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Arnie and Maggie Discuss Fukushima Meltdown On Project Censored

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March 26, 2019
Arnie and Maggie recently appeared on Project Censored to discuss Fukushima and why nuclear is not part of the answer the climate. Give it a listen!
 
Nuclear-power experts Arnie and Maggie Gundersen return to Project Censored to publicize the ongoing damage the Fukushima meltdown site is inflicting on Japan and the Pacific. They also rebut the idea that nuclear power is part of the answer to climate change.
This has been edited from the original show to showcase only Arnie and Maggie’s interview. To listen to the full show go herehttps://www.projectcensored.org/fukashima-meltdown-site-with-anri-and-maggie-gundersen-and-us-military-plans-to-dominate-outer-space-with-bruce-gagnon/
Notes:
Arnie and Maggie Gundersen are the founders of Fairewinds Energy Education (www.fairewinds.org), and former employees of the nuclear-power industry. 

March 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Yusuke Kimura’s ‘Sacred Cesium Ground and Isa’s Deluge’: Tohoku refuses to be silenced

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March 23, 2019
An anger directed toward Tokyo underlies Yusuke Kimura’s two novellas, “Sacred Cesium Ground” and “Isa’s Deluge.” Born from a keen sense of abandonment felt by the Tohoku region in the aftermath of the 3/11 disaster, this anger plays out across stories exploring the post-disaster relationships between humans and animals.
The main character in “Sacred Cesium Ground” is a woman from Tokyo who travels to Fukushima Prefecture to volunteer at the Fortress of Hope, a farm where cattle irradiated by the meltdown of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant are tended to despite a government order to kill them.
Based on the story of a real post-Fukushima ranch, the novella carries with it a weight of research born from the author’s own volunteering, though proves somewhat slow reading and ultimately unsatisfying, never quite reaching the moment of reinvention that the lead character hints at throughout.
“Isa’s Deluge” is the more readable of the two, with a flow and pacing that draws in the reader. Shortlisted for the Mishima Yukio Prize after it was first published in 2012, it follows a family of fishermen who relate the story of their uncle Isa and his “deluge” of pain and depression, an allegory of the 3/11 tsunami.
Both novellas highlight peripheral voices in the post-3/11 period and ultimately return time and again to that tension between a “sacrificial” Tohoku and an all-powerful capital. These perspectives are those not frequently heard and challenge the widespread narrative of an ever-dominant Tokyo.
Read more:

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

10 Reasons You Might Want to Think Twice about the Tokyo Olympics

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March 23, 2019
Sure, the Olympics/Paralympics deliver thrilling races, stunning performances and inspiring stories… But they also steal green space and leave mountains of trash, require massive human displacement (gentrification on steroids) and worker abuse (including athlete exploitation), enforce the gender binary, promote noisy nationalism, high-tech surveillance, corruption and cost overruns.
So what’s unique about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?  It’s happening with a Declaration of Nuclear Emergency, issued March 11, 2011, still in place. Then why is Japan spending astronomical sums for the Games? Because these Games are supposed to show the world that the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster is a thing of the past, that Japan is roaring and ready for business. Should we go along with that agenda? Here are ten issues for you to consider:
1.     Eight years and counting, Tepco, the owner of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, still lacks a viable plan for dealing with the fuel cores that not only “melted down” but “melted through” the heavy steel pressure vessel and landed …where?
2.     To keep the site “under control,” the plant uses massive amounts of water daily. The result? Tank after tank of contaminated water, with leaks and releases, exposing workers and the surrounding environment – including the Pacific Ocean. Factor recurring earthquakes into that mix.
3. The Japanese government has spent huge sums to corporations to “decontaminate” – moving radioactive contaminants instead of getting people away from harm. Their method involves bagging yard waste and topsoil, resulting in seas of neatly stacked black plastic bags. And just think: 70 % of Fukushima consists of forests and mountains – which by definition cannot be decontaminated. Moreover, the government even wants to reuse contaminated soil.
4.     Decontamination can reduce radiation levels to a degree, for a limited time and space. But, every part of the process – hosing down, trimming, digging, bagging, burying, re-digging, transporting, reusing – subjects workers to the risk of exposure. Not surprisingly, many of them are Fukushima residents who lost their livelihoods in the 2011 disaster.
5.     Radioactivity itself is invisible. In Fukushima, strange white columns called “monitoring posts” for measuring airborne radiation have become an awkward feature of the landscape. The government wants to get rid of them. Local residents insist that the disaster is not over and that the government needs to be looking after its people—not hosting a sports extravaganza that benefits an elite few.
6.     People who fled radiation—often women with children—knew all too well from the beginning the absurdity of the Games being hosted in Tokyo. Their existence is now being erased, with the government cutting off housing aid and opening up mandatory evacuation zones it deems safe for return. What’s “safe” for the Japanese government is 20 times looser than international standards.
7.     The mandated evacuation zone in Fukushima was too narrow in the first place, and many areas including parts of Tokyo should be designated “radiation-controlled areas,” where you’d have to be trained in radiation occupational safety and wear personal protective equipment.
8. The Japanese government and the Japan Olympic Committee (JOC), with the implicit collaboration of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), have concealed or distorted data inconvenient not just for declaring an end to the disaster but for continuing with the national nuclear program. In fact, the Games are a key weapon in suppressing information on radiation and health effects. In the only large-scale health study conducted on the nuclear disaster, the government consistently denies a link between radiation and people’s health, despite a striking increase of thyroid cancer among children and youths.
9.     The JOC claims that airborne radiation levels in Fukushima and Tokyo are no higher than those in other world cities. But radionuclides move around, and there are many radioactive waste storage sites close to Olympic venues, in addition to “hotspots” with highly radioactive contaminants carried by the wind and distributed unevenly throughout eastern Japan.
10.  The JOC has chosen sites in Fukushima for the Olympic softball and baseball games. As the saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. To make sure we get the point, the Olympic torch relay will begin in Fukushima, just 20km (12 miles) south of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are a disaster coverup.
Is that something you want to be part of?
Statement drafted by NoTokyo2020, an informal collective standing in solidarity with the people of Fukushima and other disaster-affected areas, both those who have left and those who have stayed on.
Image courtesy of 281_Anti nuke

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

Japan’s Swimming Great and 2020 Tokyo Olympics Hopeful diagnosed with Leukemia cancer

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NEW YORK – March 22, 2019 – PRLog — Rikako Ikee, Japan’s reigning national record holder in multiple swimming events and record-setting winner of 6 gold and 2 silver medals at the recent Asian Games has been diagnosed with cancer in the form of Leukemia.
 
Author of “Fukushima 311: Is the enduring aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster killing off the Earth?” Col. Walter T. Richmond was saddened to learn the news, and expressed his sincerest best wishes that Ikee is able to beat the disease since doctors apparently discovered it in its earlier stages.
 
In light of the serious news, Richmond revisited his health warnings surrounding the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. He said “Ikee would have been about 10 or 11 years old at the time of the original Fukushima nuclear disaster. She’s also a native of Tokyo, and Japanese citizen scientists have reportedly found radioactive materials all over Japan, including Tokyo.”
 
Author Richmond pointed out that since “the health effects and cancers from nuclear radiation exposure can take years to manifest, chances are people won’t get sick immediately, if ever. But why would anyone roll the dice on their health? The research we did for this book paints a very disturbing radioactive picture compared to the apparent marketing hype coming out of Japan.”
 
That the authorities were often not forthcoming or transparent about the gravity of the actual crisis has Richmond equally concerned, saying, “After the anomalies we found during our Fukushima 311 research, plus the serious concerns and red flags raised by the United Nations recently, we have little faith in official claims that ‘all is well’ that aren’t corroborated by independent outside sources. The time to ask hard questions is now, not after the 2020 Olympics.”
 
Richmond ended by, yet again, calling for an impartial international team of highly-specialized scientists and doctors to determine the actual radiation safety levels in and around the 2020 Olympic facilities, in Tokyo and the Olympic ball fields in Fukushima, as well as the surrounding areas likely to be visited by athletes, guests, and spectators.

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

On the Frontline of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident: Workers and Children – Radiation risks and human rights violations

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22 Mar 2019
 
Eight years after the start of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and two years after the Japanese government lifted evacuation orders in areas of Namie and Iitate, radiation levels remain too high for the safe return of thousands of Japanese citizen evacuees.
 
This report summarizes information from Greenpeace’s latest extensive radiation survey in Namie and Iitate, Fukushima prefecture. The survey, conducted during October 2018, focused in particular on the radiation risks to decontamination workers, whose exploitation and human rights violations have rightly become a focus of attention from United Nations human rights experts during the last year.
 
The report also focuses on the failure of the Japanese government to comply with its international obligations to protect the rights of children. Preventing exposure of children to harmful radiation, one of the obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is particularly critical given their higher vulnerability to health effects from radiation. In the case of workers and children, who are in the frontline of hazards resulting from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the Japanese government continues to ignore international radioprotection recommendations

Download PDF (12.03 MB)

https://reliefweb.int/report/japan/frontline-fukushima-nuclear-accident-workers-and-children-radiation-risks-and-human

 

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

The Unlearned Lessons of Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

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March 20, 2019
Last week, Japan marked the eighth anniversary of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that hit the country in 2011, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or unaccounted for and triggering one of the worst nuclear accidents in modern history. A moment of silence was observed across the country at 2:46 p.m. on March 11, the time the earthquake struck. Sports teams interrupted their practice to pray for the souls of those who perished. “We must never let the valuable lessons that we have learned from the enormous damage caused by the disaster to fade away,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a commemorative ceremony.
 
The following day, three former executives of the Tokyo Electric Power Corporation, or TEPCO—which operated the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant when it took a direct hit from the tsunami—entered the district courthouse in Tokyo for the final day of their trial. They reiterated pleas of “not guilty” in response to charges of criminal negligence in connection with the disaster at Fukushima. The prosecution is requesting that each defendant serve five years in prison….
… Eight years on, residents of Fukushima continue to feel the impact of the nuclear accident. Much of the surrounding area remains designated as a “difficult-to-return zone,” requiring special permission to enter. Even in parts of the nine municipalities that have been deemed safe since 2014, most residents have yet to return home. An investigation by the Kyodo News service revealed that only 23 percent of registered homes in those areas are currently inhabited.
For citizens affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the process of seeking justice has been halting and uncertain.
Even for areas outside the initial evacuation zone, fears of radiation persist amid a massive, ongoing cleanup effort. One problem has to do with contaminated soil and debris that has been removed and stored in black bulk container bags across Fukushima. There’s still no set plan for their removal, so in many neighborhoods, the bags simply pile up—an ugly reminder of a tragedy that continues to reverberate through the area. In some cases, storage pits have been created, but they are far from a lasting solution, and not sufficient to hold the massive amounts of contaminated material slated for eventual disposal. The government has also installed monitoring posts throughout the affected area, but these sensors often fail to catch radioactive “hot spots”—concentrations of contaminated particles that accumulate over time due to weather patterns…
 
… Concerns over residual radiation are also hampering the recovery of the largely agriculture-based economy in Tohoku, the region that includes Fukushima. In the weeks and months after the meltdown, as many as 54 of Japan’s trading partners, fearing that radiation would reach their shores via contaminated produce, enacted trade embargoes on agricultural products from the region. Many governments have since removed or relaxed these prohibitions, but 24 countries and territories maintain some form of restriction despite repeated assurances from Tokyo that food products from the region are safe. These include major nearby export markets like China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s most widely circulated daily newspaper, reports roughly $6 billion worth of exports are affected….
 
… This reality points to the permanent reputational damage to the people of Fukushima and its neighboring prefectures caused by the nuclear meltdown, which is proving just as hard to clean up. Like other sites of major nuclear accidents—Chernobyl, for example, and Three Mile Island—Fukushima is indelibly associated with nuclear fallout and the stigma that comes with it…
 
… For affected citizens, the process of seeking justice has been halting and uncertain, but there has been some progress. The verdict in the Tokyo criminal case is expected in September, though legal experts point out that guilty verdicts in cases that have been forcibly brought to trial by an inquest panel are rare. Meanwhile, roughly 30 class action lawsuits brought by residents of the Fukushima plant’s surrounding area are working their way through Japan’s legal system. A number of courts in those cases have found both TEPCO and the Japanese government liable for the disaster, awarding substantial damages…
 
… Japan is certainly no exception when it comes to lax and failing government regulation. Nor is it the only country that has prioritized economic growth over safety concerns. But as Japan’s nuclear reactors gradually come back online eight years after the meltdown in Fukushima, the potential costs of failing to learn from its mistakes seem particularly stark.
Read more:

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

Court absolves government of blame in nuclear disaster

hkjml.jpgPlaintiff Takahiro Kanno, left, speaks about the verdict in Chiba’s Chuo Ward on March 14.

 

March 15, 2019

CHIBA–A district court here on March 14 absolved the central government of responsibility but ordered the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to pay compensation to nine of 19 plaintiffs who evacuated to Chiba.

The Chiba District Court ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay a total of about 5.1 million yen ($45,630) to nine plaintiffs who evacuated out of radiation fears following the nuclear accident triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

The 19 plaintiffs were from six households who voluntarily evacuated from Fukushima to Chiba Prefecture. The plaintiffs sought a total of 247 million yen from TEPCO and the central government.

While the presiding judge ordered TEPCO to pay compensation to nine plaintiffs from four households, it denied the central government’s responsibility.

Read more :

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903150041.html

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

Fukushima forests contain ‘most of 2011 accident cesium’

March 12, 2019

A study has found that forests contain most of the radioactive cesium released during the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

About 70 percent of the cesium released into the environment is believed to have accumulated in forests near the plant.

There has been concern that the radioactive substance could spread to residential and farming areas, because little progress has been made in decontaminating the forests.

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

Congenital heart disease operations rose 14% after Fukushima nuclear accident

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March 13, 2019

Murase K, et al. J Am Heart Assoc. 2019;doi:10.1161/JAHA.118.009486.

There was an increase in the number of operations performed on neonates and infants with complex congenital heart disease after the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami that resulted in a nuclear accident at Fukushima, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Although this research focuses on events that occurred in Japan, the potential for nuclear accidents throughout the world is a global health concern,” Kaori Murase, PhD, associate professor at Nagoya City University in Japan, said in a press release. “Our study suggests that a nuclear accident might increase the risk for complex congenital heart disease.”

Researchers analyzed data from annual surveys conducted between 2007 and 2014 by the Japanese Association for Thoracic Surgery. The years that were included in the survey were the 4 years before and after the Japanese earthquake on March 11, 2011. The surveys included information on 45 surgical classifications for congenital heart disease. Patients with congenital heart disease were categorized into two groups based on the time of occurrence during heart development, complexity and the age at operation.

There was a 14.2% increase in the number of operations per 100,000 live births for complex congenital heart disease in neonates and infants. There was no significant change in the number of operations performs in patients aged 1 to 17 years.

The cause of the increase is unknown, but we should consider the influence of the radionuclides emitted from the Fukushima nuclear power plant,” Murase and colleagues wrote. “More specific patient data such as time, location and amount of maternal exposure would be required to determine the cause.” – by Darlene Dobkowski

Read more :

https://www.healio.com/cardiology/pediatric-cardiology/news/online/%7B587ccb11-f924-4ead-aa8f-24b7da911c55%7D/congenital-heart-disease-operations-rose-14-after-fukushima-nuclear-accident

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-03-newborn-heart-problems-surged-fukushima.html

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

Ex-Tepco execs’ lawyers make final plea for acquittal over negligence in Fukushima nuclear crisis

The trial, which began in June 2017, ended on Tuesday. The court is expected to deliver its sentence on September 19.

March 12, 2019
Lawyers for three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. called for their acquittal in their final defense plea on Tuesday in a negligence case stemming from the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011.
The defense team said that it was impossible for them to foresee the massive tsunami that engulfed the Fukushima No. 1 power plant and caused fuel meltdowns following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked the coastal Tohoku region.
The day after the nation marked the eighth anniversary of the March 11, 2011, disasters, the lawyers for Tsunehisa Katsumata, 78, Tepco chairman at the time of the crisis, and Ichiro Takekuro, 72, and Sakae Muto, 68, both vice presidents, told the Tokyo District Court they “do not recognize any predictability in the disaster.”
The three men have been indicted for allegedly failing to take measures against the massive tsunami and causing the deaths of 44 hospital inpatients and injuries to 13 others during the evacuations prompted by fuel meltdowns and hydrogen explosions at the plant.
Court-appointed lawyers acting as prosecutors have called for five-year prison terms for the three, claiming they could have prevented the nuclear disaster had they fulfilled their responsibilities in collecting information and taking safety measures.
Read more :
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/12/national/crime-legal/ex-tepco-execs-lawyers-make-final-plea-acquittal-negligence-fukushima-nuclear-crisis/?fbclid=IwAR2diwN8B9xxWiBJU5dy6WbXrgx8tSoW32lwWTqR5Vi6gRuwf04Pmi8Ziq8#.XIhZmMn7Tcs

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

Eight years after triple meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, major problems remain and many impacts are yet to manifest

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Beyond Nuclear Press Release

Thursday, March 7, 2019

TAKOMA PARK, MD — The legacy of the Fukushima nuclear disaster will continue indefinitely, creating long-term problems for human health, radioactive waste management and the environment:

  • Around 1.09 million tons of radioactively contaminated water — used to cool the destroyed reactor cores as well as groundwater flowing across the site —  is being stored onsite in growing tank farms, which are now at capacity. Absent other options, Japanese authorities are looking to dump this radioactively contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean, a move strongly opposed by Japanese fishermen, ocean protection groups and the worldwide environmental community.

 

  • In an effort to downplay or dismiss the health dangers of radiation exposure, the Japanese government has ended financial benefits to Fukushima evacuees, putting economic pressures on these families to return to the region, even though it has not been — and cannot be — adequately or effectively cleaned up and made safe for human habitation. According to noted physicist, Dr. Bruno Chareyron, who has conducted field measurements in the area, “The radioactive particles deposited on the ground in March 2011 are still there, and in Japan, millions of people are living on territories that received significant contamination.”

 

  • In order to justify the return of evacuees and claim the region is now safe, Japanese regulatory authorities have raised the allowable radiation dose from I milisievert per year to 20, an unacceptably high rate that is especially dangerous for pregnant women and children. This policy has been cited by a UN Special Rapporteur as having “potentially grave impacts on the rights of young children returning to or born in contaminated areas.”

 

  • Plans by Tepco and the Japanese government to begin removing melted reactor fuel in 2021 are fraught with risk and uncertainty since little is still known about its condition and there is no safe, permanent radioactive waste management plan in place.

 

  • The Japanese government plans to hold two events — softball and baseball — in the Fukushima Prefecture during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a public relations maneuver to “normalize” the situation. However, in addition to unacceptable radiation exposure doses, particularly from hot spots, the discovery of radioactive particles of reactor fuel debris in the area, including uranium and cesium, would put both athletes and spectators at risk.

 

  • The implications for returning populations to the Fukushima region come with dire warnings from the health findings in Macaque monkeys who have lived there continuously. The monkeys have been found to have bone marrows that are producing almost no blood cells, and mothers are giving birth to babies with reduced brain sizes. With a 7% difference in DNA with humans, these outcomes are alarming.

 

  • Scandals surrounding the ill treatment of workers at the stricken Fukushima plant, many of whom are migrants and already low-income, continue. UN human rights experts found these workers to have been exploited and their health willfully jeopardized, with workers coerced “into accepting hazardous working conditions because of economic hardships, and the adequacy of training and protective measures.”

 

  • Despite widespread public opposition in Japan, the Abe government continues to try to restart nuclear reactors. However, only nine of the 42 still operable reactors are back on line (out of 58 originally). The government has instead turned its attention to the nuclear export market, but this took a serious hit when Toshiba’s Westinghouse nuclear division went bankrupt two years ago and Hitachi withdrew from two new nuclear power plant projects in the UK in January 2019.

http://www.beyondnuclear.org/home/2019/3/7/eight-years-after-triple-meltdowns-and-explosions-at-the-fuk.html

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

‘Fukushima Speaks’ Explores Lives of Survivors

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February 25, 2019
On Saturday, March 9, from 1 to 5 p.m., the Fukushima Support Committee will host the North America premiere of “Fukushima Speaks,” a compelling feature-length documentary by award-winning director and independent journalist Toshikuni Doi.
The screening will take place at Art Share Los Angeles, 801 E. 4th Pl. in L.A’s Arts District.
“It is not enough for a journalist to report facts and news of what is happening, but rather it is the journalist’s duty to expose the ‘human’ underneath it all,” Doi stated. “If we fail to shed light on [universal themes]and just succeed in reporting on facts and news, to the audience, it will come across as just a matter that is happening somewhere far away, unrelated to them.”
Four years in the making, Doi has created a heart-wrenching look into the lives of Japanese residents whose lives were devastated by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Haunting images and video footage of the aftermath are reinforced by 14 personal stories of despair, guilt, and outrage.
“I lost the cornerstone of my life,” Yoko Watanabe, a self-evacuee, said in her interview. “I was determined to bury myself in Katsurao village. That was taken away from me. The reason to live, volunteering, everything was taken away from me in a flash. Now I don’t know anymore what I live for. I wonder if I am really needed in this life, and I don’t know anymore.”
The suffering of Fukushima survivors continue to this day. While the mourning of lost life is obvious, the film also explores the dire realities that are often overlooked: the loss of livelihoods due to the contamination of land and ocean, the life-threatening risks caused by radiation exposure, the emotional turmoil of families being torn apart by the decision to stay or evacuate, and the discrimination that residents now face because they are from Fukushima.
Another self-evacuee, Hikaru Hoshi, expressed indignation: “They want to blame it on us and say it was our responsibility. Whether to leave or stay…. I do not allow them to shift the burden of the accident of enormous scale to individual choices/individual responsibilities…. We lived in the area that needed to be evacuated right away. That fact was concealed from us, and some of us left on our own, or like me, some did not have time to think it through but left anyway. I felt outraged that this country was putting us against each other. The root of the matter lies somewhere else.”
Doi pointed out the urgency of releasing this documentary: “Eight years since the accident, ‘Fukushima’ is being made into the thing of the past,” he said. “As more people focus on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the victims are silenced and their suffering is hidden away behind the news of ‘revitalization.’ However, the wounds of the victims whose lives have been destroyed by the accident are still raw.”
Read more:

 

March 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima The Seal of the Sun 太陽の蓋

February 24, 2019

This February 20th I was invited by my friend Kolin Kobayashi in Paris to the avant-première of the movie Fukushima The Seal of the Sun, followed by a short debate, then to the private reception where Japan ex-prime Minister Naoto Kan was present.

Watching this movie brought to my mind the words of Gregory Jaczko, the former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2011, in his recently released book titled Confessions of a rogue nuclear regulator :

« And what about the problems that no engineer, scientist, or safety regulator can foresee. No amount of planning can prepare a plant for every situation. Every disaster makes its own rules – and humans cannot learn them in advance ».

« Generations of nuclear professionals have never experienced the confusion of a nuclear accident as it is happening. So it is essential that we remember and teach the lessons of Three Mile Island, chernobyl and Fukushima, for reviewing these accidents shows common themes of missed opportunities, human failings, and technological overconfidence. No amount of forgetting can change these simple facts. »

« As I learned in the wake of the Fukushima accident, crises on this scale are often characterized by incoherent communication and conflicting information. Both the Three Mile island and the Fukushima disasters featured contradictory assessments of the state of the reactor, a limited appreciation of the fact that the damage to the reactor had occured very early, and rapidly changing statements from elected officials. To the public, these statements can appear to suggest prevarication or incompetence. But when government officials – imperfect human beings like everyone else – try to make sense of the complicated physics of a nuclear reactor, they will invariably make mistakes in communication. »

Especially as in the Fukushima accident where TEPCO was not straightforward in giving the true facts to the Japanese government, but always prevaricating.

 

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Synopsis of the movie Fukushima The Seal of the Sun
On March 11, 2011, Japan is rocked by an earthquake, followed by a tsunami and the triple nuclear disaster of Fukushima. Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s team is trying to cope with this situation.
What really happened at the Prime Minister’s residence at the time of the worst crisis in the country’s history? Has the truth been fully revealed?

3 questions to the director – Futoshi Sato

How did you arrive on this project and how did you work with the producer and actors of the film?

Born in the area that was devastated by the 2011 earthquake, I wanted to talk about it, but I was wondering what might be the approach to make it a movie. For his part, Mr. Tamiyoshi Tachibana wondered about the possibility of adapting the book written by Tetsuro Fukuyama, Deputy Director of the Cabinet of Naoto Kan. “The Nuclear Crisis – A Testimony from the Residence of the Prime Minister” is a fundamental work that tells the truth of the events that occurred on those days at the Residence.

If this project was able to start and be realized, it is thanks to the total and complete implication of Mr Tamiyoshi Tachibana. The entire project team has been involved in the discussions around the script and during our debates, we thought it was necessary to make a choral film with in the center, the members of the Cabinet, but also with the journalists on the lookout for scoops, the workers of the power plant, as well as the inhabitants of the surrounding villages. As for casting, we managed to bring together actors who were completely convinced of the importance of the subject. We gave them all the information so that they thoroughly understand the issues of the film and their characters.

Was it important to you that the events would be experienced in a balanced way through the politicians and the people directly at the forefront of the disaster?

According to the people who experienced these events, their feeling completely varies. To make it a film capable of witnessing this story in all its diversity, we decided to adopt the different points of view of the protagonists. It was not possible to convey this reality to the public otherwise.

I remember that Naoto Kan told us: “If you represent the truth about the nuclear accident with firmness in the film, you can choose any method of expression.” He wanted the facts to be well presented. I started filming in a direction that was not meant to be easy. Instead, it was necessary to treat with audacity, an atmosphere of crisis due to a management and consequences quite unknown.

Which part of the movie is truth and which part is fiction?

The information, as to the reactions and attitudes of TEPCO following the nuclear accident, and those that have been passed on to the government are all true. We also had to do some research to recreate some scenes. In addition, about what had happened during these 5 days, it was impossible to extract and reproduce the huge amount of data.

For these reasons, and in order to stay true to the facts and to make a fiction easier to understand, we created a fictional character unfolding the story. We have made this journalist a kind of guide, to follow this whole story. The words and situations of certain scenes have been created to cover all events. On the other hand, the politicians, who are public figures, appear in the film under their true identities. Their dialogues and actions are also based on true facts.

3 questions au producteur – Tamiyoshi Tachibana

In 2011, you were close to Naoto Kan, the Japanese Prime Minister. Through this film, was it your intention to restore a truth that the latter experienced during this crisis?

At the time, I was simply a friend, one of his cadets in politics. It was only after the earthquake that I became a real member of his support group. It is not to reproduce the experience of the crisis experienced by Naoto Kan that I produced this film. The media and public opinion, manipulated by the latter, were totally hostile to the Prime Minister, accusing him of having aggravated the accident and amplified the damage. Faced with this rejection, I was plagued by anger and disgust as they led me to make this film to put things in order.

The reactors’ accident could, in the worst case, have caused the evacuation of the entire population living within a radius of 250km, including Tokyo, a total of 50 million people. Naoto Kan was the only one to have guessed the extreme gravity of the accident and to have realized that we were one step away from the collapse of Japan. If he had not been Prime Minister, if the crisis had to be managed by another in his place, the country could have been completely destroyed.

You have kept the real names of the various protagonists. What were the reactions of the people implicated, in particular the leaders of TEPCO, the company that managed the Fukushima power station?

Four politicians appear under their real names. In the history of Japanese cinema, this is the first time that characters, in a fiction film, take the true identity of people who really exist. Thus Naoto Kan is still present in the political life of Japan.

As for the other members of the government, as well as the officials and employees of TEPCO (TOBI in the film), these are not their real names, but we can easily imagine who they are!

However, there was no protest or legal proceedings on their part. I do not know if they saw the movie … or not. If they saw it, they did not want to talk about it publicly. I hope that today, they are a little ashamed of this catastrophic situation of which they are, in part, responsible.

What was the impact of the film when it was released in Japan? Has it sparked a real public debate as Japanese nuclear power resumed its place in the country, as if nothing had happened in 2011?

The accident at the Fukushima nuclear power station inspired the authors of “Shin Godzilla” (the new Gozilla), a movie released in Japan on July 29, 2016. That movie was designed by two of the largest film production companies for a total budget of 13 million euros. Thanks to this film, the producers have earned more than 64 million euros!

On our side, our film was screened in independent theaters. Obviously, this has not been the same success, especially in terms of financial benefits.

Citizens continue to organize weekly independent screenings. It should be noted that the 54 nuclear reactors, distributed among the 18 Japanese plants, were shut down in September 2013.

7 years after the disaster, 9 units restarted. The film has become a powerful vector for citizens who speak out against the restart.

Aujourd’hui, environ 70 % de la population est en effet opposée à l’énergie nucléaire.

Sources :

Synopsis of the movie, provided by Destiny Films, translated by Hervé Courtois (D’un Renard)

Confessions of a rogue nuclear regulator by gregory B. Jaczko, published by Simon & Schuster, New York, 2019

February 24, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear regulator: nuclear is dangerous, a failed technology, not a safe bet for combating climate change

“Jaczko headed the NRC from 2009 to 2012 under former President Barack Obama. During his tenure, he oversaw several of nuclear’s worst battles and disasters, including Yucca Mountain, the proposed nuclear waste depository, and the Fukushima meltdown in Japan. He writes that what he witnessed was an agency overpowered by the agenda of the nuclear industry. Decisions were based on politics, not safety or the public’s best interests. After witnessing several close calls with plants and the aftermath of Fukushima, he’s come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as safe nuclear power.”

 

confessions-of-a-rogue-cover

Former NRC head disagrees with Bill Gates, says nuclear not a safe bet for combating climate change

How much do you think about nuclear power?
 
If you’re like most Americans, the answer is likely “not often.” Unless you work in the industry, you don’t hear too much about nuclear power these days, as Big Oil and coal face off against solar and wind.
 
The former head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission wants to change that. In his latest book, Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator, Dr. Gregory Jaczko says that we not only should be thinking more about the consequences of nuclear power, we should be way more concerned about it than we are.
 
The former head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission wants to change that. In his latest book, Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator, Dr. Gregory Jaczko says that we not only should be thinking more about the consequences of nuclear power, we should be way more concerned about it than we are.
 
Jaczko headed the NRC from 2009 to 2012 under former President Barack Obama. During his tenure, he oversaw several of nuclear’s worst battles and disasters, including Yucca Mountain, the proposed nuclear waste depository, and the Fukushima meltdown in Japan. He writes that what he witnessed was an agency overpowered by the agenda of the nuclear industry. Decisions were based on politics, not safety or the public’s best interests. After witnessing several close calls with plants and the aftermath of Fukushima, he’s come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as safe nuclear power.
 
Why did you decide to write a book?
 
I’d had a unique experience. I learned a lot in the job about the process of how nuclear power plants are regulated. I think it’s important for people to understand the influence that the industry has, that Congress has, and these are lessons that are true in any safety-sensitive industry.
 
The more pressing issue for me right now has developed the last couple years, and it’s the recognition that a lot of people are turning to nuclear as the savior of climate change. I have two kids and I’m extremely worried about climate change, but I’m even more worried that nuclear is a solution that people are pushing.
 
It’s a bad solution. It’s not the cheapest, and it’s a very expensive way to reduce carbon. And it’s an unreliable partner for climate change. You can have accidents and that can shut down plants, and that comes with all the environmental issues with nuclear itself.
 
That brings us to Bill Gates’ end of 2018 letter, in which he says that nuclear is essential for combating climate change.
 
Yeah, I think I actually saw that article, and I worry because I do think the history of nuclear technology shows that it’s not reliable. If you look today at the cheapest ways to generate electricity, it’s solar, it’s wind, it’s geothermal. These methods are a lot cheaper and only getting cheaper.
 
The biggest argument against them is the dispatch problem — you can’t always have them when you want them, but battery storage is also rapidly dropping in price. I look at those kinds of stories, and I scratch my head. I don’t really understand where those new nuclear technologies are coming from. His [Gates/TerraPower’s] technology is unproven and at least one decade, if not more realistically two, out, and they’re strategizing based on tech from China, and because of Trump policies they had to pull back on that project.
 
It’s not there. It’s not a solution. That’s just putting our head in the sand.
 
You are now working in renewable energy projects yourself?
 
I started in the offshore wind space about three or four years ago. Lo and behold, last month, three companies each bid $135 million just for the right to build offshore wind farms off Massachusetts. They think they can produce that power at almost competitive wholesale electricity prices. Even three years ago, we were not predicting that.
 
What’s happening in that clean energy space is dramatic. The tech is advancing so fast and the cost reductions are happening so fast, that’s really where the input should be going.
 
Why do you think Bill Gates and others are still pursuing nuclear?
 
Well, I’ve never met Bill Gates, and I would certainly ask him if we met [laughs].
 
I started my career as a scientist, and there are a lot of technical features to nuclear that make it very attractive. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to come up with better nuclear fission technology, but it’s not going to combat climate change. In the short term, we could work on better nuclear, but if it comes to spending money on nuclear or other renewable energy sources, it would make more sense to invest in the other.
 
We have one of the biggest examples in Fukushima [2011], and my experiences dealing with the accident there. One by one, the Japanese shut down all their nuclear power plants, and you have a country of the Kyoto Protocol with very aggressive climate goals, and they hinged on this fleet of nuclear reactors. And you have one accident, and all this human suffering aside, and this technology has torn apart your goals for climate change.
 
There was certainly the immediate harm, but you’ve damaged your longer-term goals for saving the planet. Their carbon went up as they had to turn to all these dirty fossil fuels, and now they’ve started to come down. And they’ve done a tremendous amount since in energy efficiency. If they’d one this 20 years ago, they wouldn’t be in that situation today.
 
Before stepping into the role, did you have any idea how messy politics in the agency were?
 
I spent time working on the Hill for a congressman and a senator, and I’d had my taste for politics always as a staffer. There is always a difference between a staffer and principal. When I became chairman I was the principal. Then I realized the power that was at stake, the influence that was at stake, and the stakes were so high, it was going to be intense.
 
The nuclear power industry is tens of billions, and electrical utilities are some of the most powerful in the country. My first encounter with [Obama’s chief of staff] Rahm Emanuel, it was a very direct communication style, and it certainly made an impression on me. I realized what was at stake then, all the idealistic aspirations I hoped I maintained were going to run up against some practical and political powers.
 
I was trying to strike balance between public safety and the industries that operate. It was a delicate balance. The Fukushima accident is when I crossed that threshold that my job was foremost health and public safety and that was it. If we weren’t going to do it, who was? And the accident really galvanized that for me.
 
How do you see the future of nuclear power progressing under the Trump administration?
 
Well the thing the president has tried to do the most, coupled with the strategy to keep coal plants operating, has been comparable. He hasn’t gotten as much attention to subsidize nuclear power plants, and thankfully those efforts have been unsuccessful because I think those are mistakes.
 
Coal plants and nuclear plants are just too expensive to operate, and the focus has been on preserving them, but they’re being replaced by solar, wind, some gas, which is not ideal but I think other technologies will catch up and replace gas.
 
To me, the best thing anybody can do in the government, despite what the president says about climate change, is to just stay out of it. In many parts of the country, the market is doing the right thing. In many cases, the right pocketbook approach is the environmental approach. This is one place where the government needs to step out of the way and let the market take over.
 
Knowing what you know now, would you have still taken the job?
 
Absolutely. It was a great privilege to have the job. There was one moment when I was sitting across from my counterpart in Japan [during the Fukushima aftermath], and we both looked at each other and realized that we were both relatively young [around 40]. In that moment, I knew there was a reason we were there, if for no other reason than I could relate to this individual.
 
It was a great experience. It was hard, but at the end of the day, I got up knowing what I was doing and why I was doing it, and I was doing something to help people. And those jobs don’t come often.
 
 
Other interviews of Greg Jaczko to watch and to listen to:

“Nuclear: Dangerous, A Failed Technology” – Former Nuke Regulatory Chief Greg Jaczko Goes Rogue

Greg Jaczko, the former Chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has published an explosive new book: Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator.  In it, he gets honest with the American people about the dangers of nuclear technology, which he labels “failed,” “dangerous,” “not reliable.”  He particularly comes down against nuclear as having any part in mitigating the problems of climate change/global warming.  In this extended Nuclear Hotseat interview, Jaczko brings us inside the NRC’s response to Fukushima, the “precipice” on which nuclear safety balances, his own growing doubts about how safe nuclear reactors are in the United States, and how, ultimately, it was that concern with safety that probably brought him down.

Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator

Gregory Jaczko recounted his time with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, for which he served as chair from 2009-2012.

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

The After Fukushima and Japan’s Declining Birthrate, Japan’s Demographics a National Crisis

From Chris Busby:
Japan’s birth rate was declining but gradually, as was the Belarus birthrate. The rate at which it was declining was low. Then after Fukushima it fell of the cliff.
I made this graph from Japan vital statistics data on the web.
In 2005 it was 8.32. So there is a sharp fall in the rate after Fukushima. Same thing happened in Belarus after Chernobyl. Look at the Bandashevsky’s after Chernobyl birth rate graph.
It was expected What I am saying is that the fall in birthrate in Japan is a Fukushima effect in the same way as the fall in birthrate in Belrus was a Chernobyl effect.

chernobyl & fukushima birthrates

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Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe describes demographics as a national crisis
Japan suffered its biggest population decline on record this year, according to new figures that underline the country’s losing battle to raise its birth rate.
The number of births fell to its lowest since records began more than a century ago, the health and welfare ministry said, soon after parliament approved an immigration bill that will pave the way for the arrival of hundreds of thousands of blue-collar workers to address the worst labour shortage in decades.
The ministry estimated 921,000 babies will have been born by the end of 2018 – 25,000 fewer than last year and the lowest number since comparable records began in 1899. It is also the third year in a row the number of births has been below one million.
Combined with the estimated number of deaths this year – a postwar high of 1.37 million – the natural decline of Japan’s population by 448,000 is the biggest ever.
The data suggests the government will struggle to reach its goal of raising the birth rate – the average number of children a woman has during her lifetime – to 1.8 by April 2026. The current birth rate stands at 1.43, well below the 2.07 required to keep the population stable.
Crisis
The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has described Japan’s demographics as a national crisis and promised to increase childcare places and introduce other measures to encourage couples to have more children.
But the number of children on waiting lists for state-funded daycare increased for the third year in a row last year, raising doubts over his plans to provide a place for every child by April 2020.
Japanese people have an impressive life expectancy – 87.2 years for women and 81.01 years for men – which experts attribute to regular medical examinations, universal healthcare coverage and, among older generations, a preference for Japan’s traditional low-fat diet.
But the growing population of older people is expected to place unprecedented strain on health and welfare services in the decades to come. Some of those costs will be met by a controversial rise in the consumption (sales) tax, from 8 per cent to 10 per cent, next October.
Earlier this year the government said 26.1 million – or just over 20 per cent of the total population of 126.7 million – were aged 70 and over.
The number of centenarians, meanwhile, had risen to 69,785 as of September this year, with women making up 88% of the total.
Japan has the highest proportion of older people – or those aged 65 and over – in the world, followed by Italy, Portugal and Germany.
The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research in Tokyo estimated that more than 35 per cent of Japanese will be aged 65 or over by 2040.
See also:

January 7, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment