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Researchers Find Radioactive Particles from Fukushima or other Nuclear Disasters Could Stay in Environment, Human Lungs for Decades

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Aftermath of the Fukushima 2011 earthquake.
June 17, 2019
Q&A with Professor Rodney C. Ewing, Frank Stanton Professor in Nuclear Security and co-director at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI). Interview with Katy Gabel Chui.
Your previous research with this team helped identify the types of radioactive particles that can become airborne and were transported away from Fukushima during the 2011 nuclear disaster.
This most recent paper goes further to show how these Cesium (Cs)-rich silica particles behave in several types of fluids, including simulated human lung fluid, concluding that the particles are fully dissolved in the latter after more than 35 years. What might that mean for human health in the Fukushima area and beyond?
The first breakthrough was the recognition that such particles, a few microns in diameter, existed, a discovery by Japanese scientists at the Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, in 2013. The particles are important because they were dispersed over distances of tens of kilometers and were “carriers” of highly radioactive Cs. Our team’s previous work, led by Professor Satoshi Utsunomiya, mainly focused on the characterization of the particles and their constituents at the atomic-scale and surveyed their distribution in the area away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants. Our earliest work from 2016 can be found online. A good summary of the history of the work on these cesium-rich microparticles was recently published in Scientific American.
This latest paper published in Chemosphere is the 6th in a series of papers on the Cs-rich microparticles. We describe the behavior of these particles when exposed to different types of fluids: ultra-pure water, artificial sea water and simulated lung fluid. The microparticles dissolve in all three fluids, reaching a long-term but a continuing, slow rate of release after just three days. Essentially, the calculated release rate of cesium depends on the rate of dissolution of the silica glass matrix and the initial size of the particles. In the simulated lung fluid, the particles are modelled to fully dissolve after more than 35 years.
What is the simulated lung fluid made of, and how does it work in simulation? How do you estimate 35 years?
The constituents of typical lung fluid were simply mixed to simulate its composition based on a recipe reported by previous studies. The lung fluid is different from the other solutions because it contains organic compounds and has a different chemistry, i.e., higher sodium and chlorine content. The estimates of residence time in the body assumes that the particles are inhaled and find their way to the pulmonary system. The calculation of residence time is based on assumptions about the size and composition of the microparticles, and we used the long-term release rate from the experiments. We assumed a spherical shape and a constant decrease in size as the leaching process continued. The rate can vary depending on the actual shape, internal texture, composition (such as occurrence of intrinsic Cs-phase inclusions), and precipitation of secondary phases that may form a “protective” coating on the cesium-rich microparticles (CsMPs). The rate of release was fastest in the simulated lung fluid.
The important result is to realize that the Cs-rich silica particles dissolve slowly in the environment and in the body. Essentially, the release extends for several decades.
How can nuclear energy experts and policy makers use this research to avoid future risk?
Understanding the form and composition of materials that host and disperse radionuclides is the first step in completing a careful dose calculation. Based on these results, the fraction of Cs contained in the silica particles will not be rapidly “flushed” through the environment or the body, but rather will be released over several decades.
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June 19, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

A Theater Play: “Forgetting the Future”

Bugs, Bots, and Ghosts
Non-human theatre both provokes and comforts in a post-Fukushima world.
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The cast of Shu Matsui’s 2013 play “Forgetting the Future.”
 
BY KYOKO IWAKI
June 12, 2019
Just as, for many Americans, it is difficultto reflect on 9/11 without mass disquietude, for many Japanese 3/11 is not merely another day.
At 2:46 p.m. on March11, 2011, the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami—better known today as the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster—rippled along the Northeastern coastline of the island country. This unprecedented triple attack included a magnitude 9.0 earthquake that moved Japan eight feet east, a 9.8-foot tsunami that killed over 15,000 people,and a Level-7 nuclear melt-through of three nuclear vessels.
 
This multivalent catastrophe, both natural and man-made, might be said to have created an almost complete tabula rasa. In addition to the earthquake and tsunamis,which disrupted tangible space, radiation extinguishes another intangible dimension:time. Considering that Plutonium 239 has a half-life (the period in which 50 percent of nuclides will have undergone nuclear decay) of 24,110 years, nuclear aftermaths indeed seem to defy a human conception of time.
 
Unfortunately humanity’s sense of emergency does not last for 20,000 years, for good reason: If we were to continue to dwell at length in the same level of hypertension, our nervous systems would soon collapse. That is why, in the current daily life of Japan, the repercussions of Fukushima seem invisible (unless you’re near the epicenter).
As early as September 2013, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo unabashedly declared, before the International Olympic Committee, that Fukushima is “under control,” an assurance that was probably crucial to Japan winning the 2020 Olympics. Ostensibly the country has regained its peace, yet one must never forget that this peace is only a palimpsest,resting upon a constant effort to silence anxieties.
 
If nuclear time defies human time, nuclear fallout deceives human perception. That’s why for some people in Japan (and the rest of the world), the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe was absent to begin with: out of sight, hence out of mind.
On the other hand, for others, it is omnipresent. Owing to this simultaneous absence and presence,many Japanese are impelled to broach uncharted domain—that is, they are compelled to seek a new language to aptly express their uncertainties, to rebuild collective values that could mend divided narratives, and to construct a new way of life that is not merely situated prior to but is always aligned with death. When it comes to trying new languages, values, and Lebenschauung (or views of life), theatre—with its physical presence, emotional eloquence, and fictional safeguards—naturally becomes a useful testbed.
 
Not that theatre has taken what may seem the most obvious reaction and approach: an ecocritical theatre demanding a full cessation of the 54 nuclear power plants in Japan,or a head-on political theatre rigidly questioning the legal liabilities of Tokyo ElectricPower Company. Instead a gradual yet sturdy “non-human” turn has been evident. For various reasons, theatre makers have become noticeably more attracted to cyborgs,animals, insects, and ghosts. In its most obvious renditions, human actors perform roles of anthropomorphized non-human beings. One could argue that this is just another form of the techno-animistic imagination prevalent in Japan since long before 3/11.But what must be noted here is that the rationales underpinning this turn toward the non-human have shifted in subtle yet interesting ways after Fukushima.
 
Japan is considered by many to be a trailblazer of industrial robots and futuristic imagination. From the mangas of Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy (1952) and MitsutruYokoyama’s Ironman 28 (1956), ideal human-robot kinships have been dreamt of by boys, girls, and many still-adolescent adults. Before 3/11, most of these robots were designed to serve humans as part of a better society, not built to supersede or replace us. In this unthinkingly human-centric register, robots were acknowledged to be essentially inferior to humans; that’s why Atom, the humanoid nine-year-old in AstroBoy, always longed to be treated like a human child.
 
Since the Fukushima catastrophe, this human-robot hierarchy has been subtly inverted. Forced to realize how easily destructible their social bonds are and how
physically vulnerable their bodies could be, many Japanese theatre makers have created androids who “act” on stage as symbols of indestructible immortality—a thing humans have yearned for half-eternally.
 
Oriza Hirata—playwright, director, leader of Seinendan (Youth group) Theatre Company, and a usual suspect in Francophone theatre festivals—is generally considered the forerunner of Japanese robot theatre. Working with Hiroshi Ishiguro, aroboticist at Osaka University, Hirata has created eight robot theatre productions,including robotic versions of Kenji Miyazawa’s Night on the Galactic Railroad (2013),Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis (2014), and the Hamburg State Opera’s Stilles Meer (Silent Sea, 2016) in which a robot (Robovie-R3 by Vstone) appears as a nuclear poweplant worker. Hirata even sometimes talks about a near future in which human actors could be completely replaced by androids, reasoning, “They could act in any language; travel cheaply; never get sick; and never complain.”
 
In his post-3/11 robot theatre productions, Hirata sheds light on the concepts of immortality and integrity. In his android version of Chekhov’s Three Sisters (2012), for instance, the Fukazawa sisters live in a rural town with a formerly thriving robot industry. Their late father, a renowned robot scientist, created an android of his youngest daughter, Ikumi, before he died. (The real Ikumi seems also to have died,though we later learn that she is still alive but has become a hikikomori
—a social recluse.) While the older sisters visit their father’s grave to commemorate his death, android Ikumi refrains, because “death does not concern” her; mortality is a purely abstract concept in her mind. Meanwhile other family members seem agonized by the impending death of their community in the face of a declining birthrate, a labor shortage, and fading hope overall—an almost prophetic vision of a near-future Japan. And while they dodge the gloomy topic around the dinner table, the robot Ikumi, programmed to articulate unequivocally, can only reveal the awkward truth. Next to this logically impeccable and immortal robot, humans come to seem increasingly more fragile, flawed, and duplicitous.
 
This Three Sisters forces the post-Fukushima audience to question whether or not they,like the Fukazawa family, are hiding behind a veil of escapism; indeed they might even envy the fearless “human integrity” so well represented by the android. At the sametime, shrewd observers may begin to feel that accepting faults, fragilities, and failures might be the crux of humanity. Either way, Hirata’s Three Sisters demands that were consider what is putatively morally “human.”
 
From the outset of his career, director-playwright Shu Matsui has been questioningthe validity of several key concepts of Western humanism, including coherent logic,subjectivity, and individualism, which, in certain cases, seem to run against harmony-oriented Japanese norms. But it wasn’t until the 3/11 catastrophe that Matsui clearly imagined a non-human theatrical universe favoring collectivism over individualism,relativity over subjectivity, and affect over logic.
 
In Forgetting the Future (Mirai o wasureru, 2013), a character called Shimada Burio (the name is a spoof on the Japanese word for “embryo”) is presented as the world’s first cockroach-human hybrid. In addition to fluently speaking a human language, Burio can also talk through a Deleuzian language of “molecular vibration, chirring, buzzing,clicking, scratching, and scraping,” enabling him to go beyond the formal limits of communication that inevitably draw a boundary between the subject and the object, between me and you.
 
When facing vulnerable situations like the aftermath of 3/11, Matsui proposes that people must cease prioritizing cognitive functions, at least temporarily, to enjoy a non-linguistic and non-logical form of unity, which he calls “environmental symbiosis.” We must learn to herd with others like critters, in other words, to avoid untoward confrontations in an already calamitous situation. Indexes such as reason, subjectivity,and criticality must be reassessed, as they may be only onerous abstractions that needlessly complicate our already intractable lives.
 
Toshiki Okada, the writer-director with the theatre company called chelfitsch (a coinage meant to evoke a child attempting to say the English word “selfish”), is amongthe leading theatre artists in Japan. He initially received acclaim for voicing the uncertainties of the economically vulnerable Lost Generation in productions using“super-real” colloquial Japanese speech matched with ungainly yet eloquent body movements. In 2007 Okada ventured into the international theatre circuit when he was invited to the Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels to present Five Days in March(Sangatsu no itsuka kan).
 
Since then, though, he has expanded his theatrical vision beyond the solipsistic aesthetics of super-real Japanese. Four months after 3/11, he relocated to Kumamoto,760 miles south of Tokyo, after living in the suburbs of the metropolis for 38 years. He felt that after the disaster he could no longer “identify” himself with Tokyo, even considering the capital city “something already over, or already lost—at least for me.”His world view thus changed, Okada could not help but change the “reality” in his stagecraft.
 
If, in the pre-Fukushima years, Okada was interested in writing about present reality,after the catastrophe he became increasingly interested in fiction—or, in his own words, “alternative realities.” He also looked back to a 600-year-old theatre tradition: In trying to give voice to someone (family, friends, or neighbors) or something (like Tokyo), he adopted the structure of the dream noh (mugen noh), in which the protagonists (shite) are most often resentful or regretful dead spirits. He’s written three plays responding to the Fukushima disaster: Time’s Journey Through a Room (Heyao nagareru jikan no tabi, 2016), Current Location ( Genaichi, 2012), and Ground and Floor ( Jimen to Yuka, 2013)—a three-hander in which the protagonist is the wife of a 30-something man who now fancies another woman. Until midway through the performance, the audience does not know that the protagonist is actually dead, as she is the one narrating the proceedings, describing the minutest details of everyday life, as if to never forget the life she had led. After providing her tranquil yet unyieldingly articulate monologue, she presses her husband as to whether he remembers the same details she does.
 
The production seems to find Okada divided between narratives of remembering and forgetting. We humans could not survive a single day if we remembered all the details of the past. But for the dead, the act of forgetting implies their complete disappearance. With the many lives lost in 3/11, theatre makers have begun to feel the obligation to reconsider not only the politics of humans but also those of the dead. Okada has said that “the ghost is a great invention of humans,” a way for us to give body to our imaginations and to our struggles with the past.
 
Whether looking to the future through androids and hybrid bugs, or veering toward the past through the visions of ghosts, Japanese theatre artists are imagining a time well beyond the lifespan of a single human being. The 3/11 catastrophe may not have changed Japanese society for the better, but it has surely stirred the imaginations of theatre directors and playwrights—and audiences. The non-human turn in post-Fukushima theatre is a clear embodiment of the ways Japanese artists feel responsible for giving voice, not only to those who survived but also to the dead and the unborn.
 
Kyoko Iwaki, a scholar of Japanese modern and contemporary theatre and performance, is a researcher at Waseda University

June 17, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Comic tale of aging bar hostesses with social punch

I am surprised that this article was published on Yomiori Shimbun (Japan News), usually a pro-government media, with biased information.
This sentence must have escaped the censoring eyes of their editor.
I particularly like the: “Like Chihama, Arata comes from Fukushima Prefecture, where her parents’ home was destroyed in the Great East Japan Earthquake. Brazil in the past and contemporary Fukushima begin to look very similar, in the sense that “those affected are not told the truth.”
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June 10, 2019
This week’s manga Sono Onna Jilba (Jitterbug The Forties)
By Shinobu Arima (Shogakukan)
Arata Usui has a job dealing with customers in a major supermarket chain store when she is transferred to the stockroom, out of sight. This was inevitable, as she is already past 40 and no longer young. Still single, with no boyfriend and no savings, she lacks confidence. One day, Arata is surprised to see a help-wanted notice for bar hostesses in the entertainment quarter of town. The criteria: women 40 or older! Is this some kind of a mistake? Mustering her courage, she opens the door to the Bar Old Jack & Rose, a watering hole aimed at senior citizens in which the average age of the hostesses is 70. Mesmerized by a world completely different from her own, she begins a side job as a trainee hostess under the alias of Arara. She soon learns about the legend of Jilba, the founder and inaugural manager of the bar.
“Jitterbug The Forties” is a comedy with cheering messages for an aging society, played out by lively bar hostesses who seem almost supernatural. The story starts out in such an atmosphere, which in itself is entertaining enough. But readers are taken to a much deeper level. As the hostesses recount their pasts, an alternative postwar history emerges that we have never been told. This transforms it into a work that offers a completely different impression.
Jilba, born Chihama Hoshi, emigrated to Brazil from Fukushima Prefecture. One thing that I learned from this manga was that immediately after the end of World War II, Japanese immigrants in Brazil were divided into two groups regarding the outcome of the war. One group, the “kachi-gumi” (the victors), blindly believed the false information that Japan defeated the United States. This group far outnumbered the other group, the “make-gumi” (the defeated), which believed that Japan lost. Conflicts between the groups eventually led to terrorist attacks, and there were scams targeting immigrants hastily trying to return to “victorious” Japan. Chihama, who loses her husband and children amid the chaos, arrives alone in a Japan that is little but burned-out ruins. She gathers women in similar dire straits and opens the bar. This is the other story line told in “Jitterbug The Forties.”
Like Chihama, Arata comes from Fukushima Prefecture, where her parents’ home was destroyed in the Great East Japan Earthquake. Brazil in the past and contemporary Fukushima begin to look very similar, in the sense that “those affected are not told the truth.” Quite impressed, I realized just how much of a hard-hitting, socially aware work this actually is at its core.
Even so, “Jitterbug The Forties” never loses its balance as a comedy, impressively maintaining a cheerful disposition over five volumes right up to its conclusion. “Jilba” is Japanese-English, originating from the American social dance known as the Jitterbug. No matter how arduous your past was, sweep it away with song and dance. Regardless of your age, life is not to be thrown away. This is a masterpiece that resonates with a powerfully encouraging message to all generations.
Ishida is a Yomiuri Shimbun senior writer whose areas of expertise include manga and anime.

June 17, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Last fishing port in Fukushima to reopen

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June 4, 2019
A fishing port in Tomioka in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture is expected to reopen next month after being closed for more than eight years.
The massive earthquake and tsunami that hit eastern Japan in 2011 caused the severe Fukushima nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture.
Nine of the prefecture’s 10 fishing ports affected by the triple disaster have already reopened.
Tomioka Port is known as the main port for catching tasty flatfish and flounders.
Its wharves and breakwater were damaged by the quake and tsunami, and an evacuation order was issued for Tomioka and other fishing ports in Fukushima Prefecture.
That evacuation order was lifted in April 2017, and work has been underway to rebuild the port.
Fishing boats based at Tomioka Port were sent to other ports in the prefecture, such as Iwaki City and Namie Town. Officials say these boats are expected to return to Tomioka.
Tomioka Town and the local fisheries cooperative plan to hold a ceremony in July to celebrate the return of the fishing boats and fishers to the port.

 

June 10, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

2020 Tokyo Olympics Torch Relay Starts at the J-Village Sports Complex in Fukushima

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It’s official! The 2020 Tokyo Olympic torch relay starts at the J Village Sports Complex in Fukushima, which is just 10 miles from the crippled nuke plant.
Olympics: Tokyo 2020 torch relay route revealed, uniforms unveiled
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June 1, 2019
TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo 2020 organisers on Saturday unveiled the uniforms to be worn by 10,000 volunteer runners during the torch relay and presented further details about the route the relay will take.
Organisers said the torch will travel through all 47 of Japan’s prefectures – from Hokkaido in the north to the southern island of Okinawa – and most of the country will have the chance to see the torch with 98% percent of the population residing within an hour’s distance from the route.
The 121-day relay will begin on March 16 at the J-Village in Fukushima, which is Japanese football’s national training centre and a symbol of resilience during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed almost 16,000 people.
Games organisers have sought to stress the importance of Tokyo 2020 as the ‘reconstruction Olympics’ and it was evident in the choice of the route, which will pass through Okuma, where part of the Fukushima nuclear complex is located, and past Kumamoto Castle, which suffered heavy earthquake damage in 2016.
“It is not just about places where people can come or around landmarks, but the torch will also visit areas affected by the Great Japan Earthquake and Kumamoto Castle, recovering from the Kumamoto earthquake,” said Miho Takeda, a Tokyo 2020 committee member and five-time Olympic medallist in synchronized swimming.
“The relay will go through areas of Japan that are working hard to recover from natural disasters.”
The torch will also visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and pass Mount Fuji before arriving at the National Stadium in Tokyo on July 24 during the Olympics opening ceremony.
The runners’ uniform, designed by fashion designer Daisuke Obana, was unveiled by multiple Olympic gold medallist judoka Tadahiro Nomura.
The uniforms, which are produced in part from recycled plastic bottles, incorporate a diagonally-draped red sash similar to those used as batons in Ekiden, Japan’s famous long distance relay events.
“The torch bearer uniform is eco-friendly. Coca Cola collected plastic bottles in their company and recycled them to use them in the uniform material,” Nomura said.

June 10, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Rice planted in Fukushima town as farming trials begin

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17 May 2019
Rice has been planted in a Japanese town which hosts Fukushima’s damaged nuclear power plant eight years after residents were first evacuated.
Officials and locals in Okuma town planted several crops, including sticky rice and premium quality rice, across more than 17,000 square feet of paddy fields.
The rice planting is the latest sign of life slowly starting to return to Okuma, one of a string of so-called “ghost towns” that were immediately evacuated due to soaring radiation levels after the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.
Evacuation orders for Okuma – which along with Futaba town, co-hosts nearby Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant – were lifted last month, while its municipal government building also reopened earlier this week.
New public housing for former residents displaced by the disaster is also expected to open next month, while an agricultural manual is being prepared  to encourage people to start growing crops again.
Government officials in Okuma have been monitoring radiation contamination in produce while conducting small-scale farming trials for several years, with test results reportedly showing levels below the national safety standards for food.
 
Fukushima was once famed for its high quality food produce, from peaches and grapes to rice and fish, with the region’s producers hit hard by the 2011 nuclear disaster.
Over the past eight years, the Japanese government has taken numerous steps to attempt to reassure the world that food from Fukushima is safe to eat following a regional clean-up, with rigorous radiation testing in place for all produce.
More than 50 countries introduced import restrictions in the immediate aftermath of the meltdown at the nuclear power plant, with 23 still keeping food limitations from Fukushima in place.
Last month, the Japanese government criticised a World Trade Organisation ruling that supported a continued South Korean ban on imports of a number of Japanese fishery products.
Meanwhile, locals who are slowly starting to return to the region as evacuation orders are lifted are apparently turning to increasingly inventive ways to rebuild local farming businesses.
 
One group of farmers in Hirata village, just under 28 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, who were also hit hard by the disaster, have garnered widespread attention in Japan for their unusually-flavoured habanero soft ice cream, made from locally grown chilli peppers.
Government officials are also pinning hopes on the 2020 Olympics giving local revitalisation efforts a high-profile boost, with a number of baseball and soccer games scheduled to take place in the region.

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

Novellas express anger after Fukushima disaster

sacred cesium and isa's deluge“Sacred Cesium Ground and Isa’s Deluge: Two Novellas of Japan’s 3/11 Disaster,” by Yusuke Kimura, translated by Doug Slaymaker (Columbia University Press, 2019, 176 pages, $60 hardcover, $20 paperback)

May 2, 2019
TOKYO >> An anger directed toward Tokyo underlies Yusuke Kimura’s two novellas, “Sacred Cesium Ground” and “Isa’s Deluge.” Born from a keen sense of abandonment felt by the Tohoku region in the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, and the subsequent nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, this anger plays out across stories exploring the post-disaster relationships between humans and animals.
The protagonist in “Sacred Cesium Ground” is a woman who travels to Fukushima Prefecture to volunteer at the Fortress of Hope, a farm where cattle irradiated by the Fukushima No. 1 power plant meltdown are tended to despite a government order to kill them.
Based on the story of a real post-Fukushima ranch, the novella carries with it a weight of research born from the author’s own volunteering, though it proves ultimately unsatisfying, never quite reaching the moment of reinvention that the lead character hints at throughout.
“Isa’s Deluge” is the more readable of the two, with a flow and pacing that draws in the reader. Shortlisted for the Mishima Yukio Prize after it was first published in 2012, it follows a family of fishermen who relate the story of their uncle Isa and his “deluge” of pain and depression, an allegory of the 3/11 tsunami.
Both novellas highlight peripheral voices in the post-3/11 period and ultimately return time and again to that tension between a “sacrificial” Tohoku and an all-powerful capital. These perspectives are those not frequently heard and challenge the widespread narrative of an ever-dominant Tokyo.
https://www.staradvertiser.com/2019/05/02/news/novellas-express-anger-after-fukushima-disaster/?fbclid=IwAR362Oqn0duTDDCRh0Ta6AIklIq8ippMFC1PbBVUp2bN2v4NupNVg1YS_9I

May 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima soccer facility, repurposed after 3/11 disaster, fully reopens

The madmen’s denial continues, pretending that it is all clean and safe. Like if nothing ever happened. Children’s future sacrificed in the name of politicians’ holy economics.
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Children exercise at the J-Village national soccer training center in the town of Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, on Saturday after it resumed full operations.
April 20, 2019
FUKUSHIMA – The J-Village national soccer training center in Fukushima Prefecture resumed full operation Saturday, eight years after it was converted into an operational base to cope with the nuclear disaster that hit the prefecture in 2011.
The facility, established in 1997, has already been selected as the starting point for the Japan leg of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic torch relay, a move aimed at highlighting the country’s efforts to recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, that triggered the meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
The torch relay will start at the facility in March 2020.
Until March 2017, the training center was used as a logistics hub and a lodging facility for workers involved in the cleanup and other disaster response operations at the crippled facility located some 20 kilometers to the north. The operational base function has been moved to the power plant.
The training complex has been renovated, and an indoor practice field and hotel with conference rooms have been added.
A large part of the complex had already resumed operations by July 2018, with the exception of two playing fields.
Also on Saturday, East Japan Railway Co. opened a new station near the J-Village.
“I hope (the full reopening) will contribute to Fukushima’s revival,” said a 42-year-old woman arriving at the station on Saturday morning.
The woman, who lives in the prefecture, was planning to visit the J-Village site.

April 23, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

South Korea ban on Fukushima seafood divides Seoul, Tokyo

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Japanese seafood from Fukushima is banned in South Korea.
April 12, 2019
April 12 (UPI) — South Korea welcomed — while Japan condemned — a World Trade Organization decision to uphold a South Korea ban on Japanese seafood originating from the Fukushima nuclear disaster zone.
Japan is criticizing the decision despite evidence the product is not widely consumed or avoided entirely by Japanese consumers.
“Even though the ruling did not acknowledge that South Korea’s measures comply with the WTO rules, it is extremely regrettable that Japan’s argument was not approved,” Tokyo’s foreign ministry said Friday, after the WTO’s highest court overturned a judgment from 2018. The verdict is final, according to Kyodo and other Japanese news services.
In Seoul, the ruling Democratic Party welcomed the WTO decision. Party spokesman Lee Hae-sik said in statement the verdict reflects the current administration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in to “actively defend the nation’s health and food safety” and described the outcome as a “diplomatic victory,” South Korean news service News 1 reported Friday.
Lee also said the ban on imports of seafood originating from the eight prefectures of Japan’s Tohoku region, which are “at risk” due to the nuclear accidents at Fukushima plants, will be sustained.
Following the WTO verdict, Japan is turning its attention to the specialized United Nations agency.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga suggested Tokyo will “cooperate closely with the United States” on WTO reform in order to “maintain and strengthen the multilateral trading system.”
But the United States also has partial bans in place against Fukushima products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to monitor the public health risks due to radionuclide contamination and has placed an “import alert” on select Japanese products.
In Japanese fish markets in Tokyo, products labeled “Fukushima region” do not sell well and frequently at below market prices, South Korea television network MBC reported from Japan.
The seafood is not in demand despite safety screenings, according to the report.

April 14, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan pitches safety of food from Fukushima and Tohoku in wake of WTO ruling for South Korea

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April 12, 2019
Japan will seek to reassure other countries about the safety of food produced in areas affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, officials said Friday, after the World Trade Organization supported South Korea’s import ban on some Japanese seafood.
Fishermen in Tohoku, the region hit hardest by the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami that triggered the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, expressed disappointment with the WTO’s decision, saying their catches clear strict safety checks before shipment.
The WTO “maintained factual findings that Japanese food products are scientifically safe and satisfy safety standards in South Korea,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press briefing.
“We will continue to ask South Korea and other countries to lift or ease import restrictions based on scientific evidence,” the top government spokesman said.
Japan has taken a series of steps over the years, such as screening food products for radioactive substances before shipment, to alleviate safety concerns.
“It’s been eight years since the nuclear accident. Does it mean that it’s still early (for the ban to be lifted) by global standards?” asked a frustrated Norio Takahashi, a 59-year-old fisherman from Fukushima.
In Iwate Prefecture, Mikio Morishita, 69, who runs a fish processing company, pointed to the difficulty of regaining consumer trust.
“Although food products (from the disaster-hit areas) are safe, we have yet to dispel bad perceptions (among consumers). The ruling is unfortunate because it suggests the world does not have a positive image” of items from Fukushima and its vicinity, Morishita said.
Japan has been promoting its agricultural and seafood exports, which have been growing in recent years and reached ¥906.8 billion ($8.1 billion) in 2018, putting the government’s target of ¥1 trillion for this year in sight.
By holding baseball and soccer games in the disaster-hit region, Japan hopes to present the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020 as a symbol of reconstruction.
“I will promote the high quality of food products (in the disaster-hit areas),” Olympics minister Shunichi Suzuki said at a news conference held just a day after he was reappointed to his role.
The WTO’s appellate body for dispute settlement on Thursday ruled in favor of South Korea’s import ban on fishery products from Fukushima and seven other prefectures, reversing an earlier decision.
Thursday’s ruling is final as the appellate body is the highest authority in the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism.
Due to fears of radioactive contamination, South Korea expanded its initial ban to include all fishery products from Fukushima and the seven other prefectures in 2013.
A total of 54 countries and regions introduced import restrictions following the meltdowns. The number has since declined, but South Korea is among 23 that are keeping the restrictions in place, according to the Japanese government.

April 14, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Seoul welcomes WTO’s ruling on Fukushima seafood ban

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Japanese newspapers report about the World Trade Organization’s decision in favor of Korea’s import restrictions on Japanese seafood. Yonhap
April 12, 2019
South Korea on Friday welcomed the World Trade Organization’s decision to rule in favor of Seoul’s import restrictions on Japanese seafood in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and said it would keep the ban in place going forward.
 
The WTO appellate body overturned several points of the 2018 verdict earlier in the day, saying the Seoul government’s measures are not unfair trade restrictions and do not fall into the category of arbitrary discrimination.
 
The appellate body, however, sided with Japan on one point, saying that Seoul has not provided enough information to Tokyo in terms of the import ban measures.
 
“The government has been making all-out efforts to follow the principle of making the health and safety of the people a priority, and the government highly appraises the WTO’s decision,” the Ministry of Trade, Investment and Energy said in a statement.
 
The South Korean government said it hopes that there would be no further trade dispute with Japan.
 
In 2015, Japan officially lodged a complaint at the WTO to challenge South Korea’s import bans and additional testing requirements on fish caught after 2013. Tokyo argued that radioactive levels of its fishery product were lower than those from a number of other nations.
 
The WTO’s dispute settlement body ruled in favor of Japan in February 2018.
 
South Korea has been placing import restrictions on 28 kinds of fish caught from eight prefectures near Fukushima since the nuclear power plant accident.
 
The South Korean government said it will keep the existing import ban on all seafood from the eight prefectures. All Japanese seafood companies will be required to hand in safety certificates when any traces of radiation are found, it added.
 
About 50 countries have maintained bans on imports since the nuclear disaster, but Japan has complained to the WTO about only one country — South Korea.
 
“Currently, 19 more countries have implemented an import ban (on Japanese seafood) at different levels,” said Yoon Chang-yul, the head of the social policy coordination office under the Office for Government Policy Coordination.
 
South Korea, meanwhile, has been replacing its imports of Japanese pollack and mackerel with supplies from Russia and Norway respectively, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said.
 
“In the past, (South Korea) imported around 20,000 to 40,000 tons of pollack and mackerel from Japan. Now the volume is below 3,000 tons,” an official from the ocean ministry said.
 
“It is a sovereign country’s right to implement an appropriate level of protection,” an official from the ministry said. “All countries have different standards, and they cannot be judged under the same standard. The Fukushima crisis broke out in a neighboring country, and we needed to review our protection level in a more strict and thorough manner.” (Yonhap)

April 14, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Reality of Fukushima – 2019

I remember in 2011 or 2012, a deal between a US company and the Japanese government, buying geiger counters, which failed because the Japanese government wanted that US company to under-calibrate its Geiger-counters, which the US company refused to do. So it is quite possible that all those public monitors have been under-calibrated….

A message from Yayoi Hitomi, March 2019

April 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Schools reopen, but student numbers fail to rebound in disaster-hit Fukushima municipalities

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Four elementary schools in Fukushima Prefecture link up via a teleconference system in February and conduct a joint class on ethics.
March 19, 2019
FUKUSHIMA – Eight years after the March 2011 disasters, elementary and junior high schools have reopened in 10 Fukushima Prefecture municipalities after the lifting of nuclear evacuation advisories. Student numbers have not rebounded.
According to statistics released last May, the number of students stood at only about 10 percent of the level before 3/11.
During the protracted evacuations, many families rebuilt their lives in new locations, leading to the sharp fall in students in Fukushima. As a result, local governments are facing difficulties keeping schools operating.
… A man in his 60s who is a member of a neighborhood community association in the Yamakiya district in the town of Kawamata is disappointed by the steep decrease in the number of children.
“The disappearance of children’s voices is like the lights going out,” the man, who did not want his name published, said….
… The central government is working to improve small-class education in depopulated areas through the use of information and communications technology.
Read more:

March 25, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Reduced number of high schools due to number of kids diving in disaster-hit Fukushima municipalities

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March 15, 2019
8 Years On: Number of Kids Dives in Disaster-Hit Fukushima Municipalities
Fukushima, March 15 (Jiji Press)–In 10 Fukushima Prefecture municipalities where elementary and junior high school have reopened after the lifting of nuclear evacuation advisories, the number of students stood at 758 as of May 1, 2018, about 10 pct of the level before the March 2011 disasters.
During protracted evacuations, many child-rearing families rebuilt their lives in new locations, leading to the sharp fall in the number of students in Fukushima.
Read more :
 
As population declines, Fukushima Prefecture to lose 15 of its 96 high schools
The Fukushima Prefectural Board of Education will reduce its number of prefecture-run high schools by 15 by the end of fiscal 2023 as the region continues to struggle with a dwindling number of students due to a declining birthrate.
The mergers will be implemented over the span of three years from fiscal 2021 and will reduce the number of high schools in the prefecture from 96 to 81.
Twenty-five schools will be merged and reorganized into 13 under the plan, which will integrate schools located in close proximity of one another. Each school will retain four to six classes per grade.
Read more :

March 18, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

The Truth About Radiation in Fukushima

thediplomat-picture-1-386x515.jpgA radiation monitoring post in Fukushima city.

 

March 14, 2019

Despite government claims, radiation from the 2011 nuclear disaster is not gone.

Fukushima, on the other hand, is dealing with the release of radionuclides, which are fission products from nuclear power plants. These radionuclides are not rays, but dust-like particles that can stick to the body and be inhaled or ingested. Weather factors like wind and rain have displaced many radionuclides like cesium-137, which accumulate in patchy locations, such as ditches, drainage areas, or playgrounds. Because of this uneven dispersion, monitoring posts often overlook the presence of hot spots, places where the level of radiation is significantly greater. Dissatisfied by state-sponsored monitoring, many citizen scientists have collectively tracked and monitored residual radioactivity in Japan, legitimizing the presence of hot spots.

To measure radiation levels in Fukushima, the Japanese government has installed monitoring posts that display the current atmospheric level of radiation on an electronic board. Measurements of radiation levels in the air are taken at different locations and compiled to create an average level of radiation for the cities of Fukushima.

Monitoring posts are also strategically placed and their surrounding areas cleaned so that the levels of radiation remain lower. No monitoring posts are present in forests and mountains, which represent more than 70 percent of the area of Fukushima prefecture.

On top of such problems, radiation posts only measure radiation in the form of gamma rays. Yet the disaster has also released radionuclides that emit ionized particles, that is, alpha and beta particles. These ionized particles are not taken into account by state monitoring posts, even though they are dangerous if inhaled or ingested. Consequently, the data accumulated by monitoring posts is partial and unrepresentative of the extent of radioactive contamination.

Levels of radiation have also decreased due to a massive state-sponsored program of radioactive decontamination in the urban and rural areas of Fukushima. The process of decontamination consists of collecting and removing radioactive pollutants. Radionuclides are then contained in vinyl bags, so as to impede the risk of rescattering residual radioactivity. As a testament of the government-led decontamination, mountains of black plastic bags, filled with contaminated soil or debris, can be seen in many parts of Fukushima, forming a stark contrast against the emerald-green mountains of the region.

As such, decontamination does not imply that radiation has vanished; it has simply been moved elsewhere. Yet in rural regions, where many of the bags are currently being disposed, far away from the eyes of urban dwellers, residents are still forced to live near the storage sites. Many rural residents have criticized the actual efficacy of the decontamination projects. For instance, vinyl bags are now starting to break down due to the build-up of gas released by rotten soil. Plants and flowers have also started to grow inside the bags, in the process tearing them apart. With weather factors, residual radioactivity inside the bags will eventually be scattered back into the environment.

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. With overall lifespan that exceeds hundreds of years, radionuclides like cesium-137 or strontium-90 will continue to pose a problem for decades to come. However, with the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, it is doubtful that the Japanese state will ever acknowledge this reality.

Read more :

https://thediplomat.com/2019/03/the-truth-about-radiation-in-fukushima/

March 18, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment