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The Coronavirus Exposes Why the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Should Be Canceled

The Tokyo Olympics were already unsafe. Now, they’re even more so.

 

hhjmmùPeople walk across a pedestrian crossing near the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building adorned with signs promoting the 2020 Olympics.

March 4, 2020

Can anime become prophecy? The 1988 Japanese anime classic Akira predicted that Tokyo would host the 2020 Olympics. One scene featured a billboard reading “147 Days Until the Games”—directly beneath it someone scrawled in graffiti, “Just cancel it!” Here we are roughly 140 days ahead of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, and the cancellation—or postponement—of the Games is a real possibility, because of the emergence of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus.

As Stanford University professor Yvonne Maldonado put it, with the Olympics, “You bring a lot of people together, and then you ship them back all over the world: That’s the perfect way to transmit.” The infectious disease specialist added, “If you really want to disseminate a disease, that would be the way to do it.”

At least one member of the International Olympic Committee, Dick Pound of Canada, seems to agree. In an interview with the Associated Press, he set off alarm bells, stating that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) probably needs to decide whether to press ahead with the Tokyo Games by the end of May. “In and around that time, I’d say folks are going to have to ask: ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or not?’” Postponing the Games—an idea posed by Seiko Hashimoto, Japan’s Olympic minister this week—is now an open possibility, but also unrealistic, as doing so would interfere with the US college and NFL fall football schedule. Given the billions that NBC has plunged into the Olympics—the network forked over $4.4 billion in 2011 for broadcasting rights through 2020 and then a whopping $7.7 billion for the Games running through 2032—its insistence would almost certainly be that the Games must go on, short of a global pandemic.

In truth, though, the Games should have been canceled well ahead of the coronavirus outbreak, especially if Olympic organizers and their allies in Japan’s government cared about public health. Tokyo organizers have branded the Olympics the “Recovery Games,” replete with “recovery monuments” to honor the triple-whammy earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011. They even created a bizarre graphic (pictured below) that depicts a circle of appreciation, with “the disaster-affected areas” offering support for the Olympic athletes, which will “cheer up” the world. “The world,” in turn, will express gratitude, which will “cheer up” the disaster-affected areas. (The graphic was available on this website until today.)

hlùùùùGraphic of “the disaster-affected areas” that will “cheer up” the world, which was available on Tokyo 2020’s website until today.

 

This, of course, is pure-grade PR gibberish. We visited Fukushima in July 2019 and spoke with locals who were livid that Fukushima was being used as an Olympic prop. We saw “black pyramids” comprised of large plastic bags of radiation-drenched soil. We saw abandoned homes and businesses that surely could have used the billions that are being funneled into the Games—some $26 billion, according to a government audit, despite the fact that the original price tag for the Tokyo Olympics was $7.3 billion.

Instead of material support, Olympic honchos have offered Fukushima residents mere symbolism: The Olympic torch relay will kick off in Fukushima next month, despite the fact that Greenpeace recently uncovered radiation hot spots along the torch relay route. Olympic bigwigs have also scheduled baseball and softball games in Fukushima Prefecture. In short, the “Recovery Games” moniker amounts to a cruel joke. As Satoko Itani, a professor of sport, gender, and sexuality studies at Kansai University, told us, “This Olympics is literally taking the money, workers, and cranes away from the areas where they are needed most.”

The coronavirus may well benefit elected officials with an authoritarian streak, as public health crises can be a recipe for free-range autocracy. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has long demonstrated a “disturbing authoritarian pattern,” as Bloomberg News referred to it. And he has also shown an alarming capacity to lie to get what he wants. Shinzo Abe has been adamant that there is no need to postpone the Tokyo Games, but there’s a “prime minister who cried wolf” dynamic at play here. After all, back in 2013 when Tokyo was bidding on the Olympics, he told voting members of the IOC who were jittery about Fukushima that the situation was “under control” even though it clearly wasn’t. For many, when they hear Abe and other officials saying that the coronavirus will not affect the Olympics, they hear the resounding echo of previous empty promises.

It must be noted that even if they cancel the Tokyo Games, the damage has already been done. Everyday people have been displaced for Olympic facilities and that cannot be rolled back. Workers have set up infrastructure in Fukushima and their exposure to radiation has already taken place.

What about relocating the Games to a previous host? Shaun Bailey, a candidate running for mayor of London, suggested transferring the Olympics there, but many of the 2012 venues are gone and residents are now living in the apartments that previously made up the Olympic Village. Rio, host of the 2016 Olympics is an obvious no-go, with venues in various states of dilapidation and the country mired in a right-wing hatescape that does not even vaguely chime with the lofty principles enshrined in the Olympic Charter. And cariocas—Rio’s residents—have little interest in the Olympics’ returning to town. The IOC left a bitter taste in Rio, when it said it was unwilling to help them pay off a few bills left in the Games’ wake.

As for the economic damage that canceling the Olympics could do to Japan, one could argue that the harm has been done. In addition to the displacements, the Olympics have already granted huge giveaways of land to the developers who are building the Athletes Village and that will not change because of a virus—or even a cancellation. The writing is on the wall: There is ample reason to cancel these Olympics for the good of Japan. The coronavirus only lays those reasons bare.

https://www.thenation.com/article/society/coronavirus-tokyo-2020-olympics/

March 5, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Aoki, Ito and Nakamura: “Radioactive Hotspots along Olympic Torch Relay Route

Kazumasa Aoki: Vice President, Radioactivity Monitoring Center for Citizen / Nobuyoshi Ito: Iitate Village Resident / Jun Nakamura: Co-Chairman, Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project

Thanks to FCCJ for this interview and also for restoring bilingual format.   Thanks also for an excellent translation by Mary Joyce, whose contribution is often unmentioned.  Although the Covid-19 and Fukushima disaster appear  unrelated, I see parallel relationship.   Abe’s Japanese government tends to hide the truth as if the politicians believe in the three monkeys carved in Nikko Shrine.   See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil.   The government’s reluctance to measure and publish the soil contamination at Fukushima is analogous to that of their reluctance to conduct PCR test to grasp the real spread of the corona virus.  I used to use a term “Okami to Hitsuji (sheep)”  to describe the relationship between Japanese government and the docile citizens.  Making a reference to the above observations, however, it is more like “Okami to Hatsuka Nezumi (white mice)”   because people are used as a subject of a massive  Bio-Medical experiments.  I do not know any other countries, in which the government can get away with their misconducts of this magnitude. However, I see some hope by listening to the three gentlemen who gave the interview.  They speak the facts in much better Japanese  than the  average Japanese politicians.  Thanks again to FCCJ to shed a light on the  news, which would be buried otherwise.

March 5, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

As If Nothing Had Occurred: Anti-Tokyo Olympics Protests and Concern Over Radiation Exposure

March 1, 2020

Akihiro Ogawa

Abstract: This paper argues the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has raised people’s awareness of concerns over radiation exposure as a form of social movement. One example is the Shinjuku demonstration, organized by the Network to Evacuate People from Radiation, which constantly advocates for protecting children from continuing radiation exposure. The group raised the issue that Olympic torch would pass through municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture where several high-level radiation hot spots are confirmed. Furthermore, concerns over radiation exposure have been also generating a grassroots movement to create the Chernobyl Law in Japan. This paper documents the emerging movement across the country, led by the Citizens’ Action for Fukushima Justice.

 

The Shinjuku Demonstration

Anti-Olympic sentiment has been embedded in the ongoing anti-nuclear movements, particularly since the announcement that Tokyo won the bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics in September 2013.

Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo touched on the Fukushima problem in Tokyo’s final presentation for the Olympic bid in Buenos Aires, asserting that the government would never put Tokyo in harm’s way, stating, “[s]ome may have concerns about Fukushima. Let me assure you, the situation is under control. It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo” (Kantei 2013).

The Japanese government pressed home the message of using the Olympics as a force in its reconstruction efforts from the March 11 disaster.

“The Olympics preparations are proceeding as if nothing had occurred,” said Okada Toshiko, one of the leaders of the Shinjuku Demo. The rally has been organized by the Network to Evacuate People from Radiation (Datsu hibaku jitsugen netto) – a loose citizens’ network calling attention to potential radiation exposure.

Okada told me that “the Friday Demonstrations in Kantei-mae in front of the Prime Minister’s Office are only focused on one issue – objection to restarting nuclear power plants, continuously shouting ‘Don’t re-start nuclear power plants.’ That is important. However, I wanted to get more attention about protecting children from continuing radiation exposure.”

She added, “I am not protesting the Olympics itself. I am objecting to hosting the Olympics while hiding such radiation exposure.”

The Shinjuku Demonstration was initiated by members who supported the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial (Fukushima shūdan sokai saiban), which sued for the evacuation of children from Koriyama city, which had been deemed safe for habitation. On June 24, 2011, just three months after the March 11 disaster, 14 children at elementary schools and junior-high schools filed a lawsuit against Koriyama city, resorting to a court of law and demanding their right to study in a safe environment. The suit was filed against the city seeking an injunction against compulsory education activities in a radiation-contaminated environment of over 1 millisieverts (mSv) per year. The Koriyama Branch of the Fukushima District Court, however, dismissed the case on December 16, 2011. As this decision was completely unacceptable, the plaintiffs (the representatives of the 14 children) filed a formal objection at the end of 2011 before the Sendai High Court. On April 24, 2013, the Sendai High Court ruled to reject an appeal. The plaintiffs’ lawsuit argued that Koriyama city had the legal responsibility to evacuate the elementary- and junior-high-school students. Meanwhile, the court acknowledged that radiation in Koriyama city exceeded levels deemed safe prior to the disaster, but that the government shouldered no responsibility for evacuating the schools as demanded, in effect, telling people to leave at their own discretion if they were worried. However, voluntary evacuees from outside the evacuation area were not statistically classified as evacuees and were not covered by the victim support system.

The Network to Evacuate People from Radiation organized the first demonstration in February 2013 in Shinjuku and has repeated it twice a year since then. At the 13th rally, on November 9, 2019, demonstrators once again declared their concern regarding radiation exposure. The main message of the demonstration flyer (see Figure 1) is that the demonstrators will not allow the government to act as if no severe nuclear accident had occurred, and that there are ineradicable realities and violations of human rights caused by the Fukushima disaster.

 

Ogawa1Figure 1: Flyer for Shinjuku Demo on November 9, 2019

© Network to Evacuate People from Radiation (Datsu hibaku jitsugen netto) and Tetsuya Chiba

One participant protesting against the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, claimed that it was horrible that according to the current plan, the Olympic torch will pass through municipalities on the national route 6, that were heavily affected by the March 11 disaster. Those are areas in which several high-level radiation hot spots are confirmed and are designated as difficult-to-return zones (kikan konnan kuiki) by the national government. When passing through the area, cars are not even allowed to open the windows. She pointed out that despite this, the torch relay will be run by local junior and senior high school students. Furthermore, she objected to an optimistic comment aired by the state-run NHK television that people living near national route 6 wanted the world to know about Fukushima’s recovery as the children run the torch relay.

In late June 2019, I visited Hamadori, the coastal area in eastern Fukushima Prefecture where the torch relay is planned. I dropped by J-Village, a soccer-training center used as an emergency response hub for Fukushima plant workers. It was fully reopened on April 20, 2019 for the first time in eight years. This place will be the starting point for the relay on March 26, 2020 that will also pass through Okuma, a host town of the nuclear plant, where the government lifted an evacuation order on April 10, 2019. The lifting of the evacuation order at the stroke of midnight was the first of its kind for a host town of the nuclear plant, which straddles the towns of Okuma and Futaba. Meanwhile, Fukushima city, which is just 50 kms away from the ruins of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, will host Olympic baseball and softball competitions.

I had the impression that the area was far from recovery, however. The radiation dosimeter in the parking lot at J-Village read 0.120 microsieverts (µSv) per hour (see Figure 2). This figure was indeed under 0.23 µSv per hour, the official Japanese government’s decontamination threshold. However, during my fieldwork, I found that people do not trust the measurement, saying that the official measurements need to be treated with caution since the authorities have a vested interest in downplaying radiation dose levels. In fact, in December 2019, Greenpeace Japan revealed that the radiation levels around J-Village Stadium were as high as 71 µSv per hour at surface level. This is 1,775 times higher than the 0.04 µSv per hour prior to the Fukushima Daiichi triple reactor meltdown in 2011. These facts had never been released by the government (Greenpeace 2019).

 

Ogawa2Figure 2: Radiation dosimeter at J-Village, a photo taken by the author, June 24, 2019

Greenpeace Japan sent a letter to Japan’s Environmental Minister Koizumi Shinjiro, demanding immediate decontamination measures and an assurance that the public will not be exposed to radiation hot spots during the Olympics and Paralympics events at J-Village. At about the same time, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) Germany (IPPNW Germany 2019), issued a statement on the radiation risk, arguing that the Olympic Games should not be used to distract from the fate of the people affected by the reactor meltdown but rather to make sure their needs, worries, and demands are properly addressed. They are trying to do just that with their campaign “Tokyo 2020 – The Radioactive Olympics.” Dr. Alex Rosen, chairman of the German IPPNW, explained in the press release: “We are concerned about the health consequences of radioactive contamination, especially for people with increased vulnerability toward radiation, such as pregnant women and children.” (IPPNW European Affiliates 2019)

 

Toward Creating a “Chernobyl Law” in Japan

Social movements in Japan have entered a new phase since 2011 following the March 11 disaster (Ogawa 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018, forthcoming [2020a]). Social movements are change-orientated political formations, and I have been also observing that people are becoming more strategic in their efforts to drive social change. Instead of just protesting the government’s nuclear policy, or demanding that the government abandon nuclear power plants, ordinary citizens are taking specific actions to change their lives. One example is a grassroots initiative across Japan constructing renewable energy or mostly solar panels as it is relatively easy to set up the panels (see Ogawa forthcoming [2020b]). People have started building self-sufficient, sustainable lives by their own efforts.

I have also observed another initiative to make change, a social movement organized by the Citizens’ Action for Fukushima Justice, in co-ordination with the Network to Evacuate People from Radiation. Citizens who are concerned about radiation exposure have focused their efforts on the eventual creation of a Japanese version of the “Chernobyl Law.” The Chernobyl Law was promulgated in 1991, five years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, by three republics of the former Soviet Union – Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus – to help the people affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. It was aimed at protecting the lives and health of citizens affected by radiation exposure, and indeed was the first law in the world that explicitly covered the universal human right to life of people affected by a radiation disaster. This law guaranteed the right to evacuation for the residents living in the areas contaminated by radiation, while providing social security to the people living in the areas to which the evacuation orders were issued. Under the Chernobyl Law, areas in which the amount of contamination is more than 1 millisievert per year were designated as areas covered by the right of relocation. It included help with finding a job, accommodation, medical treatment, and securing food supplies. Meanwhile, the Japanese government raised the dose limit for radiation exposure from 1 millisievert to 20 millisievert per year after the Fukushima disaster on April 19, 2011 (MEXT 2011), and the government still maintains the same standard.

Yanagihara Toshio, a lawyer who previously represented the plaintiffs at the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial, has been leading this Japanese effort to enact the “Chernobyl Law in Japan.” Yanagihara told me that the Tokyo Olympics would be a great chance to raise awareness of concerns over radiation exposure. He even expects that pressures or criticism over radiation exposure by foreign countries might be effective in Japan. “The Tokyo Olympics would be a stepping-stone where everyone realizes the necessity of the Chernobyl Law in Japan, as the Seoul Olympics paved the way to building democracy in South Korea.”

As the first step to institutionalize the Chernobyl Law in Japan, Yanagihara and other members proposed the creation of a series of local ordinances on the rights to evacuation across the country. He refers to the previous experience of grassroots support for the national Information Disclosure Law. This law was a product of the cumulative efforts made by the citizens across the country – they requested their municipal and prefectural governments to create a local ordinance on information disclosure, members of the councils discussed the request, and then enacted the local ordinances promoting freedom of information. Originally, this started in 1982 in Kanayama-machi, a small rural town in Yamagata Prefecture, and then spread in 1983 to Saitama and Kanagawa Prefectures. Other prefectures and municipalities soon followed suit. This citizens’ movement eventually led to the promulgation of the Information Disclosure Law at the national level in 1999 that was enacted in April 2001.

The Citizens’ Action for Fukushima Justice prepared the template for a draft proposal of a local ordinance, which people can use as a model.

Chernobyl Law in Japan (excerpt)

Preamble: The State cannot escape liability unconditionally for a radiological disaster.
The State assumes responsibility not only for compensating for the damage suffered by the radiation disaster but also for fulfilling people’s right to relocation. As a result, due to the enforcement of this ordinance, we claim that the expenses expended by the municipality of [subject to insert the name here] should originally be borne by the government, and the government has a duty to amend the law.

Article 1 (Purpose): The purpose is to protect the lives, health, and livelihood of citizens from nuclear accidents and radiation disasters.

Article 2 (Principal): The municipality of [subject to insert the name here] guarantees the right of relocation, the right to evacuation, and the right to sound health of the victims of the nuclear accident.

Article 5 (Consideration for vulnerable people): Care must be taken to protect the lives and health of radiologically sensitive fetuses and children.

Article 8 (Classification of radioactively contaminated areas): Areas with an annual additional exposure of 0.5 msv/year or more are defined as areas with enhanced radiation management. Areas with an annual additional exposure of 1 msv/year or more are designated as relocation-rights areas.

Article 11 (Right to choose relocation): If people in a contaminated area chose to relocate or evacuate, the rights guaranteed these residents by the municipality include payment of moving expenses, housing compensation, and employment support at the relocation destination; loss compensation for real estate, household goods, and products (including marine products) from the original relocation source; free medical supplies, 70% coverage of medical examination and recuperation expenses, issuance of a victim’s notebook, and pension benefits.

Article 12 (Right to choose to remain): If people choose to remain and not evacuate, the municipality guarantees free medical treatment, free medical supplies, 70% coverage of medical examinations and recuperation expenses, compensation for loss of contaminated products (including seafood), issuance of a victim’s notebook, and pension benefits. The article also requires the municipality to establish a radioactive food control section to inspect radioactive food and tap water for contamination in order to prevent unnecessary radiation exposure.

Some local initiatives calling for the creation of a Japanese Chernobyl Law have actually started. Ise city, Mie Prefecture in central Japan, was the first city to take such a step. Ueno Masami, director of the Fukushima-Iseshima Association (https://fukushima-iseshima.jimdofree.com/), an NPO group supporting recuperation for children from Fukushima, put out a call for co-operation on July 8, 2017 on the group’s website to enact a Japanese Chernobyl Law. The call was originally in Japanese, and an English version is available here on their website.

Ueno and her group campaigned for a local ordinance that protects the health and safety of people from radiation exposure. In August 2019, the group started taking action and they got approval from the mayor of Ise city to bring the issue to the council. However, in order to make it actually happen, the group needed to increase the number of municipal council members who agree or collect a certain number of signatures (or 1/50th of the municipal population of 18+ years) in a designated period (one month) to bring the agenda to the municipal assembly to formally discuss. The group chose the latter method, but only collected 64 percent of the required numbers during the one-month period and their bid was not successful. This seemed primarily due to insufficient preparation, and the group did not get enough attention. Undeterred, they will begin collecting signatures again in March 2020.

As of January 2020, discussions have also started in some local municipalities such as Chofu (Tokyo), Koriyama (Fukushima), and Kiyose (Tokyo). As we come closer to the date of the Tokyo Olympics, we need to keep an eye on the developments in these municipalities regarding local campaigns for a Japanese Chernobyl Law. Updates will be available at the Citizens’ Action for Fukushima Justice website.

 

 

 

References

Greenpeace Japan 2019. High-level radiation hot spots found at J-Village, the starting point of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay. Last accessed on January 28, 2020

IPPNW Germany. 2019. Doctors’ prescription for the Tokyo Olympics. Last accessed on January 28, 2020

IPPNW European Affiliates. 2019. Tokyo 2020 – The Radioactive Olympics. Last accessed on January 28, 2020

Kantei (Prime Minister’s Office of Japan) 2013. A Script of Prime Minister Abe’s September 2013 Speech to the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires. Last accessed on January 28, 2020

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). 2011. 福島県内の学校の校舎・校庭等の利用判断における暫定的考え方について [On a provisional idea about the usage of school buildings and grounds in Fukushima Prefecture]. Last accessed on January 28, 2020

Ogawa, Akihiro. 2013. Young Precariat at the Forefront: Anti-Nuclear Rallies in Post-Fukushima Japan. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 14(2): 317–326.

Ogawa, Akihiro. 2014. The Right to Evacuation: The Self-Determined Future of Post-Fukushima Japan. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 15(4): 648–658.

Ogawa, Akihiro. 2016. Japan’s Awakening Protest Movement. Invited article by the Asian Studies Association of Australia.

Ogawa, Akihiro. 2018. Security Paradigms and Social Movements: The Changing Nature of Japanese Peace Activism. Asian Journal of Social Science 46(6): 725–747

Ogawa, Akihiro. Forthcoming [2020a]. フクシマ発で核を考える:国境を越えて連帯する「反核世界社会フォーラム」. 後藤康夫, 後藤宣代編 『21世紀の新しい社会運動とフクシマ 』東京:八朔社 [Thinking about the nuclear from Fukushima: anti-nuclear world social forums which connect people beyond national boarders. In New social movements in the 21st Century and Fukushima, Yasuo Goto and Nobuyo Goto, eds. Tokyo: Hassakusha]

Ogawa, Akihiro. Forthcoming [2020b]. “Community Power”: Renewable Energy Policy and Production in Post Fukushima Japan. In New Frontiers in Japanese Studies. Akihiro Ogawa and Philip Seaton, eds. London; New York: Routledge.

https://apjjf.org/2020/5/Ogawa.html

March 2, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Releasing radioactive water would further damage Fukushima’s reputation

n-sato-a-20200226-870x580Fukushima’s fishing industry was one of the prefecture’s hardest-hit sectors following the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

Feb 25, 2020

Releasing the treated radioactive water stored at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant risks further damage to the disaster-hit prefecture’s reputation and negates the nine-year effort to dispel negative perceptions about local agricultural produce, fisheries and tourism.

Although the government is considering dumping the water into the ocean, it should find a different solution and listen to the concerns of the people of Fukushima and local industries.

As the governor of Fukushima Prefecture between 2006 and 2014, I had my work cut out for me after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in March 2011.

Some of my main challenges after the disaster were securing the safety of the residents, ensuring they had access to evacuation shelters, managing the whereabouts of 160,000 evacuees scattered in and out of the prefecture and deciding on the site for interim storage of the soil and waste generated by the decontamination effort.

Determining the site was very difficult, but in the end the towns of Okuma and Futaba, which co-host the crippled nuclear power plant, honorably made the agonizing decision to accommodate it on condition that the tainted waste would be moved to a final disposal site outside of Fukushima within 30 years after the storage began.

During my term, I visited South Korea and China in 2012 to explain to local media using scientific facts that Fukushima produce is safe. I also helped arrange for several national and international conferences to be held in Fukushima Prefecture, based on the belief that coming to the prefecture and trying the local food was the best way to reassure guests that the area was safe and secure.

In December 2012, I lured an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting to the prefecture. Hundreds of nuclear specialists, ministers and other dignitaries from around the world gathered to share the lessons from the nuclear disaster and discuss the need to reinforce nuclear safety.

Today, nearly a decade after the disaster, Fukushima’s reputation is recovering — but only to a limited extent.

Although the government has prioritized ensuring security based on scientific facts, the public sense of security has yet to be restored.

Notwithstanding the central and prefectural government’s message about safety from radiation, local produce still carries cheaper price tags than those from other prefectures and the number of school trips to Fukushima has not bounced back to pre-disaster levels.

The fishing industry along the eastern coast, which the nuclear power plant faces, has taken one of the biggest hits from the negative perception of Fukushima. The prices of fish caught off the prefecture are extremely low when they are brought to Tokyo.

Fukushima is one of the major rice producers in Japan. After the disaster, officials began to check all of the prefecture’s annual output of around 10 million bags of rice for radioactive materials. The blanket testing takes a lot of effort. Even though the inspection confirms the products’ safety, they are cheaper just because they come from Fukushima.

I heard that farmers in the western region of Aizu — one of the main rice producers in the prefecture — asked the agricultural cooperative to use Aizu labels, rather than those of Fukushima, to avoid stigma. The neighborhood is located more than 100 kilometers from the area that hosts the power plant.

According to the Consumer Affairs Agency, the share of people in Tokyo and other metropolitan areas who said they hesitate to buy food products from Fukushima due to radiation contamination fears was 12.5 percent in February 2019.

The stigma from the nuclear disaster has beleaguered tourism in Aizu, which is finally showing signs of recovery. Because the name of the Fukushima nuclear power plant contains Fukushima, it gives the inevitable impression that the entire prefecture is contaminated with radiation.

Discharging water containing radioactive tritium — which cannot be removed by the current filtering technology — into the environment would only exacerbate these problems. Even though the government insists that releasing the water into the ocean is safe, some in Japan and abroad have yet to change their perceptions of Fukushima.

Gaining the understanding of local residents about the release method would be difficult. Rice farmers, for example, have suffered ever since the disaster. Their prime Koshihikari brand of rice, which was the nation’s second-most popular after Niigata’s before the disaster, used to sell out quickly.

Fukushima is a few more steps away from convincing consumers that its agriculture, forestry and fisheries products are safe and secure, so I want the government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to prioritize the opinions of people in these key industries when discussing the issue of releasing the water.

When I was governor, the government and Tepco started to curb the amount of water being tainted with radioactive particles because the storage tanks, which could hold 1,000 tons of water each, filled up in just two days.

Doing so required preventing groundwater from flowing into the reactor buildings. We set up an impermeable wall of frozen soil around the reactor buildings to stem the flow of groundwater into the area, but this method did not work well at first.

So we used other approaches to divert groundwater away from the reactors. The combination of the methods reduced water flowing into the buildings from 450 tons to 130 tons a day.

But now the tanks are nearing their capacity, with Tepco estimating that they will reach that point by around the summer of 2022.

I understand that we cannot keep building storage tanks for the water. There is a limit to their capacity.

However, this dilemma calls for pooling scientific and other expertise from around the world to explore potential solutions, while building trust with local residents.

Tepco, which created the problem, and the government should take on the bulk of that task.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/02/25/national/social-issues/fukushima-radioactive-water-damage/#.XlYmt0pCeUk

February 27, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima ‘safe’ to host Olympic torch relay: governor

jlmmmFukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori speaks to foreign media on Feb. 18, 2020, in Tokyo

February 19, 2020

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori said Tuesday the northeastern Japan prefecture, devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, is safe to host its leg of the Olympic torch relay.

With the Japanese government designating the upcoming Tokyo Games as “Reconstruction Olympics,” the torch relay in the country will kick off on March 26 at J-Village, a football training center in the prefecture that was once an operational base for dealing with the nuclear crisis. Opening matches for Olympic baseball and softball will be played in Fukushima city as well.

“Through this ‘Reconstruction Olympics,’ we would like to show how Fukushima’s reconstruction has progressed in the past nine years as the result of efforts in cooperation with the Japanese government,” the governor told a press briefing in Tokyo.

Holding the Olympic events “doesn’t mean the reconstruction has finished,” he said, adding the prefecture also suffered damage from Typhoon Hagibis, which left a trail of destruction across wide areas of Japan last fall.

The quake and tsunami disasters in northeastern Japan left more than 15,000 people dead and triggered the world’s worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl crisis. Typhoon Hagibis in October caused massive floods in Fukushima.

The safety of the torch relay route has been confirmed through constant radiation monitoring, among other measures, Uchibori said.

Late last year, Greenpeace Japan informed the Japanese government and Olympic bodies that radiation hot spots were discovered around J-Village, prompting Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, to remove the soil in the affected areas.

In the town of Naraha, one of the municipalities hosting J-Village, only about half of the residents have returned after the evacuation, according to Uchibori.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200219/p2g/00m/0na/024000c

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Will the 2020 Tokyo Radioactive Olympics be cancelled as well?

“You’d think by now everyone would have realized there aren’t going to be any Olympic games this year given that qualifying matches are not being held, visitors to and from Japan are already being blocked, and even events in Europe are being cancelled through April. Predicted in January they’d realize between Feb 14 and March 1 that it would have to be delayed. Unless math and the viral dna change… not likely.
 
Running a torch relay through Fukushima Prefecture says “we give zero actual Fs” about anyone’s “health”. Appearance is EVERYTHING.”
(Credits to Bruce Brinkman, reporting from Tokyo)

List of sports events affected by the coronavirus outbreak

10325401_10204102291517461_1178696755673550066_nMeme made by Christian Roy and Hervé Courtois in 2013

 

List of sports events affected by the coronavirus outbreak

February 18, 2020

ATHLETICS

World indoor championships in Nanjing from March 13-15 postponed to March 2021.

Hong Kong Marathon on Feb. 9 cancelled.

Asian indoor championships in Hangzhou from Feb. 12-13 cancelled.

Tokyo Marathon on March 1: Restricted to elite runners.

AUTO RACING

Formula One’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 postponed. New date not set.

Formula E’s Sanya E-Prix in Sanya on March 21 cancelled.

BADMINTON

China Masters in Hainan from Feb. 25-March 1 postponed. New dates not set.

Asian team championships in Manila from Feb. 11-16: China and Hong Kong withdrew.

BASKETBALL

Women’s Olympic qualifying tournament moved from Foshan to Belgrade, Serbia from Feb. 6-9.

Asia Cup qualifiers postponed: Philippines vs. Thailand on Feb. 20; Japan vs. China on Feb. 21, China vs. Malaysia on Feb. 24. Matches scheduled for Hong Kong moved to opponents’ homes.

BIATHLON

Olympic test event in Zhangjiakou from Feb. 27-March 2 cancelled.

BOXING

Asia-Oceania Olympic qualifier moved from Wuhan to Amman, Jordan from March 3-11.

SPORT CLIMBING

Asian Championships in Chongqing from April 25-May 3 to be relocated.

World Cup in Wujiang from April 18-19 cancelled.

World Cup in Chongqing on April 22 cancelled.

EQUESTRIAN

Hong Kong showjumping leg of Longines Masters Series from Feb. 14-16 cancelled.

FIELD HOCKEY

Hockey Pro League matches between China and Belgium on Feb. 8-9 and Australia on March 14-15 postponed.

India women’s tour of China from March 14-25 cancelled.

Ireland women’s tour of Malaysia in March-April cancelled.

GOLF

US LPGA Tour

Honda LPGA Thailand in Pattaya from Feb. 20-23 cancelled.

HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore from Feb. 27-March 1 cancelled.

Blue Bay LPGA on Hainan Island from March 5-8 cancelled.

European Tour

Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from April 16-19 postponed.

China Open in Shenzhen from April 23-26 postponed.

GYMNASTICS

Artistic World Cup in Melbourne, Australia from Feb. 20-23: China team withdrew.

HANDBALL

Olympic women’s qualifying tournament in Montenegro from March 20-22: China withdrew. Hong Kong declined invitation to attend.

ICE HOCKEY

Chinese clubs in Supreme Hockey League playing home games in Russia.

Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia in Manila, Philippines, from Feb. 23-28 cancelled.

JUDO

Paris Grand Slam on Feb. 8-9: China team withdrew.

Dusseldorf Grand Slam on Feb. 21-23: China team withdrew.

RUGBY

Hong Kong Sevens moved from April 3-5 to Oct. 16-18.

Singapore Sevens moved from April 11-12 to Oct. 10-11.

SAILING

Asian Nacra 17 Championship in Shanghai from March 1-6 moved to Genoa, Italy from April 12-19.

Asian 49erFX Championship in Hainan from March 20-29 moved to Genoa, Italy from April 12-19.

SKIING

Alpine World Cup in Yanqing from Feb. 15-16 cancelled.

SOCCER

Asian Champions League: Matches involving Chinese clubs Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua, and Shanghai SIPG postponed to April-May. Beijing FC allowed to play from Feb. 18.

Asian women’s Olympic qualifying Group B tournament relocated from Wuhan to Sydney from Feb. 3-13. China vs. South Korea playoff on March 11 moved from China to Malaysia.

AFC Cup: All group stage and playoff matches in east zone delayed to April 7.

Chinese Super League, due to start Feb. 22, delayed.

Asian men’s futsal championship in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan from Feb. 26-March 8 postponed.

SWIMMING

Asian water polo championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan from Feb. 12-16 cancelled.

Diving Grand Prix in Madrid from Feb. 14-16: China team withdrew.

Diving world series event in Beijing from March 7-9 cancelled.

TENNIS

Fed Cup Asia-Oceania Group I tournament moved from Dongguan to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from March 3-7.

VOLLEYBALL

Beach volleyball World Cup in Yangzhou from April 22-26 postponed.

WEIGHTLIFTING

Asian Championships from April 18-25 moved from Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan to Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

WRESTLING

Asian Championships in New Delhi from Feb. 20-23: China, North Korea, Turkmenistan teams withdrew.

OTHERS

Chinese Anti-Doping Agency suspended testing from Feb. 3.

Winter X Games events in Chongli from Feb. 21-23 postponed.

Singapore athlete of the year awards on Feb. 26 postponed.

World Chess Federation’s presidential council meeting moved from China to United Arab Emirates on Feb. 28-29.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Para Games in the Philippines from March 20-28 postponed. New dates not set.

XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championships (offroad triathlon, duathlon) in Taiwan from March 28-29 cancelled.

Snooker’s China Open from March 30-April 5 cancelled.

SportAccord summit in Beijing from April 19-24 cancelled. New site to be determined.

Singapore bans spectators at National School Games from January-August.

University Athletic Association of the Philippines postponed all sports events.

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/article240385126.html

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Tokyo protesting against South Korea’s Tokyo 2020 radioactive Olympics posters

South Korea is definitely right in calling out this shit. No amount of lies and cover ups can bury the truth: 2020 Tokyo Olympics are the radioactive Olympics. Despite the past years gigantic PR campaign to whitewash the still ongoing Fukushima nuclear disater and all its radiation harmful consequences, claiming that all is under control, totally safe, back to normalcy, back to business. Hell no!

So, the multi-billion-dollar propaganda machine of TEPCO and the Japanese Govt is calling out South Korea for creating propaganda against their own propaganda. Again, like always, there is only one truth: radiation kills.

This time, the truth is that Olympians will get high doses of rads that are on the ground in Tokyo, in Fukushima Prefecture, and in every neighboring prefectures all the way down from Fukushima to Tokyo.

There are hot spots all over Eastern Japan. So many of these hotspots have been well documented by folks like you and me, as Japanese citizens had to organized themselves and learned to protect themselves by mapping the radiation present in their living environment, due to the massive campaign of denial of their government  prioritizing economics expediency over people’s health.

South-Korea-Anti-Japan-Propaganda-2020-Tokyo-Olympics-003-e1579737827651-1024x509VANK put up the posters on the walls of the new Japanese embassy on Jan. 6 before uploading images of the posters on social media. (image: VANK)

Japan’s Top Government Spokesman Protests Against Nuclear Safety Poster
 
SEOUL, Feb. 14 (Korea Bizwire) — The Japanese government has expressed frustration over a poster designed by the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK), a Korean civic group, that questions the safety of Japan’s nuclear management prior to the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“It is not real. It shouldn’t happen,” said Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, when asked about the poster at a regularly scheduled press conference on Thursday.
“The Japanese government is mobilizing all means possible to strongly protest against such conduct.”
It is the first time that Japan’s top government spokesman revealed the government’s position on this issue by answering a question at a regular press conference.
VANK created the poster last month to raise the issue of nuclear safety following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster as the Tokyo Olympics is now just around the corner.
In the poster, the Olympic torch is depicted as carrying a radioactive material.
VANK put up the posters on the walls of the new Japanese embassy on Jan. 6 before uploading images of the posters on social media.
In response, Japan reportedly notified the South Korean government of its concern, describing the poster as intending to ‘mock’ the Olympics as well as the disaster.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to use the Olympics as a chance to publicize the government’s efforts to overcome the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.
As a part of its initiative, the 121-day Olympic torch relay in Japan will start at J-Village, a training facility for the Japanese National Football Team and former headquarters of the Fukushima Disaster Relief on March 26.
Kevin Lee (kevinlee@koreabizwire.com)
 
Suga blasts S. Korean poster of torch bearer in protective suit
 
February 14, 2020
Posters in South Korea of Tokyo Olympic torch bearers wearing anti-radiation protective suits drew a strong rebuke from Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
“The reality is totally different,” Suga said at a news conference on Feb. 13. “We can never overlook the issue.”
The Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK), a private group in South Korea, created several posters depicting torch bearers wearing protective suits and the words “Tokyo 2020.” VANK posted them on its Facebook page in early January.
On its Facebook page, VANK said it created the posters to warn against radiation in Japan, apparently referring to the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant triggered by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
“We included messages of warning about the safety of radiation, the biggest concern during the Tokyo Olympics,” the group said. “Host country Japan said agricultural products from Fukushima Prefecture are safe and announced that it will provide them for Olympic athletes.”
According to VANK’s website, the group was founded in 1999 to “properly convey South Korea to the world through the internet.”
The group opposes Japan’s use of the “kyokujitsuki” (rising sun) flag to cheer on athletes at the Games.
The Liberal Democratic Party’s Fukushima prefectural chapter slammed the posters for “fostering groundless negative publicity.”
On Feb. 12, officials of the chapter urged Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto to proactively convey accurate information about Fukushima Prefecture’s reconstruction to the international community.
(This article was written by Ryutaro Abe in Tokyo and Takuya Suzuki in Seoul.)

February 18, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Young woman leads revival of Fukushima’s fishing industry

When economic considerations take precedence over radioactive contamination and people’s health…

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February 9, 2020
FUKUSHIMA: A courageous young graduate recently crowdfunded 3 million yen to help revive Fukushima’s sagging fishing industry.
The fishermen at the Iwaki market can put their money on Hiromi Sakaki, whom they can rely on as the manager of the Osakana Hiroba Hamasui (Fish Plaza Hamasui) shop, which she now jointly operates with them at Hisanohama.
The Japan News by Yomiuri Shimbun reported that Hiromi was given the honour of launching the shop, where she tied a ribbon around a monkfish.
Fukushima’s fishing industry was dealt a severe blow following a nuclear plant leak nine years ago.
Hiromi, 27, had moved to Iwaki from Aomori Prefecture in 2017, after the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, that caused a radioactive contamination leak from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants.
Hiromi Sakaki tying a ribbon around d a monkfish at the opening of an outlet jointly operated by her and local fishermen at the Iwaki market in Fukushima, Japan.
The radiation also affected farmers who are still reeling from huge losses.
“I want to sell delicious fish that people can buy only here, Although this is a port town, fishing here has been on the decline. So I started thinking about creating a place where children would aspire to become fishermen in the future,” said Hiromi, who had graduated from Saitama University, and whose shop sells fish like sea bass and flounder.
Hiromi first became familiar with the Fukushima fishermen after she became a volunteer to send used bicycles to Iwaki.
Her shop has a window where customers can see fish being processed.
“This is intended to help children get an idea about who caught the fish and what happens to bring them to the dining table.
“I intend to offer breakfast featuring fresh fish at the shop under the name “Ryoshi shokudo” (Fisherman’s diner) in the near future,” she said.
The city’s fisheries cooperative association revealed that there were seven fish markets and four fishery processing companies in Hisanohama before the disaster.
Now, there is only one fish retailer, which is a traveling market.
Fukushima’s fishing industry continues to face restrictions, but fishermen in the prefecture are allowed to operate on a trial basis under which they face limitations on the species the catch, fishing areas, and the number of days they can catch.

February 18, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima and the 2020 Olympics

by Shaun Burnie –  5 February 2020

As 2020 is the year the Olympics and Paralympics come to Japan, this is an exciting time for sports and for the people of Japan. Amidst all the excitement however, there is the ongoing nuclear crisis in Fukushima prefecture. Labeled as the ‘Reconstruction Olympics’, Prime Minister Abe in 2013 declared that the situation at Fukushima Daiichi was under control. Seven years later there still remains a nuclear emergency at the nuclear plant and surrounding areas. In addition to the enormous challenges of how to safely manage over 1 million tonnes of contaminated water at the site and as much as 880 tonnes of molten nuclear fuel for which there is no credible solution, there remain wider issues regarding radioactive contamination of the environment, its effect on workers and Fukushima citizens, including evacuees and their human rights.

01Greenpeace radiation survey team in Fukushima, Japan

 

These issues were the subject of a 28 January 2020 documentary

broadcast by the U.S. network HBO as an investigative report by the program ‘Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel ’, the U.S.’s most-honored sports journalism series (with 33 Sports Emmy Awards, including 19 for Outstanding Sports Journalism) during the opening episode of its 26th season. 

What does it mean to host the Olympics and Paralympics in the context of an ongoing nuclear disaster, the effects of which are still being felt by tens of thousands of Japanese citizens? What does it tell about the Japanese government and its commitment to respecting the values of transparency and the human rights of its citizens? These are some of the important questions raised by HBO and they warrant careful consideration in the months leading up to this year’s summer games.

02Greenpeace radiation survey team in Fukushima, Japan

 

Greenpeace Japan applauds Olympic values and spirit, while recognizing that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has the responsibility to ensure the Olympic Games have a minimum impact on the environment and leave a positive legacy for those hosting the Games. The IOC has an opportunity to do this in a way that fulfills the ideals of the environment as the third pillar of Olympism – sustainability – by making the Games a showcase for environmental solutions. Simultaneously, we recognize that hosting the Olympics and Paralympics requires the Japanese Government to ensure absolute safety for athletes, international visitors, and the Japanese public alike. 

The decision to host two sporting events in Fukushima city raises genuine and important questions over radiation risks. The route of the Olympic Torch relay in all the municipalities of Fukushima prefecture includes the districts of Iitate, Namie, and Okuma where Greenpeace Japan’s Nuclear Monitoring & Radiation Protection Team has discovered radioactive hotspots, both in the open areas as well as in the remaining radiation exclusion zones, that remain too high even by revised governmental standards. What does all this mean for the hosting of Olympic events, including for athletes and visitors?

03Greenpeace radiation survey team in Fukushima, Japan

 

By conducting extensive radiation investigations, Greenpeace Japan attempts to explain the complex radiological environment, where nothing is straightforward, and where judging precise risks to health at the individual level is near impossible. In an effort to better understand and explain the radiological situation in parts of Fukushima, as well as the ongoing issues of human rights for both Fukushima citizens and decontamination workers, Greenpeace Japan will be publishing its latest radiation survey results in early March 2020.

Shaun Burnie is Senior Nuclear Specialist at Greenpeace Germany.

https://www.greenpeace.org/international/story/28509/fukushima-and-the-2020-olympics/

February 6, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tokyo 2020 at real risk as China coronavirus truths come to light

People worry about the possible coronavirus and completely forget the Fukushima radiation present in Tokyo, especially the radioactive contamination of the food, which risk to affect in various mannersTokyo 2020 Olympics’ visitors and athletes health.
 
The 2020 Olympics would have never been attributed to Tokyo if not some paid bribery to the Olympics committee high ranking officials and the lies that Tokyo was safe by PM Abe who needed the Olympics coming so as to whitewash the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster to the face of the whole world.
 
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A man stands in front of a Tokyo 2020 poster created by artist Tomoko Konoike, one of 20 officially selected for the Olympics and Paralympics.
January 31, 2020
War has been the only reason to prevent previous modern Olympics but revelations over Wuhan outbreak pose problem
Qualifiers have already been moved outside of China but scale of movement around region and visitor numbers add layers
Human to human contact at the Games is unavoidable. The fans are packed in tight at stadiums, athletes come into contact in the sports and, as we know from the rise in condoms given out at the athletes village at every Olympics, often outside of sporting events. No wonder that the president of the German Olympic Sports Confederation, Alfons Hormann, has called the virus “the biggest risk” ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games. “This is a serious problem because no other part of life is so dependent on international exchange than sport,” he said in Frankfurt at a meeting. Hormann also called on “affected countries and international sport to do everything possible” to find a solution. He pointed to Zika, a mosquito-borne virus, that overshadowed the run-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics. In the end, Zika was of limited concern when Brazil hosted the Games but the potential for the Wuhan coronavirus is much worse. … Olympic boxing qualifiers have been moved from Wuhan to Amman, while the women’s AFC football event was first moved to Nanjing and then to Sydney. Meanwhile, the women’s basketball has been taken from Foshan to Belgrade. The move to Sydney for the women’s football had a deeper effect on the China team. They headed to Australia without star player Wang Shuang and starting midfielder Yao Wei. The pair are both from Wuhan and spent the Lunar New Year in the city visiting their families.
In the long history of the Olympics the Summer Games has been cancelled three times.
On each occasion since the Modern Olympics returned in 1896, it was because of war. The first world war accounted for 1916 and the second world war took out both the 1940 and 1944 Games and their sister Winter Games.
Now, as we near six months out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which run from July 24 to August 9 in the Japanese capital, it might be time to think that another one of the four horseman of the apocalypse – pestilence – could claim the next Games.
This is fuelled by revelations around the ongoing global spread of the deadly Wuhan coronavirus, fuelling fears of a global pandemic.
The first of those is a report published in the medical journal, The Lancet, on January 24. This study, written by researchers and doctors on the ground in Wuhan, suggests that what we all thought we knew might not be the case at all.
They are still understanding the virus and its origins. An article on Vox citing the findings reported in The Lancet suggests that the first patient was not only ill much earlier than previously published but that they had no contact with the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market that had been assumed to be the epicentre.
Who knows how many people have been carrying the virus and to where since its inception?
Add to that, the number of people from Wuhan who spent their Lunar New Year in Japan, a country whose largest visitor numbers come from Chinese tourists. That’s not to mention that Wuhan mayor Zhou Xianwang said some five million of the 11 million populace left the city during the festive period.
Zhou has also admitted that mistakes were made at the outset when it came to this virus, while Pulitzer winning journalist and virus expert Laurie Garrett pointed out that the virus “could have been controlled fairly easily” but “now it’s too late”.
We are yet to see the aftermath of the world’s largest annual human migration that is China’s Lunar New Year celebrations but it is sure to be a factor in the spread of the disease.
Human to human contact at the Games is unavoidable. The fans are packed in tight at stadiums, athletes come into contact in the sports and, as we know from the rise in condoms given out at the athletes village at every Olympics, often outside of sporting events.
No wonder that the president of the German Olympic Sports Confederation, Alfons Hormann, has called the virus “the biggest risk” ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games.
“This is a serious problem because no other part of life is so dependent on international exchange than sport,” he said in Frankfurt at a meeting.
Hormann also called on “affected countries and international sport to do everything possible” to find a solution.
He pointed to Zika, a mosquito-borne virus, that overshadowed the run-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics. In the end, Zika was of limited concern when Brazil hosted the Games but the potential for the Wuhan coronavirus is much worse.
Zhong Nanshan, the Chinese scientist who revealed the scale and severity of the Sars epidemic in 2002-03, believes the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic is likely to reach its peak in “a week or 10 days”. Hong Kong University’s predictions put the potential peak at either late April or early May.
It seems the one thing we do know is that no one yet trulyknows the scale and severity of this outbreak.
That and it is already having an effect.
Olympic boxing qualifiers have been moved from Wuhan to Amman, while the women’s AFC football event was first moved to Nanjing and then to Sydney. Meanwhile, the women’s basketball has been taken from Foshan to Belgrade.
The move to Sydney for the women’s football had a deeper effect on the China team. They
headed to Australia without star player Wang Shuang and starting midfielder Yao Wei. The pair are both from Wuhan and spent the Lunar New Year in the city visiting their families.
China need to finish in the top two of their group to advance to the final play-off and the silver medallists of 1996 would be better served with two of their best with them in Australia.
Other Chinese athletes might also miss out on qualifying.
The Asia wrestling qualifiers, which are scheduled for Xi’an from March 27-29, could yet be moved to “Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and South Korea,” according to International Wrestling Federation President Nenad Lalovic.
He also told AFP in the same interview that should the qualifying event move then Chinese wrestlers would need to be “in quarantine” in order for them to compete.
There are many more sporting events around the region to come before the Summer Games in Tokyo but as they drop the fear is that the biggest of them all is at real risk.

February 1, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s effort to downplay any #radioactive problems to health and safety and forge ahead with the Olympics

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By Laura Lynch
January 30, 2020
 Tokyo 2020 #OlympicGames In Japan’s effort to downplay any #radioactive problems to health and safety and forge ahead with the Olympics one must think they have proposed a new Olympic competition: 100 yard hurdles race over 1Ton bags of #NukeWaste
 
In Japanese they’re called フレコンバッグ, furecon bags, the first word being a contraction of flexible container stacked three/four levels high in hundreds of site in what locals apparently call “black pyramids”
 
The furecon bags are a defining feature of the #Fukushima landscape. They’re primarily used by the construction and demolition industry, though sadly they have become a symbol of the massive, ongoing intractable decontamination effort of the landscape around the #FukushimaDaiichi NPP

February 1, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Vladivostok customs stopped a radioactive Toyota Prius that arrived from Japan

information_items_7771The contaminated Toyota Prius will be shipped back to Japan. Picture: Vladivostok customs

January 23, 2020
 
There were 875 contaminated items sent back by Russia since 2011 Fukusima-1 nuclear power plant disaster.
 
The radiation-emitting Toyota Prius was detected at the territory of Vladivostok Sea Port.
 
The dangerous cargo was contaminated with beta-active radionuclides, said the city customs press secretary Asya Berezhaya.
 
The test showed radiation flux density ranging from 40 to 120 particles per square centimeter per minute.
 
The car will now be shipped back to Japan.
 
This is the first case in three years time of a radioactive vehicle arriving from Japan detected by Russian customs.
 
Overall Vladivostok customs reported 875 contaminated goods, including cars, that arrived from Japan since Fukusima-1 nuclear power plant disaster in 2011.
 
The last case shows that the consequences of the 2011 accident have not been completely eliminated, said head of radioactive department of Vladivostok customs Maksim Shesternin.
 
Beta radiation is a stream of electrons emitted at a velocity approaching the speed of light, with enough energy to enter human skin but not to pass through it.
 
Beta radiation can be stopped by a thin layer of aluminium or Persplex, according to Science Direct.
 

 

January 31, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan faces decision over contaminated Fukushima water

hglmThe dismantling of Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant continues in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Dec. 5, 2019.

 

January 21, 2020

OKUMA, Fukushima Prefecture—At the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant north of Tokyo, workers in protective suits are still removing radioactive material from reactors that melted down after an earthquake and tsunami knocked out its power and cooling nearly nine years ago.

On an exclusive tour of the plant, spread over 3.5 million square meters, Reuters witnessed giant remote-controlled cranes dismantling an exhaust tower and other structures in a highly radioactive zone while spent fuel was removed from a reactor.

Officials from Tokyo Electric, which owns the plant, also showed new tanks to hold increasing amounts of contaminated water.

About 4,000 workers are tackling the cleanup, many wearing protective gear, although more than 90 percent of the plant is deemed to have so little radioactivity that no extra precautions are needed. Photography was highly restricted and no conversations were allowed with the workers.

Work to dismantle the plant has taken nearly a decade so far, but with Tokyo due to host the Olympics this summer–including some events less than 60 kilometers from the power station–there has been renewed focus on safeguarding the venues.

TEPCO tries to disclose all information to the public as soon as possible. If something happens at the site, we let people know by email, for example,” said Kan Nihonyanagi, risk communicator at Fukushima, said in an interview at the site.

The buildup of contaminated water has been a sticking point in the cleanup, which is likely to last decades, and has alarmed neighboring countries. In 2018, TEPCO said it had not been able to remove all dangerous material from the water – and the site is running out of room for storage tanks.

Officials overseeing a panel of experts looking into the contaminated water issue said in December choices on disposal should be narrowed to two: either dilute the water and dump it in the Pacific Ocean, or allow it to evaporate.

The Japanese government may decide within months, and either process would take years to complete, experts say.

The Olympics are coming, so we have to prepare for that, and TEPCO has to disclose all the information not only to local communities but also to foreign countries and especially to those people coming from abroad,” said Joji Hara, a Tokyo-based spokesman for the power company who accompanied Reuters during the visit.

TEPCO has opened English-language Twitter and Facebook accounts, he said. It is also preparing to put out basic emergency information in Korean and Chinese, he added.

Athletes from at least one country, South Korea, are planning to bring their own radiation detectors and food this summer.

Baseball and softball will be played in Fukushima city, about 60 km from the destroyed nuclear plant. The torch relay will begin at a sports facility called J-Village, an operations base for Fukushima No. 1 in the first few years of the disaster, then pass through areas near the damaged station on its way to Tokyo.

In December, Greenpeace said it found radiation “hotspots” at J-Village, about 18 km south of the plant.

When Tokyo won the bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared that Fukushima was “under control” in his final pitch to the International Olympic Committee.

In 2016, the Japanese government estimated that the total cost of plant dismantlement, decontamination of affected areas, and compensation would be 21.5 trillion yen ($195 billion)–roughly a fifth of the country’s annual budget at the time.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ202001210037.html

 

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s Aeon aims to serve ‘eco-certified’ sushi in time for Olympics

‘Eco-certified’  my @ss, radiation contaminated sushi much more likely…. Lying lunatics!

0050b5d88f7306a71e63d89c1337ab5cA meat sushi plate is seen at Nikuzushi restaurant in Tokyo, Japan

January 21, 2020

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese supermarket chain Aeon Co Ltd, Asia’s biggest retailer by sales, said it aims to start selling eco-certified sushi this year amid growing demand for sustainable seafood and in time for an expected surge in tourists during the Tokyo Olympics.

Japan is one of the world’s biggest consumers of seafood. While its consumers are known for paying a premium for high-quality food products, and for setting global food trends, Japan has lagged behind Europe and the United States in adopting policies on traceability and sustainable fisheries.

“I would say awareness has really improved in recent years,” Kinzou Matsumoto, general manager in charge of Aeon’s seafood merchandising planning, said on Tuesday as the company unveiled an expansion of its eco-certified lineup of seafood to include oysters approved by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

“Right now, certified items make up around 15% of our entire seafood products. Ideally we want to bring it to around 20%,” he said, adding that it would soon have enough types of certified fish to assemble assorted sushi packs.

“We want to sell certified sushi to visitors coming to the Olympics, too… and that would have to be by June.”

The MSC said Aeon’s scale would help expand recognition for sustainable seafood among Japanese consumers, and encourage fisheries.

“A commitment from Aeon is critical in driving change,” said MSC’s Asia-Pacific regional director Patrick Caleo.

Japanese businesses including beer makers and hotels are making preparations to cater for record numbers of foreign visitors to Japan this summer as Tokyo hosts the Olympic Summer Games beginning in late July.

Kura Sushi, among Japan’s largest conveyer belt sushi chains, is opening its biggest branch this week – a store with 272 seats expected to draw 2,000 customers a day.

It forecasts that the number of foreigners visiting its restaurants in Tokyo to rise by about a third compared to a usual year.

Kura Sushi President Kunihiko Tanaka also defended the safety of seafood in Japan, including those from Fukushima, the site of the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Government data shows Fukushima seafood is “absolutely” safe, Tanaka said, adding that Kura Sushi planned to open a restaurant in Fukushima.

South Korea’s Olympic committee said in December that it plans to buy radiation detectors and ship homegrown ingredients to Japan for its athletes because of its concerns over food.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/japans-aeon-aims-serve-eco-085713242.html

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Forgetting Fukushima

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21st January 2020

By Jim Green – Nuclear Monitor

Irresponsible tactics are being used to bury social and environmental problems associated with the Fukushima nuclear disaster as Olympics approach in Japan.

Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe assured the International Olympic Committee in 2013 that “the situation is under control” in and around the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant.

Now, with the 2020 Summer Olympics approaching, and some events scheduled to be held in Fukushima prefecture, all sorts of irresponsible and cruel tactics are being used to bury a myriad of social and environmental problems associated with the nuclear disaster.

Most evacuation orders have been lifted around the Fukushima plant, but 337‒371 sq kms remain classified as restricted entry zones or ‘difficult to return’ zones. There are hopes that all remaining evacuation orders could be lifted within a few years.

Return

Lifting an evacuation order is one thing, returning the area to something resembling normality is quite another. Only 23 percent of those living in nine areas that were declared off-limits after the Fukushima disaster had returned as of March 2019, according to government figures.

Most people aged under 50 who used to live in the towns of Futaba, Namie and Tomioka have no plans to return, an official survey found in early 2019.

The partial lifting of evacuation orders in the town of Okuma in April 2019 illustrates how the rhetoric of progress masks inconvenient truths. Even after the lifting of the order, about 60 percent of the town’s land area ‒ covering 96.5 percent of the pre-Fukushima population ‒ remains off-limits.

A 2018 survey found that only 10 percent of respondents expressed a desire to return to Okuma, while 60 percent had no plans to return. Few people have returned since the evacuation order was lifted.

About 17 million cubic metres of contaminated waste material has accumulated during decontamination work according to the Japanese ministry of the environment. A new occupant in Okuma is a ‘temporary storage facility‘ for some of the contaminated waste.

Contamination

Decontamination work (outside of the Fukushima nuclear plant) has cost an estimated ¥2.9 trillion (US $26.5 billion). A report by the European Geosciences Union, based on approximately 60 scientific publications, gives this assessment of decontamination efforts.

“This synthesis indicates that removing the surface layer of the soil to a thickness of 5 cm, the main method used by the Japanese authorities to clean up cultivated land, has reduced cesium concentrations by about 80 percent in treated areas. Nevertheless, the removal of the uppermost part of the topsoil, which has proved effective in treating cultivated land, has cost the Japanese state about €24 billion.

“This technique generates a significant amount of waste, which is difficult to treat, to transport and to store for several decades in the vicinity of the power plant, a step that is necessary before it is shipped to final disposal sites located outside Fukushima prefecture by 2050. By early 2019, Fukushima’s decontamination efforts had generated about 20 million cubic metres of waste.

“Decontamination activities have mainly targeted agricultural landscapes and residential areas. The review points out that the forests have not been cleaned up ‒ because of the difficulty and very high costs that these operations would represent ‒ as they cover 75 percent of the surface area located within the radioactive fallout zone.

“These forests constitute a potential long-term reservoir of radiocesium, which can be redistributed across landscapes as a result of soil erosion, landslides and floods, particularly during typhoons that can affect the region between July and October.”

Health risks

Greenpeace coordinated a study in the exclusion zone and lifted evacuation areas of Namie and Iitate and published the results in March 2019. The study found high levels of radiation ‒ ranging from five to over 100 times higher than the internationally recommended maximum of 1 mSv/yr ‒ in both exclusion zones and in areas where evacuation orders have been lifted.

The Greenpeace report documents the extent of the government’s violation of international human rights conventions and guidelines, in particular for decontamination of workers and children (who are more vulnerable to radiation-related diseases than adults).

Associate Professor Tilman Ruff, an Australian public health expert and co-founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons gives a sense of the scale of the risk.

He states: “To provide a perspective on these risks, for a child born in Fukushima in 2011 who was exposed to a total of 100 mSv of additional radiation in its first five years of life, a level tolerated by current Japanese policy, the additional lifetime risk of cancer would be on the order of one in thirty, probably with a similar additional risk of premature cardiovascular death.”

Moreover, there is evidence of sinister behaviour to give artificially low indications of radiation levels, for example by placing monitoring posts in areas of low radiation and cleaning their surrounds to further lower the readings.

Risks

Maxime Polleri, a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at York University, wrote in The Diplomat: “In the end, state-sponsored monitoring and decontamination are remedial measures that manage the perception of radiation in the environment.

“However, this does not imply that radioactive contamination is gone – not at all. When we look at the official maps of radiation of northeastern Japan, levels are low, but there are many ways to make them appear low.”

Ryohei Kataoka from the Tokyo-based Citizens Nuclear Information Centre said: “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.”

The Japanese government is promoting next years’ Olympic Games as the “Reconstruction Olympics”. Hence the haste to lift evacuation orders and to skirt around the truth of residual contamination from radioactive Fukushima fallout and the health risks associated with that fallout.

And yet, despite the spin, a poll conducted in February 2019 found that 60 pecent of Fukushima region residents still felt anxious about radiation exposure.

Deflation

Approximately 165,000 people were forced to evacuate because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, in addition to an estimated 26,600 ‘voluntary evacuees’.

More than 30,000 of the involuntary evacuees are still unable to return. Those now in permanent accommodation have returned to their former homes (either willingly or because they had no choice), or resettled elsewhere, and some have purchased their previously temporary accommodation.

The number of evacuees has been artificially deflated. For example, the Japanese government’s Reconstruction Agency sent a notice to prefectures in August 2014 stating that only those people who moved to different places because of the nuclear disaster and have the “will” to return to their original homes will be counted as evacuees.

The notice said that if it is difficult to determine people’s will to return, they should not be counted as evacuees. Those who have purchased a home outside their pre-disaster locale, and those in public restoration housing or disaster public housing, are no longer counted as evacuees even if they want to return to their previous homes but can’t for various reasons.

An April 2019 Asahi Shimbun editorial said that the number of people who regard themselves as evacuees is believed to be far higher than the official figure of 40,000 ‒ but nobody knows the true figure.

Akira Imai, chief researcher of the Japan Research Institute for Local Government, told Asahi Shimbun: “This is an act to socially hide the real number of evacuees, which could lead to a cover-up of the seriousness of the incident. The evacuee number is an index that is used to consider measures to support evacuees. The current situation should be reflected properly in the numbers.”

Trauma

The typical experience of Fukushima evacuees has been a collapse of social networks, reduced income and reduced employment opportunities, endless uncertainty, and physical and mental ill-health.

A growing number of evacuees face further trauma arising from the end of housing subsidies, forcing them out of temporary accommodation and in some cases forcing them back to their original homes against their will.

Around 16,000 people who refuse to return to their original homes had been financially abandoned as of January 2019, according to the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center.

In addition to fiddling with the numbers to artificially deflate the number of evacuees, an increasingly hostile attitude is being adopted towards evacuees to pressure them to leave temporary accommodation and thereby to reduce the evacuee count. The reduction and cessation of housing subsidies is the main component of this problem.

Some years ago, the support structure was modest at best, and many evacuees fell through the cracks. Now, evacuees are being forced through the cracks to reduce expenditure and to create a sense of normality ahead of the ‘Reconstruction Olympics’.

Poverty

The human impact of government policies ‒ national and prefectural governments ‒ are detailed by Seto Daisaku from the Evacuation Cooperation Center. Some evacuees face a doubling of rental payments, some have been deemed “illegal occupants“, some face legal action to have them evicted.

National and local governments promote these policies as necessary to foster independence among evacuees, but as Seto Daisaku notes, “since their income in the places they have evacuated to has dropped precipitously, far from becoming independent they will fall deeper into poverty.”

The April 2019 Asahi Shimbun editorial noted: “After years of living away from home, many evacuees are also struggling with problems such as reduced incomes, the difficulties of finding jobs, deteriorating health and isolation.

“Some are suffering from poverty, anxiety about losing their housing due to the termination of public financial support and physical and mental illness. … The government’s response to the problem has been grossly insufficient.”

Rights

In an October 2018 report, United Nations Special Rapporteur Baskut Tuncak urged the Japanese government to halt the ongoing relocation of evacuees who are children and women of reproductive age to areas of Fukushima where radiation levels remain higher than what was considered safe or healthy before the nuclear disaster in 2011.

Tuncak said the Japanese government’s decision to raise by 20 times what it considered to be an acceptable level of radiation exposure was deeply troubling, highlighting in particular the potential impact on the health and wellbeing of children.

Tuncak said: “It is disappointing to see Japan appear to all but ignore the 2017 recommendation of the UN human rights monitoring mechanism (UPR) to return back to what it considered an acceptable dose of radiation before the nuclear disaster.”

TEPCO is also worsening the evacuees’ plight. Yamaguchi Yukio, co-director of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, wrote in March 2019: “Although the fathomless suffering of the people affected by the accident cannot be atoned for by money, TEPCO has shown no intention of taking any responsibility for the consequences of the accident.

“In the incidents surrounding the petitions by Namie Town, Iitate Village and others to alternative dispute resolution (ADR), TEPCO has refused to agree to the compensation amounts, and rejected the mediated settlement proposal.

“The outlook for resolution of the compensation problem is bleak. This is in complete violation of the three pledges proclaimed by TEPCO: 1) Carry through compensation to the very last person, 2) Carry through rapid and detailed compensation, and 3) Respect mediated settlement proposals.”

This Author

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter.

https://theecologist.org/2020/jan/21/forgetting-fukushima?fbclid=IwAR2_aBc0KTBXO6O7qWGkTx0Y224A_9Yf8E996eDW8Y19jItelPshSJOcJ0s

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment