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70,000 Sudden Cardiac Deaths per Year in Japan

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Sudden cardiac death seems to have increased to 70,000 per year in Japan. Previously it was said to be around 50,000 a year.

Is it the influence of radioactive contamination which is still leaking in the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant ever since the March 2011 meltdowns and explosions? 

Source: NHK News 9.

https://twitter.com/kinmiraixx/status/812923365962825730

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December 25, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

The Cost of Cleaning up Fukushima

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The Abe administration has decided to use taxpayer money for decontaminating areas in Fukushima Prefecture off-limits to people due to fallout of radioactive substances from the March 2011 meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant. The decision, which deviates from the current policy that Tepco should pay for the decontamination efforts, reflects a proposal put forward in August by the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito but never discussed by the government’s council of experts or in the Diet.

The government may want to justify the move as an effort to help accelerate evacuees’ return to their hometown communities. Still, it will be difficult for the administration to evade criticism that the measure is nothing but a taxpayer-funded bailout for Tepco, which is responsible for the nuclear fallout that affected so many people in Fukushima.

By proceeding with the decontamination work, the administration hopes to lift evacuation orders in some of the no-go areas in about five years. It is hoped these areas will serve as bases for activities to promote reconstruction from the nuclear disaster. As the first step, the government plans to set aside ¥30 billion in the fiscal 2017 budget. So far, no full-scale cleanup work has been carried out inside these zones, which straddle seven municipalities around the Tepco plant.

The government’s position is that it is safe for evacuees to return to their communities if the annual cumulative dose there is 20 millisieverts (mSv) or less, although the legal limit allowed for people in normal circumstances is 1 mSv. The millisievert is a measure of the absorption of radiation by the human body. In no-go zones, the annual dose tops 50 mSv and is not expected to fall below 20 mSv in the next five years.

Faithful to the standard polluter pays principle, which was also applied to the Minamata mercury poisoning disaster in the 1950s and ’60s, the special law to cope with the damage from the Fukushima disaster stipulates that Tepco should shoulder the cleanup cost, and when decontamination work is paid for by taxpayer money, the utility must later reimburse the government. Now the government plans to revise the special law on decontamination and other legislation so it can pay for the planned decontamination work in Fukushima. To counter possible criticism that the scheme is intended merely to help Tepco, the government argues that the planned work aims to improve public infrastructure in the no-go zones so evacuees can return. However, the work will include scraping off top soil and cutting down trees, making it no different than decontamination efforts in other areas.

To justify the use of taxpayer money, the government also says that Tepco has paid compensation to evacuees from the no-go zones on the assumption that they would not be able to return to their homes over an extended period. Thus, in a revised guideline for the reconstruction of Fukushima Prefecture, the government says it will pay for the planned decontamination without asking for reimbursement from Tepco.

Behind the government’s decision for the use of taxpayer money is the mushrooming expense of decontamination, with the latest estimate rising from the original ¥2.5 trillion to ¥4 trillion, which does not include the cost of cleaning up the no-go areas. The government expects the planned work in those areas to cost roughly ¥300 billion over five years, but the price tag could rise if the work becomes protracted. And the burden on taxpayers may further increase if the scope of government-paid decontamination in those areas is expanded.

In a related move, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has come up with an idea to pass part of the cost of Tepco’s compensation for Fukushima disaster victims on to consumers in the form of higher electricity bills, as the total estimated cost for decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 plant, compensation and decontamination has swollen from the original ¥11 trillion to ¥21.5 trillion. These moves not only increase people’s financial burden but also blur the power company’s responsibility for the devastation it caused. The government may say the measures are necessary to help promote reconstruction in Fukushima. But they could distract public attention from the principle that it is Tepco which must pay for the decommissioning of its reactors, compensation for the victims and cleanup of the contaminated areas.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2016/12/23/editorials/cost-cleaning-fukushima/#.WF15Dlzia-c

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December 25, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | 1 Comment

Government to help fund Fukushima decontamination, easing Tepco’s burden

Easing Tepco fuck-ups with taxpayers money!

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The Cabinet decided Tuesday that the central government will help pay to decontaminate areas worst hit by the 2011 Fukushima reactor meltdowns, marking a shift from earlier rules requiring Tepco to foot the bill.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s team endorsed a plan to set up a reconstruction hub in the most contaminated, off-limits areas in Fukushima Prefecture and secure about ¥30 billion for decontamination work in the fiscal 2017 budget.

The cost of the work could total around ¥300 billion in the next five years and grow further depending on how it progresses.

The plan is in line with proposals made in August by the ruling coalition, but no government panel review or Diet deliberations have been held on it, raising the prospect that it could be criticized as a bailout for Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

The government decided to add the decontamination work, including soil and tree removal, to infrastructure projects for making the affected land habitable again, but the special law on decontamination states that Tepco should shoulder the expenses.

The government will have to revise the special law on rebuilding Fukushima to accommodate the shift.

The move to help pay for the decontamination came after the expected price tag surged to ¥4 trillion from the previous estimate of ¥2.5 trillion, which did not include the cost of cleaning the areas with the highest levels of radiation.

If the government-funded cleaning area expands, the use of taxpayer money is likely to balloon to several trillion yen.

Meanwhile, in an effort to turn Tepco’s business fortunes around, the government proposed that the battered utility work together with other companies in operating nuclear power plants and distributing power.

A panel of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry urged the company to launch talks with other power companies next year and set up a joint venture in the early 2020s to eventually consolidate their businesses.

Tepco reform will be the basis of reconstruction in Fukushima and could lead to a new, stronger utilities industry,” said industry minister Hiroshige Seko.

We will profoundly accept the proposal and drastically carry out reform,” said Tepco President Naomi Hirose.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/20/national/government-help-fund-fukushima-decontamination-easing-tepcos-burden/#.WFj6NFzia-c

December 23, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Public funds earmarked to decontaminate Fukushima’s ‘difficult-to-return’ zone

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The so-called “difficult-to-return” areas are colored in grey

The government is set to inject some 30 billion yen in public funds into work to decontaminate so-called “difficult-to-return” areas whose annual radiation levels topped 50 millisieverts in 2012 due to the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster, it has been learned.
While the government had maintained that it would demand plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) cover the decontamination expenses based on the polluter-pays principle, the new plan effectively relieves TEPCO from the hefty financial burden by having taxpayers shoulder the costs.

The new plan is part of the government’s basic guidelines for “reconstruction bases” to be set up in each municipality within the difficult-to-return zone in Fukushima Prefecture from fiscal 2017, with the aim of prioritizing decontamination work and infrastructure restoration there. The government is seeking to lift evacuation orders for the difficult-to-return zone in five years.

However, the details of the reconstruction bases, such as their size and locations, have yet to be determined due to ongoing discussions between local municipalities and the Reconstruction Agency and other relevant bodies.

The government is set to obtain Cabinet approval for the basic guidelines on Dec. 20 before submitting a bill to revise the Act on Special Measures for the Reconstruction and Revitalization of Fukushima to the regular Diet session next year. The 30 billion yen in funds for the decontamination work will be set aside in the fiscal 2017 budget.

In the basic guidelines, the government states that decontamination work at the reconstruction bases is part of state projects to accelerate Fukushima’s recovery and that the costs for the work will be covered by public funds without demanding TEPCO to make compensation. The statement is also apparently aimed at demonstrating the government’s active commitment to Fukushima’s restoration.

Under the previous guidelines for Fukushima’s recovery approved by the Cabinet in December 2013, the government had stated that it would demand TEPCO cover the decontamination expenses of both completed and planned work. However, it hadn’t been decided who would shoulder the decontamination costs for the difficult-to-return zone as there was no such plan at that point.

Masafumi Yokemoto, professor at Osaka City University who is versed in environmental policy, criticized the government’s move, saying, “If the government is to shoulder the cost that ought to be covered by TEPCO, the government must first accept its own responsibility for the nuclear disaster, change its policy and investigate the disaster before doing so. Otherwise, (spending taxpayers’ money on decontamination work) can’t be justified.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161219/p2a/00m/0na/015000c

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Environment Ministry to consolidate management of radioactive waste from Fukushima disaster

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The government plans to set up a new bureau in the Environment Ministry to unify the handling of radioactive waste generated by the 2011 Fukushima disaster, informed sources said.

The bureau, which will also take on recycling management, will have around 200 staff and be created through a ministry reorganization in fiscal 2017 starting in April that will change the size of its workforce.

The reorganization will also abolish the Environmental Policy Bureau.

The government hopes the move will improve cooperation with municipalities damaged by the triple meltdown triggered at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture during the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Thus far, measures to deal with radioactive waste, including decontamination, have been handled by three sections — the Waste Management and Recycling Department, the Environmental Management Bureau and the Director-General for Decontamination Technology of Radioactive Materials.

The ruling parties’ task forces on accelerating reconstruction from March 2011 are requesting the integration move in response to complaints from the affected municipalities.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/18/national/environment-ministry-consolidate-management-radioactive-waste-fukushima-disastere/#.WFZ3llzia-d

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Namie’s high recovery hopes haunted by dwindling coffers, fears of losing vital state dole

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A robot testing facility, a robotics research center, a base for renewable energy and a memorial park — these are some of the plans the irradiated town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, has in mind for rebuilding after the triple reactor meltdown at the nearby Fukushima No. 1 power plant in March 2011.

But to pursue those plans, the town needs funds — a gigantic amount.

Namie is hoping to cover its funding needs with central government grants. But the two sides are still negotiating whether the municipality must shoulder a certain amount.

Also, there is no guarantee that the grants will continue beyond fiscal 2020, when the central government-designated reconstruction and revitalization period ends. This has residents worried that, even if the facilities are built, the municipality won’t be able to shoulder the maintenance and personnel costs needed to keep the facilities running.

We are currently negotiating fiercely with the central government,” said Namie’s deputy mayor, Katsumi Miyaguchi, 61.

The town of Namie had the largest population in the Futaba district, but its coffers took a major hit after the calamity triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011.

Residential tax revenue, which comprises about 30 to 40 percent of all tax revenues, sank to ¥500 million from about a ¥1 billion before 3/11 after the town decided to waive taxes for those with annual income below ¥5 million.

Whether to continue the waiver program is another difficult political issue.

The town was also waiving property taxes but plans to resume them when evacuations are lifted in some areas next spring. But land values have plunged since the meltdowns and any property tax revenues are expected to be low.

The same goes for corporate tax revenue, which has been hit by 3/11 business suspensions.

In short, Namie wouldn’t be able to pay the salaries of its town officials, let alone finance a reconstruction plan, if it weren’t for the central government grants.

As the centerpiece of its plan, Namie plans to build a facility adjacent to its town hall that would offer local information and house restaurants that serve up local specialties.

But that remains to be seen.

We are making plans despite the uncertainty that the central government’s grants will cover them,” said a town official in charge. “If the funds don’t cover the entire plan, it may need to be revised.”

In the mayor’s office, currently in the city of Nihonmatsu, there is a calender showing the number of days that have passed since the disasters hit — over 2,000. But Namie is still far from recovery.

The financial resources we’ve lost due to the disaster are excessive,” said Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba, 68. “We desperately need the central government to continue its support.”

Another town executive agreed.

If the government stops providing grants four years later when the reconstruction/revitalization period ends, it means the government has abandoned Namie,” the executive said.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/18/national/namies-high-recovery-hopes-haunted-dwindling-coffers-fears-losing-vital-state-dole/#.WFZwYVzia-d

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

New Fukushima evacuee bullying case emerges at Tokyo school

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Garbage taken home by a bullied student in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward (Provided by the student’s mother)

After school bullying cases emerged recently in cities including Yokohama and Niigata, another student who was evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture after the 2011 nuclear disaster has come forward.

The latest case, at a junior high school in the capital’s Chiyoda Ward, involved the victimized student being intimidated into paying for three other students’ sweets, juices and other goods, worth about 10,000 yen ($87).

The case came to light after the student and the student’s mother reported the bullying to the school.

It is regrettable that bullying existed at this school. I will do my utmost to prevent it from happening again,” said the principal of the Chiyoda Ward government-run school.

The victim told The Asahi Shimbun that some students had begun to utter the taunt “hinansha” (evacuee) around summer 2015.

This year, the name-calling escalated, and the bullies started making insulting and threatening remarks such as, “You don’t have money as you came from Fukushima,” “Can’t you pay the bills for us as you are poor?” and “I will reveal that you are an evacuee.”

The bullies then manipulated the victim into paying for their doughnuts, juices and other goods.

The picked-on student was also pressured by the student’s tormenters to take home their trash, which they did by putting it into the student’s school bag.

At school, the student’s textbooks and notebooks went missing. Some of them were found in a corner of the classroom with ripped pages.

Since my elementary school days, I have been bullied on the grounds that I am an evacuee. I was not able to tell that to anybody. It was painful. I thought that if I can silence other students with money, I will do it,” the student said.

In late November, the student’s mother noticed all the garbage in her child’s school bag. Finally the student told the mother what had been happening, and then reported the case to the school, along with the mother.

The school investigated 15 pupils but was not able to confirm that the victim has been bullied on the grounds that the student was an evacuee from Fukushima Prefecture.

However, three of those investigated admitted that the student had paid their bills. The school confirmed that the bills totaled about 10,000 yen.

The school said that it did not investigate the missing books, as it was not clear when they had disappeared.

I had thought that the school would investigate who dumped them,” the mother said of the missing books, adding, “I want the school to deal with the case by paying more consideration to the bullied student.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612130064.html

December 13, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

More Evacuees Sue Govt, TEPCO over Fukushima N-Accident

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Fukushima, Dec. 12 (Jiji Press)–A group of 295 people, mainly nuclear disaster evacuees, on Monday joined lawsuits against the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. over the Mach 2011 meltdowns at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
Filing their suit with Fukushima District Court, the plaintiffs, many of whom were evacuees in and outside Fukushima Prefecture, demanded that the government and TEPCO pay compensation and restore conditions before the nuclear accident.
The group, made up of men and women from minors to 89 years old, said they were forced to evacuate and deprived of their peaceful lives because of the accident at the power plant in the northeastern Japan prefecture.
The team joined those who filed similar suits against the government and TEPCO in March 2013, raising the total number of plaintiffs to some 4,200.
At a news conference after the latest suit was filed, plaintiff Akemi Eda, who evacuated from the Fukushima Prefecture town of Namie, noted recent incidents in which children evacuated from the prefecture due to the accident have been bullied at schools.

http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016121200599

December 13, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima faces wall to hosting Olympic baseball

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The world governing body for baseball and softball is calling on the organizing committee of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to secure “a second stadium in the metropolitan area,” and is making it a prerequisite for the body to approve a plan to hold some games for the additional event in Fukushima Prefecture, it has been learned.

The organizing committee is finding it difficult to accept the idea of setting up “a second stadium” and negotiations are bound to reach a deadlock. The decision to make Fukushima an Olympic venue may have to wait until next spring or later.

The request from the World Baseball Softball Confederation was made known in a letter sent to the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Yoshiro Mori, the president of the organizing committee, revealed the content of the letter in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun on Wednesday. Mori is attending a board meeting of the International Olympic Committee held in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The IOC board approved of the plan to make Yokohama Stadium in the city of Yokohama the main venue for the additional event, but the decision on Fukushima was deferred.

According to Mori, the letter stated that the three possible venues in the prefecture – stadiums in the cities of Fukushima, Iwaki and Koriyama – were worthy candidates, but also set two conditions in order for the WBSC to approve the plan: to upgrade the stadium to be decided such as by turfing the infield and to secure a second stadium in the metropolitan area.

The IOC currently has plans to divide the six participating national teams into two groups for the preliminary round, so that eight to 10 games will be held in total including the final. The WBSC, on the other hand, intends to make the qualifying games a round robin of all six teams, which would likely increase the total number of games to from 17 to 19. With this in mind, the world body is hoping to add a second stadium to the event, such as Seibu Prince Dome in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, or Zozo Marine Stadium in Chiba.

Mori made it clear after the IOC board meeting that he would oppose the idea of a second stadium in the metropolitan area. He explained that the organizing committee has an understanding with the IOC that hosting an Olympic event in a disaster area should be considered separately as part of ongoing restoration efforts. “We have reconfirmed with the IOC that the principle of one venue still stands,” he said.

Financial concerns are another reason for opposing the second stadium plan. A senior official of the organizing committee said, “The budget will likely swell, and therefore, it would be difficult [to accept the idea].”

Mori had discussions with IOC President Thomas Bach at a luncheon on Wednesday. The IOC side informally told Mori that it backs the idea of hosting events in Fukushima and also that it will hear from the WBSC about the matter. The Japan side intends to continue negotiations with the WBSC while working in tandem with the IOC, and hopes to reach a conclusion at an IOC board meeting to be held next spring or later.

Deferring the decision to host the event in Fukushima will likely hinder preparations for the event, such as modifying the stadium and securing operation fees, and may put unwanted pressure on the disaster area.

The IOC board meeting on Wednesday came to a conclusion on the venues of five other additional events, including karate and surfing.

According to the decision, karate will be held at Nippon Budokan in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, while skateboarding and sport climbing will take place in the Odaiba and Aomi districts in Koto Ward, Tokyo. Tsurigasaki Beach in Ichinomiya, Chiba Prefecture, is the venue for surfing.

The organizing committee informed the board of its plan to cap the total cost of holding the Games at 2 trillion yen ($17.5 billion) and promoted Japan’s efforts to cut down costs.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-wp-oly-baseball-3ba3f012-bd5a-11e6-ac85-094a21c44abc-20161208-story.html

December 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Abe Sees Fukushima Progress!!!

Radiation risks are being swept under the rug. That restoration plan voluntarily chooses to ignore the risks for people to be living in a contaminated environment, not differentiating between the external and internal exposures and their sure harmful consequences to people health. Not to mention the  ongoing incineration of contaminated waste in the Fukushima Prefecture 19 municipal incinerators, continuously redistributing radioactive nanoparticles into the environment. All done in the name of economic reconstruction!

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Cabinet to approve Fukushima restoration plan

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has visited Fukushima Prefecture to inspect the progress of restoration following the 2011 nuclear accident.
Abe visited a machinery parts manufacturer in Minamisoma City on Saturday.
The government and Fukushima Prefecture have been working to create a cluster of robotics’ companies in the city.
The president of the manufacturer told the prime minister that he hopes the robotics industry will help revitalize the local economy.
Abe responded that the state-of-the-art robot testing facilities that had been built in the city should attract companies from around the world, and that he wants the region to develop around them.
Abe later visited the town of Kawamata, where an evacuation order is expected to be lifted next March.
He ate fermented natto soybeans manufactured in the town using local products.
Abe told reporters after the inspection that his government intends to help people from areas where the evacuation order will be lifted with housing and rebuilding their lives.
He also said his cabinet will approve a plan before the end of the month to accelerate Fukushima’s restoration. He said it includes partial governmental funding for decontamination in non-entry zones.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161210_23/

 

December 11, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Tsunami-swept Section of Joban Line, Northeastern Japan Reopens

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A Joban Line train travels further inland on Dec. 10 after operations resumed along that section for the first time in five years and nine months.

Tsunami-swept section of Joban Line finally running again

A massive project to move a section of track of the JR Joban Line from coastal areas, which involved building three new stations, is finally up and running nearly six years after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Operations for the new route further inland resumed Dec. 10.

The section that is back in business runs from Hamayoshida Station in Watari, Miyagi Prefecture, to Soma Station in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture.

The latest work means that all coastal sections traversing hard-hit Miyagi Prefecture are again connected by the lines operated by East Japan Railway Co.

However, parts of coastal sections in Iwate and Fukushima prefectures still remain impassable. Those sections will not be back in operation until 2020.

The new route involved moving a section covering 14.6 kilometers as much as 1.1 km inland, building three stations and constructing elevated tracks. The total cost came to 40 billion yen ($350 million).

When the tsunami struck the coast of the Tohoku region in northeast Japan, Joban Line trains were in operation. While one train was mangled beyond repair and stations were also destroyed, all passengers and train employees managed to flee to safety.

The writer Maru Ayase, 30, was a passenger on a train that departed Sendai and was headed for Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on the day of the disaster.

The train she was on was delayed and forced to stop at Shinchi Station in Fukushima Prefecture when the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake struck.

Ayase recalled that the train car swung violently and she experienced whiplash. The woman sitting next to her grabbed on to her. The unnerving swaying seemed to last for 10 minutes.

Ayase and the woman sitting next to her decided to leg it to the next town. Walking along a road about a kilometer from the coast, Ayase saw a huge wave approaching and panicked.

Running for her life toward higher ground, Ayase managed to reach safety. Two young police officers who happened to be on the same train guided the 40 or so other passengers to a town government building further inland.

The driver and other workers on the train evacuated to a bridge over the rail lines at Shinchi Station.

The tsunami that struck the train cars and demolished the train station left only the bridge standing.

Recalling that day, Ayase said, “I feel a certain loneliness when I think that I was there to see Shinchi Station as it existed before the tsunami.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612100046.html

East Japan Railway line suspended since 2011 tsunami partially reopens

SENDAI (Kyodo) — A 23-kilometer section of East Japan Railway Co.’s Joban Line reopened Saturday five years and nine months after the March 2011 quake and tsunami.

The reopened section runs between Soma Station in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, and Hamayoshida Station in Watari, Miyagi Prefecture, both in Tohoku in Japan’s northeast, the region hardest hit by the disaster.

There are six stations on the section. Following severe damage from tsunami, three of the six — Shinchi, Yamashita and Sakamoto stations — were moved inland by up to 1.1 km.

“This station is a symbol of recovery. I pray that many people visit this place,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he attended an opening ceremony for the new Shinchi station.

At 6 a.m. the first train to Sendai departed from Yamashita station in Yamamoto, Miyagi Prefecture.

“I become overwhelmed by emotion when I think about the roads after the quake. I celebrate the start of the first train,” Yamamoto Mayor Toshio Saito said at the ceremony.

“I want to go to Sendai for shopping,” said Tamaki Fujikawa, 12, who was at Yamashita Station with her mother and younger sister to see the train off.

Of the whole Joban Line, chiefly running along the Pacific coasts to connect Tokyo and Miyagi Prefecture, only a section in Fukushima Prefecture between Tatsuta Station in the town of Naraha and Odaka Station in Minamisoma, remains suspended.

The government hopes to enable the resumption of services between Tomioka and Namie stations, the section running closest to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station that suffered meltdowns in the disaster, by the spring of 2020 after reopening other sections in 2017.

“I hope that the interrupted services restart soon,” said Yutaka Sugano, a resident of the town of Shinchi, 69, who was aboard the train going to Sendai.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161210/p2g/00m/0dm/063000c

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Local people attend the reopening ceremony for the new station in Shinchi, Fukushima Prefecture, on Saturday. The station on the Joban Line is on a section of line hardest hit by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

Section of East Japan Railways’ Joban Line, suspended since 2011 quake, partially reopens

SENDAI – A 23-km-long section of East Japan Railway Co.’s Joban Line reopened Saturday, some five years and nine months after the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck.

The reopened section runs between Soma Station in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, and Hamayoshida Station in Watari, Miyagi Prefecture, both in Tohoku, the region hardest hit by the disaster.

There are six stations on the section. Following severe damage from the tsunami, three of the six — Shinchi, Yamashita and Sakamoto stations — were moved inland by up to 1.1 km.

This station is a symbol of recovery. I pray that many people visit this place,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he attended an opening ceremony for the new Shinchi Station.

At 6 a.m. the first train to Sendai departed from Yamashita Station in Yamamoto, Miyagi Prefecture.

I become overwhelmed by emotion when I think about the roads after the quake. I celebrate the start of the first train,” Yamamoto Mayor Toshio Saito said at the ceremony.

I want to go to Sendai for shopping,” said Tamaki Fujikawa, 12, who was at Yamashita Station with her mother and younger sister to see the train off.

Of the whole Joban Line, chiefly running along the Pacific coast to connect Tokyo and Miyagi Prefecture, only a section in Fukushima Prefecture between Tatsuta Station in the town of Naraha and Odaka Station in Minamisoma, remains suspended.

The government hopes to enable the resumption of services between Tomioka and Namie stations, the section running closest to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station that suffered meltdowns in the disaster, by the spring of 2020 after reopening other sections next year.

I hope that the interrupted services restart soon,” said Yutaka Sugano, a resident of the town of Shinchi, 69, who was aboard the train going to Sendai.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/10/national/section-east-japan-railways-joban-line-suspended-since-2011-quake-partially-reopens/#.WE0g-lzia-c

 

December 11, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarusian writer who won a Nobel Prize for her book on the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, visited evacuees in Fukushima Prefecture recently to hear about their experiences.

Alexievich was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2015 for her writing about human suffering through the testimonies of witnesses of the Chernobyl disaster. She has been highly praised for her oral history of that event.

Alexievich was invited to speak at a university in Tokyo.

“It may be impossible to stop nuclear power plants right away, but it’s important to consider what you can and should do,” she said at the event.

Alexievich’s books are written collages of testimonies by ordinary people. Her book, “Chernobyl Prayer: A Chronicle of the Future,” published in 1997, is representative of her work. It’s a collection of statements from the victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 30 years ago in the former Soviet Union.

About a quarter of the land in Alexievich’s home country of Belarus was contaminated and seriously damaged by radioactive material. Even now, many former residents are not allowed to return to their hometowns.

Alexievich spent more than 10 years interviewing over 300 people, sometimes on camera.

“In the last few days, whenever I lifted my husband’s body, his skin would peel off and stick to my hand,” the wife of one firefighter told her.

She then wrote about their deep shock and continual sadness.

The Nobel Committee described her work as “polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”

“I try to listen to people no one sees or hears,” Alexievich says. “There’s much more power in their emotions than in economic or medical data…. So I think it’s important to remember their lives.”

Alexievich came to Japan to hear what people in Fukushima prefecture have to say, and visited temporary housing to listen to residents’ stories.

She met with a former resident of Iitate village, a town that’s still under an evacuation order.

“I was a dairy farmer in Iitate, but now I’m unemployed,” Kenichi Hasegawa told her.

Before the earthquake, he had about 50 cows, and was living with 7 members of his family that spanned 4 generations. Hasegawa drove Alexievich to his former home, which still stands empty.

After the accident, all of his cows had to be put down or let go. Unable to continue dairy farming due to radiation, Hasegawa decided to demolish the cow shed. His family is now scattered.

“Wasn’t it difficult to leave home?” Alexievich asked him.

Yes, it was… We can’t live the way we did before the accident, because of the radiation,” Hasegawa said.

Government officials say the evacuation order on Iitate will be lifted next March, but Hasegawa is anxious about the future.

“They say we’ll be able to return home, but haven’t mentioned their plans for the village after that,” he says. “My children won’t be returning.”

“In Fukushima, I saw the exact same situation I’d seen in Chernobyl. The destroyed homes, the empty villages and cities, the victims’ despair — they’re all the same,” Alexievich said. “In both countries, governments rushed to develop new technology, but they weren’t able to fulfill their responsibilities. They were irresponsible toward ‘the ordinary people.’”

Alexievich was also told the story of a dairy farmer who committed suicide. A close friend of the farmer took her to the place where he died.

“He left a note saying, ‘I wish there’d been no nuclear power plants here,'” Hasegawa said.

Alexievich has spent years focusing on the suffering of ordinary people and making their voices heard. Visiting the 2 disaster-stricken regions has renewed her sense of determination.

“No one completely understands the horror of nuclear power. Literature should communicate it, and so should philosophers. It’s not a job for politicians alone,” Alexievich said. “In other words, we need to look at what happened in Chernobyl and Fukushima and put them together, to form new knowledge…. I saw the future, not the past, and we need to work on that future.”

It has been 30 years since the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, and 5 years since the one in Fukushima. The future depends on never letting the voices of “the ordinary people” go unheard — that’s the message from Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/newsroomtokyo/aired/20161208.html

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December 11, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear | , , | Leave a comment

Reclaimed Land for Okinawa US Base Filled With Fukushima Radioactive Waste?

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According to one of my Japanese contacts,  Ryouichi Kawaguchi,  the Fukushima’s radioactive waste accumulated in Chiba Prefecture is brought to the reclaimed land of Henoko, Okinawa, via Fukuoka.
Consequently, the U. S. soldiers who will be stationed at the Henoko new base will be exposed to radiation like the Fukushima population.
As substitute land of the Futenma base, Japan and the United States should build the new base on Nozakijima island which is uninhabited, offshore from Hirado city, in Nagasaki prefecture rather than reclaim the foreshore from the sea at Henoko, Okinawa. The Japanese Government could build a long bridge from Hirado-city of Nagasaki prefecture to the Nozakijima Island.
The fact that the Abe Administration would be using Fukushima’s radioactive waste to reclaim land from the sea at Henoko, Okinawa should be dug into, and if confirmed exposed to world public attention.
I do not think US needs more irradiated US soldiers, having already those of Operation Tomodachi to deal with.
Source: Ryouichi Kawaguchi

December 9, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Long Active Fault

 

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.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161206_05/

December 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Fish and Shellfish Radiation Levels Drop”Announced”

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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.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161205/p2a/00m/0na/022000c

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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.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612060039.html

 

December 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment