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New Kagoshima governor to seek suspension of Sendai reactors

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KAGOSHIMA – Newly elected Kagoshima Gov. Satoshi Mitazono said Thursday he will seek a temporary halt on active nuclear reactors in the prefecture, currently the only ones working nationwide.

“There are concerns over nuclear power plants following the Kumamoto earthquakes,” Mitazono said of the April disaster.

He was speaking in his first news conference since becoming governor. He was elected on an anti-nuclear ticket.

Mitazono added that Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant should be “halted once, to conduct checks and reviews again.”

The No. 1 reactor at the Sendai plant is scheduled to go offline for routine checks on Oct. 6, but Mitazono may submit his request for a suspension as early as August.

The No. 1 and No. 2 units at the plant resumed operation last year in August and October, respectively, becoming the first two reactors to be brought back online under stricter safety rules imposed after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

No other reactors are currently online in Japan amid lingering public fears over safety. Some are subject to court injunctions, but others are gearing up for a restart.

The governor is not authorized to stop the operation of reactors, but a safety accord reached between the prefectural government and the plant operator allows local government officials to enter the plant to confirm whether safety steps are being taken.

Kyushu Electric Power is likely to insist that Sendai is safe.

In the July 10 gubernatorial election, 58-year-old Mitazono, a former TV Asahi Corp. commentator, defeated previous Gov. Yuichiro Ito, 68, who was seeking his fourth four-year term with the support of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/07/28/national/new-kagoshima-governor-seek-suspension-sendai-reactors/

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July 29, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Kagoshima’s new governor vows to halt Sendai nuclear plant for safety checks

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Incoming Kagoshima Gov. Satoshi Mitazono says he plans to ask Kyushu Electric Power Co. to suspend operation of the Sendai nuclear power plant for safety checks.

In an interview on Wednesday, Mitazono said he will make the request to the utility at a yet to be decided date to examine the effects of powerful earthquakes that hit nearby Kumamoto and Oita prefectures in April.

The former TV commentator was elected Sunday as governor of the only prefecture in Japan with an operating nuclear power plant.

During campaigning, Mitazono pledged to halt its operation.

“I will require Kyushu Electric to temporarily suspend the operation” for a survey of nearby faults and a review of evacuation plans to ensure safety, he said.

“There are many citizens in this prefecture concerned about the nuclear power plant operating after the quakes in Kumamoto,” he said.

Prefectural governors are not authorized to stop the operation of a nuclear reactor, but utilities require local consent to restart them.

Backed by an anti-nuclear camp, Mitazono defeated incumbent Yuichiro Ito, who allowed two reactors at the Sendai complex to be reactivated last year.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/07/14/national/kagoshimas-new-governor-wants-sendai-nuke-plant-halted-faults-evacuation-routes-checked/#.V4he2LgrLIU

July 17, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

New governor’s Sendai plant shutdown pledge alarms utility

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Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear power plant in Satsuma-Sendai in Kagoshima Prefecture

Concern is growing among Kyushu Electric Power Co. and the central government over the new Kagoshima governor’s pledge to request a reassessment of the Sendai nuclear plant’s safety in light of the recent Kumamoto quakes.

Satoshi Mitazono, a former political reporter with TV Asahi Corp., was elected on his campaign pledge to build a “society without nuclear energy” in the July 10 gubernatorial race, defeating incumbent Yuichiro Ito.

Mitazono, 58, wants to suspend operations at the plant for a review of its emergency evacuation plan and to re-examine its safety features.

A top Kyushu Electric executive expressed bewilderment over Mitazono’s proposal.

A governor has no legal authority to order a halt,” the official said. “On what legal basis can the plant be shut down?”

But Mitazono’s calls reflect local residents’ mounting concerns over the Sendai plant in Satsuma-Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, after a series of strong tremors rocked neighboring Kumamoto Prefecture starting in mid-April.

The company allows prefectural officials to inspect the nuclear plant site, and request for it to take corrective measures based on their findings under an agreement with the prefectural and Satsuma-Sendai city governments over safety issues.

Kyushu Electric, based in Fukuoka, would likely be forced to respond in one way or another when the governor asks for the suspension of the plant, regardless of legal authority.

With two reactors in operation, Sendai is the only nuclear power station back online in the nation after it cleared the new safely regulations implemented after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

After Mitazono emerged as the winner on July 10, Kyushu Electric’s closing stock price dropped more than 7 percent, compared to July 8, reflecting the company’s potentially gloomy prospects.

The two reactors at the Sendai plant are scheduled to be shut down in October or later for a regular check.

An official with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which oversees the nuclear industry, said it would take a prolonged period before the plant could be restarted if a review of the evacuation plan or other demands were made.

A senior Kyushu Electric official concurred that it would not be easy to go back online on a regular time schedule if such demands were made.

It would be difficult to reactivate the reactors amid the opposition of the local government hosting the plant,” the official said.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201607120060.html

July 12, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | 2 Comments

Japan nuclear restart in doubt after skeptic wins governor’s race

TOKYO — The election of a governor who favors shutting down the Sendai nuclear power plant in southwestern Japan raises uncertainty for the nation’s only running reactors.

“A nuclear plant whose safety hasn’t been confirmed shouldn’t be operating,” Satoshi Mitazono, a former TV journalist who ran in Kagoshima Prefecture, told reporters Sunday.

Mitazono said he wanted another study to determine whether the facility lies near active faults and said there are “problems” with the current plans for evacuating residents in an emergency.

His victory in Sunday’s gubernatorial race is not expected to lead to the plant immediately shutting down, since governors lack the legal authority to make this happen.

But the plant’s two reactors are due for regularly scheduled inspections in October and December. Local utility Kyushu Electric Power would have little chance of restarting them after the safety checks if the governor objects. Mitazono’s problems with the evacuation plans may introduce time-consuming revisions.

“If the new governor insists on postponing the restarts, that would rule out operating the Sendai reactors,” said a senior official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which is responsible for Japanese energy policy.

The No. 3 reactor at Shikoku Electric Power‘s Ikata nuclear plant may resume operations as early as this month. Even so, nationwide nuclear energy output would remain far short of the government’s fiscal 2030 target of 20-22% of power generation.

http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Japan-nuclear-restart-in-doubt-after-skeptic-wins-governor-s-race

July 11, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Nuclear-free society advocate set to win Kagoshima governor race

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KAGOSHIMA – Anti-nuclear advocate Satoshi Mitazono was heading for victory in the Kagoshima gubernatorial race Sunday, beating incumbent Yuichiro Ito, who agreed to the resumption of reactors at a power plant in the prefecture, a projection showed.

The 58-year-old Mitazono is a former TV Asahi Corp. commentator. He ran as an independent backed by the main opposition Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party as well as some conservatives who typically support the ruling Liberal Democratic Party but were opposed to the incumbent.

Ito, 68, with the support of the LDP and its junior coalition partner Komeito, was seeking his fourth four-year term.

One of the contentious issues in the race was the fate of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear power plant in the prefecture.

The Sendai plant’s No. 1 and No. 2 units are the only reactors operating in the country after the government imposed tougher safety rules following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Mitazono demanded that plant operations be temporarily suspended for safety checks in the wake of a series of strong earthquakes that hit central Kyushu in April, while Ito argued that the plant’s safety had been secured.

We will not activate any reactors the safety of which is not guaranteed,” he told reporters on Sunday.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/07/10/national/politics-diplomacy/nuclear-free-society-advocate-set-win-kagoshima-governor-race/#.V4JQJJl95E5

July 10, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

As Japan re-embraces nuclear power, safety warnings persist

An aerial view shows the No.1 and No.2 reactor buildings at Kyushu Electric Power's Sendai nuclear power station in Satsumasendai

An aerial view shows the No.1 (L) and No.2 reactor buildings at Kyushu Electric Power’s Sendai nuclear power station in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima prefecture, Japan, August 11, 2015, in this photo taken by Kyodo. REUTERS/Kyodo

Japan’s re-embrace of nuclear power, on display last week with the recertification of two aging reactors, is prompting some critics to warn that Tokyo is neglecting the lessons of Fukushima.

In the first such step since the 2011 disaster, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) on June 20 approved Kansai Electric Power Co’s application to extend the life of two reactors beyond 40 years.

As it became clear the NRA was going to allow the extensions, a former commissioner broke a silence maintained since he left the agency in 2014 and said “a sense of crisis” over safety prompted him to go public and urge more attention to earthquake risk.

Kunihiko Shimazaki, who was a commissioner from 2012 to 2014, said a powerful quake in April that killed 69 on Kyushu island showed the risk to some of Japan’s 42 operable nuclear reactors was being underestimated.

“I cannot stand by without doing anything. We may have another tragedy and, if that happens, it could not be something that was ‘beyond expectations’,” he said, referring to a common description of the catastrophic chain of events after the earthquake and tsunami that led to the Fukushima meltdowns.

The NRA has said it would take into account Shimazaki’s position in some of its assessments.

Separately when asked about the operating extensions of the reactors, a spokesman for the regulator referred Reuters to remarks by agency chairman, Shunichi Tanaka, on the day of the extensions, when he said: “It does not guarantee absolute safety but it means the reactors have cleared the safety standards.”

According to the World Nuclear Association, an industry body, early reactors were designed for a life of about 30 years, while newer plants can operate up to 60 years.

A 2012 Japanese law also limits the life of all reactors to 40 years, allowing for license extensions only in exceptional circumstances.

TOUGHER REGULATOR?

The meltdowns five years ago at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi plant after an earthquake and tsunami – the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986 – were blamed in an official report on lax oversight and collusion between operators and regulators.

Kyushu Electric Power is the only utility that has been cleared to restart two reactors at its Sendai plant, while other utilities have been blocked so far by legal action from nearby residents. One more reactor may restart later this month.

After Fukushima, Japan revamped its regulator and tasked it with implementing new standards that the NRA chairman has repeatedly said are among the world’s toughest.

But an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) review this year made 26 suggestions and recommendations to address shortcomings – such as a lack of communication between departments and agencies, and failures on basic radiation standards – and cited only two examples of good practice.

Tokyo is revising the law to ensure there can be unscheduled inspections of nuclear sites, a standard practice in many countries, according to a NRA document, and the regulator is taking steps to improve its internal processes.

A U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Japanese regulator was still young and it would take time to build up a strong safety culture.

But opinion polls show that more than 50 percent of Japan’s population remain opposed to nuclear power following Fukushima, even if using other fuels boosts electricity prices.

The NRA faces accusations that it is caving into pressure to quickly restart an industry that used to supply a third of Japan’s electricity.

“The regulator is the guarantor for the population, not the manufacturers or the utilities, and it is failing,” said Mycle Schneider, an independent analyst and one of the authors of an annual report on the world nuclear industry.

“The first level where the NRA is failing is every single day in their oversight of Fukushima,” he said.

This week a power failure at the Fukushima site knocked out radiation monitoring and the freezing of a so-called ice wall to isolate the damaged reactors. Cooling and water circulation to keep the reactors in a safe state were not affected.

A NRA spokesman said it had not issued instructions to Tokyo Electric or released a media statement because no law was broken.

The government is not pressuring the NRA to approve restarts or interfering in its operations, said Yohei Ogino, a deputy director for energy policy in the industry ministry.

But he said the government will encourage operators “to voluntarily beef up safety, as the country has lost faith in nuclear power.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-nuclear-regulation-idUSKCN0ZH4B3

July 4, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Residents near Sendai nuclear plant agonize over future power supplies

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SATSUMASENDAI, Kagoshima — Residents here are agonizing over whether they will be able to do away with nuclear power and shift to renewable energy.

The No. 1 and 2 reactors at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in this Kagoshima Prefecture city of Satsumasendai were put back online in the summer of 2015.

There had been a common view that the suspension of operations at the Sendai nuclear power complex in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster was having a grave impact on the local economy. But there were unexpected responses to a questionnaire survey of local businesses conducted by the city’s chamber of commerce and industry in 2014. On a question about the impact of the suspension of nuclear reactors, 50.3 percent of the 358 companies that responded to the survey said that there was “no” impact, surpassing 48.9 percent of the companies that said “yes.”

Hiroshi Tanaka, 58-year-old president of local electronics parts manufacturer Okano Electronics Co., said, “There was no impact.” At the request of the municipal government two years ago, he played a mediator role in ensuring cooperation among 18 local companies to put street lights using solar power to practical use. The city is currently making a strong effort to introduce renewable energy such as solar and wind power. The municipal government withheld approval of a plan to build a third reactor at the Sendai nuclear power station after the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011. The total output of renewable energy in the city stood at 250 kilowatts generated by only one windmill before the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but it rose to a total of 134,000 kilowatts as of the end of March 2016, enough to cover the needs of all 46,000 households in the city.

Satsumasendai Mayor Hideo Iwakiri has been saying, “The No. 1 and 2 reactors will eventually be decommissioned. We want to gear up for the next generation of energy.” Tanaka also said, “We will take the next step while the reactors are running.” Obviously, it is difficult for the renewable energy industry to create the same amount of jobs as the nuclear power industry. The city is planning to build a major conference hall by using government subsidies of 2.5 billion yen it is to receive for allowing the two reactors to resume operations. The city government, therefore, has been criticized for its policy focusing on the construction of public structures. But there are still calls within the construction industry to build another reactor at the Sendai nuclear power station.

Still, there are signs of the city becoming keen to fully break away from nuclear power. A 71-year-old former head of a neighborhood community association in the city’s Takae district, about 6 kilometers from the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant, said, “We cannot relieve our anxiety because of the accident in Fukushima. We want the existing reactors to keep running until they are decommissioned, but we want new ones to be installed somewhere else. I think that’s what everyone thinks.”

The central government is planning to have nuclear power make up 20 to 22 percent of the nation’s electric power needs in the future. The city is not able to do away with nuclear power so easily, so it is agonizing over the future of its energy program while putting up a two-front strategy — nuclear power and renewable energy.

I got on a boat to visit an islander, hoping to hear his real opinion. The Koshikijima Islands, about 30 kilometers west of the Sendai nuclear plant, merged into the city of Satsumasendai in 2004. Single-seat electric vehicles for tourists are lined up at a harbor on Kamikoshiki-jima island, the central part of islanders’ activities. In the yard of an shutdown school, a private-public project was under way to conduct a demonstration experiment on a power storage system that combines solar panels and used batteries for electric vehicles.

Kyushu Electric Power Co. built the country’s first commercial wind power plant on the island in 1989. After the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, the city called the Koshikijima Islands “Eco Islands.”

The man I went to see is Kenta Yamashita, 30, who runs a company called “Higashishinakai no Chiisanashima Burando” (Small Island Brand in East China Sea). He studied architecture at a Kyoto university and worked for a while after graduating from college. He returned to his home six years ago to start his own business. His company, which has 13 employees, is engaged in projects to show the attractive points of the island such as “minshuku” (private homes that provide lodgings for travelers) and tour guides.

The Fukushima nuclear accident occurred one year after he returned to the island. No matter how much he is proud of the island’s beautiful nature, he can see the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant far away on a sunny day.

I sat face to face with him in his office that was converted from a house that was more than 100 years old, and asked him unashamedly about what he thinks of nuclear power. He lowered his eyes and thought for a while before saying with a stern face, “There is no electricity generated by nuclear power not even one kilowatt on this island. I don’t care about whether the reactors are running or not.”

Yamashita told me about a fishing port that has a breakwater, a stone wall built by islanders. So, I asked him to take me there. It was a place where fishermen sat on the stone wall and repaired fishing nets over small talk. Yamashita said, “This is an affluent island if you live idyllically. I think the distinct character of this island is the landscapes that cannot be measured by economics.” He said that he had an incisive memory of the stone wall.

This was from around a time when Yamashita moved away from the island to go to high school on the Japanese mainland. When he came back to the island on holidays, his father, who was working for a construction company, was destroying part of the stone wall at the fishing port as part of work to widen a road. He thought, “Who needs such construction work? What is the point of construction work to destroy a place that everyone has been caring about?” On that night, he rebuked his father in anger. His father replied, “It was for the sake of you.”

It requires money to go to school on the mainland. Yamashita was plagued by the irrational fact that he was able to live by having someone destroy the landscape that he had been familiar with since his infancy. He could not say anything to respond to what his father said.

“If you think about the economy alone, this is the worst island,” Yamashita said. He went on to say, “I want to do my best to create work which I can proudly tell the generation of our children ‘this is for the sake of you’. I believe that is the role for me to play.”

Yamashita then told me, “It is true that there are many people who rely on the nuclear power plant for their living. I can’t flatly say this and that.” He feels that nuclear power is equal to a public works project to destroy the stone wall. “It is better not to have nuclear reactors. But once they start moving, they will move closer to decommissioning. I even think that it was good to restart the reactors.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160608/p2a/00m/0na/016000c

June 10, 2016 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

“Lessons Not Learned From Fukushima”

20/04/2016
Kyushu Earthquake: “Lessons Not Learned From Fukushima” Report By Hiroko Aihara Fukushima Journalist
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exw3OzgXT_s

Fukushima independent journalist Hiroka Aihara talks about the failure to learn the lessons of Fukushima in the recent Kyushu earthquake in Japan. She also discusses how the government and the mass corporate media have refused to seriously cover the dangers of another Fukushima. Using the recently passed secrecy laws the government has repressed and silenced journalists. The Abe government has also said that everything has returned to “normality” and the Fukushima crisis is over. She reports that teachers have been told not to warn the students and their families of the continuing radiation dangers and use of the secrecy law to suppress information. She also discusses the growing militarization of Japan and the connection to the nuclear power program and industry.
The interview was done in Tokyo on April, 20, 2016

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | 1 Comment

Sendai Nuclear Plant Against All Odds

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On May 8, 2016 already more than 3 weeks have passed since the start of the earthquakes in Kumamoto and Kumatomoto prefecture, or they are still continuing. Below are the numbers from 14 to 28 April 2016. In just 14 days 1026 earthquakes from various magnitudes.

 

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The Sendai nuclear plant in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima prefecture is just 147kms southward from Kumamoto. The whole Kyushu island is earthquake prone due to a main fault.

 

main fault

 

There is also a nice very active volcano in the vicinity, Sakurajima volcano, 72 kms from the Sendai nuclear plant, that is not counting the other eight volcanos on the island.

 

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What you think, isn’t it the perfect place to build a nuclear plant?

Source:

Des dommages énormes pour la vie à Kumamoto

http://www.fukushima-blog.com/2016/05/des-dommages-enormes-pour-la-vie-a-kumamoto.html

May 14, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Abe’s questionable handling of the Kumamoto quakes

The series of earthquakes that has hit central Kyushu since April 14 pose a variety of problems for us. The Meteorological Agency has explained that this chain of temblors is unprecedented in that the location of the hypocenter has moved. But one has to realize that it was only recently in the long history of the Earth that humans began their observations of seismic activities — and that it should come as no surprise if such a pattern of earthquakes had happened frequently in the past. In short, we humans know very little about the movements of the Earth. In Japan, earthquakes can hit anytime and anywhere.

Serious questions have been raised about the Abe administration’s response to the Kumamoto quakes. The first is why it didn’t try to listen to people who were suffering from the devastation brought by the temblors. The government’s call on evacuees to take shelter indoors following the initial quake that hit on April 14 drew the ire of the Kumamoto governor, who felt that officials in Tokyo didn’t understand the feelings of local residents.

The second question deals with the administration’s policy on the operation of nuclear power plants following the quakes. The government has declared that it won’t shut down the reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture — currently the sole nuclear plant in operation in this country. After clearing the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s screening of the plant for a restart, Kyushu Electric scrapped its plan to build a new facility with a seismically isolated structure that would serve as a command center in the event of an emergency. One of the assumptions in judging the safety of restarting the Sendai plant was that people would be able to evacuate the area by using bullet trains and the expressway network in case of a nuclear crisis. The Kumamoto quakes knocked those transportation means out of service, raising doubts about the workability of the evacuation scenario. That alone should be reason enough to halt the Sendai plant and rethink the safety measures. We need to consider carefully whether it is wise to have so many nuclear plants in this quake-prone country.

The third question is on the government’s intension to take advantage of the disaster to achieve its political goals — instead of focusing on relief for people in the disaster zone. Right after the temblors hit, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the quakes highlighted the importance of amending the Constitution to give the government emergency powers to respond to such crises. Two U.S. Marine MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft were dispatched to transport relief supplies in an apparent attempt at what Canadian author Naomi Klein calls the Shock Doctrine — taking advantage of a disaster to push a political agenda that has nothing to do with disaster response.

It is false to say that the government’s response to a disaster cannot proceed quickly because the Constitution does not grant emergency powers. Existing laws, such as the basic law on disaster response, provides a variety of powers that enables the government to take various actions if it wants to. Requesting the Osprey aircraft had nothing to do with providing relief for the disaster-hit people. I have heard nothing about Self-Defense Forces helicopters having been mobilized to their full capacity to transport relief goods to Kumamoto. I believe that using the Osprey was only a ploy to impress the public that strengthening defense cooperation between Japan and the United States under the Abe administration’s security legislation is helping ordinary citizens.

As memories of the 3/11 disasters fade away, the Abe administration is trying to divert public attention from the damage brought by the Fukushima nuclear disaster and create the impression that everything is back to normal. Its policy of restarting nuclear plants idled in the wake of the Fukushima crisis is part of such attempts. The Kumamoto quakes have exposed the questionable nature of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s politics.

When it comes to risks to people’s lives and their safety, natural disasters at home and the weakening of society as manifested by the aging and shrinking of the population pose a much more real threat than changes in the security environment surrounding Japan. The government is about to invest trillions of yen in Tokyo as it prepares to host the Summer Olympics in 2020. What significance does building a posh new national stadium in Tokyo and pursuing large urban redevelopment projects carry when people in other parts of the country suffer from the devastation caused by natural disasters? Can the government secure sufficient financial resources for reconstruction of the disaster-hit areas?

It is difficult to criticize the government when it is engaged in efforts to help people affected by a major disaster. But objections need to be clearly raised against any attempt to take advantage of a disaster to promote an unrelated political agenda. The mass media in particular bear a heavy responsibility to do that.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2016/05/09/commentary/japan-commentary/abes-questionable-handling-kumamoto-quakes/#.VzF9rr4TUaF

May 11, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Mount Sakura is just 50km from the NPP Sendai

The Sakurajima volcano in Japan erupted again on April 30, 2016.

Japanese media do not talk about it…
Mount Sakura is just 50km from the NPP Sendai (Kagoshima, Japan)!

3 subsequent explosions sent a column of ash 3800, 1800, and 1200 meters over the crater.

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Nowlook at this awesome video:

This new eruptive phase at Sakurajima volcano, Japan, began back on April 29, 2016:

Explosions also occurred on April 30, 2016:

Before exploding again on April 30 2016.

The volcanic unrest continues… And nobody knows when it is going to stop!

Sakurajima volcano eruption on April 30, 2016 video

 

 

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Time-lapse of the Kyushu earthquakes for a week since April 14th

The epicenter was moving this way for one week time in Kumamoto earthquake.
680 plus earthquakes in just a few days.
But the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority declares that the Sendai nuclear plant is safe!!!

https://youtu.be/nzPfpT1cEJc

April 22, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Japanese Government Learned Nothing From Fukushima

410 consecutive earthquakes since 14 April, including 162 of more than 3.5 magnitute, but the Japanese government keeps two reactors at the Sendai plant in operation ….
They have learned nothing from Fukushima.

 

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Landslides sever National Route No. 57 in Minami-Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, on April 16. Aso-ohashi bridge also collapsed.

410 quakes felt in Kyushu, 162 with magnitudes of at least 3.5

The number of earthquakes that could be felt by people reached 410 by 10 a.m. on April 17 following the start of seismic activity in Kumamoto Prefecture on April 14, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Quakes with magnitudes of 3.5 or larger accounted for 162 of the total by 8:30 a.m. on April 17, the largest among inland and coastal earthquakes since 1995. The previous high was set after the Chuetsu Earthquake in Niigata Prefecture in 2004.

“After the magnitude-7.3 earthquake that struck at 1:25 a.m. on April 16, the number of earthquakes increased sharply,” said Gen Aoki, director of the agency’s earthquake and tsunami monitoring division.

He urged people in the affected areas to remain alert amid the ongoing aftershocks.

“Earthquake movements are actively continuing in areas from Kumamoto Prefecture to Oita Prefecture,” Aoki said. “The soil could have become loose due to the rain that started to fall on April 16, so I want people to exercise caution against strong tremors or rain.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604170042.html

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The No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture

Government lets Sendai reactors continue operations

The government on April 16 said there is no need to shut down two nuclear reactors in Kagoshima Prefecture, citing relatively low seismic movements around the nuclear plant.

Cabinet ministers met on April 16 to respond to the Kyushu earthquakes and discuss what to do with the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors of the Sendai nuclear power plant located in Satsuma-Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture.

Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa, who serves concurrently as state minister for nuclear emergency preparedness, mentioned the stricter safety standards implemented by the Nuclear Regulation Authority on nuclear power plant operations. Under the NRA’s standards, adopted after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, 620 gal is the maximum seismic acceleration allowed for reactors to continue running.

Marukawa said the maximum shaking recorded on the Sendai plant grounds was 12.6 gal.

“The NRA has judged there is no need to stop the Sendai plant,” she said.

The two reactors are the only ones currently operating in Japan.

The series of earthquakes that began in Kumamoto Prefecture on April 14 have spread eastward to Oita Prefecture. Kagoshima Prefecture lies at the southern end of Kyushu.

“Under the current circumstances, there is no need to stop the plant because (the shaking) is sufficiently low,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said after the April 16 meeting.

The Japanese Communist Party on April 16 called on the government to shut down the Sendai plant as a preventive measure because the quake activity was spreading through Kyushu.

The party said major problems would arise in evacuations if a nuclear accident arose at the Sendai plant because quake damage has rendered the Shinkansen bullet train line and expressways unusable.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604170031.html

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Complex geology behind Kumamoto jolt

The earthquake that struck Kumamoto Prefecture early Saturday had a magnitude of 7.3, the same as the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, in which more than 6,400 people died or remain missing.

The Saturday quake had more than 10 times the energy of the magnitude-6.5 earthquake that occurred Thursday evening, which caused strong shaking in limited areas. On Saturday, violent tremors measuring as high as upper 6 on the Japanese intensity scale of 7 were felt over a wide area.

Experts said the earthquake occurred as multiple faults moved in conjunction with each other, and warned that earthquakes will continue over a wide area.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, this is the first magnitude-7 class earthquake with a shallow focus since a magnitude-7 quake in the Hamadori area in Fukushima Prefecture, that is believed to have been an aftershock of the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. In the Kyushu region it was the first of that size and type in 11 years, since the magnitude-7 earthquake with its focus in the Genkainada sea in western Fukuoka Prefecture in 2005.

According to the agency’s analysis, Saturday’s quake was a “strike-slip” type, in which the fault involved moved horizontally due to its being pulled to the northwest and southeast. Thursday’s quake and the 1995 Hanshin earthquake involved the same “strike-slip” mechanism.

Yuji Yagi, an associate professor of geodynamics at University of Tsukuba, analyzed the seismic waves from the Saturday quake and said the fault appeared to have moved over an area about 50 kilometers long and 20 kilometers wide.

The underground destruction stretched northeast from the quake’s focus and continued for about 20 seconds.

The focus of Saturday’s quake was located on the northern side of the Futagawa fault zone, which cuts east to west across Kumamoto Prefecture and is at least about 64 kilometers long in its entirety.

The government’s Earthquake Research Committee had deemed there to be “an almost zero to 0.9 percent chance” of a magnitude-7 earthquake occurring in the northeast part of the Futagawa fault zone within 30 years.

The Hinagu fault zone lies to the south of the focus of Saturday’s quake, stretching at least about 81 kilometers. Part of the Hinagu fault zone is believed to have moved in the Thursday earthquake.

Yasuhiro Suzuki, a professor of tectonic geomorphology at Nagoya University, said part of the Futagawa fault zone moved in the Saturday morning earthquake. “It’s appropriate to think of the Hinagu and Futagawa fault zones as connected active faults. The earthquake on Saturday occurred in conjunction with the quakes that have happened from Thursday on, so it appears that part of a very large fault moved,” Suzuki said.

According to Takeshi Matsushima, an associate professor at Kyushu University of solid-state geophysics, the ground in the Kyushu region is subject to forces that pull it north-south. This creates the Beppu-Shimabara rift zone, in which the ground is subsided from Oita to Kumamoto. It contains the Hinagu and Futagawa fault zones, as well as the Beppu-Haneyama fault zone.

Seismic activity has intensified from the southwest to the northeast of the rift zone.

Regarding this fact, the Japan Meteorological Agency said at a Saturday press conference that “large earthquakes have occurred in three locations: Kumamoto, Aso and the central areas of Oita Prefecture.”

The government’s Earthquake Research Committee has decided to hold an emergency meeting on Sunday regarding the quakes. It will examine the causes of the seismic activity and prospects for the future.Speech

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002881595

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Seismic activity could move east, trigger quakes in active faults

Seismologists fear that the series of earthquakes rattling Kyushu could trigger temblors in other active faults in the southwestern island, which extend eastward into central Japan.

A number of active faults dot the so-called Beppu-Shimabara Rift, which traverses Kyushu island from east to west, extending to the Median Tectonic Line. This is the nation’s longest tectonic line, and it spans about 1,000 kilometers from the Kanto Plain through Gunma, Nagano, Wakayama, and Tokushima prefectures to Kyushu island in southern Japan.

Ichiro Kawasaki, professor emeritus of seismology at Kyoto University, said: “The epicenter (in the latest series of quakes that began April 14) is gradually moving eastward. When a fault moves, it tends to move other faults that run on an extended line.”

He explained that when an earthquake occurs, other faults around it are exerted to different pressure, which could trigger other quakes.

That view was echoed by Kazuro Hirahara, a Kyoto University professor of seismology and head of the Coordinating Committee for Earthquake Prediction.

“The epicenter of the earthquake in Oita Prefecture, (which occurred early on April 16) is about 100 kilometers from that of the Kumamoto quakes, and therefore it is hard to think that the quake was an aftershock,” he said, adding that there was a possibility the Beppu-Haneyama fault zone in the prefecture may have been stimulated.

“Quite frankly, there is no telling what may happen in the days ahead,” he said. “If some part in the Median Tectonic Line moves, there is a chance it could have an impact on the predicted Nankai Trough Earthquake in the long run.”

Shinji Toda, a Tohoku University professor of earthquake geology, pointed out that the seismic activity could also move southward.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604160048.html

April 17, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | 1 Comment

Reactor ruling ignores lessons, anxiety from Fukushima crisis

A court ruling concerning nuclear reactor operations raises serious doubts about whether the court rightly recognized the gravity of the damage and the harsh realities caused by the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The Miyazaki branch of the Fukuoka High Court on April 6 rejected an appeal by Kyushu residents seeking an injunction to shut down the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors of the Sendai nuclear plant run by Kyushu Electric Power Co. in Satsuma-Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture. They are the only two reactors currently operating in Japan.

The ruling in essence said the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s (NRA) new safety standards, established after the disaster at the Fukushima plant, reflect the lessons learned from the triple meltdown and cannot be described as unreasonable. It also dismissed the plaintiffs’ argument that the design of the Sendai plant underestimates the safety risks posed by possible major earthquakes.

This ruling stands in sharp contrast with the Otsu District Court’s decision in March that raised doubts about the NRA’s safety standards and ordered the suspension of operations of two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture.

What happened in Fukushima has created strong anxiety among Japanese about the safety of nuclear power generation. From this point of view, it is obvious which of the two rulings really echoed the public sentiment about nuclear safety.

Symptomatic of the two courts’ different stances toward public concerns are their views about evacuation plans.

The new nuclear safety standards do not address issues related to evacuation plans.

The Otsu District Court raised questions about this fact and contended that the government is obliged to develop new regulatory standards based on a broader perspective that also address evacuation plans.

The Miyazaki branch acknowledged there are legitimate concerns about the existing plan for emergency evacuations.

The plaintiffs argued that the plan would be unable to deal with a situation that requires an immediate and massive evacuation. They also said the number of buses available to transport local residents during nuclear crises would be insufficient.

But the court nevertheless dismissed the plaintiffs’claim that operating the Sendai reactors violates their personal rights. The court pointed out that at least an emergency evacuation plan was in place.

Following the accident in Fukushima, many residents could not smoothly flee for their safety, leading to serious confusion.

The high court’s decision did not give due consideration to this fact.

Volcanoes, including the highly active Sakurajima, are located around the Sendai nuclear plant.

The NRA has established guidelines concerning the risks to nuclear plants posed by volcanic eruptions.

The high court judged the guidelines, based on the assumption that the timing and scale of eruptions can be accurately predicted, to be “irrational.”

Yet the court said the probability of an eruption triggering a catastrophic nuclear accident was so low that the risk can be ignored unless solid grounds for thinking otherwise are shown.

The court acknowledged the NRA’s flawed approach to dealing with the safety risk posed by volcanic eruptions. But it said the widely accepted view in society is that the risk can be ignored because of the low probability of such eruptions actually occurring.

Can this be described as an opinion based on serious reflection on the fact that unforeseen circumstances occurred at the Fukushima plant?

The exact causes of the nuclear disaster are not yet clear, and around 100,000 people are still living as evacuees.

That explains why various opinion polls show a majority of respondents expressing negative views about plans to restart reactors.

The court ruling that endorses the NRA’s new safety standards does not translate into public support of the government’s policy to bring idled reactors back on stream.

The sharply different court rulings on reactor operations should be regarded as a sign that the knotty question of how to secure safety at nuclear plants remains unsolved.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604070026.html

April 7, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Court rejects appeal to halt operations of Sendai reactors

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Lawyers hold up signs describing the April 6 ruling by the Miyazaki branch of the Fukuoka High Court as being unjust.

MIYAZAKI–A high court here rejected an appeal by Kyushu residents seeking to shut down the only two nuclear reactors operating in Japan, ruling that it is impossible to secure absolute safety with nuclear energy.

Presiding Judge Tomoichiro Nishikawa of the Miyazaki branch of the Fukuoka High Court said April 6 that current science and technology standards cannot reach a level of safety in which no radioactive materials are emitted regardless of the severity of the accident at a nuclear plant.

“A judgment has to be made based on the standard of what level of danger a society would be willing to live with,” Nishikawa said.

The court did not set any danger level, but it did rule that there was no convincing reason to issue a temporary injunction against the operations of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors of the Sendai plant run by Kyushu Electric Power Co. in Satsuma-Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, in southern Japan.

The plaintiffs argued that the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s new safety standards, established after the disaster unfolded at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in 2011, underestimated possible damage to the plant caused by a powerful earthquake.

Nishikawa dismissed the argument, saying the standards “were at an extremely high level of rationality because it was needed to secure safety.”

Nishikawa, however, did describe as “irrational” the NRA’s assessment of volcanic eruption risk near the Sendai nuclear plant. That assessment was preconditioned on predicting the timing and scale of volcanic activity that would cause extensive damage to a wide area.

But the judge added that there was no basis for believing that such an eruption might occur while the plant was in operation. He concluded that “a political decision” would have to be made about whether to consider the risks related to such eruptions.

The plaintiffs, from the three Kyushu prefectures of Kagoshima, Kumamoto and Miyazaki, are considering appealing the latest ruling to the Supreme Court.

Kyushu Electric Power issued a statement on April 6 that said the ruling acknowledged the company’s past arguments that safety of the plant had been secured.

Setting a standard for an acceptable danger level could untangle the differing court decisions on the operations of nuclear reactors.

In March, for example, the Otsu District Court raised doubts about the NRA’s safety standards and ordered an injunction against two reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture in central Japan.

The lawsuit for an injunction against the Sendai plant was filed with the Kagoshima District Court in May 2014.

The district court rejected the plaintiffs’ request in April 2015. A few months later, in August, the No. 1 reactor at the Sendai plant became the first in Japan to resume operations under the new safety standards. The No. 2 reactor was restarted in October.

A major point of contention in the lawsuit was Kyushu Electric Power’s estimate of the largest possible quake that could hit the Sendai plant.

The plaintiffs argued that the utility’s figure, based on an average of past quakes, was defective because it underestimated the potential of possible future quakes. The residents also said their rights would be violated if a major accident occurred at the Sendai plant.

Kyushu Electric Power countered that its estimate was based on the new safety standards that reflected the latest knowledge about earthquakes.

The company said there was no specific danger of a major accident at the plant because the anti-quake measures implemented were sufficient.

The plaintiffs had also cited problems with the evacuation plans for the Sendai plant that could endanger their human rights.

But Nishikawa pointed to the approval given by the Nuclear Emergency Preparedness Commission to the evacuation plan, which was described as specific and rational because it laid out measures according to distance from the nuclear plant.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604060045.html

 

 

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment