The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Key figures for the seventh anniversary



February 17, 2018

Translation by Herve Courtois from the ACRO article

All the figures quoted in this article are from TEPCO and the Japanese government. We can safely assume the true figures to be somehow higher, as we know from the past 7 years that TEPCO and the Japanese government have never been straightforward with their figures.


As we approach the seventh anniversary of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, here are some key figures as they appear in the media and official websites. This article will be updated as they appear.

Situation of the reactors

The work is aimed primarily at securing the damaged reactors that are still threatening. Nearby, the dose rates are such that the work time of the workers must be very limited, which complicates the work.

Reactor # 4

The reactor vessel was empty on March 11, 2011 so there was no core melting, but a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. Since December 2014, the reactor fuel pool has been emptied and work is stopped because it is no longer threatening.

The few dose rates available inside the reactor building are here expressed in mSv / h, knowing that the limits are in mSv / year. They date from 2016.

Reactor # 3

There was a core meltdown and a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. All top debris were removed using remotely controlled gear. A new building is being finished. Fuel removal is expected to begin this year and end in 2019.

The first images taken inside the containment led to a revision of the core fusion scenario.

The few dose rates available inside the reactor building are here expressed in mSv / h, knowing that the limits are in mSv / year. They date from 2016.

There would be between 188 and 394 tonnes of corium in this reactor, with a nominal value of 364 tonnes for reactor No. 3. The latter contains MOx fuel, which contains plutonium. To know more:

Reactor # 2

There was a melting of the core, but the reactor building is whole. TEPCO has not started removing used fuel from the pool. The company sent several robots into the containment to locate the corium, the mixture of molten fuel and debris.

Several series of images have been put online by the company. Those taken in January 2017 were analyzed and put back online in December 2017. There is a gaping hole just below the vessel, most likely due to the passage of molten fuel.

Those obtained in January 2018 at the bottom of the containment enclosure show what TEPCO thinks is corium and fragments of fuel assembly.

Dose rates inside the containment enclosure are lethal within minutes. The latest results published following the January 2018 exploration are quite surprising: not higher near what TEPCO thinks is corium, but higher outside.

The few dose rates available inside the reactor building are here expressed in mSv / h, knowing that the limits are in mSv / year. They date from 2016.

There would be between 189 and 390 tonnes of corium in this reactor, with a nominal value of 237 tonnes. To know more:

Reactor # 1

There was a core meltdown and a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. This building was covered by a new structure in 2011, which was completely dismantled in November 2016. TEPCO began removing the debris from the upper part of the reactor, then rebuilding a new structure to empty the pool. fuels.

The dose rates inside the reactor building are here expressed in mSv / h, knowing that the limits are in mSv / year. They date from 2016.

There would be between 232 and 357 tons of corium in this reactor, with a nominal value of 279 tons. To know more:

Reactors 5 and 6

Reactors 5 and 6 were partially unloaded on March 11, 2011, and a backup diesel generator was still functional, which prevented the core from melting. These reactors are now fully unloaded and will be dismantled.

Contamination of the plant

The last dose rates on the plant site published by TEPCO are from February 2017:

Groundwater also remains contaminated. Figures to come.



Contaminated water

The fuel that has melted and drilled the vessels must always be cooled. To this end, TEPCO injects 72 m3 of water per day into each of the reactors 1, 2 and 3 for this purpose. This makes a total of 216 m3 per day. This water is highly contaminated by contact with the molten fuel and infiltrates the basements of the reactor and turbine buildings where it mixes with the groundwater that infiltrates it.

At the beginning of the disaster, the infiltration amounted to about 400 m3 per day, which became contaminated and had to be stored in tanks. Inversely, the water of the basements, highly contaminated, leaked towards the groundwater then the ocean.

To reduce groundwater seepage, TEPCO pumps upstream of reactors before this water is contaminated and releases it directly into the ocean. It has also built a barrier all along the shoreline and pumps groundwater at the foot of the reactors. Part of this is partially decontaminated and released into the ocean. Another part, too contaminated, is mixed with the pumped water in the basements of the reactors to be put in tanks after treatment, waiting for a better solution.

The last barrier put in place is the freezing of the ground all around the 4 accidented reactors, on 1.4 km in order to stop the infiltrations. After many setbacks, the ice wall is finished since November 2017, but the effect remains limited. Even the Nuclear Regulatory Authority, the NRA, seriously doubts the effectiveness of this technique, which it now considers secondary.

A year ago, during our previous assessment, TEPCO pumped 135 m3 of contaminated water daily in the basements of reactor and turbine buildings, in addition to the one it injected for cooling and 62 m3 of groundwater, which made a total of 197 m3 which accumulated daily in tanks after treatment. It’s more in case of rain, or even more during typhoons.

Now that the soil freeze is over, these flows have been reduced. According to the latest report published by the company, 75 m3 of groundwater infiltrate daily in the basements of reactors to which must be added 15 m3 per pumped groundwater too contaminated to be treated directly before discharge to sea. therefore makes a total of 90 m3 per day. These values correspond to a week without rain. In case of heavy rainfall, it is much more, even if TEPCO has paved and concreted all soils to limit infiltration.

The water pumped into the basements is treated and stored in tanks at the plant site. TEPCO removes 62 radioelements, but it remains notably tritium, radioactive hydrogen, which is difficult to separate. The company announces that it has already treated 1,891,070 m3 of contaminated water, which generated 9,219 m3 of highly radioactive liquid waste and 597 m3 of radioactive sludge. Part of this is used for cooling and the rest is stored in tanks. According to the company, the stock of treated or partially treated water amounts to 1,037,148 m3 plus 35,010 m3 of water in the basements of the reactor and turbine buildings. There are nearly a thousand tanks to keep this water that occupy almost the entire site of the plant.

What to do with this treated water? After considering several unrealistic solutions, there remains only the rejection at sea. The concentration in tritium would be one to five million becquerels per liter, which is more than the authorized limit, set at 60 000 Bq / L. But, just dilute, as is done in normal operation. The problem is rather on the side of the total stock, estimated at 3.4 PBq (3.4 billion million becquerels), which represents about 150 years of rejection to the authorized limit.

By way of comparison, the discharge authorization at the Areva plant in La Hague is 18.5 PBq for tritium and the actual releases in recent years ranged from 11.6 to 13.4 PBq per year. The Fukushima tritium stock therefore represents 3 ½ months of discards at La Hague. What make the Japanese authorities jealous!

On the other hand, we do not know the concentration of other radioelements after filtering. This is important for an impact study before rejection. Toyoshi Fuketa, the president of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority, has asked for a decision to be made this year, saying that the rejection at sea is the only solution. The preparation of the rejection should take two to three years, according to him, and TEPCO will quickly run out of space.


At the Fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant

From March 11, 2011 to March 31, 2016, 46,956 workers were exposed to ionizing radiation at the site of the Fukushima daï-ichi power station, including 42,244 subcontractors. It is the subcontractors who take the highest doses, with an average that varies from 0.51 to 0.56 mSv per month between January and February 2016. It is between 0.18 and 0.22 for employees of TEPCO.
There are also 1,203 people who have a higher limit to continue to enter the site. Their average cumulative dose since the beginning of the accident is 36.49 mSv and the maximum value of 102.69 mSv.

On April 1, 2016, TEPCO reset all meters. For example, 174 workers who exceeded the dose limit of 100 mSv over 5 years may return. Since then, until December 31, 2017, 18,348 people have worked in controlled areas, including 16,456 subcontractors (90%). It is impossible to know how many of them have been exposed in the first five years. During this period, subcontractors took a cumulative average dose of 4.29 mSv, with a maximum of 60.36 mSv, while TEPCO employees took a cumulative average dose of 1.79 mSv with a maximum of 22.85 mSv. Subcontractors thus took 95.4% of the cumulative collective dose of 74 men.sieverts.

TEPCO has put online many other data on the doses taken, with distributions by age, year …

TEPCO reduced the risk premiums paid to workers because dose rates decreased on the site. This subject would be one of the main complaints of the staff engaged on the site. It could reach 20,000 yen (150 €) per day, even if, for the subcontractors, this premium was punctuated at each level of subcontracting, to be reduced, sometimes, to less than half. In March 2016, TEPCO divided the site of the accident site into 3 zones, red, yellow and green, depending on the level of risk. But for many workers, this zoning is meaningless: debris from the red zone is transferred to the green zone. The dust raised by the machines does not respect the boundaries … Thus, subcontractors wear protective equipment such as masks in the green zone, even if TEPCO does not require it.

About the decontamination sites

In the evacuated areas, it is the government that is prime contractor for the decontamination sites and in the areas not evacuated, it is the communes. The monthly report of the Ministry of the Environment (source, page 16) states:

13 million decontaminators in the evacuated areas and

17 million decontaminators in the areas not evacuated according to the data transmitted by the communes.

These numbers are completely unrealistic. This is probably the number of contracts signed. This means that the authorities do not know the number of decontaminators and therefore do not know the individual doses.

An individual dosimetric follow-up was introduced in November 2013 for the decontaminators (source in Japanese) who work in the evacuated zone and who are subject to the same dose limits as the nuclear workers. Data for 2016 show 36,000 decontaminators. We are far from the millions of decontaminators reported by the Ministry of the Environment. The majority (87%) received a dose of less than 1 mSv / yr and the highest dose was 7.5 and 10 mSv. There is also data by number of sites or by zone.

The most recent data in English, dated January 8, 2018, covers the period October 2016 – September 2017. Doses are reported by period of 3 months while the limits are annual. It is difficult to interpret these numbers. If it appears that the vast majority of decontaminators received less than 1 mSv over 3 months, it is not known how much below this limit over one year. The average annual dose is 0.5 mSv.

Other people exposed

I did not find any official data on the doses taken by those who continued to work in the evacuated area or the many police officers who guard and patrol the restricted areas.


Mapping of radioactive pollution

The latest aerial mapping of radioactive pollution around the Fukushima daiichi nuclear power station was made in November 2016 and is available online at the dedicated site.
The immediate vicinity of the nuclear power plant has not been recontrolled, it seems.



Decontamination of evacuated areas is the responsibility of the government. Elsewhere, where the external exposure could exceed 1 mSv / year, it is the municipalities that have to deal with it. See the latest report published by the Ministry of the Environment:

In the evacuated zone, decontamination is complete, except in the parts classified as “difficult return zones” where the external exposure could exceed 50 mSv / year. Decontamination took place only in populated and agricultural areas, not in forests. The ministry announces 22,000 decontaminated homes, 1,600 ha of roads, streets, lanes …, 8,500 ha of agricultural land and 5,800 ha of forest near residential areas.

In the non-evacuated areas, 104 communes were initially concerned, in Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saïtama and Chiba prefectures and it went down to 92 by simple radioactive decay. The decontamination work is completed in 89 of them and remains to be done in 3 others. The ministry announces 418,582 homes decontaminated in Fukushima and 147,656 in other provinces, 11,958 public facilities in Fukushima and 11,803 in other provinces. There are also 18,403 km of roads, streets, roads in Fukushima and 5,399 in other provinces, 31,043 ha of agricultural land in Fukushima and 1,588 ha in other provinces.

For so-called difficult return zones, the government will decontaminate a center in Futaba and Okuma in order to be able to affirm that it has not abandoned any commune. The end of the work is scheduled for 2022. Who will come back after 11 years of evacuation? This work in a highly contaminated zone will generate exposure of the decontaminators to ionizing radiation. As there is no threshold of safety, the first principle of radiation protection requires the justification of these exposures and this has not been done.

The Ministry of the Environment has budgeted 2.6 trillion yen (24.79 billion dollars) until 2016 to finance the decontamination work. Half is for evacuated areas, without taking into account the so-called difficult return zone and the other half for non-evacuated areas.

Radioactive waste from decontamination

See our summer 2016 report on the problem of waste from decontamination. Organic waste is incinerated and ash must be stored as industrial waste. Soils, for their part, must be stored for 30 years on a site of 16 km2 around the Fukushima daï-ichi plant, the time to find a final solution.

According to the Ministry of the Environment, the decontamination of the evacuated areas has generated 8,400,000 m3 of waste containing radioactive soils to which are added approximately 7,200,000 m3 in the areas not evacuated (6,800,000 m3 in Fukushima and 400,000 m3 in the other provinces concerned).

• Regarding the 16-square-kilometer (1,600-hectare) contaminated soil storage site with a capacity of 22 million cubic meters, the government has only been able to lease or purchase 48.4% of the surface area , knowing that 21% of the land already belonged to the government or municipalities. That was 18% a year ago.

This site will only accept Fukushima waste. The ministry announces that it has transferred 404,773 bags of about one cubic meter to this site in 2017. It is still far from the millions of cubic meters, but it required 67,146 truckings. And it will take as much transport to resume in 30 years … The total volume stored for the moment is 633 889 m3.

To learn more about this storage site.
• For radioactive waste from other provinces, the authorities prefer landfill even if they are struggling to find sites (source).

In the meantime, there is waste everywhere, as far as the eye can see. See the Greenpeace videos.

Evacuated areas

The last evacuation orders were lifted on April 1, 2017 and it remains mostly so-called back difficult areas where access is prohibited.


Cost of the disaster

Official figures for the cost of the disaster were revised upwards in December 2016 to 21.5 trillion yen (216.88 billion dollars) and have not changed since. This includes the dismantling of the Fukushima daï-ichi reactors, worth 8 trillion yen (80.56 billion dollars), 7.9 trillion yen (79.32 billion dollars) for compensation, nearly 4 trillion yen (40.28 billion dollars) for decontamination and 1.6 trillion yen (16.11 billion dollars) for the temporary radioactive waste storage center.

This sum does not include the cost of storing the waste resulting from the dismantling of the damaged power station nor the creation of a decontaminated island in the so-called “difficult return” zones whose sole purpose is the non-disappearance of the villages concerned.

The bill for the nuclear disaster could be 50,000 to 70 trillion yen (520.67 to 719.02 billion dollars), which is 3 times higher than the government estimate, according to a study by the Japan Center for Economic Research.

TEPCo has already received a total of 8,032.1 billion yen (73.76 billion dollars at the current rate) in advance for compensation. This money is loaned without interest.

The government still holds a 50.1% stake in TEPCO.



February 19, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | 1 Comment

How did the Fukushima disaster affect air pollution?

February 14, 2018
In March 2011, a post-earthquake tsunami triggered nuclear meltdowns, hydrogen-air explosions and the release of radioactive materials from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. The Fukushima disaster has been called the most significant nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. 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), as a member of a team of Japanese researchers, today published a report on the details of what exactly — at the particle level — was released into the air after the disaster.
In the discussion that follows, Ewing explains the team’s findings and why they are important for health and environmental safety.
Why did you decide to study the Fukushima disaster?
The Fukishima Daiichi event surprised me. I now teach a freshman seminar on this event. I am particularly interested to understand why the accident occurred and what the long-term impact will be on the environment. This research paper reflects my interest in answering these questions.
We’ve heard lots about possible health effects from contaminated water after the Fukushima disaster, but less about particulates in the air. What did you find?
During the core melt-down events at Fukushima Daiichi, radioactivity was released as fine particulates that traveled in the air, sometime for distances of tens of kilometers, and settled onto the surrounding countryside.
In order to understand the health risk, it is very important to understand the form and chemistry of these particulates.
Recently, in a previous paper we have described a new type of particulate that is Cs-rich (some Cs isotopes are highly radioactive). The highly radioactive Cs-rich particles formed in the reactor by condensation from a silica-rich vapor, formed from the melting of core and concrete structures. In this paper, we describe the first identification of fragments of the melted core that were entrapped by the Cs-particles and transported away from the reactor site, some 4 kilometers. This is an important discovery because this provides us with samples of the fuel and melted core.
This is a special contribution because it uses very advanced electron microscopy techniques that allow for imaging of individual atoms or clusters of atoms. This advanced technique is required because the particles are so small — nanometers in size.
How did you come to work with your collaborators in Japan?
I have had long standing collaborations with Japanese scientists for decades. The lead researcher for the group, Professor Satoshi Utusunomiya, was once a member of my research group when I was at the University of Michigan. We have always collaborated on topics that involve radioactive materials and the use of electron microscopy. This collaboration is an entirely natural outgrowth of previous collaborations.
What, if any, policy recommendations would you suggest based on your findings?
The most direct result would be to design monitoring systems so that we have a good record of released particulates. Also, we need to push the development of advanced analytical techniques so that these particulates can be quickly identified and characterized.

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima 7th Anniversary Events List

This is the list of the events organized in various countries and towns worldwide for the commemoration of the March 11 2011 beginning of  the Fukushima nuclear disaster, ongoing  for 7 years now. I will complete this list little by little by adding to this list any additional event about which  the people will inform me…..



In New York – March 10
In San Francisco – March 11
The 68th Every 11th of Month No Nukes Rally in San Francisco, in front of the S.F. Japanese Consulate
In Taunton, Somerset – February 17
In London – March 9 – March 11 – March 14
In Lyon – February 25
In Nanterre – March 3
In Paris – March 11
In Flamanville – March 15
In Namur – March 8
In Saint Petersburg – March 11
In Nuremberg – March 7
In Regensburg – April 26
In Sydney – February 17
In New South wales – March 11
In Tokyo – February 24
February 25 in Nerima
February 25 in Shibuya
March 3
March 9
In Osaka – March 17
In Kyoto – March 11
In Fujimi – February 18

February 15, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear disaster: Lethal levels of radiation detected in leak seven years after plant meltdown in Japan

Workers of theTokyo Electric Power Co, which is tasked with the job to decommission the nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima
Lethal levels of radiation have been detected at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, seven years after it was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami. 
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), which operated the complex and is now responsible for its clean up, made the discovery in a reactor containment vessel last month. 
The energy firm found eight sieverts per hour of radiation, while  42 units were also detected outside its foundations. 
A sievert is defined as the probability of cancer induction and genetic damage from exposure to a dose of radiation, by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). One sievert is thought to carry with it a 5.5 per cent chance of eventually developing cancer. 
Experts told Japanese state broadcaster NHK World that exposure to that volume of radiation for just an hour could kill, while another warned the leaks could lead to a “global” catastrophe if not tackled properly.
It came as Tepco said the problem of contaminated water pooled around the plants three reactors that is seeping into the ground has caused a major headache in its efforts to decommission the plant.
Thousands of workers have been hired by the company to as it attempts to secure the plant, which was the scene of the most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986. 
Three of its reactors went into a meltdown after the earthquake and tsunami which killed at least 15,000 people.
Tepco has admitted that it could be until 2020 until the contamination issue is resolved. Only then can it move onto the second stage of removing nuclear debris at the site, including the damaged reactors.
Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said the high levels of radiation found in and around the reactor last month were “expected” and unlikely to pose a danger. 
He told The Independent: “Although the radiation levels identified are high, a threat to human health is very unlikely because apart from workers at the site, no-one goes there.
“The high readings from fuel debris would be expected – the higher reading from the foundations, if confirmed, would be more of a concern as the cause is at present unclear. But as officials indicate, it might not be a genuine reading anyway.
“What this does demonstrate is that, seven years after the disaster, cleaning up the Fukushima site remains a massive challenge – and one that we’re going to be reading about for decades, never mind years.”
But Mycle Schneider, an independent energy consultant and lead author of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, said that Tepco “hasn’t a clue what it is doing” in its job to decommission the plant.
He added that the contaminated water that is leaking at the site could end up in the ocean if the  ongoing treatment project fails and cause a “global” disaster, he told The Independent. 
“Finding high readings in the reactor is normal, it’s where the molten fuel is, it would be bizarre if it wasn’t,” he said. 
“I find it symptomatic of the past seven years, in that they don’t know what they’re doing, Tepco, these energy companies haven’t a clue what they’re doing, so to me it’s been going wrong from the beginning. It’s a disaster of unseen proportions.”
Mr Schneider added that the radiation leaks coupled with the waste from the plant stored in an “inappropriate” way in tanks could have global consequences.
“This is an area of the planet that gets hit by tornadoes and all kinds of heavy weather patterns, which is a problem. When you have waste stored above ground in inappropriate ways, it can get washed out and you can get contamination all over the place.
“This can get problematic anytime, if it contaminates the ocean there is no local contamination, the ocean is global, so anything that goes into the ocean goes to everyone.”
He added: “It needs to be clear that this problem is not gone, this is not just a local problem. It’s a very major thing.”
The Independent contacted Tepco for comment, but the energy giant had not responded at the time of publication.

February 5, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Government to test safety of burying radioactive soil

Government to test safety of burying radioactive soil this spring
31 jan2018.jpg
Bags of debris contaminated with radiation are seen stored in a field in the town of Okuma, near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, in this August 2015 photo.
The government plans to conduct a demonstration project sometime this spring to test the safety of burying waste generated by decontamination work following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Environment Ministry said Wednesday.
In the project, soil waste from eastern and northeastern areas of the country other than Fukushima Prefecture will be covered with uncontaminated soil at sites in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, and the town of Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture, with radioactivity levels around the locations being measured.
The government plans to determine its disposal policy for contaminated soil in the fall or later depending on the outcome of the experiment, according to the ministry.
A total of 56 municipalities in seven prefectures — Iwate, Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama and Chiba — have completed cleanup work with financial support from the central government.
But some 330,000 cubic meters of soil waste has been temporarily kept at around 28,000 locations — including public spaces such as schools and parks — in 53 municipalities, prompting local residents to call for disposal of the waste at the earliest opportunity.
The project will be carried out on the premises of the Tokai Research and Development Center’s Nuclear Science Research Institute in Tokai and at a public space in Nasu.
Some 2,500 cubic meters of soil waste temporarily kept at two locations in Tokai and about 350 cubic meters of soil waste kept at the public space in Nasu will be used in the project.
After the waste is buried, workers’ exposure levels to radiation will also be measured.
“Households in storage locations continue shouldering the burden. I hope (the project) will prove the safety of burying it (soil waste) and lead to the disposal (of contaminated soil),” a Nasu town official said.
“It took time to conduct (the project) but it’s good,” said an official in Tokai, adding that more and more local residents have been asking for the removal of soil waste from a park.
After being asked by municipalities to demonstrate a way to dispose of soil waste, the ministry had been searching for proper locations to carry out the demonstration project.
Radioactive soil disposal method to be tested
Japan’s Environment Ministry will carry out tests at 2 sites where soil generated in decontamination work following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident is buried.
Outside Fukushima Prefecture, where the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is located, some 330,000 cubic meters of soil are stored in 53 cities, towns and villages in 7 prefectures in eastern Japan.
The soil is currently kept at some 28,000 locations, including schoolyards and parks.
Local residents have called on the government to safely dispose of the soil as quickly as possible. The environment ministry will start testing soil disposal methods in the spring.
The sites chosen are a nuclear research institute in Ibaraki Prefecture and a sports ground in Tochigi Prefecture.
Ministry officials say the stored soil will be buried in the ground and then covered over again with clean new earth. They will then measure radiation levels at areas surrounding the sites and the amount of radiation that workers were exposed to.
The ministry will start negotiating with local governments regarding a full-scale disposal after verifying the test method’s safety and drawing up an appropriate disposal plan.
Landfilling of Radiation-Tainted Soil to Start outside Fukushima
Tokyo, Jan. 31 (Jiji Press)–The Environment Ministry said Wednesday that landfill work for soil tainted with radioactive materials released from the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station will start outside Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan.
The work will be carried out in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, and the town of Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture, on a trial basis from this spring. Both prefectures are south of and adjacent to Fukushima.
In Fukushima, work has already started to store such soil at interim facilities for up to 30 years before its final disposal.
The work in Tokai and Nasu will involve about 2,500 and 350 cubic meters, respectively, of soil removed from ground during decontamination work following the accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. <9501> plant, which was heavily damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The soil will be buried underground, with the land surface to be covered with a layer of clean soil more than 30 centimeters thick.

January 31, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Lingering effects of 2011 disaster take toll in fallout-hit Fukushima, experts warn

A Buddhist priest prays on a beach in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, in March 2017. The area was hit hard by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
There are fewer and fewer headlines these days about the catastrophe resulting from the triple core meltdown in March 2011 at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. But participants at a recent symposium stressed that the disaster’s lingering effects continue to weigh heavily on people and municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture.
“In the post-disaster reconstruction, Miyagi Prefecture had to start from zero,” said former Fukushima University President Toshio Konno, who is from Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, and lost five relatives in the town when it was hit by tsunami caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake. “But Fukushima Prefecture had to start from a negative point because of the additional impact of the nuclear calamity. It is really hard for Fukushima to reach the zero point.”
During the symposium at Tokyo’s Waseda University on Saturday, Konno — who served on a Fukushima Prefectural Government committee tasked with judging whether deaths in the years following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami were disaster-related — said that as of Sept. 30 last year, there were 3,647 such cases in Japan, of which Fukushima Prefecture accounted for 60 percent.
What’s more, Fukushima is the only prefecture among the three disaster-hit Tohoku prefectures that still sees people die from related causes. Since March 2016, Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, which were also hit by the quake and tsunami, have suffered no disaster-related deaths, while Fukushima has seen 50, Konno said.
He also said that the number of disaster-related suicides in Fukushima has grown over time compared with Iwate and Miyagi. Fukushima saw 10 such suicides in 2011, 13 in 2012, 23 in 2013, 15 in 2014 and 19 in 2015. Corresponding figures in Iwate and Miyagi, respectively, are 17 and 22 in 2011, eight and three in 2012, four and 10 in 2013, three and four in 2014 and three and one in 2015.
Takao Suami, a Waseda professor heading the university’s efforts to provide legal support for the reconstruction, said the government’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation was fairly helpful in addressing compensation issues until around the spring of 2014. But Suami said cases have emerged recently in which the utility, now known as Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., refuses to accept reconciliation proposals put forward by the committee.
Yuichi Kaido, a lawyer working with some 3,000 residents of the village of Iitate on the compensation dispute resolution process, said that even though residents suffered exceedingly high levels of external radiation exposure immediately after the meltdowns — measuring 7 millisieverts on average — due to a delayed evacuation order, the committee proposed in December that only people whose exposure was 9 millisieverts or higher should be entitled to compensation, a threshold which covers just 200 people. (Nuclear power stations are legally required to limit the yearly radiation exposure for residents living nearby to 1 millisievert or less.)
Michitaro Urakawa, a professor emeritus of law at Waseda who says he supports the restart of nuclear plants, said the compensation system for victims of the nuclear disaster has a fundamental flaw. Tepco, he said, is benefitting from the injection of funds for compensation from the central government, while consumers — including low-income people in Fukushima Prefecture who did not have assets worth compensation — are helping the utility return the injected money to the government in the form of increased electricity bills.
Kaido and other lawyers called for reconstruction policies that truly meet the needs of Fukushima people, because compensation cannot cover damage that does not have a monetary value, such as the loss of communities, friendship, business ties and fears about the future, including the threat of health problems due to radiation exposure.
Another problem highlighted at the symposium was the unhealthy financial state of disaster-hit municipalities in Fukushima. Waseda professor Yoshihiro Katayama, a former Tottori governor who was internal affairs minister for the Democratic Party of Japan administration at the time of the meltdowns, said the municipalities will end up with excess personnel, creating a financial burden over the long term.
Disaster-hit municipalities in the prefecture are already facing financial strain. The town of Namie — roughly half of whose area lies within 20 km of the nuclear plant — saw its revenue grow from ¥9.48 billion in 2010 to ¥20 billion in 2016. But the portion of the funds from the central and prefectural governments increased to 87.2 percent from 68.6 percent, reducing the percentage of internal revenue to 12.8 percent from 31.4 percent.
Further, if the municipalities decide to end contracts commissioning administrative services to private firms, the local economy will suffer, Katayama said. He also expressed fear that the municipalities may have lost the know-how to assess the value of real estate, the basis of real estate taxes, an important revenue source.
Katayama also said the aging population will lead to a deep and serious problem in disaster-hit areas because many young people who evacuated will not return, causing such problems as difficulty maintaining the public health insurance system as well as city water and sewage systems. There will also be a shortage of nursing care workers and schools will be forced to close, he warned.
“Although the revenue of disaster-hit municipalities enormously expanded, the time will come when their administrative services have to shrink,” Katayama said. “Currently, the central government is taking special measures. But both the central government and the municipalities concerned must think about how to achieve a soft landing.”

January 31, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO refused in 2002 to calculate possible tsunami hitting Fukushima: ex-gov’t official

reactor 3 nov 2017.jpg
The No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter on Nov. 21, 2017
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), operator of the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, refused in 2002 to calculate the potential effects of tsunami in case of an earthquake off Fukushima Prefecture when a now-defunct nuclear watchdog told the utility to conduct an evaluation, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.
A former safety screening division official of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) told the Mainichi Shimbun on Jan. 29 that TEPCO did not accept the agency’s request even though the latter tried to convince the utility after the government released a long-term assessment report that a major earthquake could hit off the Pacific coast including areas off Fukushima Prefecture, possibly triggering massive tsunami. This is the first time that exchanges between the then nuclear agency and TEPCO following the release of the government report have come to light.
In July 2002, the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion released the long-term assessment report saying that an earthquake similar to the 1896 Sanriku Earthquake could hit off the Pacific from the northern Sanriku to Boso areas. The official held a hearing on TEPCO the following month as to whether the report would affect safety measures at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
According to the official as well as the statement submitted by the government to the trial of a lawsuit filed by Fukushima nuclear evacuees against TEPCO and the state, NISA told the utility to calculate a possible earthquake-tsunami disaster off the coast from Fukushima to Ibaraki prefectures, pointing out that Tohoku Electric Power Co. had been considering conducting an assessment on areas quite far south. In response, TEPCO representatives showed reluctance, saying that the calculation would “take time and cost money” and that there was no reliable scientific basis in the assessment report. The TEPCO officials reportedly resisted for about 40 minutes on the matter. In the end, the agency accepted the utility’s decision to shelve the earthquake-tsunami estimate.
In 2006, NISA again requested TEPCO to prepare its nuclear plants for massive tsunami exceeding envisioned levels, but the company did not comply, before finally conducting a calculation in 2008. The utility concluded that waves up to a height of 15.7 meters could hit the Fukushima plant, but did not take measures according to the estimate.
The former nuclear agency official said as someone involved in the screening of earthquake resistant measures it was very unfortunate that the accident at the Fukushima plant occurred, but stopped short of commenting on the legitimacy of the agency’s handling of the matter, saying, “I can’t put it in words casually.”
The attorney representing Fukushima nuclear evacuees in the redress suit commented that the finding exposes the maliciousness of TEPCO, while also pointing to the responsibility of the central government. A TEPCO public relations official, meanwhile, said that the company would not comment on the matter because the trial was ongoing.

January 31, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Evacuations after Severe Nuclear Accidents by Dr Ian Fairlie,

evacuation_orders_and_restricted_march 2011.jpg



Evacuations after Severe Nuclear Accidents by Dr Ian Fairlie, January 27, 2018:

This article discusses three related matters –

  1. The experience of evacuations during the Fukushima nuclear disaster
  2. Whether lengthy evacuations from large cities are feasible?
  3. Some emergency plans for evacuations in North America

(a) Introduction

If another severe nuclear accident, such as Windscale (in 1957), Chernobyl (1986) or Fukushima (2011) were to occur then the adverse health effects would primarily depend on wind direction and on the nature of the accident. The main responses to a nuclear disaster are shelter, evacuation and stable iodine prophylaxis. The most important, in terms of preventing future cancer epidemics, is evacuation. This article is based on North American evacuation plans. Little is known of UK emergency evacuation plans as few, if any, are publicly available.

In North American plans, if a severe nuclear accident were to occur, able citizens would be requested to leave designated evacuation/no entry zones under their own steam and to find accommodation with family and friends in uncontaminated areas. At the same time, Government authorities would evacuate prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, care homes and certain schools.

Little, if any, consideration seems to have been given to how long such evacuations would last. For example, the large majority of the 160,000 people who left or were evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture, Japan during the accident in March 2011 are still living outside the Prefecture. Many are living in makeshift shelters eg shipping containers or prefab houses.

At present, the Japanese Government is attempting to force evacuees (by withdrawing state compensation) to return to less contaminated areas, with little success. Currently, ~7 years after the accident, an area of about 1,000 square km is still subject to evacuation and no entry orders. This compares with the area of 2,700 square km still evacuated and subject to no or restricted entry at Chernobyl ~32 years after the accident.

(b) Experience of the Fukushima Evacuation

In 2015 and 2016, the author visited Fukushima Prefecture in Japan with international study teams. These study tours were informative as they revealed information about the evacuations that differed from official accounts by TEPCO and the Japanese Government. From many discussions with local mayors, councillors, local health groups and small community groups, the following information was revealed.

The most common figure cited for evacuees is 160,000, of which 80,000 were evacuated by the authorities and the rest left on their own, often on foot, cycles and carts. It took about two weeks to evacuate all parts of the initial 20 km (later 30 km) radius evacuation areas around the Fukushima reactors.

The main reason for the delays was that many roads in the Prefecture were jammed with gridlocks which sometimes lasted 24 hours a day, for several days on end on some roads. These traffic jams were partly due to the poor existing road infrastructure and partly due to many road accidents. These jams were of such severity that safety crews for the Fukushima nuclear station had to be moved in and out mostly by helicopter. All public transport by trains and buses ceased. Mobile telephone networks and the internet crashed due to massive demand.

Thousands of people either refused to leave their homelands or returned later. Older farmers often refused to leave their animals behind or be moved from their ancestral lands. In at least a dozen recorded cases, older farmers slaughtered their cow herds rather than leave them behind (dairy cows need to be milked daily): they then committed suicide themselves in several instances (see next section).

According to Hachiya et al (2014), the disaster adversely affected the telecommunications system, water supplies, and electricity supplies including radiation monitoring systems. The local hospital system was dysfunctional; hospitals designated as radiation-emergency facilities were unable to operate because of damage from the earthquake and tsunami, and some were located within designated evacuation zones. Emergency personnel, including fire department personnel, were often asked to leave the area.

At hospitals, evacuations were sometimes carried out hurriedly with the unfortunate result that patients died due to intravenous drips being ripped out, medicaments being left behind, the absence of doctors and nurses who had left, and ambulance road accidents (see next section). Many hastily-allocated reception centres (often primary schools) were either unable or ill-equipped to deal with seriously ill patients.

Much confusion resulted when school children were being bussed home, while their parents were trying to reach schools to collect their children. Government officials, doctors, nurses, care workers, police, firepersons, ambulance drivers, emergency crews, teachers, etc faced the dilemma of whether to stay at their posts or return to look after their families. In the event, many emergency crews refused to enter evacuation zones for fear of radiation exposure.

Stable iodine was not issued to most people. Official evacuation plans were either non-existent or inadequate and, in the event, next to useless. In many cases, local mayors took the lead and ordered and supervised evacuations in their villages without waiting for orders or in defiance of them. Apparently, the higher up the administrative level, the greater the levels of indecision and lack of responsibility.

In the years after the accident, the longer-lasting effects of the evacuations have become apparent. These include family separations, marital break-ups, widespread depression, and further suicides. These are discussed in a recent publication (Morimatsu et al, 2017) which relates the sad, often eloquent, stories of the Fukushima people. They differ sharply from the accounts disseminated by TEPCO.

(c) Deaths from evacuations at Fukushima

Official Japanese Government data reveal that nearly 2,000 people died from the effects of evacuations necessary to avoid high radiation exposures from the Fukushima disaster, including from suicides – cat2/sub – cat2 – 1/20141226_kanrenshi.pdf

The uprooting to unfamiliar areas, cutting of family ties, loss of social support networks, disruption, exhaustion, poor physical conditions and disorientation resulted in many people, in particular older people, apparently losing their will to live.

The evacuations also resulted in increased levels of illnesses among evacuees such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus and dyslipidaemia (Hasegawa, 2016), psychiatric and mental health problems (Sugimoto et al, 2012), polycythaemia- a slow growing blood cancer (Sakai et al, 2014 and 2017), cardiovascular disease (Ohiro et al, 2017), liver dysfunction (Takahashi A et al, 2017) and severe psychological distress (Kunii et al, 2016).

Increased suicide rates occurred among younger and older people following the Fukushima evacuations, but the trends are unclear. A 2014 Japanese Cabinet Office report stated that, between March 2011 and July 2014, 56 suicides in Fukushima Prefecture were linked to the nuclear accident.

(d) Should evacuations be ordered?

The above account should not be taken as arguments against evacuations as they constitute an important dose-saving and life-saving strategy during emergencies. Instead, the toll from evacuations should be considered part of the overall toll from nuclear accidents.

In future, deaths from evacuation-related ill-heath and suicides should be included in assessments of the fatality numbers from nuclear disasters.

For example, although about 2,000 deaths occurred during and immediately after the evacuations, it can be calculated from UNSCEAR (2013) collective dose estimates that about 5,000 fatal cancers will arise from the radiation exposures at Fukushima, ie taking into account the evacuations. Many more fatal cancers would have occurred if the evacuations had not been carried out.

There is an acute planning dilemma here: if evacuations are carried out (even with good planning) then illnesses and deaths will undoubtedly occur. But if they are not carried out, even more people could die. In such situations, it is necessary to identify the real cause of the problem. And here it is the existence of NPPs near large population centres. In such cases, consideration should be given to the early closure of the NPPs, and switching to safer means of electricity generation.

(e) Very Large Cities: Evacuations for lengthy periods?

If another severe nuclear accident were to occur, the death toll would depend on wind direction and whether the reactors were close to large cities. For example, Pickering NPP is located 20 miles from Toronto in Canada with an urban population of ~5 million; Indian Point NPP in the state of New York US is located 30 miles from New York City (~9 million); and Dungeness NPP is located 50 miles from London, UK (~9 million). These nuclear stations are just major examples of nuclear power stations located relatively close to urban centres, especially in the UK, US, and France.

If the worst were to occur and radioactive plumes from a severe nuclear accident reached large cities, would it be feasible to evacuate them quickly, and would it be feasible to do so for lengthy periods? There appears to be little literature on these questions, but it is expected that severe logistical problems would exist with the timely evacuation of millions of residents, workers and visitors from major cities,

(d) US Evacuation Plans after nuclear accidents – viability?

In the US, viable evacuation plans are a legal NRC requirement for continued reactor operation. But “viability” has often been a contentious legal issue in the past.

For example, in the 1980s and 1990s, this issue was at the centre of court battles at the Davis Besse reactor in Ohio and the Seabrook nuclear power station in New Hampshire. It played a critical role in the shutdown of the Shoreham reactor on Long Island, New York state.

After a major 1986 earthquake damaged the Perry reactor in Ohio on the north shore of Lake Erie, the then Ohio Governor, Richard Celeste, sued the US NRC to delay its issuance of the plant’s operating license on the grounds of the non-viability of evacuation of large population centres nearby. The US population within 80 km of Perry nuclear station was 2,300,000. Canadian populations would have been affected but were not included.

An Ohio state commission concluded evacuation of nearby large cities during a disaster at Perry was not possible.

 (e) Evacuation plans in Canada

In Canada, the Ontario Government has been developing evacuation plans for the Pickering nuclear station near Toronto since 1980, but whether the feasibility of such plans has kept up with the significant population growth around the station over 40 years is an open question.

Their draft plans have involved many Government Departments and hundreds of individuals. See

However, the matter of evacuation is relatively undeveloped: future detailed plans remain to be drawn up by local governments in and near Toronto. This is perhaps unsurprising given the difficulties involved, but it appears that many issues remain to be resolved. For example,

  • How long would it take to untangle traffic jams exiting the city?
  • How long it would take for drivers to reach their emergency vehicles and school buses?
  • Would emergency crews enter contaminated zones to deal with accidents?
  • What happens when residents refuse to leave?
  • How to deal with residents who return?
  • How lomg would evacuations last? Months, years,  decades?

Another issue is what happens when people, who are asked not to leave, decide to evacuate?  In 1979, during the Three Mile Island nuclear accident near Harrisburg in Pennsylvania US, evacuation requests were made for approximately 3,500 vulnerable older people, children and pregnant women. The result was 140,000 immediately fled the area, thus creating large traffic jams which impeded the evacuations of vulnerable people. (Ziegler and Johnson, 1984).

The Canadian plans reveal that, in the event of a severe accident, evacuation will be for a radius of 20 km from the NPPs (in the direction of the plume). This differs from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s two emergency planning zones around NPPs – a plume exposure pathway zone with a radius of 16 km, concerned primarily with exposure to, and inhalation of, airborne radioactive contamination. Secondly, an ingestion and direct radiation pathway zone of 80 km, primarily concerned with ingestion of contaminated foods/ liquids and ground radiation from deposited Cs-137.

(f) Conclusions

The experiences of Japanese evacuees after Fukushima discussed above are distressing to read. Their experiences were terrible, so much so that it requires Governments of large cities with nearby NPPs to reconsider their own situations and to address the question… what would happen if radioactive fallout heavily contaminated large areas of their city and required millions of residents to leave for long periods of time, eg several decades?

And how long would evacuations need to continue….weeks, months, years, or decades? The time length of evacuations is usually avoided in the evacuation plans seen so far. In reality, the answer would depend on Cs-137 concentrations in surface soils. The time period could be decades, as the half-life of the principal radionuclide, Cs-137, is 30 years. This raises the possibility of large cities becoming uninhabited ‘ghost’ towns like Tomioka, Okuma, Namie, Futaba, etc in Japan and Pripyat in Ukraine.

This bleak reality is hard to accept or even comprehend. However it is a matter that some Governments need to address after Fukushima.

Wheatley et al (2017) comprehensively examined the historical records of 216 nuclear accidents, mishaps and near-misses since the mid-1950s. They predicted the future frequencies and severities of nuclear accidents and concluded both were “unacceptably high”. Wheatley et al (2016) also concluded that the relative frequency with which nuclear events cascaded into nuclear disasters remained large enough that, when multiplied by their severity, the aggregate risk to society was “very high”. It is unsurprising that, after Fukushima, several major European states including Germany and Switzerland have decided to phase-out their nuclear reactors.


Hachiya M, Tominaga T, Tatsuzaki H, Akashi M (2004) Medical Management of the Consequences of the Fukushima nuclear power plant incident. Drug Dev Res. 2014 Feb;75(1):3-9.

Hasegawa A, Ohira T, Maeda M, Yasumura S Tanigawa K (2016) Emergency Responses and Health Consequences after the Fukushima Accident; Evacuation and Relocation. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol) 2016 Apr;28(4):237-44.

Kunii Y et al and Mental Health Group of the Fukushima Health Management Survey(2016) Severe Psychological Distress of Evacuees in Evacuation Zone Caused by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident: The Fukushima Health Management Survey. PLoS One. 2016 Jul 8;11(7).

Morimatsu A; Sonoda M; M.A.; M.K.; Edited by Fields, L (2017) “Seeking Safety: Speeches, Letters and Memoirs by Evacuees from the 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Disaster.

Ohira T and Fukushima Health Management Survey Group (2017) Changes in Cardiovascular Risk Factors After the Great East Japan Earthquake. Asia Pac J Public Health (2017) Mar;29(2_suppl):47S-55S.

Sakai A and Fukushima Health Management Survey Group (2017) Persistent prevalence of polycythaemia among evacuees 4 years after the Great East Japan Earthquake: A follow-up study. Prev Med Rep. 2017 Jan 12;5:251-256

Sakai A, Ohira T, Hosoya M, Ohtsuru A, Satoh H, Kawasaki Y, Suzuki H, Takahashi A, Kobashi G, Ozasa K, Yasumura S, Yamashita S, Kamiya K, Abe M (2014) Life as an evacuee after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident is a cause of polycythaemia: the Fukushima Health Management Survey. BMC Public Health 2014 Dec 23;14:1318.

Sugimoto S Krull S Nomura T Morita and M Tsubokura (2012) The voice of the most vulnerable: lessons from the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan. Bull World Health Organ. 2012 Aug 1; 90(8): 629–630.

Takahashi A et al and Fukushima Health Management Survey Group (2017) Effect of evacuation on liver function after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident: The Fukushima Health Management Survey. J Epidemiol 2017 Apr;27(4):180-185.

UNSCEAR (2013) Levels and effects of radiation exposure due to the nuclear accident after the 2011 great east-Japan earthquake and tsunami. United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation . New York.

Weinisch K, Brueckner P (2015) The impact of shadow evacuation on evacuation time estimates for nuclear power plants. J Emerg Manag. 2015 Mar-Apr;13(2):145-58.

Wheatley S, Sovacool B, Sornette D (2016) Reassessing the safety of nuclear power. Energy Research & Social Science Volume 15, May 2016, 96-100.

Wheatley S, Sovacool B, Sornette D (2017) Of Disasters and Dragon Kings: A Statistical Analysis of Nuclear Power Incidents and Accidents. Risk Anal. 2017 Jan;37(1): 99-115.

Ziegler DJ and Johnson JH (1984) Evacuation Behaviour In Response To Nuclear Power Plant Accidents. The Professional Geographer Volume 36, 1984 – Issue 2 Pages 207-215.

Another article from Ian Fairlie from August 2015 deserves another read:

January 29, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | 2 Comments

72nd financial payment for Tepco: 2.7 billion dollars

72nd financial payment for Tepco: more than 8,000 billion yen loaned without interest
Tepco announces that it has received the 72nd financial payment from the government support structure which gives it money for compensation: 293.5 billion yen (2.7 billion dollars at the current rate). This amount is about 10 times higher than the last time and this money is loaned without interest.
Tepco has already received a total of 8,032.1 billion yen (73.6 billion dollars at the current rate) if we take into account this payment and this will not be enough.

January 29, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

FUKUSHIMA: Where are the People? – Arnie Gundersen on the Ongoing Human Toll of the Nuclear Disaster

Please go listen his week’s feature on Nuclear Hotseat podcast:
Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Energy Education, focuses on the human toll inflicted by the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi. Recorded December 2, 2017, at DePaul University, at an event sponsored by Chicago’s Nuclear Energy Information Service, or NEIS.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Will Go Down in History As the Biggest Coverup

The cover-up of the effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster is disgusting.
To deny the existing dangers to people’s lives in the name of  reconstruction is criminal and not a solution to those real existing dangers. Misinformation is their science. Deception is their art.
They worship at the altar of the Japanese Yen.
5 more minors in Fukushima Pref. at time of nuclear accident diagnosed with thyroid cancer
FUKUSHIMA — Five more people in Fukushima Prefecture who were 18 and under at the time of the 2011 nuclear accident were diagnosed with thyroid cancer as of the end of September this year, a prefectural investigative commission announced at a Dec. 25 meeting.
Fukushima Prefecture established the commission to examine the health of residents after the March 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. A total of 159 Fukushima prefectural residents who were aged 18 and under when the meltdowns occurred have now been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
The commission stated on Dec. 25 that “it is difficult to think the cases are related to radiation exposure” from the disaster.
Unify efforts to spread accurate information about Fukushima Pref.
To accelerate the reconstruction of Fukushima Prefecture, where an accident occurred at a nuclear power plant, it is vital to have active, concerted efforts by the government.
The Reconstruction Agency has compiled a strategy of eradicating misconceptions and reinforcing risk-related communication regarding the post-disaster reconstruction of Fukushima. It will serve as a basic policy for the ministries and agencies involved with transmitting information, both at home and abroad, concerning the current state of Fukushima as well as its appeal.
Previously, the ministries and agencies dealt with individual problems through a sort of symptomatic treatment. It is hard to say that the agency, which is supposed to unify assistance to the affected areas, functioned sufficiently in taking measures against the damage wrought by misconceptions. With the ministries and agencies concerned coordinating under the same strategy, it is hoped that tangible results can be achieved.
Three points have been put forth as major pillars of the strategy: get people to know; get people to eat; and get people to come.
The strategy is based on the current situation in which biases and discrimination against Fukushima still remain. It is important for people to accurately understand the current situation on the basis of scientific data.
With regard to “getting people to know” Fukushima, measures will be taken to disseminate a correct understanding about radiation in the prefecture.
Messages to be transmitted via TV and the internet will convey such objective facts as: radiation exists in our daily life; the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant differs from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident; and radiation is not infectious.
Visiting is most effective
It will also be explained that the amount of radiation in the prefecture has declined to a level almost identical to that of other prefectures, except in the vicinity of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Bullying of schoolchildren who evacuated the prefecture also cannot be overlooked.
Through the strategy, revisions will be made to a supplementary reader on radiation for primary, junior high and high school students across the country. Training for teachers and board of education staff will also be increased. To protect children, it is first vital for teachers to correctly understand the effects and characteristics of radiation.
In “getting people to eat” Fukushima products, measures will be taken to tout the safety of agricultural and marine products produced in Fukushima. The current circumstances, in which products reach the market after undergoing strict inspection, will be conveyed to people.
Although nearly seven years have passed since the accident, these products are not priced in line with their quality. The per kilogram price of peaches grown in 2016 was ¥115 lower than the national average. The peaches were a popular product before the nuclear accident, thanks to such factors as Fukushima’s relative proximity to the Tokyo metropolitan area.
Countries such as South Korea still restrict the import of Fukushima products. The government, for its part, should tenaciously appeal to these countries to scrap their restrictions.
“Getting people to come” to Fukushima is also important. The impact on local tourism still remains. While the country’s tourism industry is thriving thanks to a surge in foreign visitors to Japan, the number of tourists to Fukushima hovers at about 90 percent of what it was before the accident.
Through the strategy, efforts will be made to transmit images that convey a positive impression of Fukushima through the internet and other mediums. A large number of people actually visiting Fukushima and understanding what it’s like — that can be considered the most effective measure against the problem of misconceptions.
Fukushima dairy farmers look to large-scale ‘reconstruction farms’ to revive battered industry
Dairy farmers in Fukushima Prefecture plan to build what they call “reconstruction farms” by fiscal 2020 as part of efforts to boost the industry in the areas tainted by the 2011 nuclear disaster.
The Fukushima Dairy Farmers’ Cooperative, their industry body, is eyeing three locations for the new farms — Minamisoma’s Odaka Ward, the town of Kawamata’s Yamakiya district and the village of Iitate — which residents were forced to flee after the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
The envisaged farms would host a combined 1,600 cows for milk production and also host a research and development hub for cutting-edge biotechnology, according to people familiar with the plan.
The introduction of milking robots for mass production is one of the key features of the plan. The dairy farmers will also tie up with Zenrakuren, the industry’s nationwide body, to improve R&D, the people said.
Under the plan, Minamisoma would raise some 1,000 cows, Kawamata would take care of 200 to 300 and Iitate 350. The Minamisoma site would become a mass distribution center with a cold storage facility for produced milk.
Other facilities to be built for the farms include a production center for nutrient-rich cattle feed and a research center for fertilized eggs. They will work toward producing high-quality breeds — not only milk cows but also wagyu.
The people familiar with the plan emphasized the benefits of scale that would result by combining the operations of each dairy farmer and minimizing the running costs. That would help stabilize their business, they said.
Last year, cattle feed production facilities started up in Minamisoma and Kawamata, with another in Iitate soon to follow suit to supply the new farms, they said.
Cooperation with academic circles is also within the scope of the new project. Fukushima University will offer a new course on related studies from April 2019, and the dairy farmers hope that cooperating with the university will help foster a new generation of human resources for the industry.
Minamisoma plans to build lodgings for students and researchers, including those from Fukushima University and other institutions from across the country. Dairy farmers who want to experiment with new business methods would also be welcome.
The cost of building the farms is estimated at around ¥12 billion. The Fukushima Prefectural Government is negotiating with the municipalities involved in the project and plans to make use of a central government subsidy for reconstruction projects.
According to the Fukushima Dairy Farmers’ Cooperative, large-scale farming is seen as the key to the industry’s future as the population grays, leaving farms with a lack of successors.
Within Fukushima, milk producers are aging fast, and slashing production costs is the top priority. Even if there are young dairy farmers with aspirations, there aren’t enough opportunities for them to start up, the cooperative said.
It also hopes that running large-scale farms with cutting-edge R&D functions would give consumers peace of mind about product safety by accurately grasping data related to radiation in milk and pasture grass.
In 2015, the Fukushima cooperative launched the prototype for a large-scale support base for local farmers in the city of Fukushima. But Minoru Munakata, the head of the cooperative, said the business environment remains harsh.
“We hope running mass-scale farms will lead to cutting costs. We will work to make it a success,” he said.

January 16, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment


By Cécile Asanuma-Brice,
Researcher in urban sociology,
Franco-Japanese Institute Tokyo UMIFRE 19-CNRS /
CLERSE Laboratory, University Lille 1-CNRS
Translation Hervé Courtois & Kingsley Osborn
The explosion of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on 11 March 2011 caused serious radioactive contamination that forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes. Because this proves the impossibility of managing a nuclear accident, the refuge is not desired by the national authorities who opted for a nuclear action, nor by the international authorities. At first the authorities provided aid and shelter, but all aid was interrupted in April 2017 at the same time as the reopening of part of the former evacuation zone in order to force the migrants to return to life in the contaminated territories.
Chapter breakdown
– Summary
– A morning like any other
– The effects of resilience
– This new earthquake revives anger
– Despite common sense, the return to the former evacuation zone organized by the authorities takes place
– What is the real situation?
– Progress, and life: what science is entitled to question
We can not finish counting the years of what we have too quickly called the “after” Fukushima , however we might wish it, as the ‘’after’’ hour has not yet come. The situation has never stopped deteriorating. The insolvable problems are still too numerous on the nuclear plant site for one to evoke an “after” which would suggest a resolved situation allowing a new beginning. While information on the subject is scarce, and attempts to respond to a self-appeasing desire under the approval of the international authorities in charge of the issue by propagating the magic formula of “everything is fine”, in fact this is not the truth. Far from being “under control”, the management of this disaster resulting in the destruction of 40% of the prefecture’s landscape continues its course, showing every day the human inability to contain the nuclear disaster. After so many years, the corium [1] of reactors 1, 2, and 3 have still not been detected. The only information we have is that they are no longer in the tanks. More than 800 tons of highly radioactive material has escaped from its confinement to penetrate the groundwater. The position of the material cannot even be pinpointed precisely because of a high level of radioactivity preventing humans, and even robots, from approaching it. The coriums must be permanently cooled, during all these years, by more than 300 tons of water [2] which daily become contaminated in contact with the radioactive material. This highly contaminated water is in turn stored in tanks around the reactors, nearly one million cubic meters stored at present. Authorities regularly announce dumping some of the water in the sea because of the inability to store all the liquid. No solution has yet been found at this barrel of Danaides, subject to human management and its mistakes. Thus, in December 2016 the injection of cooling water into the reactor 3 was suspended inadvertently…
Figure 1. Map of the distribution of contamination in Bq / m² (Source: Japanese Ministry of Education and Research, September 2011. Translation and adaptation: Cécile Asanuma-Brice, Géoconfluences, 2017.)
It is not without surprise that we see the ardor of international organizations, as well as the Japanese government, wanting to force home the people who fled in the aftermath of the March 11, 2011 disaster, generating waves of migrations towards the south of the country, most generally towards the urbanized zones. More than six years after the explosion of the plant, and present more than ever on this rural territory, the members of the institutions engaged in the nuclear world [3], engage in “humanitarian work” in defense of peasants at risk, praising the benefits of resilience (Asanuma-Brice, 2015), pointing out the sufferings of becoming refugee and the health consequences of the stress in the face of the disaster, while however at the same time displaying an agnostic attitude to the epidemiological results now showing more than 184 children under 18 as having to be operated on for cancer of the thyroid out of a limited sample of 270,500 people [4]. This point, taboo in political and scientific institutional circles, is nevertheless fundamental, because it is this assessment that determines the protection policies to be implemented, or not, in the event of an accident. If the explosion of a nuclear power plant and the dispersion of the isotopes it contains are not dangerous for health and for life as a whole ,then why? Why leave in the event of an explosion? Why evacuate the populations whose community life destroyed? Why spend so much money decontaminating? Why the need to create specific research centers on radio-protection since it would be useless to protect oneself from it? And finally, why use these same harmless isotopes to achieve the ultimate weapon of destruction that is brandished in the face of the world at every diplomatic tension? In short, we need to restore consistency in our discourse and analysis. If the inhabitants of Fukushima have taken refuge, or have been evacuated (even if the evacuation organized by the administration was very late) it is because there is a real danger which we all know, scientists, military and citizens.
Our critical position as an urbanist is to propose in this text an assessment of the migratory situation and measures developed for the control of population movements, especially through housing policies, but also through attempts to revive the local economy in Fukushima six years after the disaster. Our analysis presents the results of studies carried out on the psychological effects of policies compelling residents to return to the territories of the former evacuation zone while the situation is still unstable, and we question the motivations behind the political will to return populations to areas still contaminated.
For six years now, we have been going to the scene of the disaster every month to follow as closely as possible not only the protection policies or management implemented by the various administrative bodies, but also by the populations themselves. Follow-up was done by regular queries, in the form of interviews, at the various temporary housing locations, with the associations in charge of the accompaniment to the shelter or to the health follow-up, with the inhabitants, refugees or not, as national and international administrators. This also led us to participate in various workshops and symposia organized by these different actors. They took part in the international conferences that we conducted each year, embracing the most diverse themes related to this disaster.
At first, however, we must give back to these analyses the context that is theirs, a land, that of Japan, whose seismic environment remains restless and will continue to be so because the country is a volcanic archipelago, located at the junction between the Eurasian plate, the sub-plate called “Love” to the west, that of Okinawa and that of the Yangze (north / south), the Philippine plate to the south, the Pacific plate to the east, and the Okhotsk plate to the north. Such a location leads us to think that human temerity cannot ignore the cause of earthquakes, which won’t be stopped by political arrogance.
A morning like any other
November 22, 2016, 6 am, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo. The walls are shaking and the floor is spinning slowly, endless seconds. The commentator responsible for informing about the situation broadcasts in a repeating loop, “A tsunami is coming, run away quickly! Be sure to flee! Remember the March 2011 earthquake! Do not go to see the tides, run away to the mountains, hills or somewhere high enough to shelter yourself, run away! “.
With tight throats, glued on TVs that loop images of seashores on which are displayed in red capital letters, “Tsunami! Flee away! ” we become aware of the situation; a magnitude 7.3 earthquake occurred 75 km from the Fukushima shoreline, recording level 5 shocks. The vertical movements of the tectonic plates pose a risk of imminent tsunami. At 8 am, tsunamis of various heights have already reached the Tohoku shores of Chiba, measured up to 1.4 m in the port of Sendai, and 1 m in each of the two nuclear power plants at Fukushima. Because it is there that all eyes are fixed. Not without reason. About an hour after the earthquake, the cooling system of building 3 of the Fukushima Dai-ni power plant breaks down due to strong shocks, according to the authorities. We hold our breath…. An hour and a half later, to the relief of everyone, the system is reset.
The effects of resilience
[5]During the entire morning of November 22, speakers and televisions constantly order the inhabitants to take refuge, the journalists posted on the places envisaged for this purpose are, to our astonishment, surrounded by only a few people. “All the trauma came back with this earthquake. Most people could not move from home, as if paralyzed, overwhelmed by the despair of all those years when the practice of moving into shelter has remained impossible for most of us. Seniors in temporary housing turned off their television sets and acted as if nothing had happened.” (Mari Suzuki, resident of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture). The resilience advocated by the national and international authorities who participated in the management of the consequences of the 2011 nuclear accident has emerged, despite the will of the victims. The population of areas polluted by radioactivity whose land has not been retained in the evacuation zone, are for the most part in a state of advanced depression, after five years of fighting for recognition of their right to refuge remains unanswered. Additionally, the government announced the reopening of part of the still unstable evacuation zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant as of March 2017,in fact causing the cessation of payment of monthly compensation used by some to relocate elsewhere and the closure of temporary housing. This constraint to return is mentally unbearable for people who have rebuilt their lives in host communities with a more stable environment.
This new earthquake revives anger
Hiroki Suzuki, a journalist in his forties, came to the gates of the evacuation zone a few hours after the earthquake. He waves his dosimeter which displays 7.09 microsievert / hour [6], while the natural average in the region was 0.04 microsievert / hour before the accident. “Look, we are lied. Still, always lied to …’’ he exclaims, without being able to hide a rage tinged with despair. Yet it was crossing this border of the evacuation zone two days earlier, that Professor Hayano of the University of Tokyo organized an inspection trip of the works at the nuclear power plant and of the evacuation zone, accompanied by thirteen high school students dressed in their simple school uniforms, without any type of protection. The earthquake occurred just after the study trip had generated a wave of discontent among residents, as reflected on social networks. Participant in several public revitalization projects in the region is Professor Hayano, among them is the ETHOS project conducted with the collaboration of IRSN, a project today at term to teach residents to live in a contaminated environment with a view to economic rationalization of the management of the consequences of a nuclear accident. As an adept of resilience, Professor Hayano ignores the consequences of a nuclear accident, ignoring hundreds of epidemiological studies on the issue, believing that fear of radioactivity is not justified. This initiatory trip was therefore intended to show students that they were not struck by radioactivity even though they would go to areas where the irradiation was highest, and that fear should give way to managerial reason. This attitude, considered irresponsible by many colleagues, ignores the most basic knowledge of radiation protection, that radioactivity acts on the human body, not suddenly, but in a process that spans several years.
This episode will have marked the people’s minds, because neither the seismic situation, the level of radioactivity nor the operating status of nuclear power plants (the November 22 earthquake proved it again with a new failure of the cooling system) should not allow such political tranquility. By a correlation, since the magnitude 7.8 New Zealand earthquake of November 13, 2016, we expected a new earthquake in Japan. Not by the law of series, but according to the tectonic sequence observed in 2011, when the Japanese earthquake was preceded by the earthquake of Christchurch in New Zealand, of magnitude 6.3. This phenomenon was verified during the Kumamoto earthquake in southern Japan on Kyushu Island, April 20, 2016, also announced by an earthquake in Christchurch February 14, of magnitude 5.8. This combination of earthquakes is the result of the pressures caused by the Pacific plate common to both archipelagos.
Thus, if the tsunami warning was suspended on the entire area a few hours after the earthquake, the number of replicates left a heavy concern. In just over a day no less than 90 aftershocks were recorded. The earthquake of November 22, 2016, followed by a strong aftershock on November 24 of magnitude 6.1 was accompanied by a new earthquake in New Zealand of magnitude 6.3 which, according to the director of earthquake information planning, Mr. Kouji Nakamura, would predict a new class 7 earthquake in Japan in the following months.
Despite common sense, the return to the former evacuation zone organized by the authorities takes place
Mr. Nakamura’s predictions were not long in coming. On February 26, 2017, at 4.49 pm, a new earthquake of magnitude 5 shook the ground of Fukushima but nothing disturbed the decision of programmed return made in 2013, the date when the Japanese government established a large budget, split among all the ministries and intended to develop risk communication in order to influence populations about their return. In April 2017, the Japanese government reopened a part of the evacuation zone around the Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, simultaneously lifting housing aid for the refugee population. Other incentives such as tax exemption for those planning to build new homes in the area are also introduced [7]. Following imperturbably the planning developed several years upstream, which in essence is disconnected from the present situation, and to the astonishment of the international institutions responsible for managing the nuclear issue, committed to setting up a management system that allows the existence of nuclear power, the Japanese government compels the population to return to live on areas still sometimes highly contaminated, by gradually abolitshing the evacuation zone (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Prohibited areas and return area in Fukushima Prefecture (Source of maps: METI Translation and adaptation: Cécile Asanuma-Brice, Géoconfluences, 2017.)
Figure 3. Reopening of the village of Iitate. Authorities greet residents under a meter displaying 0, 21 microsievert / h, with the greeting used when a family member comes home: “Welcome back! (Source of the Image: Kyodo News)
In fact, public investments for reconstruction have often been pharaonic for the construction of oversized buildings for an absent population. Thus, the only municipality of Iitate will receive a budget of 1.7 billion euros for the reconstruction of various public facilities. Only 10 to 20 percent of the population has returned to most villages, despite the constraints they face.
A resident of the village of Iitate declared on February 19, 2017, during a conference organized in Fukushima by researchers and former inhabitants of the village: “We are told that there is no problem. Just do not go on the “hot spots”. You can not go to the mountains, nor go near the rivers, do not go to the right or to the left … How do you want us to live here ?! “. A former member of the communal council, testifies: We moved six years ago now. Why should we return to a desert village where the environment does not allow us to live freely and safely? [8].
What is the real situation?
Figure 4. Estimated total of refugees is 39 600 person on February 2017
Source : Official data, published by Fukushima Minpo Journal on March 2017. Translation : Cécile Asanuma-Brice. Realisation : J.-B. Bouron, Géoconfluences, 2017.
Since most people did not register in the refugee counting database, it is difficult to establish an accurate mapping of the situation. Nevertheless, the map at the time of the facts allows us to establish trends (Asanuma-Brice, 2014). It reported 160,000 refugees by the time they were highest in May 2012.The inhabitants had mainly taken refuge in the countryside of the surrounding Prefectures (Yamagata, Niigata), as well as in the capital, Tokyo [9].
Figure 5. Number of refugees in and out of Fukushima Prefecture (Source: according to official data, relayed by Fukushima Minpo newspaper, March 3, 2017. Translation-adaptation: Cécile Asanuma-Brice and Géoconfluences, 2017.)
Six years later, the authorities estimate this figure at 80,000 refugees, including 40,000 outside the department, and 40,000 internally displaced persons. However, the distribution has changed somewhat as the majority of refugees outside the Prefecture are now exclusively located in Tokyo and 80% of these people would be relocated to rental apartments in the public or private sector [10]. This figure does not include all persons whose refugee status has changed to that of a migrant, all those who, after six years spent outside their village, have rebuilt their lives elsewhere and have administratively registered their move to another municipality.
This leads us to question the relevance of the term “refugee”, because most evacuees “voluntarily” or not, have rebuilt their lives, failing to rebuild their environment, elsewhere. Six years. This corresponds to a complete school cycle, which is why most families with children no longer plan to return to live in the area. They… moved.
The situation is harder for the elderly. Some of them have been relocated to the 15,561 temporary housing units built inside the Prefecture. Thus those over 65 years old represent more than 40% of the people relocated in these so-called “temporary” cities. For the most part, these people had to agree to move to collective public housing built for this purpose and are, in fact, no longer included in the figures for refugees. While in July 2012, 33,016 inhabitants lived in these temporary housing, this figure drops to 12,381 in February 2017, reaching the lowest rates after April 2017. As of January 31, 2017, 3,028 public rental units of the 4,890 originally planned were built in 15 municipalities in the Prefecture (Figure 6).
Figure 6. Map of dwellings built for refugees in Fukushima Prefecture (Data source: Fukushima Minpo, March 3, 2017. Translation-adaptation: Cécile Asanuma-Brice and Géoconfluences, 2017.)
Another portion of seniors lived, since the happening, in a private rental park. Renting an apartment in the city was often seen as temporary, waiting for the results of the gigantic policy of public decontamination. People have been left in hope for two years, and then the government stopped providing them with housing assistance, pretending that it is possible to return. Some reconnaissance trips to the scene are enough to awaken their conscience. The landscapes have been destroyed by decontamination, scraped soils, torn trees, sacks of contaminated soil extending as far as the eye can see in the fields. The house has deteriorated. Habitat rehabilitation companies are no longer there, nor are there any neighbors. Their children, grandchildren, have started a new life elsewhere and do not want to come back to an environment that still has high levels of contamination. It is, however, impossible for them to maintain their large farm buildings alone; empty, heavy, are these stones, like their spirits drowned in an ultimate hope forever unfulfilled. Those who try to return fall into a depressive spiral that leads to suicide for majority of them.
A documentary made by the NHK on January 9, 2017 tries to sound the alarm, but to no avail. Titled “And yet, I tried to live” [11], it bears witness to the end of life of these people, mostly elderly, victims of an isolation that will often be fatal to them. Professor Tsukiji [12], Waseda University, psychologist and director of the Disaster Situations Laboratory published the results of a study proving that the constraints to return on these still unstable territories would generate a consequent wave of suicides. It remains inconsequential on the planning decision-making machine that was put in place four years earlier. These human sacrifices are accepted by all in the silence of a world that continues to be nuclearized.
Progress, and life: what science is entitled to question
This brings us back to a larger reflection developed by Max Weber a century ago, who himself used the writings of Leo Tolstoy about the meaning of death in our civilized societies. According to him, death for the civilized man (Kulturmensch) cannot make sense in that the life of each individual is constitutive of an infinite process which he seeks: progress. Nobody will ever be able to reach a goal, a climax, since progress is an infinite process. In this the finite time of life is only part of its momentum. Weber connects this reflection with another that I think is fundamental to put in the agora of sciences (human or not): “Does progress “, as such, have a discernible meaning beyond the technique, so that putting oneself to its service would be a meaningful vocation? ” (Weber, 1969). This question, formulated a century ago, remains unansswered; our societies continue to multiply human sacrifices on the altar of innovation for a purpose whose existence is not on a human scale.
Researcher in urban sociology, Franco-Japanese Institute Tokyo UMIFRE 19-CNRS / CLERSE Laboratory, University Lille 1-CNRS
Notes :
[1] Corium: Technical term for the core of nuclear reactors.
[2] Data from TEPCO, January 27, 2017.
[3] IAEA: National Agency for Atomic Energy, the CEPN: Center for the Study on the Evaluation of Protection in the Nuclear Field, or the IRSN: Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety.
[4] According to the results of the sanitary committee official returns on February 20, 2017.
[5] On Resilience, refer to our article: C. Asanuma-Brice (23 November 2015) “From Vulnerability to Resilience, Reflections on Protection in the Event of Extreme Disasters”, Public Reason Review.
6] The microsievert / hour is the unit generally used to measure the impact of radioactive radiation on humans.
[7] Minpo Journal, January 18, 2017
[8] Conference on the return of the inhabitants of Iitate (Fukushima) 19.02.2017
[9] Regarding the housing policies set up after the disaster, see our article: C. Asanuma-Brice (2011), “Japanese social housing, when the notion of” public “is right,” Revue Urbanisme, Nov. 2011.
[10] Survey of March 13, 2017, Fukushima Prefecture
[11] NHK, 2017
[12] Takuya Tsujiuchi Waseda Institute of Medical Anthropology on Disaster Reconstruction, “Mental Health Impact of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: Post-Traumatic Stress and Psycho-socio-economic Factors”, Fukushima Global Communication Program, working paper series, number 8, December 2015.
Scientific articles and publications
Anders Gunther, 2006, La menace nucléaire : considérations radicales sous l’âge atomique, Broché.
Arendt Hannah, 1967, Responsabilité et jugement, Poche.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2017, “Atomic Fission and Japan’s Nuclear Meltdown: When politics prevails over scientific proof”, in Christophe Thouny et Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto (dir.), Planetary Atmospheres and Urban Society After Fukushima, Singapore, Springer Verlag, pp. 95-112.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2016, « À Fukushima, la population est dans une situation inextricable », Le Journal du CNRS.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2016, « La mémoire de l’oubli, une forme de résistance à la résilience », publication des actes du colloque « Après le désastre, réponses commémoratives et culturelles », Université de Tokyo.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2015, « De la vulnérabilité à la résilience, réflexions sur la protection en cas de désastre extrême : le cas de la gestion des conséquences de l’explosion d’une centrale nucléaire à Fukushima », Revue Raison Publique.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2014, “Beyond reality: The management of migratory flows in a nuclear catastrophe by a pro-nuclear State”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, vol. 12-1, November.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2012, « Les politiques publiques du logement face à la catastrophe du 11 mars », Ebisu, n° 47, juin.
Beck Ulrich, 2003, La société du risque, Paris, Flammarion, 521 p.
Brown Kate, 2015, Plutopia : Nuclear Families, Atomic cities, and the great soviet and american plutonium disasters, Oxford University
Bruno Tino, 2016, « Presse et nucléaire au Japon ─ De Hiroshima à Tôkaimura(1945-1957) », Ritsumeikan
Takuya Tsujiuchi, Maya Yamaguchi, Kazutaka Masuda, Marisa Tsuchida, Tadashi Inomata, Hiroaki Kumano, Yasushi Kikuchi, Eugene F. Augusterfer, Richard F. Mollica, 2016, High Prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms in Relation to Social Factors in Affected Population One Year after the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster
Hecht Gabrielle, 2004, Le Rayonnement de la France. Énergie nucléaire et identité nationale après la seconde guerre mondiale, Paris, La Découverte.
Jonas Hans, 1979, Le principe de responsabilité, Flammarion, Champs essai.
影浦 峡(2011)3.11後の放射能「安全」報道を読み解く: 社会情報リテラシー実践講座 、岩波科学 — Kageura Kyo, 2011, Déchiffrer les rapports concernant la contamination “fiable”/”sûre” après le 3.11 : cours pratiques d’initiation au décodage de la littérature concernant l’information sociale”, édition scientifiques Iwanami [en japonais]
影浦 峡(2013)信頼の条件―原発事故をめぐることば 、岩波科学 — Kageura Kyo, 2013, Les conditions de la confiance – Les paroles autour du nucléaire, édition scientifiques Iwanami [en japonais]
Pelletier Philippe, 2012 « La guerre de Fukushima », Hérodote, 2012/3 (n° 146-147), p. 277-307.
Ribault Thierry et Ribault Nadine, 2012, Les sancuaires de l’abîme. Édition L’encyclopédie des nuisances.
Riesel René, 2008, « À propos du désastre en cours », in Catastrophisme, administration du désastre, et soumission durable, Édition L’encyclopédie des nuisances.
Semprun Jaime, 1986, La nucléarisation du monde, Ivrea.
Shinobu Goto (2016), “Fairness in Educational Materials on Nuclear Power and Radiation by the Japanese Government for Formal Education”, The International Journal of Sustainability Education, Volume 12, Issue 2.
Study 2007, (2015), 見捨てられた初期被曝, 岩波科学ライブラリー2015 — Study 2007, Les irradiés abandonnés de la première vague de contamination, Éditions de la Librairie scientifique d’Iwanami [en japonais]
Thébaud-Mony Annie, 2008, Travailler peut nuire gravement à votre santé. Sous-traitance des risques, mise en danger d’autrui, atteinte à la dignité…, La Découverte, 2008. Compte-rendu d’Igor Martinache dans Lectures.
Weber Max, 1963, Le savant et le politique, conférences à l’université de Munich de 1917 à 1919, Paris, Éditions 10-18.
Press and public publications of the author
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2017, « Fukushima : une catastrophe sans fin », Sciences et avenir.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2016, « Fukushima, Temps de la fin contre fin des temps », Sciences et avenir, 21 mars 2016.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2016, « Japon : “La centrale nucléaire de Sendai réveille le traumatisme de mars 2011” », Le Monde.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2015, « Fukushima, Bilan d’une situation sanitaire inquiétante », Médiapart, octobre 2015.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2014, « La légende Fukushima », Libération, septembre 2014.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile et Ribault Thierry, 2013, « “Crime d’Etat” à Fukushima : “L’unique solution est la fuite” », Le Nouvel Observateur-Rue 89, juillet 2013.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2011, « La réouverture contestée des écoles irradiées de Fukushima », Le Nouvel Observateur-Rue 89, Mai 2011.
Source :
Cécile Asanuma-Brice, « Les migrants du nucléaire », Géoconfluences, octobre 2017.

January 8, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Fukushima Fiction Film: Gender and the Discourse of Nuclear Containment

By Rachel DiNitto
This article examines the systems for designating and containing both the contamination from the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant (NPP) accident and the fear of radiation. This discourse of containment appears in the cinematic images of two fiction films: Land of Hope (Kibō no kuni, 2012) and The Tranquil Everyday (Odayaka na nichijō, 2012). I look at the films’ portrayals of the female characters who struggle to confirm and assess radiological danger in so-called “safe” zones. When they voice their fears and challenge the illusion of safety, they themselves are contained and made invisible by the diagnoses of radiophobia, hysteria, and paralyzing fatalism.
Keywords: Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, 3/11 fiction film, gender, radiological danger, radiophobia, containment
In the aftermath of the nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in spring 2011, the Japanese government and plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) sought to contain the disaster and to allay the fears of citizens. These measures of containment took tangible, visible form as words, actions, images, and physical objects: the various designations for the evacuation areas, no entry signs, fences, barriers, protective gear, masks, and government assurances of “no immediate health risks” (tadachi ni eikyō wa nai).1 Yet the danger itself—radiation spewing from the plant—remained invisible. Hence these signifiers had to overcompensate for our inability to perceive the nuclear threat by attempting to mark the boundaries of the invisible. In doing so, they sought to grant a sense of security that turned out to be as false as the myth of safety surrounding Japan’s nuclear program itself.
This article examines these systems of nuclear signification, specifically this discourse of containment, as it appears in two works of post-disaster Japanese cinema: Sono Sion’s Land of Hope (Kibō no kuni, 2012) and Uchida Nobuteru’s The Tranquil Everyday (Odayaka na nichijō, 2012).2 The systems of nuclear signification are at work in both of these fiction films as characters attempt to assess the level of danger even though they are outside the official designated no-go zones. Land of Hope is set in an area designated as an evacuation zone where danger is identified, and by extension, safety ostensibly reassured. However, when the characters leave the disaster area, the boundaries become much harder to identify, with some markers disappearing altogether. Two of the characters in Land of Hope leave the disaster area, and The Tranquil Everyday takes place entirely outside of the affected zones. In these so-called “safe landscapes,” the majority of characters in the films unquestioningly accept the government assurances of safety. However, those few who do ask questions—primarily female characters—are left to make their own judgments about the dangers of radiation, which neither visibly mark the landscape nor are visibly marked by the signage and warnings of the disaster zone.
Uchida Nobuteru, the director of The Tranquil Everyday stated his desire to focus on women after seeing their fear and the reactions to them on the internet.3 His producer, Sugino Kiki, who also plays Saeko in the film, concurred saying: “after the disaster, the voices of women, who are deeply aware of the disaster’s impact on daily life, were hardly heard in society at all.4 Uchida’s film focuses almost exclusively on women, and Sono also emphasizes the plight of the daughter-in-law in Land of Hope. When the women in these films challenge this system of safety by voicing fear and doubt, they are marked, and the threat they represent is defused when they are inscribed within the language of nuclear containment. The women’s actions set them apart from their communities, and they are further distanced by another set of signifiers—radiophobia, hysteria, and paralyzing fatalism—medical and psychological discourses used to contain dissent and deny responsibility in the post-nuclear accident climates of Hanford, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.
Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt argues in “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope” that while the gender stereotypes in Sono’s film make “his anti-nuclear criticism more socially acceptable,” he reinforces the social limits on anti-nuclear protest that has been marked as female, and undercuts the credibility of his characters and his message about the need to rethink the nation’s support for nuclear power.5 Iwata-Weickgenannt is interested in how the gender bias in Land of Hope subverts the film’s ability to function as an anti-nuclear critique.6 In this article, I further Iwata-Weickgenannt’s arguments about the gendered response to the Fukushima disaster by considering how danger is marked both inside and outside the disaster zone, and how the public marking of radiation in non-disaster zones is itself a dangerous act that must be contained lest it compromise the shared public desire for a belief in safety. While the signifiers within the disaster zone work to make the nuclear threat visible, signifiers outside the zone render invisible anyone who questions this myth of safety.
Although there are male characters in these films, some of whom are also ostracized, the focus is on women and children. By limiting the subject in this way, these films dramatize the shift in Japanese society that turned the nuclear situation into a domestic drama.7 The government and TEPCO refused to take responsibility for this national problem, turning it into a dilemma for private individuals to solve through personal decisions about whether to evacuate, where to live, what to eat, etc. Hideaki Fujiki critiques this very logic of choice that was forced on residents in post-disaster Japan where the government has implemented “a decontamination program that nudges the residents to choose to remain in the 1-20mSv areas rather than leave.8 This privatization of risk shifts responsibility for the disaster away from the government to individual residents.9 In these two films, the private choices regarding the presence of radiological danger become problematic when they mark a shared public space that is assumed to be safe.
Before turning to a summary of the films, I comment on their place within the body of post-disaster cinema in Japan. The vast majority of films about 3/11 are documentary, including a large number of amateur works as well as those made by established filmmakers, such as Funahashi Atsushi, Kamanaka Hitomi, Fujiwara Toshi, Mori Tatsuya, and Ian Thomas Ash.10 Fictional 3/11 films have been criticized by filmmakers such as Funahashi for misrepresenting the truth of the situation, and have courted controversy for their use of panoramic footage from the disaster area that has been deemed disrespectful.11 A full exploration of both the reason for the small number of fictional 3/11 films and the above criticism is beyond the scope of this paper, but the answer may also be a question of economics and viewer expectations. As early as 2012 it was said that “novels dealing with the disaster do not sell, movies do not draw audiences, and TV shows have low ratings.” 12 Sono’s film was primarily funded with money from the UK, Taiwan, and Germany, and Uchida talked about the difficulty of finding funding in Japan.13 Do the economics of mainstream cinema preclude fiction films about the disaster, or are Japanese viewers uninterested in film as social critique, as Sono himself suggested?14 Additionally, documentary filmmakers have exercised a level of ethical restraint that has kept them from depicting problems in the disaster area due to the demand for respect for their subjects that the medium imposes.15 This ethical restraint in documentary cinema may hinder representations in fiction films as well.
I am interested in the fictional 3/11 film specifically because the limited representation of the disaster in non-documentary cinema has not been reproduced in other fiction-based media, such as literature and manga, which have flourished in the wake of the disaster. My focus with these films is on those characters who live outside the disaster zone, and perhaps it is the representation of less easily identifiable victims in so-called “non-disaster” areas, or the discord within post-disaster communities that presents a challenge for cinema. I argue, however, that these films successfully depict a post-nuclear disaster environment in which the characters struggle to assess danger in the face of challenges such as the invisibility of radiation, the unknowability of that danger, and the desire of their communities to believe in government assurances of safety. Below is a brief summary of the films.
Land of Hope starts with an earthquake that triggers an explosion at the local NPP. Mr. Ono, a cattle farmer, has part of his property cordoned off by the authorities who are setting up a 20km evacuation zone around the affected plant. Ono’s neighbors are evacuated to shelters, but some of his property lies just outside the perimeter. Ono orders his son Yoichi to leave the area and take his wife Izumi with him, since she is of childbearing age and should not stay in the irradiated environment. The film follows both Yoichi and Izumi as they struggle to relocate, and their former neighbors the Matsuzaki family, who are adjusting to life in the shelters. When Izumi finds out she is pregnant, she sees danger all around. Yoichi is harassed at work for the actions his wife takes to protect herself. Meanwhile, Mr. Ono is pressured by the authorities to leave his home, since he and his wife are the only residents left in the area. The film ends with Mr. Ono killing his cattle, himself, and his wife. Yoichi and Izumi escape to a seemingly safe area only to find out that it is irradiated as well. This final scene makes the title of the film deeply ironic.
The Tranquil Everyday also begins with an earthquake and nuclear accident as it follows the lives of two women. Yukako and her husband Tatsuya live next door to Saeko, the mother of a young girl, Kiyomi. The two women struggle to understand the deluge of information about the nuclear disaster and to keep their families safe. Saeko’s efforts to ensure her daughter’s safety at school are blocked by a group of mothers who ridicule her and deny her fears about radiation. Hounded by hate mail and crank phone calls, abandoned by her husband, and unable to keep her daughter safe, she is driven to an attempted double suicide when her daughter gets a nosebleed. Yukako smells the natural gas that Saeko left running in her apartment, courageously saves them, and then supports Saeko’s efforts to regain custody of her daughter. Yukako reconciles with her husband, who realizes her fears are real, and the story ends with him proposing they try again to have a baby. The final scene is of them packing up their apartment to move to an undisclosed location.
Depicting the nuclear environment
As visual media, these films signal the presence of an irradiated environment by means of visible markers: fences and cordoned zones, no entry signs, protective gear, masks, and numerical readings on beeping Geiger counters. In Land of Hope the nuclear environment is represented as a space that is physically blocked off and separated. The residents encounter innumerable “no entry” signs (tachiiri kinshi) and police blockades (image 1).
In one scene, the Ono family watches as the authorities construct a fence across their land, and a later scene shows the town bisected by these fences (image 2), a shot that references the real-world consequences for towns like Namie that were divided by the designation of no-go zones.16
At times the characters try to break through these barriers, sometimes successfully, like the Matsuzaki’s son who is trying to help his girlfriend return to the area of her parental home, or the Onos, who cross the barrier to care for their neighbor’s dog. In another scene, Mrs. Ono, who suffers from a form of dementia, wanders through the town while her husband frantically searches for her. Although these characters enter the zone with no protection against the radiation, there is also no explicitly voiced fear of it. The film seems to be asking: if the Ono’s have no need for protective gear in their home or on their land, why would they need it only feet away on the other side of the no-go zone? It is not only the Onos, but the town officials trying in vain to convince the Onos to evacuate, who are seen traveling around the area in regular clothing, not even wearing masks.
Although it is questionable how much protection masks can provide from radiological danger, the non-wearing of them in these scenes works as a performance of safety that is puzzling. Mr. Ono is deeply skeptical of the government’s assurances that life is safe on his side of the barrier, yet he does not take any measures to protect himself and his wife from the radiation. Although he does send his son and daughter-in-law away, Mr. Ono chooses to remain and die on his ancestral land. Cinematically these scenes of characters roaming the no-go zone without protection send mixed messages: is it dangerous or not? The only scenes in which characters in or near the no-go zone wear protective gear are those of the authorities who construct the fence across the Ono’s land and evacuate their neighbors (image 1). Besides this, the film does not indicate that the characters in or near the zone are in any danger of being irradiated, in effect treating these visible barriers, and by extension the evacuation zones they mark, as meaningless. Although the messaging in some of these scenes is unclear, ultimately the film shows how the construction of barriers and zones serves only as false reassurance, and does not provide any real protection from radiation that in reality cannot be contained.
The questioning of these barriers and their designated zones references real world criticism of the Japanese government’s evacuation orders. The Japanese government instituted a system of concentric circles as a means of demarcating areas for evacuating residents based on their distance from the plant, rather than use the knowledge from Chernobyl and US nuclear testing that showed the “uneven and patchy” nature of radiation fallout.17 The government decision to delay until March 23 (12 days after the disaster) the release of the SPEEDI (System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information) data that would have taken into account wind and weather patterns is one example of the failure of the concentric circle model of evacuation to accurately reflect the dangers on the ground. Some residents fleeing the radiation unknowingly moved into zones of higher contamination, a situation that could have been avoided or ameliorated by the release of this data and by extending the unsafe zones accordingly.18 Additionally, the government decided to raise the annual exposure dosage that is considered safe, subjecting citizens to 20 times the normal risk for those within the designated zones. Those outside these official areas were not given support to evacuate, despite the fact that many were in areas of higher radiation according to SPEEDI data.19
In contrast to the situation in the evacuation zones, both fiction films emphasize the fear of radiation on the part of characters who reside in areas that are supposedly safe. These safe areas are unmarked because they are outside the official zones, and hence the danger is harder to identify. The spread of radiation beyond the visible markers/boundaries of the no-go zones is a source of anxiety for the characters in Land of Hope and The Tranquil Everyday. I focus on the women in these films who distrust reassurances that the radiation will not spread, and who question the government’s ability to protect them. In the face of an invisible threat, they rely on information found on the internet and on their own readings of radiation levels around them to confirm their fears. When these women take action to protect themselves, as described below, they create their own markers of safety and danger in an unmarked landscape, and are harassed and ostracized for doing so. When the women’s decisions about their private lives mark the shared, public space as unsafe, the community perceives them as a threat.
In Land of Hope, Izumi’s fears peak after talking to a young mother at the hospital who tells Izumi the doctors found cesium in her breastmilk even though she is not from the disaster area and has been very careful (image 3).
In one scene, Izumi imagines the world outside as filled with red gas—as the invisible dangers of radiation are made visible and given names like cesium (image 4).
She runs home, gets out her Geiger counter, and tapes her windows shut. Unclear of where the boundaries are, Izumi attempts to create her own “safe zone,” blocking out the dangers of the world around her by isolating herself; she seals off her apartment and wears protective gear, regardless of whether she is indoors or outside. The film includes scenes of her walking down the city streets and shopping in the supermarket dressed in full protective gear, as the residents stare in amazement and resentment (image 5).
Not only is Izumi’s response seen as extreme; her husband Yoichi is harassed by his coworkers who see Izumi’s actions as an insult to the town. When Izumi first tapes up their apartment she tells Yoichi that moving there was meaningless because they are still exposed to the dangers of radiation. When he counters that the government says it is OK, she yells that they are fighting an “invisible war.” Her comment functions as a self-conscious reference in the film to the very lack of visibility of nuclear threats.
The nuclear crisis plays out in Sono Sion’s campy, over-the-top style. But the naturalistic, albeit melodramatic, Tranquil Everyday portrays an even more extreme response to the radioactive environment. This film is set exclusively in areas that should be safe since they are outside of the official evacuation zones, but the dangers of contamination are seemingly ever present. In The Tranquil Everyday, Yukako and Saeko experience the disaster simultaneously, and the film cuts back and forth between the two to show their parallel experience. Both women watch their TVs in horror, research radiation on the computer, and try to convince their families to take safety measures by wearing a mask. The women live next door to each other, and Uchida sets their lives on a collision course.
Yukako, who is childless and works at home does not feel the social pressure on Saeko, who has to make choices about sending her daughter to school and allowing her to play outside, as she deals with the effects of state and institutional policies on perceptions of radiation and daily life. Saeko’s public choices to protect her daughter—making her wear a mask and bring her own lunch to school—are met with resistance and rejection by the community of other mothers at the school (image 6).
Saeko’s (and to some extent Yukako’s) predicament is reminiscent of the Chernobyl survivors Adriana Petryna describes who are trapped by large scale scientific studies in two “undesirable and potentially hazardous moral-conceptual states. . . The first is denial or amnesia (‘nothing happened here’). The second is a state of constant exposure to unpredictable unknowns.”20 Surrounded by mothers who seek to maintain their belief in the visible markers that indicate their safe remove from the radiation, Saeko is confronted by the narrative of “nothing happened here.”21 This narrative combines with the lack of official markers of danger to allow the mothers and school officials to maintain a status quo ignorant of the radiological dangers.22 Yet, armed with some knowledge from the internet and a Geiger counter, Saeko and Yukako know that they are in “a state of constant exposure to unpredictable unknowns.” In one scene, Yukako panics and runs into the school yard passing out masks and talking about the effects of radiation on children after the Chernobyl accident. She is taken away by the police—her protest criminalized and silenced. Saeko, powerless to change the world around her and hounded by community pressure to conform, takes extreme action when her daughter gets a nosebleed. The nosebleed is the only visible, physical effect of radiation seen in either film. It has been a controversial visible marker of radiation exposure in post-Fukushima Japan, as seen in the uproar over Kariya Tetsu’s inclusion of a nosebleed scene in the popular manga series Oishinbo.23 The scene comes after his protagonist visits the ailing NPP, and both locals and government officials criticized Kariya for spreading “harmful rumors” about radiation levels in the disaster area.24
In an act far more extreme than Izumi’s donning of protective gear, Saeko turns on the natural gas inside her apartment and tries to kill herself and her daughter. This attempted double suicide by an invisible gas—a poison produced by a utility company—works as a symbolic death by radiation. Saeko and her daughter both live, thanks to her neighbor Yukako’s intervention. But Saeko, a single parent, loses custody of her daughter, and it is hard to imagine that she will return to a normal life with Kiyomi. Life as she knew it is over. She pays a very high price for having publicly voiced her fears. 
Gender and radiophobia
Both films turn into domestic dramas of women becoming unhinged by their fears of radiation, fears that other characters in the film do not share (at least openly), because the systems of nuclear signification indicate that no danger is present. Living outside the evacuation zones, the decision to protect oneself becomes entirely personal and beyond the scope of either government or TEPCO responsibility. Yet, because the resistance offered by Izumi, Saeko, and Yukako threatens the normative discourse of safety, they must be contained by another set of barriers, namely a series of diagnoses. In Land of Hope, Izumi’s ob-gyn tells Yoichi that she suffers from hōshanō kyōfushō (radiophobia) and that it could negatively impact her pregnancy. In The Tranquil Everyday, Saeko gets hate mail which labels her as a radiophobic, neurotic nuisance (hōshanō noirōzē meiwaku), not as someone with valuable information to share or whose voice in the public debate should be countenanced (image 7). When Yukako is taken away by the police, one of the mothers calls her “strange” (okashii), a comment on her non-normative, “disturbed” behavior. 
Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt makes the connection between Izumi’s diagnosis of “radiophobia” and the post-Fukushima bashing of “anti-nuclear activists as ‘hysterical.’”25 But these associations have a history that is not limited to the Fukushima accident. The term “radiophobia” was coined by Ukrainian health minister Anatolii Romanenko “to describe unwarranted fear and panic among populations” due to “chronic informational stress,” and the diagnosis was assigned to radiation victims after Chernobyl as a means to avoid taking “public responsibility” for the illnesses caused by the NPP disaster.26 Even before this syndrome was officially named, those living downwind of American nuclear testing, especially women, were told by Public Health Service officials “that their ‘neurosis’ about the fallout was the only thing that would give them cancer, particularly if they were female.” Manifestations of radiation sickness were attributed to such neuroses and labeled “housewife syndrome.”27
Saeko’s attempted double suicide can also be attributed to a “paralyzing fatalism.” Petryna references this term in relation to the WHO 2005 Chernobyl report that argued that “persistent myths and misconceptions about the threat of radiation have resulted in ‘paralyzing fatalism’” “among those living in affected areas.”28 Petryna objects to these “moral claims” about the survivors, and argues instead that they have been “overlooked by science.”29 However, in The Tranquil Everyday there is no such counter argument to defend Saeko’s actions. She is portrayed as a victim of this “paralyzing fatalism” that drives her to attempt a double suicide with her young daughter (image 8).
Sharon Stephens reminds us that this gender bias runs throughout the nuclear industry: the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) has never had a woman on their commission, and the public has been long portrayed in terms of the stereotypical feminine characteristics of irrational, uneducated, emotional, and at times hysterical behavior.30
Beyond this medicalization, Saeko is further contained or discounted by the social pressure that forces conformity, a dynamic that has been documented in the disaster area. Research by Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka reveals the ways that the “micro-politics” of the family can put pressure on Fukushima mothers, especially those in farming communities, to remain with their children in the contaminated areas as part of their duties to their husbands, mothers-in-law, and extended families.31 The fears of radiation expressed by these mothers are labeled “damaging rumors” (fūhyō higai), discrediting both the words of dissent and the speaker.32 The label of “rumor” is one means of blocking the “leakage of doubt and fear” in the contaminated area.33 Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka also discuss the ways that women who express their fears of radiation are pathologized as having an “unstable and unreasonable nervous personality type.”34 These women’s concerns were dismissed as “irrational fears” and they were labeled as “crazy” (atama ga okashikunatta).35 When Saeko has her confrontation with the mothers at the school, they accuse her of spreading “damaging rumors.” Just as the words and images of safety “contain” the radiation, these diagnoses and labels “contain” these women and defuse their threat.
The pressure on Saeko comes from the mothers at her daughter’s school, but even these mothers are shown as harboring their own fears about radiation. One of the mothers who works at the supermarket talks to Yukako about another mother (Saeko) who was bullied at the daycare, expressing her own uncertainty about what to do. Yukako tells her to wear a mask but to tell others it is for a cold, advice she takes later in the film. Noriko, the most outspoken of the mothers, is married to an employee of the electric company and seems distressed after a hushed cell phone conversation with her husband. Noriko silences others but may be unable to express her own anxiety and perhaps even dissent. The research of Slater et al. reveals this community silencing, and The Tranquil Everyday paints a muted, yet nuanced picture of women both applying pressure to conform and feeling that same pressure themselves.36
Although both films depict the societal pressures on women, neither portrays women finding supportive communities in which they can express their concerns about radiation. In The Tranquil Everyday, Saeko would seem to have found support in Yukako, but the film ends with Yukako and her husband packing up to move away. Sugino Kiki commented that the film is not about who is right or wrong, but about allowing the expression of a range of opinions, something she feels is lacking in Japan.37 In The Tranquil Everyday the women may have equal opportunity to voice their opinions, but they do not all suffer societal censure for having done so. Noriko’s group is not silenced or ostracized in the same way or to the same degree as Saeko, Yukako, or Izumi are. Some opinions are socially acceptable, while others are not. Documentary filmmaker Kamanaka Hitomi puts a different spin on the difficulties these women face in speaking out. She argues that Japanese women “are not trained to speak out” and “have not yet grown into their voices.”38 The silencing of women in these films is not a function of the gender of the filmmakers. As mentioned earlier, Sugino had a large role in the making of The Tranquil Everyday, and there are instances of women speaking out in films like Ian Thomas Ash’s A2-B-C. If anything, the films portray the various societal pressures that shut down women or limit the topics on which are allowed to speak.39 This runs parallel to the ways in which anti-nuclear protests in Japan are gendered female, but are also depoliticized due to the emphasis on so-called domestic concerns such as children’s safety.40
Uchida Nobuteru, director of The Tranquil Everyday, talked about how he saw his film as expressing the desire to return to an everyday normalcy that had been stolen by the Fukushima accident.41 However, both films show the impossibility of such a return. If areas like those in The Tranquil Everyday are unsafe, how can areas around the plant and in the disaster zone possibly be safe? The films depict an irradiated environment that is all around and is not contained by the visible barriers of evacuation zones and no-entry signs, questioning the government’s rhetoric of containment and the myth of safety surrounding nuclear power. Both argue for a wider circle of victimization and in doing so, cast doubt on the government’s decision to move residents back into the former no-go zones.
Additionally, these fiction films depict a social environment where “the indeterminacy and unknowability of radiation effects is the rule.” In this environment the female protagonists are confronted with the fabricated amnesia of “nothing happened here,” all the while fearing they are in a state of “constant exposure” to danger. None of the women have any viable options to protect themselves or their children (born or unborn). To use Petryna’s words, they are forced into a “moral calculus of risk.”42 As domestic dramas, these films depict the erasure of government culpability and the shifting of responsibility to individual citizens. Although The Tranquil Everyday nuances its scenes of public silencing, in failing to show any women who are anti-nuclear activists, members of support networks, or citizens whose contribution to public discourse is valued, both films depict, and do little to counter, existing stereotypes of women’s roles in post-Fukushima accident Japan. Women like Saeko remain isolated and silenced.
Acknowledgments: The author would like to thank University of Delaware and the Association of Japanese Literary Studies conference at Pennsylvania State University for the opportunity to present this research at an earlier stage. I also thank the reviewers for their insightful and helpful suggestions.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary, Edano Yukio used this phrase on March 16 after explosions at reactors 1, 2, and 3 and a fire at number 4. He repeated this phrase on seven occasions. See Noriko Manabe, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Protest Music After Fukushima (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 49. Also see Manabe for a list of officials who said the conditions were safe post-meltdown. Manabe, 125. Edano’s “tadachi” (immediate) was nominated for buzzword of the year. Manabe, 139.
See the trailers here and here
Odayaka na nichijō:Uchida Nobuteru, accessed October 6, 2017.
“Intabyū: Odayaka na nichijō,”, December 20, 2012.
Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt, “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope,” in Fukushima and the Arts: Negotiating Nuclear Disaster, ed. Barbara Geilhorn and Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt (London ; New York : New York: Routledge, 2017), 114.
Iwata-Weickgenannt, 120.
In Land of Hope, the patriarch Mr. Ono is a major exception to this gendered response, but he remains in an area that is clearly marked in relation to the contaminated zone. This article focuses primarily on the problems women encounter well outside of the no-go zones. See Iwata-Weickgenannt for more on the male characters in Land of Hope.
Fujiki notes that the standard for a ‘safe area’ in post-3/11 Japan is one affected by less than 20mSv of radiation, but the ICRP advises such a high level as acceptable only in “exceptional cases.” 1mSv is the normal standard. Hideaki Fujiki, “Problematizing Life: Documentary Films on the 3.11 Nuclear Catastrophe,” in Fukushima and the Arts: Negotiating Nuclear Disaster, ed. Barbara Geilhorn and Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt (London ; New York: Routledge, 2017), 92.
Fujiki, 92. For more on the 3/11 disaster and privatization of risk, see Majia Holmer Nadesan, Fukushima and the Privatization of Risk (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).
See for example Funahashi’s Futaba kara tōku hanarete = Nuclear Nation (2012), Kamanaka’s Surviving Internal Exposure (Naibu hibaku o ikinuku, 2012) and Little Voices from Fukushima (Chisaki koe no kannon – sentaku suru hitobito, 2015), Fujiwara’s No Man’s Zone (Mujin chitai, 2012), Mori’s 311 (2013) and Ash’s A2-B-C (2013).
I am thankful to Ryan Cook for this information. Sono was criticized for using such footage. For more on Sono, see Iwata-Weickgenannt, “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope,” 112.
Genkaiken and Iida Ichishi, “Joron hajime ni,” in Higashinihon daishinsaigo bungakuron, ed. Genkaiken (Tokyo: Nan’undō, 2017), 11.
Odayaka na nichijō:Uchida Nobuteru. For more on the distribution of these documentary films, see Fujiki, “Problematizing Life: Documentary Films on the 3.11 Nuclear Catastrophe.”
For more on Sono’s comments see Iwata-Weickgenannt, “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope,” 110–12. She also suggests that the influence of the nuclear village has restricted the fictionalization of 3/11 in Japanese cinema.
Fujiki, “Problematizing Life: Documentary Films on the 3.11 Nuclear Catastrophe,” 106.
Namie was divided into three evacuation zones. “Fukushima’s Namie Sees No-Go Zone Designation Lifted,” The Japan Times Online, April 1, 2013.
Sarah Phillips, “Fukushima Is Not Chernobyl? Don’t Be so Sure,” Somatosphere: Science, Medicine, Anthropology (blog), March 11, 2013. Philips questions why the Japanese government did not apply the knowledge from Chernobyl and US nuclear testing about the “uneven and patchy” nature of radiation fallout in order to map the evacuation zones “according to the actual radiological data.” The concentric circle model is standard for nuclear evacuation zones.
The Japanese government released this data to the US military on March 14, nine days earlier. Phillips.
The Japanese government raised the acceptable level for annual individual radiation exposure from 1mSv pre-3/11 to 20mSv after the disaster. Phillips; Gabrielle Hecht, “Nuclear Janitors: Contract Workers at the Fukushima Reactors and Beyond,” The Asia-Pacific Journal 11, no. 1.2 (January 14, 2013); Vincenzo Capodici and Shaun Burnie, “Reassessing the 3.11 Disaster and the Future of Nuclear Power in Japan: An Interview with Former Prime Minister Kan Naoto,” trans. Richard Minear, The Asia-Pacific Journal 14, no. 18.1 (September 15, 2016); Adriana Petryna, Life Exposed : Biological Citizens after Chernobyl (Princeton University Press, 2002), xxiii.
Petryna, Life Exposed, xxvii.
Petryna, xix.
Yukako’s husband Tatsuya is also silenced by his boss who uses similar arguments to dismiss Tatsuya’s request for a job transfer to Kansai, saying the government has assured us the radiation will do no harm.
Lorie Brau, “Oishinbo’s Fukushima Elegy: Grasping for the Truth About Radioactivity in Food Manga,” in Fukushima and the Arts: Negotiating Nuclear Disaster, ed. Barbara Geilhorn and Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt (London ; New York: Routledge, 2017), 177–98; Eiichiro Ochiai, “The Manga ‘Oishinbo’ Controversy: Radiation and Nose Bleeding in the Wake of 3.11,” The Asia-Pacific Journal 11, no. 25.4 (June 23, 2014).
Filmmaker Funahashi Atsushi spoke in Kariya’s defense. See Funahashi Atsushi, “’Oishinbo’ no hanaji mondai: teki o miayamatte wa ikenai,” Hafinton posuto, May 12, 2014.
Iwata-Weickgenannt, “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope,” 122–23.
Petryna, Life Exposed, 160, 177. See Petryna’s quote from forensic psychiatrist Oleksandr Tolkach about the implementation of this new term and its use in solving “all emerging social problems” (177).
Carole Gallagher, American Ground Zero: The Secret Nuclear War (Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 1993), xxx. I am grateful to Norma Field for this reference.
Petryna, Life Exposed, xv; For more on the application of this diagnosis to the Fukushima accident, see George Johnson, “When Radiation Isn’t the Real Risk,” New York Times, September 21, 2015, sec. Science. Johnson quotes a medical physicist who argues: “It was the fear of radiation that ended up killing people.”
Petryna, Life Exposed, xv.
Sharon Stephens, “Bounding Uncertainty: The Post-Chernobyl Culture of Radiation Protection Experts,” in Catastrophe & Culture : The Anthropology of Disaster, ed. Susannah M. Hoffman and Anthony Oliver-Smith (Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press, 2002), 110. The nuclear industry has a bias against women, but according to the Gender and Radiation Impact Project, “the harm to girls and women is, overall, roughly twice that of boys and men.” “Gender and Radiation Impact Project,” accessed December 12, 2017. I am grateful to Norma Field for this reference.
David H. Slater, Rika Morioka, and Haruka Danzuka, “MICRO-POLITICS OF RADIATION: Young Mothers Looking for a Voice in Post–3.11 Fukushima,” Critical Asian Studies 46, no. 3 (July 3, 2014): 494–95.
This is the same term that was used in the Oishinbo controversy.
Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka, “MICRO-POLITICS OF RADIATION,” 497–98.
Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka, 503.
Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka, 505.
As mentioned above, Yukako’s husband Tatsuya is also silenced.
“Intabyū: Odayaka na nichijō.”
Anastasia Smith, “KJ 81 Online Special: Filmmaker and Activist Kamanaka Hitomi,” Kyoto Journal (blog), accessed December 4, 2017. I am grateful to Norma Field for this reference.
Women activists were allowed to distribute pamphlets about the dangers of radiation as long as they did not include the words “nuclear energy.” For more see Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka, “MICRO-POLITICS OF RADIATION,” 502–3.
For more on the social limitations on female anti-nuclear protest in Japan see Iwata-Weickgenannt, “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope,” 114–16.
Odayaka na nichijō:Uchida Nobuteru.
Petryna, Life Exposed, xxiv.


January 2, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO president gave order not to call 2011 crisis a ‘meltdown’

Tepco former president Masataka Shimizu 27 dec 2017.jpg
NIIGATA–An investigation committee is leveling the blame for the failure to use the word “meltdown” following the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011 at Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Masataka Shimizu.
Shimizu instructed TEPCO employees not to use the term on his own and was not following orders from the prime minister’s office, the committee’s report said on Dec. 26.
TEPCO did not publicly confirm that a meltdown had occurred until May 2011.
“There were no instructions (to TEPCO) from the prime minister’s office on whether to use the word ‘meltdown’ or not,” the panel said as to why the announcement was delayed for two months.
The committee was jointly set up by the Niigata prefectural government and TEPCO to investigate the cause of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant due to the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.
The investigation is a prerequisite for the prefectural government starting discussions on whether to agree to the restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, also operated by TEPCO, in the prefecture.
The description of the investigation committee’s report contrasted sharply with a report released in June 2016 by a third-party investigation committee set up by TEPCO.
According to the third-party committee’s report, Shimizu instructed then Vice President Sakae Muto through a TEPCO employee “not to use the word ‘meltdown’ at the direction of the prime minister’s office” when Muto held a news conference on March 14, 2011, three days after the nuclear accident ensued.
As Shimizu’s memory had faded, the third-party committee was unable to confirm details of the “instruction” from the prime minister’s office, but assumed that there was a directive from the prime minister’s office.
Whether an order had been issued by the prime minister’s office became a focus of the investigation of the Niigata prefectural government and TEPCO committee.
According to the joint panel’s report, Shimizu met with then Prime Minister Naoto Kan and then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano of the Democratic Party of Japan-led government at the prime minister’s office on March 13, 2011, a day before Muto’s news conference.
In that meeting, Shimizu received instructions from Kan and Edano on sharing information.
Shimizu thought that since the definition of a “meltdown” is vague, an announcement that one had occurred could cause a panic unless the release of such news was made after reaching a consensus with the prime minister’s office.
Based on this reasoning, Shimizu instructed TEPCO’s employees “not to use the word ‘meltdown,’” on his own, he was quoted by the report as telling members of the investigation committee.

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


“The Fukushima nuclear disaster must have brought about huge damage not only to us humans, but also to countless animals”
A sad video from 2016, by director Masanori Iwasaki
in 4 episodes, about 3mins each

December 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment