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

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

Municipalities near nuclear plants want say over restarts

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More than half of municipalities within a 30-kilometer radius of nuclear power plants insist their approval must be sought for restarts, but only 6 percent of local governments that host such facilities agree.

The finding that 53 percent of municipalities require prior consultations came in a survey by The Asahi Shimbun undertaken two years after a reactor at the Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture went back online in August 2015, the first to do so under new, more stringent nuclear regulations adopted in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

The mayor of Hitachiomiya, Ibaraki Prefecture, said local governments beyond host communities “need” to have a say over restarts as the central government revised its nuclear emergency guidelines in 2012 to require municipalities within the 30-km radius to have evacuation plans in place in the event of a serious accident.

Before the Fukushima accident, only local governments within 8-10 km of a nuclear power plant had to do so.

The mayor of Misato, Miyagi Prefecture, said his town’s approval should be sought for a restart because a “local government not receiving economic benefits can make a levelheaded judgment on the pros and cons of resumed operations.”

Host communities receive grants and subsidies from the central government, in addition to taxes and other revenue sources related to power generation.

In the survey, The Asahi Shimbun contacted the heads of 155 local governments that either host or are situated within a 30-km radius of the 16 nuclear plants across the nation, excluding the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The figure includes the prefectural government of Hokkaido and 20 other prefectural authorities that host plants.

As things stand, there are no legal steps that an operator of a nuclear facility must take, such as winning the consent of a host municipality or the prefectural government, before a plant’s restart.

The Sendai nuclear plant went back online after operator Kyushu Electric Power Co. got the go-ahead only from Satsuma-Sendai, which hosts the plant, and Kagoshima Prefecture for a resumption of operations.

The survey found that Mihama, home to Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Mihama nuclear plant, was against the notion of asking nearby municipalities for their approval for a restart.

Only a host community has a history of contributing to the safe operation of a nuclear plant,” the mayor said.

Of all the local governments, 61 heads called for legal procedures to be adopted with respect to restarts. All these calls came from municipalities located in areas surrounding nuclear power plants, except for one.

As long as nuclear energy has been promoted as a state program, the central government should take responsibility for setting the legal framework for a restart,” said the mayor of Makinohara, Shizuoka Prefecture.

The mayor of Imari, Saga Prefecture, echoed a similar view.

Things remain ambiguous because no legal procedures are in place,” the mayor said. “The government is reluctant to enshrine the steps into law because that will make restarts harder. However, the central government should also listen to what people in municipalities beyond host communities have to say.”

The survey also found that calls for plant operators to gain the consent of the municipalities within a 30-km radius of a proposed restart have somewhat abated among 35 local governments, where nuclear plants have resumed operations.

Ten heads sided with this view in the current survey, down from 13 in the previous survey in autumn 2014.

Another 10 leaders called for setting up legal procedures for restarts, compared with 14 in the last survey.

Apart from the Sendai nuclear plant, Ikata in Ehime Prefecture and Takahama in Fukui Prefecture are currently operating.

Municipalities situated close to facilities that are expected to go back online in the near future are now taking a more clear-cut stance on nuclear energy issues.

Representatives from cities around the Genkai nuclear plant in Genkai, Saga Prefecture, formed a group to present a united front against moves to resume its operations, which is expected this winter.

Although the mayors of Hirado and Matsuura, both in Nagasaki Prefecture, did not take a stance in the 2014 survey, they joined the municipalities against the restart in the latest poll, bringing municipalities opposed to the restart to four, or half of the eight local governments within a 30-km radius of the facility.

The Genkai town hall and the Saga prefectural government have already agreed to resuming plant operations.

August 21, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Some Fukushima municipalities lack nuclear evacuation plans as no-entry orders lifted

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Of the 11 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture which came under evacuation orders after the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant meltdowns, five do not have evacuation plans in case a nuclear accident occurs again, even though no-entry orders are gradually being lifted.

The central government requests local municipalities located near nuclear power plants to draw up evacuation plans in case of a nuclear emergency. According to central government policy, local governments should issue immediate evacuation orders to residents living within 5 kilometers of a plant in case of a “full-scale emergency” — situations including the loss of cooling power at nuclear reactors.

As a basic rule, those living between 5 and 30 kilometers from a plant are subject to indoor evacuation, and when a radiation dose of 20 microsieverts per hour is detected, evacuation should be completed within one week. Immediate evacuation is recommended when the dose hits 500 microsieverts per hour.

A representative of the village of Katsurao, whose residents have started moving back, told the Mainichi Shimbun that the municipal government has not created its evacuation plan because “there are only two officials in charge of the matter.” The official added, “We don’t have expert knowledge (about nuclear evacuations) and we can’t handle it with all the other work we have to do. Neither the state nor the Fukushima Prefectural Government is giving us advice.”

An official from the village of Iitate, where the evacuation order will be lifted at the end of March, said in addition to a workforce shortage, “it’s difficult to make a plan before examining how many residents will come back.” The city of Tamura, whose residents have started coming back, and the towns of Futaba and Okuma, where it remains unknown when residents will be able to return, do not have evacuation plans.

Meanwhile, the towns of Namie and Tomioka have mapped out their plans, which take the basic principle of evacuating all townspeople in case of a full-scale emergency — more drastic measure than central government policy requires — saying that just following the state’s evacuation policy will not protect their residents’ safety. Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba told the Mainichi, “Residents don’t believe they would be safe if they remain inside a building.”

With regard to local evacuation plans, a support team for nuclear accident victims at the Cabinet Office points out that while such plans are not requirement for the state to lift evacuation orders, local governments should prepare disaster prevention measures.

The stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is different from other nuclear stations in the country as decommissioning work is in progress for all its six reactors. At the same time, a rough road is expected for the project to remove melted fuel, and the estimated hourly radiation dose inside No. 2 reactor is as much as 650 sieverts.

According to an opinion poll by the Reconstruction Agency targeting residents of the city of Tamura, 61.5 percent of those who said they wanted to live in other municipalities than Tamura cited concerns over decommissioning work and management of the nuclear plant as reasons for not wanting to come back.

Hirotada Hirose, professor emeritus at Tokyo Woman’s Christian University and an expert in nuclear disaster prevention, commented, “The condition of melted nuclear fuel (at the Fukushima plant) is unknown and aftershocks are still continuing in Fukushima Prefecture. It’s a problem that evacuation orders are being lifted while local governments have not come up with their evacuation plans.”


March 28, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment