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Only 30% of businesses have reopened in Fukushima nuclear disaster-hit areas: survey

March 21, 2018
FUKUSHIMA — Only some 30 percent of businesses have resumed operations in areas within a 30-kilometer radius of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant or in districts that were previously marked as evacuation zones, a Fukushima Federation of Societies of Commerce and Industry survey has found.
As for the stagnation in the region’s economic renaissance, a representative from the federation said, “There are few residents, and along with anxiety over whether or not business will be able to turn a profit, it is also hard to secure young workers.”
The investigation covered 14 local societies of commerce and industry, recording the business climate as of Feb. 20, 2018. The percentage was particularly low in the four municipalities of Namie, Tomioka, Iitate and Kawamata, for which evacuation orders was partially lifted between March and April 2017.
In the town of Namie, of the 597 members of the local society of commerce, 262 operators, or 44 percent, restarted their companies or shops — but only 34, or roughly 6 percent of the total, did so in Namie itself. The remaining 228 businesses all reopened in the locations to which their owners evacuated after the disaster.
Meanwhile, in Tomioka, 277 businesses of the 478 society members reopened, but only 60, or 13 percent, did so in the town. The numbers were slightly higher for Iitate, where 130 of the 167 operators restarted their businesses — 51 of whom did so in the same area, for 31 percent.
Of 2,804 total members of the prefectural-level federation as a whole, 1,840 companies and shops reopened (66 percent), with 31 percent or 860 businesses returning to open shop in the affected areas. By industry, construction saw the biggest revival rate at 37 percent, followed by manufacturing at 35 percent, stone work and miscellaneous businesses at 32 percent and the service industry at 28 percent, no doubt boosted by reconstruction efforts.
The evacuation locations for the residents of Namie are divided into inland areas like Fukushima city and coastal areas, and it is reportedly hard for owners to restart businesses while commuting from these locations. At the end of February 2018, the population of Namie was 17,954 people, but only 516 people actually lived in the town along with reconstruction workers.
The operator of a supermarket before the disaster commented, “If people don’t return, then it’s difficult to secure enough employees and impossible to run a business.”

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan reactor makers consider merging fuel units to counter rivals

As Mr. Ikuo Hatsukade says : « I wish that these three companies could cooperate to produce renewable energies without nuclear energy. »


A nuclear fuel assembly, center, sits in a spent fuel pool.

TOKYO — Japan’s Hitachi, Toshiba and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries aim to merge their nuclear fuel units to gain an edge on cost in an effort to better compete with Chinese and South Korean rivals. 

Amid bleak prospects for getting current domestic reactors up and running, let alone building new ones, the next challenge will be to consolidate their nuclear reactor businesses. 

Of the more than 40 reactors in Japan, Kyushu Electric Power‘s Sendai Nuclear Power unit Nos. 1 and 2 in Kagoshima Prefecture and Shikoku Electric Power‘s Ikata Nuclear Power Station unit No. 3 in Ehime Prefecture are the only reactors in operation. Bringing the country’s reactors back online is proceeding very slowly due to strict safety standards set by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

With the liberalization of Japan’s retail energy market in April, electric power companies are finding it difficult to invest in nuclear power plants, as it is difficult to make forecasts for power generation costs including future decommissioning. The government plans to generate 20-22% of the county’s overall power mix from nuclear power plants by 2030, but many market watchers remain skeptical.

To improve competitiveness, major reactor makers appear to have begun discussing the possibility of integrating their nuclear fuel businesses. One executive of a reactor maker said they cannot hire new nuclear engineers and develop advanced technologies if no measures are taken. “All Japanese reactor makers need to join hands to protect the country’s nuclear technology,” he said.

With the merger of nuclear fuel businesses in sight, the next challenge will be to restore each company’s reactor unit, which have barely remained profitable with only maintenance operations being done. Reactors are classified into two types: pressurized water reactors and boiling water reactors. Some market experts are saying that reactor makers should consolidate operations regardless of reactor type.

Some countries, including Germany, are trying to break away from nuclear power generation, while a number of countries are planning to build new ones. In the U.K., a consortium of Hitachi and General Electric are planning to build nuclear power plants, while Toshiba has plans to construct them on its own. Toshiba’s U.S. nuclear power unit Westinghouse Electric is looking to boost orders in China and India. Mitsubishi Heavy is also looking to expand overseas with new reactors jointly developed with Areva group of France.

That said, Chinese, South Korean and Russian rivals are also actively expanding overseas. To hold a technological lead, Japanese makers must curb costs and build a system to develop technologies.

September 30, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment