we will respond to them accordingly,” said Toru Kobayash, Tokyo 2020’s director of NOC services, to Reuters.

“We have said that we will respond to them properly. 

“We have had no further questions [from South Korea].”

A trade war has developed between the two countries with South Korea also angry about reported Japanese plans to dump “toxic” water from Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean.

Some voices have even called for a Korean boycott of the Games with the nations further clashing over the appearance of disputed islands on an official Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay map.

The map on the official website includes the Liancourt Rocks, which are governed by South Korea but claimed by Japan.

South Korea calls the islands Dokdo but in Japan they are known as Takeshima, and both countries claim historical ties.

They lie in the Sea of Japan in between the two countries and are valuable due to rich fishing waters and natural gas deposits.

Elsewhere, concerns over sweltering conditions were discussed on day one of the Seminar at the Hotel New Otani.

Rising heat has developed into a major concern before Tokyo 2020 with more than 50 deaths in July as temperatures in Japan approached 40 degrees celsius.

Athletes have also struggled in the weather at the test events, including rowers suffering heatstroke at the World Junior Championships at the Sea Forest Waterway.

The triathlon event was shortened because of the humid conditions while cooling measures were tested at the beach volleyball.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are due to open on July 24 next year.

Among the measures being considered to combat the problem is allowing fans to bring their own bottled water into venues under certain conditions, which had previously been banned at past editions of the Olympic Games due to security and sponsorship reasons.

Misting sprays, air-conditioned tents and special road coatings are other plans put forward by organisers, as well as moving some events to earlier in the day. 

Dutch Chef de Mission Pieter van den Hoogenband, who faced the media on behalf of attending National Olympic Committees (NOCs), said he was impressed with how organisers were handling the issue.

“Of course we know there are some heat issues but overall, for all the different teams, these are the circumstances and we have to deal with it,” the triple Olympic champion said to Reuters.

“Top athletes know that they have to perform in any circumstances.

“Because of the test events, we get a lot of information and a lot of data and the way the Organising Committee is taking all that data to make it even more perfect…

“I was impressed with the way they handled things.”

Organisers have also pledged to install triple-layer screens in Tokyo Bay to combat bacteria in the water.

It comes after the discovery of E.coli which forced the cancellation of the swimming leg at the Paratriathlon test event.

The three-day Seminar continues tomorrow with every NOC invited to attend.

Representatives from the IOC and the Association of National Olympic Committees are also present.

A full progress update has been promised as well as a venue tour. 

https://www.insidethegames.biz/index.php/articles/1083697/fukushima-food-tokyo-2020

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August 22, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Controversy over radiation and heat surrounding Tokyo Olympics

156577137108_20190815.JPGAnti-nuclear demonstrators concerned about radiation during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics hold a press conference to criticize the Abe administration’s effort to push through the Olympics despite safety concerns in front of the former Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Aug. 13.

 

 

Aug.14,2019

Sports are sports. They are separate from politics.”

On Aug. 13, an official from the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee expressed concern in response to remarks in political circles that hinted at a boycott of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (July 24 – August 9). With participation rights still to be earned in many disciplines and numerous athletes who have eagerly awaited the Olympics for four years, these remarks are looking too far ahead. It has been pointed out that a more strategic approach needs to be adopted in light of the position of North and South Korea, who are considering making a joint bid to host the 2032 Olympics.

Safety from radiation and heat at the Tokyo Olympics

Most of the issues related to the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, which are now only a year away, boil down to safety concerns over radiation and extreme heat. Some baseball and softball matches are scheduled to be held in a stadium located close to the Fukushima nuclear reactor that took direct damage during the 2011 earthquake. Korean civic groups have also pointed out that the Japanese government has failed to properly control water contaminated by radiation from the reactor. Plans to source some of the rice and ingredients for the Tokyo Olympics Athletes Village from Fukushima are adding to these concerns. Although the level of radiation measured in such rice is within the acceptable standards in Japan, it is believed to exceed Korean standards.

Extreme heat is another potential issue. After an open water test competition in Odaiba Seaside Park, Tokyo, on Aug. 11, Sports Nippon reported, “Many athletes complained about a foul odor and the high water temperature, and one male athlete made the shocking claim that it ‘smelled like a toilet.’” Although the Olympic Committee did not reveal the water temperature on that day, it has been reported that the temperature was 29.9 degrees Celsius at 5am. The International Swimming Federation (FINA) cancels events if the water temperature reaches 31 degrees Celsius. There have also been warnings about road races. On August 8, Yusuke Suzuki, Japan’s star race-walker and world record holder in the men’s 20km, stated, “I tried training on the Tokyo Olympics race-walking course. There was no shade, so it could cause dehydration.”

Tokyo Olympics delegation heads meeting from Aug. 20-22

It appears that the issue of safety from radiation and concerns about food ingredients will be conveyed during the upcoming three-day meeting with the leaders of each country’s delegation in Tokyo on Aug. 20-22, and a request will be made to the Japanese Olympic Committee to change the name of Dokdo used on maps. If the representatives from each country do raise the radiation issue, the IOC will have no choice but to intervene. The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee is also considering providing separate Korean food to Korean athletes through specially prepared meals or lunchboxes.

With Korea seeking to hold a joint Olympics in 2032 between the two Koreas, the country has no choice but to underscore the fact that the Olympics are a festival of peace. Korea is also mindful of the fact that it must avoid giving off any impression of trying to use the Olympics for political reasons.

Getting over our obsession with medals

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics come at a time when Korea is attempting to implement reforms through policies in order to shake off the country’s obsession with winning in elite sports. Plans to reform the special benefits afforded to athletes such as pensions and exemption from military service are already under discussion, and it is also true that the morale of elite athletes is different than it has been in the past. It has been pointed out that while achieving victory in competition is great, excessive competition for medals does not align with current trends. Ryu Tae-ho, a professor of physical education at Korea University, stated, “It is natural that athletes will work hard to reach the pinnacle on the international stage, and the Korean public has become more mature to the extent that we can applaud athletes when they do their best as Olympians, even if they fail to win a medal. It is also best to avoid connecting sports with politics.”

http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/905758.html

August 22, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima: Nuclear-contaminated water raises 2020 Games site fears

They would love to get rid of all that accumulated radioactive water by dumping it into the sea before the venue of the 2020 Olympics. An ongoing media campaign pushing for it is relentlessly continuing….
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August 13th, 2019
Storage space is running out for Fukushima
Beginning late next July, Tokyo and several other sites around Japan will welcome elite athletes from around the world for the 2020 Summer Games. One of the sites carries with it a stigma that organizers are hoping to help heal — Fukushima.
Some scheduled baseball and softball events will take place at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, located about 70 km northwest of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The site’s three reactors famously suffered a partial meltdown in the wake of the 2011’s Great East Japan Earthquake and the resulting 15-metre tsunami. The disaster was the second-worst since Chernobyl, leaving piles of melted radioactive fuel in the plant’s three reactors.
While it’s now estimated that 96 per cent of the power plant can be safely accessed without protective clothing, and no evacuation order has ever been in place for parts of the prefecture — including where the baseball stadium is located — the damage to the name has been done, according to locals.
“We are looked at like Chernobyl,” Saito Nobuyuki, who was born in Fukushima and now a sporting goods store there, told the New York Times. “It’s difficult to change.”
Yoshiro Mori, the 2020 organising committee president, hopes by hosting events at the site, that change can begin.
“By hosting Olympic baseball and softball events, Fukushima will have a great platform to show the world the extent of its recovery in the 10 years since the disaster,” Mori said, according to the Guardian.
There may be another hitch in the road to recovery, however, and it’s looming on the horizon for next year.
Tremendous amounts of water flooded the reactors in the wake of the disaster, both from the tsunami itself and from water added to cover the melted reactors and allow them to cool as part of the efforts to clean up the site and decommission the plant. Since then, groundwater has also infiltrated the site. All of this water has been contaminated by radioactive substances, like cesium and tritium. While the cesium can be removed via processing, tritium generally remains, meaning the still-contaminated water must be stored.
TEPCO, the utility which operated the reactor, has installed about 1,000 large storage tanks at the site to hold the contaminated water; currently, more than 1.05 million tons of radioactive water are being stored in the tanks, and roughly 150 tons are added every day.
TEPCO continues to install new tanks, but according to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, “space limitations mean that by the end of 2020, a maximum storage capacity of about 1.34 million tons will be reached.” Officials have added that if the groundwater infiltration was decreased, it will be possible to stretch that date until summer 2022.
While more tanks can be installed, a long-term solution is still being sought and, so far, most of them aren’t going over well with the locals.
One suggestion before the central government is to dilute the water after processing and gradually release it into the Pacific. Another is to build a long-term storage facility near the plant site. Fukushima residents, and fishermen in particular, have expressed strong opposition to both ideas, not over fears of the wastewater itself but because of the negative publicity and continuing stigma that would damage their livelihoods.
Tritium — the contaminant left in the water after treatment — is a relatively weak source of radiation that doesn’t pose much threat to humans, though in extremely large quantities impacts to health are possible. It’s commonly used in glow-in-the-dark lighting and signs.
Setting a deadline on the current storage situation puts additional pressure on Japanese authorities and the public to reach a consensus.
“When we talk about Fukushima’s reconstruction, the question is if we should prioritize the decommissioning at the expense of Fukushima people’s lives,” Naoya Sekiya, a University of Tokyo professor of disaster social science, told the Associated Press. “The issue is not just about science.”

August 16, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Radiation Levels Big Concern as Japan Preps for 2020 Olympics

August 13, 2019
The 2020 Olympics are set to take place in Japan, but there is a growing concern about the safety of those heading overseas. In the time following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan saw the release of harmful radioactive pollutants or radionuclides, such as iodine‑131, cesium‑134, cesium‑137, strontium‑90, and plutonium‑238.
This resulted in radioactive contamination throughout northeastern Japan, but after eight years, members of the local and central government have said that the radiation is no longer a concern. Unfortunately, that’s not entirely accurate. The steps taken by the government to make the environment safer are viewed as effective by some, but there is far more to the story. According to The Diplomat, the radiation hasn’t entirely disappeared from the environment. Instead, it’s been moved to other locations.
One such process of decontamination has actually consisted of collecting and removing radioactive pollutants. The radionuclides are then placed in black vinyl bags, which, in theory, should impede the risk of rescattering residual radioactivity. The report continues by providing evidence of this process. There are currently mountains of black plastic bags, filled with contaminated soil or debris, that can be seen in many parts of Fukushima.
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Eat and cheer. I say what a shame, but the rice made right next to the pile of radiation contaminated soil. It is not a bad reputation and I can not eat it because I am scared.#Fukushima nuclear accident#Radiation pollution
Unfortunately, this fix of sticking the radionuclides inside the bags only appears to be a temporary solution that will ultimately need to be addressed once again. For example, some of the vinyl bags are now starting to break down due to the build-up of gas released by rotten soil. Plants and flowers have also started to grow inside the bags. With nowhere to expand, these plants are breaking through the bags and exposing the radioactive materials to the atmosphere. At this point, it is far more likely that the weather will distribute the radionuclides once again.
Additionally, there have been countless monitoring posts installed throughout Fukushima, which display the current atmospheric level of radiation. Measurements are taken from different locations and then combined to create an average level for the city. According to these posts, the levels of radiation have significantly fallen.
That being said, The Diplomat reports that there are currently no monitoring posts in the forests and mountains. These areas make up 70 percent of the Fukushima prefecture, but the radiation levels are not being monitored. The other concern is that the monitoring posts only measure gamma rays and ignore radionuclides, which are very harmful if swallowed or ingested.
With the Olympics approaching, the belief is that the radiation is lowering and that the athletes will not be in danger. However, reports by The Diplomat paint a far more troubling picture. Will the events proceed as planned, or will adjustments have to be made as 2020 nears?

August 16, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Can 2020 Summer Olympics help Fukushima rebound from nuclear disaster?

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A deserted street inside the exclusion zone close near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Most areas around the plant are still closed to residents due to radiation contamination from the 2011 disaster.
Aug. 12, 2019
FUKUSHIMA, Japan — An hour north of Tokyo by way of bullet train, the land is lush and green, framed by thickly wooded mountains in the distance.
This vast rural prefecture in northeast Japan was once renowned for its fruit orchards, but much has changed.
“There has been a bad reputation here,” a local government official said.
Since the spring of 2011, the world has known Fukushima for the massive earthquake and tsunami that killed approximately 16,000 people along the coast. Flooding triggered a nuclear plant meltdown that forced hundreds of thousands more from their homes.
As the recovery process continues nearly a decade later, organizers of the 2020 Summer Games say they want to help.
Under the moniker of the “Reconstruction Olympics,” they have plotted a torch relay course that begins near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant and continues through adjacent prefectures — Miyagi and Iwate — impacted by the disaster. The region will host games in baseball, softball and soccer next summer.
“We are hoping that, through sports, we can give the residents new dreams,” said Takahiro Sato, director of Fukushima’s office of Olympic and Paralympic promotions. “We also want to show how far we’ve come.”
The effort has drawn mixed reactions, if only because the so-called “affected areas” are a sensitive topic in Japan.
Some people worry about exposure to lingering radiation; they accuse officials of whitewashing health risks. Critics question spending millions on sports while communities are still rebuilding.
“The people from that area have dealt with these issues for so long and so deeply, the Olympics are kind of a transient event,” said Kyle Cleveland, an associate professor of sociology at Temple University’s campus in Japan. “They’re going to see this as a public relations ploy.”
It was midafternoon in March 2011 when a 9.0 earthquake struck at sea, sending a procession of tsunamis racing toward land.
The initial crisis focused on the coastline, where thousands were swept to their deaths.
Another concern soon arose as floodwaters shut down the power supply and reactor cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Three of the facility’s six reactors suffered fuel meltdowns, releasing radiation into the ocean and atmosphere.
Residents within a 12-mile “exclusion zone” were forced to evacuate; others in places such as Fukushima city, about 38 miles inland, fled as radioactive particles traveled by wind and rain.
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The ruined Unit 3 reactor building at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on Sept. 15, 2011.
The populace began to question announcements from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) about the scope of the contamination, said Cleveland, who is writing a book on the catastrophe and its aftermath.
“In the first 10 weeks, Tepco was downplaying the risk,” he said. “Eventually, they were dissembling and lying.”
The company has been ordered to pay millions in damages, and three former executives have been charged with professional negligence. Crews have removed massive amounts of contaminated soil, washed down buildings and roads, and begun a decades-long process to extract fuel from the reactors’ cooling pools.
All of which left the area known as the “Fruit Kingdom” in limbo.
It is assumed that low-level radiation increases the chances of adverse health effects such as cancer but the science can be complicated.
Reliable data on radiation risks is difficult to obtain, said Jonathan Links, a public health professor at Johns Hopkins University. And, with cosmic rays and other sources emitting natural or “background” ionizing radiation, it can be difficult to pinpoint whether an acceptable threshold for additional, low-level exposure exists at all.
In terms of athletes and coaches visiting the impacted prefectures for a week or two during the Olympics, Links said the cancer risk is proportional, growing incrementally each day.
The Japanese government has raised what it considers to be the acceptable exposure from 1 millisievert to 20 millisieverts per year. Along with this adjustment, officials have declared much of the region suitable for habitation, lifting evacuation orders in numerous municipalities. Housing subsidies that allowed evacuees to live elsewhere have been discontinued.
But some towns remain nearly empty.
“People are refusing to go back,” said Katsuya Hirano, a UCLA associate professor of history who has who has spent years collecting interviews for an oral history. “Especially families with children.”
Their hesitancy does not surprise Cleveland. Though research has led the Temple professor to believe conditions are safe, he knows that residents have lost faith in the authorities.
“That horse has left the barn,” he said. “It’s not coming back.”
A narrow highway leads west, out of downtown Fukushima, arriving finally at a 30,000-seat ballpark that rises from the farmlands.
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The Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium.
Azuma Baseball Stadium was built in the late 1980s with a modernist design, blockish and concrete. Prefecture officials have begun renovations there.
“We changed from grass to artificial turf,” Sato said. “We’re updating the lockers and showers.”
The work is coordinated from a small office in the local government headquarters, where two-dozen employees tap away at computer keyboards and talk on phones, sitting at desks that have been pushed together.
Tokyo 2020’s initial bid included preliminary soccer competition at Miyagi Stadium, in a prefecture farther north of the nuclear plant. Six baseball and softball games were relocated to Azuma during later discussions with the International Olympic Committee.
“We made a presentation about the radiation situation and how to deal with it,” Sato recalled. “They understood and we think that’s why they got on board with this idea of the ‘Reconstruction Olympics.’ ”
Fukushima has spent $20 million on preparations over the past two years, he said, adding that his office has heard complaints from “a segment of the population.”
With infrastructure repairs continuing throughout the region, evacuee Akiko Morimatsu has a skeptical view of the Tokyo 2020 campaign.
“They have called these the ‘Reconstruction Games,’ but just because you call it that doesn’t mean the region will be recovered,” Morimatsu said.
Concerns about radiation prompted her to leave the Fukushima town of Koriyama, outside the mandatory evacuation zone, moving with her two young children to Osaka. Her husband, a doctor, remained; he visits the family once a month.
“The reality is that the region hasn’t recovered,” said Morimatsu, who is part of a group suing the national government and Tepco. “I feel the Olympics are being used as part of a campaign to spread the message that Fukushima is recovered and safe.”
Balance this sentiment against other forces at work in Japanese culture, where the Olympics and baseball, in particular, are widely popular. Masa Takaya, a spokesman for the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, insists that “sports can play an important role in our society.”
In Fukushima, a city of fewer than 300,000, colored banners fly beside the highway amid other signs of anticipation.
Elderly volunteers, plucking weeds from a flower bed at the train station, wear pink vests that express their support for the Games. On the eastern edge of town, a handful of workers attend to Azuma Stadium.
Dressed in white overalls, they walk slowly across the field, stopping every once in a while to bend down and pick at the pristine turf. Sato remains optimistic.
“Everyone’s circumstances are different,” he said. “Maybe there will be some people who come back to Fukushima because of this.”

August 16, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Swim marathon: Tokyo 2020, FINA watching water quality, temperature

In 2011, Professor Kodama of Tokyo University  had found Tokyo’s Bay water to be  radiation contaminated. 8 years later I doubt that the only danger in that water is high levels of e-coli bacteria…
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August 11, 2019
Athletes voiced concerns over water quality and temperature at a marathon swimming test event for Tokyo 2020 Sunday, as officials vowed to monitor the situation closely in the run-up to the games.
“That was the warmest race I’ve ever done,” said three-time Olympic medallist Oussama Mellouli from Tunisia after completing the 5km men’s competition.
“It felt good for the first 2km then I got super overheated,” added the 35-year-old, who won gold in the 10km swim at the London Olympics in 2012.
The event started at 7am with the air temperature already over 30 degrees as the Japanese capital swelters through a deadly heatwave.
“The water temperature was high so I’m a bit concerned about that,” said Yumi Kida from Japan, who said she guzzled iced water before the race in an effort to reduce her body heat.
International Swimming Federation (FINA) rules state that athletes may not race when the water temperature exceeds 31 degrees and FINA’s executive director Cornel Marculescu said competitors’ wellbeing was top priority.
Marculescu said an external body would be set up in conjunction with Tokyo 2020 organisers to monitor both water quality and temperature in the run-up to the games and the results could affect the timing of the marathon swimming event.
“Based on this information, we will decide the time the event will start. Could be 5am, could be 5:30am, can be 6am, can be 6:30am — depends on the water temperature,” he told reporters.
“Working with a specialised company like we are going to do here in Tokyo, we will have the right information to take the right decision.”
Hot weather issues have become the biggest headache for Tokyo organisers, who have already moved up the start time of several events including the marathon in a bid to mitigate the effects of the blistering heat of the Japanese summer.
– ‘A little stinky’ –
In terms of water quality, David Gerrard from FINA’s medical committee said readings from the test event would not be ready for 48 hours but previous results gave cause for optimism.
“What we have had are readings fom the last month, daily readings that have given us very clear indications of the water quality, which has been good,” he said.
Organisers are desperate to avoid the embarrassment of the Rio Olympics in 2016 when the pool used for diving events turned an unsettling shade of green overnight.
Brazilian officials also had to scramble to clean up the bay used for sailing and windsurfing that was plagued by sewer bacteria and filthy with rubbish.
In October 2017, Tokyo 2020 organisers were left red-faced after tests revealed levels of e-coli bacteria more than 20 times higher than international standards, sparking doubts about the venue’s safety.
At the time, the organising committee blamed prolonged summer rain that had brought pollutants from offshore for the high readings between late July and early September.
A year later, organisers said that tests using underwater “screens” to filter the water had successfully reduced bacteria levels at the venue, which will also host triathlon.
They tested single and triple-layer screens — some 20 metres (66 feet) long and three metres wide — and found that both were effective in bringing bacteria down to safe levels although the triple screen, expected to be employed during games time, worked best.
Japanese swimmer Kida said the water was “a little stinky, and the clarity was not very good so I really want to improve the quality.”
The event will be held in Odaiba, a Tokyo bay area with a backdrop of the city and the “Rainbow Bridge” that links the area to downtown.
On clear days Mount Fuji is visible and the area is also noteworthy for a replica Statue of Liberty.

August 12, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s govt urges Fukushima evacuees to return – in drive to promote 2020 Olympics

Fukushima: Despite health threats, the Japanese government urges residents to return. Families who fled nuclear meltdown in Fukushima are being urged to return to their homes ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
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Families claim the government is speeding up return ahead of Olympics
Aug 4, 2019
Alarming levels of radiation up to 20 times higher than official safety targets have been recorded in areas where locals are being encouraged to go back. We found ghost towns eight years after three reactors went into meltdown at Daiichi power plant 140 miles north east of Tokyo in March 2011. Tokyo 2020 is being hailed as the “Reconstruction Olympics” signalling new hope following the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the disaster and left more than 18,000 people dead. 
Now evacuees are being urged to return as the global spotlight focuses on the recovery of the region. The government has lifted most evacuation orders and all but a handful of hot spots have been declared safe. 
But parents believe their children are in danger, saying officials are downplaying the dangers and safety is compromised in a cynical attempt to convince the world the crisis is over. 
Families have accused the government of speeding up their return to showcase safety standards ahead of the Olympics. 
We found once-vibrant communities now post apocalyptic wastelands like something from a Hollywood movie after the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. 
Schools, shopping malls, supermarkets, libraries and petrol stations lie decaying along with thousands of homes. Many are set behind guarded barricades in exclusion areas known officially as “difficult to return to zones”. 
Others lie in areas which the government says are safe to live in but whose few residents – wild boar and monkeys – demonstrate signs of mutation. Along roadsides sit giant black bags containing contaminated soil. 
In Tomioka, five miles from the power plant, a school sports hall is scattered with footballs left when children fled. 
It’s in stark contrast to arenas being built for the £20billion Games. Fukushima is hosting the first event, a softball match on July 22, two days before the opening ceremony. 
The Japanese leg of the torch relay starts on March 26 at a soccer training centre 12 miles south of the crippled plant. The J Village, a base for emergency workers, only fully reopened last month. 
In Okuma our Geiger counter sounded furiously, recording four microsieverts an hour. The government safety target is 0.23 microsieverts per hour. 
It came days after evacuation orders were lifted for parts of the town which had 10,000 residents. The centre remains a no-go zone and just 367 former residents have registered to go back. 
Ayako Oga, 46, who suffered a miscarriage, says: “The Olympics are putting lives in danger. The government is forcing people to leave the public homes they have been in. They are putting a heavy burden on people still suffering mentally and financially.” 
In Namie, which had 21,000 residents, evacuation orders were lifted in 2017. It is said 800 people returned but we found desolation, only traffic lights working. 
The Wild Boar bar last served a drink on disaster day. Owner Sumio Konno, in a group legal action against the government, says his son, who was five, still suffers nosebleeds. “He is sick all the time,” he says. “Every month he needs to go to the doctor.” 
Ryohei Kataoka, of the Citizens Nuclear Information Centre, says: “The government’s insistence in lifting evacuation orders where heightened radiation-related health risks undeniably exist, is a campaign to show that Fukushima is ‘back to normal’ and to try to make Japan and the world forget the accident ever happened.” 

August 12, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima residents look for Olympic PR boost

July 29, 2019
Sukagawa, Japan – Two softball games and one baseball game in Fukushima next summer may be little more than an 2020 Olympic cameo, but local fans are thrilled to have them, largely in the hopes they will give their prefecture a badly needed public relations boost.
Fukushima was one of the three northeastern Japan prefectures that bore the brunt of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami along with Miyagi and Iwate prefectures and will be part of the focus next year now that Tokyo Olympic organizers have dubbed the games “the Reconstruction Olympics.”
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(Baseball fans stand outside Botandai Stadium in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture after a July 17 game between the Fukushima Red Hopes and the Tochigi Golden Braves. From left to right, Koki Unuma, Kaori Unuma and Yukari Koyama.) 
 
In addition to the games in Fukushima, Miyagi Stadium will be one of the Olympic soccer venues, while all three prefectures will be focal points of the Olympic torch relay — which officially starts in Fukushima.
The 2011 disaster killed over 15,800 people and forced the evacuation of up to 470,000, while triggering a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Even eight years later, Fukushima suffers from the suspicion that food from the prefecture might be contaminated. And locals see the Olympics as an opportunity to show off their region the way they see it.
Koki Unuma, a resident of Koriyama and a baseball fan who follows the local independent minor league club, expressed hope that the Olympics will put Fukushima Prefecture in a good light.
“It’s a chance to show that Fukushima has become vibrant again,” he said at a game in Sukagawa between the Fukushima Red Hopes and the Tochigi Golden Braves. “I wonder how foreign people will view us. I want the place to be packed with foreign visitors, so that people will see we are doing well, and that they tell others. I’m excited to have the games here.”
One man, who declined to give his name but said he had worked until recently not far from the stricken nuclear plant, said Fukushima had largely recovered but felt the symbolism of being included in the Olympics had value.
“There is basically one area that is not back (around the damaged plant), but by and large Fukushima has recovered,” he said. “I think as a symbol the Olympics are a good idea. What they mean by ‘the Reconstruction Olympics’ is a little vague to me. That area around Soma is hard hit, but as a whole Fukushima Prefecture is doing very well.”
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(Former major leaguer Akinori Iwamura, manager of the Fukushima Red Hopes, believes hosting great games at next year’s Olympics can make a difference in a prefecture that is still recovering from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Photo at Botandai Stadium in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture, July 17, 2019.)
 
The plight of the prefecture encouraged former major leaguer Akinori Iwamura to help start up the Red Hopes, where he serves in a dual role as manager and team president.
“People living in Fukushima have suffered the most. It’s almost as if they are being treated as wrong doers. The rumors are terrible,” he said in a recent interview with Kyodo News. “Some evacuee children have been bullied in the towns they’ve been relocated to. That is the most intolerable.”
“The (evacuee) kids going back to visit Fukushima might receive some kinds of gifts to take back with them, but some must feel those things, candy and the like, are troublesome, because at rest areas along the expressway people find uneaten candy from Fukushima thrown into the garbage bins.”
“It makes you realize people don’t know how many of the things they hear they can actually believe.”
Iwamura said that consumers outside Fukushima have second thoughts about the safety of the food raised there and local farmers cannot get fair value for their products. But he said the Olympics are a golden opportunity to change peoples’ perceptions of Fukushima.
“For us baseball people here, we want to make the baseball and softball games held here a success,” Iwamura said. “If we can be wildly enthusiastic about them and show that to the people coming from abroad, then they will tell others that Fukushima is safe, that the people here are living good lives.”
Naomi Nukazawa and her daughter Aya are fans of the Red Hopes and are keen to see the local Olympic competition, but so far have been unable to secure tickets.
“We’ll apply again, but right now it is like the people here are getting left out,” Naomi said.
“I work at a hotel. This is a chance to get different kinds of guests, I’m really excited about that. People will visit Fukushima (for the Olympics), but once it’s over that will likely be the end of it. Perhaps some people will be moved by their time here and that will have a lasting impact in some ways.”
“Maybe other Japanese will be influenced by foreigners’ positive responses to us, and will remember us, remember Iwate, remember Miyagi, remember our local specialties, because it seems we’re forgotten now.”
Another Koriyama resident, Yuji Amaha, echoed other locals’ complaints that people outside Fukushima don’t realize that except for a small area around the stricken plant the region is safe from radioactivity.
“Having a big international tournament here in Fukushima Prefecture is getting people excited,” he said. “Iwate Prefecture will take part in the Rugby World Cup, Miyagi Prefecture will have Olympic soccer. In a sense, these things are connected to our recovery and are therefore meaningful.”
“The people who live in Fukushima think it’s safe. I want those people who…question how safe it is to come. I want people who study the data to say it’s safe. Those who doubt the safety should come and see for themselves.”
Iwamura expressed optimism for next year and for the future.
“Most prefectures will have no Olympic sports,” he said. “That Fukushima is going to have baseball and softball is a thrill, something to be really happy about. Twenty or 30 years down the road, nobody will remember what it is like now.”

July 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima 2020 Olympics Nightmare: Is PM Abe Criminally Insane?

 

Jul 28th, 2019
This documentary investigates and exposes the plans of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to bring the Olympics baseball games to contaminated Fukushima. Although there is over a million tons of tritium radioactive water in tanks surrounding the plan, thousands of contamined bags of waste and melted nuclear rods still in the broken plants Abe has claimed to the Olympic Committee and world that Fukushima has been decontaminated.
This 2019 documentary looks at the plans of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to bring the Olympic baseball games to Fukushima during the 2020 Japan Olympic games. It interviews experts, community activists and trade unionists about the reality of Fukushima and the massive propaganda campaign to cover-up the continuing dangers and crisis.
 
PM Abe told the International Olympics Committee that Fukushima had been decontaminated but there is over 1 million tons of tritium radiocative water in tanks surrounding the broken nuclear reactors, the melted nuclear rods still remain and there are tens of thousands of bags of contaminated radioactive material spread throughout the prefecture.
 
This documentary hears from people in Japan about the reality of having the 2020 Olympics in Japan and Fukushima.
 
Additional media:
 
Toxic water level at Fukushima plant still not under control As Abe Pushes Olympics In Fukushima
In reality, however, the situation is not under control even now.
 
The Olympics, Fukushima, Capitalism & Creative Destruction
 
Olympics For Whom? Global Depression, the New Cold War, ​and the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games
 
The Super Bowl, NFL, Capitalism and Sports: The Cost, The Politics, Privatization & The Game
JPN Abe Gov Pushes 2020 Olympics To Contaminated Fukushima To Continue Cover-up
 
Fukushima Never Again
 
For additional information:
No Nukes Action
Appeal To Stop Olympics in Japan
Nuclear Olympics
WorkWeek
workweek [at] kpfa.org
Production of
Labor Video Project
 
Fukushima Radioactive Dump Site
While PM Abe says that Fukushima has been “decontaminated” there are thousands of bags of contaminated radioactive was in the prefecture of Fukushima.
 
Over 1 Million Tons Of Radioactive Water Surround Fukushima
The Abe government is trying to release 1 million tons of radioactive water with tritium into the Pacific ocean despite opposition of the fisherman and communities.
 
Fukushima Kids In

July 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Fukushima Safe for the Olympics?

A recent visit suggests that the repercussions of the 2011 nuclear disaster aren’t over.
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The New National Stadium at sunset, Tokyo
July 25, 2019
The 2020 Olympic torch relay will commence in Fukushima: a place more often associated with a 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster than international sports. That’s no accident: the location is meant to convey a narrative of recovery, and the idea that Fukushima is a safe place to visit, live–and of course, do business. Olympic baseball and softball games, also to be held in Fukushima just 55 miles from the meltdown, are meant to hammer the message of these “Recovery Olympics,” as Tokyo 2020 organizers have branded them, home
But after a visit to Fukushima, their claims seem questionable at best. In fact, the entire setup is a profoundly cynical act of “post-truth” politics. Fukushima is not yet safe, and no amount of sunny rhetoric from Olympic bigwigs as well as Japanese politicians, can make it so.
We traveled to Fukushima on a bus full of journalists, filmmakers, and activists from around the world. We were accompanied by professor Fujita Yasumoto who carried a dosimeter, a device that charts the levels of radiation. With two hours to drive before hitting Fukushima, his dosimeter read 0.04; anything above 0.23, he told us, was unsafe. The needle jumped further as we approached the nuclear plants and attendant cleanup operations. Outside the Decommissioning Archive Center, it moved into unsafe territory with a 0.46 reading before spiking to a truly alarming 3.77 as we approached Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor, one of three that melted down. The Olympic torch run is currently scheduled to pass through some of these high-contamination areas.
As we entered Fukushima, we started to see what looked like black Hefty garbage bags, filled with radioactive topsoil that had been scraped up by workers, most of whom, we are told, travel great distances to Fukushima to work. Thousands of these bags—which locals call “black pyramids”—are piled on top of one another, but the toiling workers aren’t wearing hazmat suits. Some of the piles of bags have vegetation popping out. The sight of the plants poking through the toxic muck could be taken as a sign of hope, but, for others, they’re a portent of danger, raising fears that the wind will blow the most contaminated parts of the topsoil into the less radiated parts of the city.
No one here we met is buying Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s line from 2013 when he tried to assuage the concerns of voters at the International Olympic Committee by telling them that things in Fukushima were “under control.” Hiroko Aihara, an independent journalist based in Fukushima, said to us, “The government has pushed propaganda over truth. This has people in Japan divided as to how serious it is. But for the people who live here, the crisis and the cleanup and contamination continue.”
The scientific studies about how safe Fukishima are at the moment are in great dispute. National travel guides put the area that is unsafe at only 3 percent of the prefecture. However, as Scientific American wrote, “In its haste to address the emergency, two months after the accident the Japanese government raised the allowable exposure from 1 mSv annually, an international benchmark, to 20 mSv. Evacuees now fear Abe’s determination to put the Daiichi accident behind the nation is jeopardizing public health, especially among children, who are more susceptible.”
We also spoke with Masumi Kowata. She is a remarkable individual, and the only woman on the 12-person Okuma Town municipal council in Fukushima. She is also the only person on the council who is speaking out on the dangers of nuclear power. Kawata was living in Fukushima when Abe made his grand pronouncement. She said, “Things were absolutely not ‘under control’ and nothing is over yet. The nuclear radiation is still very high. Only one small section is being cleaned. The wider region is still an evacuation zone. There is still radiation in the area. Meanwhile, we’re [hosting] the Olympics.”
The cynicism of branding this “the Recovery Olympics” can also be seen in the streets of Fukushima. Numerous people are still displaced and living outside the prefecture; they’re in the tens of thousands, although the exact total has not been determined. Whatever the number, there is no question that the part of the prefecture surrounding the nuclear meltdown feels empty. In a country with a remarkable lack of dilapidated buildings, they conspicuously blot the landscape in Fukushima. What was destroyed by the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown hasn’t been rebuilt. Many businesses also have been “abandoned by owner,” an all-purpose explanation for the state of things. Both homes and businesses—with the crumbling signs for the titans of Japanese corporate culture—Sony, Mitsubishi and Honda—sit vacant.
Despite this bleak scene, Kowata somehow brims with fighting energy. “The local people have come to me and told me to tell the world what is actually happening,” she said. “That’s where I get my strength. There are people getting sick. There are people who are dying from stress. The world needs to know.”

July 27, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Opponents want Olympic money used to rebuild Fukushima

What sense does it make to rebuild Fukushima if it means to condamn the people to live with radiation, radiation which ain’t gonna be decontaminated by any means but is there to stay.…
To not forget that the first step of the Japanese government deceitful campaign was DECONTAMINATION, to fool the people to believe that their place could be decontaminated so that they could go back to their life of the pre-nuclear disaster.
The second part of the Japanese government deceitful campaign was RECONSTRUCTION, that people need to help to reconstruct the Fukushima economy, to clean the name of Fukushima prefecture in the mind of the Japanese public and of the foreign public, to push and sell the local contaminated produce under the pretense that low level of contamination is safe and acceptable, that to buy and consume Fukushima is every Japanese citizen’s patriotic duty, solidarity, to help rebuild the Fukushima prefecture’s economy.
DECONTAMINATION and RECONSTRUCTION are both parts of the same deceitful campaign, a campaign denying the realaity of the omnipresent radiation’s health risks, soothing the people’s fears with lies and denial, to make them to accept and to stay living with high level of radiation in a fully contaminated environment. The Japanese government’s priority being the economics and not its people safety and health.
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Anti-Olympic advocates, including those from the United States and France, gather in Tokyo on July 23.
July 24, 2019
A group of Japanese and foreigners who oppose the Tokyo Olympics said they want to block the holding of the sporting extravaganza they see as wasteful and destructive.
In a news conference in Tokyo on July 23, the opponents, including scholars, said that the Olympics will destroy the local economy and be a hotbed for corruption.
The opponents included Jules Boykoff, professor of political science at Pacific University, Oregon, who was formerly on the U.S. Olympic soccer team.
On July 22, they visited Fukushima Prefecture, hit hard by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and subsequent nuclear accident.
Based on the inspection, they said that the Japanese government should use money for reconstruction efforts rather than the Olympics.
The opponents also included Misako Ichimura, 48, a member of “Hangorin no Kai” (Anti-Olympics group).
She said that homeless people were evicted for the construction of the new National Stadium and that people living in Tokyo metropolitan government-run apartments were forced to vacate them.
Ichimura raised an “anti-Olympic torch” that had been passed down by people campaigning against the Olympics.
“We want to terminate the Olympics,” she said.
A woman from Los Angeles, which will host the 2028 Summer Olympics, said the Olympics benefit a small number of major companies that receive money that should be used to support the homeless.
South Korean Park Eun-seon, who was watching the news conference, said that after the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the business environment for local restaurants and hotels there deteriorated.
“I want Japanese to share our experiences. I want them not to repeat the same mistakes,” she said.
Hangorin no Kai plans to hold a demonstration with others in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward on July 24 as part of its international events to oppose the Olympics.

July 27, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics are showing the nightmare waiting for L.A. in 2028

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July 23, 2019
TOKYO — Something unprecedented is happening this week in Japan. Activists from around the world are convening for the first-ever transnational anti-Olympics summit. Tokyo protest groups have teamed up with those from recent host cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Pyeongchang, South Korea, and future hosts, including Los Angeles. The summit coincides with the one-year mark before the Tokyo Summer Olympics open on July 24, 2020.
These days, anti-Games campaigns pop up like activist jack-in-the-boxes. Los Angeles wouldn’t have become a U.S. candidate city (and upcoming host) were it not for anti-Games activists who forced Boston’s mayor to back out of that city’s 2024 host contract. Three other bids (Hamburg, Germany; Budapest, Hungary; and Rome) for the 2024 Games were also scuppered after persistent local protests. Feeling the pinch, the International Olympic Committee doled out two Olympics simultaneously, to Paris for 2024, and Los Angeles for 2028.
A handful of negative effects inevitably follow the Games and account for the rise of anti-Olympic activism: overspending, militarization of police, citizen displacement, greenwashing and corruption. Rio de Janeiro, Sochi and even Beijing, with its now derelict venues, are all prime examples of the Games’ grotesque downsides.
The Tokyo Olympics, sold as the most “innovative” ever, are already replicating the usual problems. Start with costs: The original price tag of the 2020 Games, $7.3 billion, has more than tripled.
Tokyo organizers have branded the Games the “recovery Olympics,” in a nod to the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and resulting Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown. Survivors and hard-hit communities are still struggling to rebuild. That reality, says Satoko Itani, a professor of sport, gender and sexuality studies at Kansai University, makes the recovery tagline “ironic” at best. “This Olympics,” Itani said, “is literally taking the money, workers, and cranes away from the areas where they are needed most.”
The Games have also sent thousands into the streets in Japan to protest threats to their civil liberties. In 2017, Japanese legislators rammed anti-terrorism legislation through the parliament, justified by the need to protect the Olympics. The legislation added hundreds of new crimes to the books, including offenses such as sit-ins to oppose the construction of new apartment buildings. The U.N. special rapporteur on the right to privacy said Japan’s government had used fear to push through “defective” legislation.
As if to underline privacy concerns, at every Tokyo Olympic venue, visitors will be subjected to facial recognition systems. This despite the concerns that facial recognition software peddles racial bias. Its acceptance at the Games nudges Japan down a surveillance-state slippery slope.
The Olympics are notorious for displacing everyday residents and Tokyo is no exception. We interviewed a woman in her 60s here who was displaced by the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and has been displaced again for the 2020 Games. She wouldn’t speak on the record because she fears retribution, and although it won’t undo what has happened to her, she has joined the opposition. “In order to challenge the Olympics the community has to unite and fight,” she told us.
 
As to greenwashing, the Tokyo Games will showcase Fukushima prefecture, where the torch relay will begin and where baseball and softball games will be played. “It’s fine for athletes and spectators to go to Fukushima for a couple of days,” said Aileen Mioko-Smith with Green Action Japan when the venues were announced. “But the Japanese government is using [the Olympics] to claim that everything is back to normal and that the evacuees should go … home.” The government has also increased what it considers to be acceptable radiation levels from 1 millisievert a year to 20, which it claims presents a far lower cancer rate than smoking or obesity.
The final factor that accompanies most Olympic Games is corruption. (Remember Salt Lake City?) Allegations have already surfaced in Tokyo. Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda resigned in March after being included in an ongoing bribery investigation related to securing the 2020 Games. Takeda, who also resigned from the IOC, maintains his innocence. French authorities are looking into $2 million paid by the Tokyo committee to a Singapore-based company implicated in international athletics graft.
City by city, recent Olympics have proved to be plagued by a democracy deficit. Politicians, developers and construction magnates hype bids for the Games with little or no citizen input. And yet the impact on a city of hosting hundreds of thousands of visitors, athletes, media and officials has long-lasting implications for the residents. Even the IOC appears to understand the need for reform. Responding to IOC President Thomas Bach’s concern that the Olympic bidding process creates “too many losers,” the IOC suggested last month that future bidders be asked to hold a referendum before being considered.
Fifteen anti-Games activists from Los Angeles are among those participating in the summit this week (the biggest contingent of any from outside Japan). They have to hope a new referendum rule will crack open the question of whether Angelenos can still stop the 2028 Games. The city’s Olympic Committee, and its cheerleader Mayor Eric Garcetti, brush off recent history when they swat at criticism of their “winning” bid. If voters had a chance to weigh in, would they do the same?

July 27, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Anti-Olympics groups want more attention put on event’s downfalls

July 23, 2019
Anti-Olympics groups on Tuesday called for the end to the quadrennial international sports event, highlighting the situation surrounding Japan’s disaster-struck Fukushima and its connection to the games, as well as the overall displacement of residents within host cities.
With only a year left before the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games begin, members of the group, speaking at a press conference in Tokyo, argued the games were detrimental to those who were the most vulnerable, and the influx of money has not been used in places where it is necessary.
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(Misako Ichimura)
The press conference was held by former professional athlete and academic Jules Boykoff, Misako Ichimura, a member of an anti-Tokyo Olympics group and Anne Orchier, a member of a group opposing the 2028 Los Angeles games.
Ichimura, of Hangorin no kai NoOlympics 2020, emphasized the negative impact the upcoming Olympics has had on residents, including how about 230 households were told in 2012 to move out of their homes after authorities decided to tear down the Toei Kasumigaoka apartment bloc in central Tokyo, to make way for a new stadium.
She also touched on the plight of people in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima, which was devastated by the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters.
“The Tokyo Olympics are trying to demonstrate that the ongoing issues in Fukushima have already been resolved, but those affected by the disasters are still suffering,” she said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.
Boykoff, who traveled to the prefecture on Monday and met with local officials, agreed with Ichimura’s sentiments, calling the visit “one of the most intense experiences of my life.”
Boykoff said he learned from a local politician during his trip that reconstruction efforts have been slow and nuclear radiation levels in some areas in the northeastern region remain high.
“To return to Tokyo afterward and see all the money plunged into the Olympics while people still suffer in Fukushima was mind-blowing for me,” he said.
Ichimura also mentioned how dangerous the extreme heat, commonly associated with summers in Tokyo, has been on laborers and likely will be on athletes during the games.
“Three construction workers have already passed away on-site, and there have been a series of accidents as well as cases of heatstroke,” she said. “Tokyo summers will pose a serious health risk to many people if the Olympics are held in such extreme conditions.”
Weather-related concerns have been mounting, especially after a record-breaking heatwave hit Japan’s capital last summer, with an area near Tokyo seeing the temperature soar to 41.1 C.
Although the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will begin in a year, Ichimura has vowed to continue the fight against the status quo.
“We will not stay quiet as long as (the Olympics) continue to be held throughout the world, whether that is a year before (the event), a day before, or even after it’s begun,” she said.
Individuals against the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics have also rallied in support, citing the U.S. city’s growing homeless population.
Homelessness rose 16 percent in 2018 in Los Angeles, with at least 60,000 people being without a home on any given night, according to Orchier, an organizing member of NoOlympics LA.
“They are not bulldozing mansions to build luxury hotels or stadiums, they’re going after the most vulnerable,” she said, echoing Ichimura’s plea.
Furthermore, a study conducted by her group showed that while 45 percent of the city’s residents were opposed to the 2028 Olympics, 51 percent were moderately or extremely concerned about the impact it would have on homelessness.
“Serious grievances churn beneath the surface of the Olympics, and they absolutely deserve our collective attention,” Boykoff said.

July 27, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

The 2020 Olympics Are Likely to Be a Disaster

After spending a day with Tokyo’s anti-Olympics organizers, it was clear why they are angry about the 2020 Olympics—and that they are ready to fight.
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Members of the group Okotowari Olympics 2020 protest outside the Japan Sport Olympic Square.
July 22, 2019
By Dave Zirin and Jules Boykoff
At first glance, this must appear to be the politest anti-Olympics movement imaginable. The group fighting against the games is known as Okotowari Olympics 2020, or No Thanks Olympics 2020. However, after spending a day among them, it is clear that the honchos in the Japanese Olympic Committee should be worried. These organizers are feisty, whip-smart, and their goal is nothing short of preventing next year’s Olympics from landing in Tokyo. Their concerns are based on the recent history of what happens to a city after the Olympics descend: debt, displacement, and hyper-militarization. For them, it is also a question of priorities.
In the words of one organizer, Tomiko, “People are still suffering from [the earthquake and Fukushima nuclear meltdown of] 2011. The government needs to spend money to help those still suffering, not on the Olympics.”
This group of activists and agitators spent the day taking a disparate group of three dozen people—many from past or future Olympic cities—on a tour of Olympic building projects already underway. By the time they were finished, it was very clear why they were protesting.
Akio Yoshida, who, like several of the Okotowari organizers, cut her teeth doing work in solidarity with Tokyo’s large homeless population, said, “The displacement already happening will just move more people from their homes. All Olympics discriminate. Some people are prioritized. Others are disregarded.” After touring future Olympic sites, we could all see who the winners will be: well-connected developers, construction magnates, and security barons. Meanwhile, the working poor and houseless will be left out.
We saw a body of water slated for open-water swimming, with bacteria levels dangerous to the human touch. We saw a baseball stadium, the home of the famed Yakult Swallows, that will be demolished, only to be rebuilt a block away to meet the specifications of the Olympics. We saw public spaces such as a youth aquatic center that will be shut down to make way for Olympic sports, while young people will have to spend next summer with their noses pressed against the glass. We saw a beautifully designed, massive public stadium that was built only for volleyball and will be handed over after the Olympics to a private business concern. The stadium cost $300,000,000.
Around Tokyo, we saw public spaces clogged with construction that fenced out everyday people. One public area that was typically buzzing with baseball was off-limits, while bulldozers constructed an Olympic track venue. It’s deeply ironic that a traditional location for amateur athletes to train will be demolished for Olympic facilities. As one organizer said, “What is the point of the Olympics if they will actually serve to stifle amateur sports?”
Atsumi Masazumi, who lives in the neighborhood around the new National Stadium, told us, “The area I was proud of is being changed for the worse by the Olympics. It’s sneaky to use the Games to change the building codes. It’s horrible.” He stressed that he loves sports but doesn’t love what the Olympics are doing to his city.
We also traveled to the Odaiba Marine Park, the future location of Olympic swimming and the triathlon. But the beach was fenced off from the public. Signs pegged to posts around the perimeter of the area informed passersby that the beach would be closed from July 1 through September 6 in order to hold an Olympics-related event. Again, spaces meant for the public were being cordoned off because of the Olympics.
We saw all this while walking in a typical Tokyo summer’s stifling humidity, a reminder of the kind of temperatures that outdoor athletes will have to face next year.
We didn’t just walk and tour. In a quick-fire action at Japan Sport Olympic Square, the activists unfurled two banners reading “Olympics Kill the Poor” and “Reverse the 2020 Tokyo Olympics” and posed for a photo in front of the Olympic rings. Jittery security guards on the scene treated the two banners as if they were Molotov cocktails in the making, desperately shepherding activists away from the vicinity.
Satoko Itani, a professor of sport and gender studies at Kansai University, told us that the Olympics-induced state of exception we saw in motion all around us was “not only about the Olympics, but what happens afterwards.” It is the concern of “what happens afterwards” that activists will spend the next year fighting. This week is meant to kick off those actions, with symposiums, demonstrations, and rallies. If today is any indication, they will be organized in a way that everyone involved is crystal clear that the stakes for Tokyo could not be higher.

July 27, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | 1 Comment

Torchbearer application for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay opens Monday

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

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