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Review the standards for compensation for nuclear accidents based on the reality of the situation

Plaintiffs march in front of the High Court decision on the nuclear power plant evacuation lawsuit.

May 12, 2022
A government panel has begun to consider whether to review the guidelines for compensation for damages caused by the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The guidelines were created immediately after the accident, and their inadequacies have been repeatedly pointed out since then. It must be said that it is too late. Many of the victims are elderly, and the revision of the guidelines needs to be hastened.

 In August 2011, the Nuclear Damage Dispute Review Panel compiled an interim guideline for compensation. The guidelines were last reviewed in December 2001, and the general framework has not changed since then. The TEPCO was supposed to determine the amount of compensation by taking into account the individual circumstances of each victim.

 However, about 30 class-action lawsuits have been filed against TEPCO based on this system, alleging that the company’s compensation is inadequate and questioning the responsibility of the government and other parties. Since 2005, the district and high courts have ordered the defendants to pay more than the calculated amount, and in seven of the cases, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of TEPCO this spring.

Although the content of the judgments differed from each other, there were several cases in which the court found that the plaintiffs in a certain area had suffered psychological damage due to the loss of their hometowns, which deprived them of their livelihood and local communities. It can be said that the judiciary recognized the existence of collective damages that the guidelines did not grasp. At the very least, it is essential to revise the guidelines in this area. Fukushima Prefecture and other local governments are also calling on the government to review the guidelines in light of the court decision.

 The Board of Inquiry has finally gotten around to analyzing the content of the court decisions and identifying the types of damages that are omitted from the guidelines. This is necessary work, but it is not the only thing that needs to be done. It is necessary to face the reality of the damage, which is becoming more diverse and complex due to the prolonged evacuation.

 Even if they were not satisfied with the amount of compensation TEPCO had awarded them, many of the victims did not take the matter to court. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit also claim that the amount awarded in the judgment is still inadequate. The Board should also listen to the opinions of the victims and local governments involved and scrutinize a wide range of cases. If there are parts of the guidelines that do not match the actual situation, the Board should not hesitate to revise them.

 TEPCO’s stance is also questionable. TEPCO has stubbornly refused to provide uniform compensation that exceeds the guidelines in class action lawsuits and in settlement mediation procedures conducted by government agencies. It is questionable whether TEPCO is aware of its responsibility as the company that caused the tragic accident to take the initiative in seeking compensation. The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, which is in effect the major shareholder of TEPCO, is required to strictly instruct TEPCO to take a sincere approach.

 It must do everything in its power to make amends to the victims until they are fully compensated. We must not forget that this is the heavy responsibility placed on the government and TEPCO.

https://www.asahi.com/articles/DA3S15291024.html?iref=pc_photo_gallery_bottom

May 15, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO net profit slides 96.9%; cost for Fukushima well out of reach

Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., attends an April 28 news conference where the company’s financial results were announced

April 29, 2022

Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s dismal financial results have compounded the difficulties facing the company in compensating victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and covering the cleanup and decommissioning costs.

The parent company, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., on April 28 announced that net profit for the fiscal year that ended in March plummeted by 96.9 percent over the previous year to 5.6 billion yen ($43 million).

“With fuel prices continuing to surge, the business environment surrounding our company is not a very optimistic one,” Tomoaki Kobayakawa, the company president, said at the news conference to announce the business results.

He said the company would begin work to revise its corporate structure, including reorganizing group companies and heightening cooperative efforts with other companies.

Despite the dwindling profits, TEPCO must still carry out various tasks to clean up the mess made by the 2011 triple meltdown at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

In 2016, the government calculated that the total cost of compensating people displaced by the disaster, decommissioning reactors at the plant and conducting radiation decontamination work would come to a staggering 21.5 trillion yen.

TEPCO is expected to contribute about 16 trillion yen of that total.

About 10 trillion yen has already been spent for compensation and to remove radiation. Much of that total has been paid for by the government on condition that TEPCO reimburses it later.

Under the plan to rebuild TEPCO, the utility must also set aside about 500 billion yen a year to pay for decommissioning work.

But the last time TEPCO was able to reach that monetary goal was in fiscal 2017. For the past three years, it has only managed to set aside about 300 billion yen annually.

The company had also set a goal of 450 billion yen in net profit by 2030.

But as Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, the company chairman, admitted, “If nothing is done, profits will increasingly shrink and we will be unable to fulfill our responsibility regarding Fukushima.”

Retail sales of electric power used to be TEPCO’s strong point. But as of the end of 2021, newly created electric power companies accounted for 30.4 percent of the electricity sold in the area normally covered by TEPCO.

That is the largest ratio of any of the major electric power companies in Japan.

As a result, TEPCO Energy Partner Inc., which handles retail sales, recorded a loss of 66.4 billion yen for the fiscal year that ended in March.

TEPCO has also failed to capitalize on renewable energy, which had been considered a growth sector.

The government in December 2021 picked a group led by trading company Mitsubishi Corp. instead of TEPCO to handle offshore wind power facilities in Chiba and Akita prefectures.

And there is no sign of when TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture can resume operations.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14610645?fbclid=IwAR2jO6xCoNoiLgpiqT_dxdvdxsQdX4dfXwHDvKTZolVVMWyNV0tWDbvxR1M

May 9, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima farmers’ efforts serve to undo TEPCO’s damage

Mobilization of Fukushima farmers. Credit: Fukushima Farmers Federation

April 19, 2022
About Fukushima farmers’ compensation, here is the Tweet thread posted by Mako Oshidori (see note at bottom) translated by us :

“The financial compensation given to farmers after the nuclear accident is designed so that the difference between sales before and after the accident is paid to them as compensation for ‘image damage.

Farmers are developing their own varieties, developing their own sales networks, and conducting experiments to limit the transfer of cesium from the soil to the vegetables.
As a result of all these efforts, when sales returned to pre-accident levels, the compensation became zero.
“Thus, our efforts serve to cancel the damage caused by TEPCO!”

2) Cesium in the soil is still present, so “this is not just an image problem, but real damage.”
Members of the Fukushima Farmers Federation continue to renew their demands for “radiation protection policy for farmers.”

It is TEPCO that benefits from the effects of the slogan “Eating Fukushima products for solidarity” which leads to reducing the amount of compensation received by farmers.
Moreover, if a farmer does not continue to operate in Fukushima, there will be no compensation.

3) Farmers in Fukushima have been trying to find a way to prevent the transfer of cesium from the soil to the crops.
In the years immediately following the accident, vegetables from neighboring counties have been found to have higher levels of cesium than those from Fukushima.

There are still agricultural lands with surface contamination above the standard of the radiation control zone defined by the Ordinance on the Prevention of Radiation Risks.
Negotiations for the establishment of the radiation protection policy for farmers are continuing this year.


Note:
The couple Mako and Ken OSHIDORI are known in Japan as manzaishi (comedy duo in the style of folk storytellers). As soon as the Fukushima nuclear accident began in March 2011, Mako decided to attend TEPCO press conferences in order to access information that was dramatically missing from the media. With the help of Ken, her husband and work partner, she became a freelance journalist, one of the most knowledgeable on the Fukushima issue, and feared as such by TEPCO.
https://nosvoisinslointains311.home.blog/2022/04/19/les-efforts-des-agriculteurs-servent-a-annuler-les-actes-prejudiciables-de-tepco/?fbclid=IwAR1Q9OkhLPO07bp6RxeTxwqHZ-U5HO4Wwaj_igq-aK7dunkrkKvx9J_jy1Y

April 23, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO to grow fish at nuclear plant to show water safety

No, it is not for April Fools’ Day only, for Tepco it is Fool’s Day everyday

Storage tanks line the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in January

April 1, 2022

Tokyo Electric Power Co. will raise seafood at its stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in a bid to ease concerns about its plan to release treated radioactive water stored there into the ocean.

“We want to contribute to dispelling the public’s anxiety and reassuring people,” a TEPCO representative said.

The government and TEPCO last year announced the plan to treat and then discharge contaminated water accumulating at the nuclear plant into the ocean starting as early as spring 2023. More than 1 million tons of water have already been stored.

Local residents and fisheries industry officials, worried about reputational damage to marine products caused by the water release, asked the utility to demonstrate the safety of the water that will be discharged instead of just spouting off technical terms.

They suggested that TEPCO keep fish at the plant to show that the processed water will pose no health risk.

The water treatment process removes most radioactive substances, but not tritium. The water will be diluted with seawater to reduce the tritium concentration to less than 1,500 becquerels per liter, one-40th the legal standard.

On experts’ advice, TEPCO decided to culture flatfish and abalone on a trial basis because both species can be caught off Fukushima Prefecture and grown easily.

Preliminary farming started in March in seawater at the plant to gain expertise.

Around September, the utility will begin growing 600 flatfish and 600 abalone. Some will be raised in ordinary seawater while others will be in treated and diluted water containing tritium at the same level of the water that will be discharged.

The concentration of tritium and other substances in the creatures’ bodies will be analyzed, as will their growth rates in the two sets of tanks.

A continuing video of the experiment will be made available on the internet.

TEPCO said it expects the raised fish to have tritium readings similar to those in the water of their farming tanks. So the figure for flatfish raised in the processed water will likely be higher than their seawater-cultivated counterparts.

“We hope to counter negative publicity by showing that fish can grow healthily (in the treated water),” a TEPCO official said.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14573752?fbclid=IwAR3JSXsPtkcSZjUQZKnfaDO8EVahd8dTTBvIN_4_weq0eDbGNj7LeVR1CIU

April 9, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Criminal trial of Fukushima nuclear power plant to reach climax at high court on Feb. 9; adoption or rejection of on-site inspection and other measures key

Feb. 7, 2022
The trial to hold former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) criminally responsible for the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is reaching a climax in the appeals court. The second trial, to be held at the Tokyo High Court on February 9 at 2:00 p.m., is expected to determine the future course of the trial, according to the designated lawyer acting as the prosecutor and a criminal litigation support group. The reason is that the presiding judge, Keisuke Hosoda, will decide whether to accept or reject (1) the on-site inspection at the nuclear power plant site and (2) the examination of three experts.

The court’s decision was based on the “common sense of citizens” that “it is only natural that a ‘high degree of caution’ should be imposed on the managers of nuclear power plants. (Photo: Masakazu Honda) In front of the Tokyo High Court on January 21, an “explanatory banner” was created based on the “common sense of citizens. (Photo by Masakazu Honda)

Since mid-January, a group of residents who have sued and accused TEPCO executives, criminal lawsuit supporters, and lawyers have held a series of press conferences and meetings to explain the current status of the trial, and on January 21, they submitted a list of signatures in front of the Tokyo High Court demanding a fair trial.

 There are about 30 class-action lawsuits across the country seeking damages from TEPCO and the government as civil liability for the Fukushima nuclear accident, with more than 12,000 plaintiffs in total. The total number of plaintiffs is over 12,000. Including individual lawsuits, there are more than 400 cases, but this is the only case in which criminal liability has been sought.

 In June 2012, the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Complaint Group filed a complaint against TEPCO executives and government officials. In June 2012, a group of Fukushima nuclear power plant complainants filed a complaint against TEPCO executives and government officials, and prosecutors repeatedly dropped the case. After the prosecutors’ panel twice voted that the case was worth prosecuting, former TEPCO chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and former vice presidents Ichiro Takekuro and Sakae Mutoh were indicted for manslaughter, and their trial has been ongoing since June 2005. The prosecution alleged that the defendants failed to take protective measures and shut down the reactors when they could have foreseen the possibility of flooding of the buildings, loss of power supply, and explosion due to a tsunami exceeding 10 meters in height, which is the height of the site of the plant.

 The Tokyo District Court (presiding Judge Kenichi Nagabuchi) acquitted all three defendants in September 2007, but Yuichi Kaito, a lawyer with the Criminal Litigation Support Lawyers Association, and others pointed out the “biggest and most fundamental error” in the original verdict. The lawyers for the criminal case, including Yuichi Kaido, claimed that the “biggest and most fundamental error” in the original ruling was that the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion (SUIBON) stated that “there was no foreseeable possibility of a tsunami exceeding 10 meters” without properly judging the reliability of the “long-term assessment” released in July 2002. In response to the long-term assessment, which predicted that a tsunami earthquake of magnitude 8.2 could occur anywhere along the Japan Trench from off the coast of Sanriku to off the coast of Boso, the court only ruled whether the plant should be shut down, and did not examine the “foreseeability appropriate for imposing the obligation to avoid the consequences of building seawalls and making facilities watertight. The report criticizes the government for not examining the “foreseeability that is appropriate for imposing the obligation to avoid the consequences of building seawalls and making facilities watertight.

The designated attorneys reiterated the necessity of on-site inspections in the appeals court. It is obvious at the site that the facilities of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant were built on the ground where a high quay was dug into the sea, and it is easy to understand where a tsunami barrier should have been installed and where watertight construction should have been carried out. It should be.

 Three witnesses have been called: Atsuo Watanabe, a former nuclear power plant design engineer at Toshiba Corporation, to provide additional evidence on the specifics of the measures taken to avoid the consequences of submerging the facility and their feasibility; Nobuo Hamada, a former director of the Earthquake and Volcano Division at the Japan Meteorological Agency, and Kunihiko Shimazaki, chairman of the Long-Term Assessment Department at SUIMOTO, to prove the reliability of the long-term assessment.

 Takashi Soeda, a science journalist, said, “There are many things that would have been buried in the dark without the criminal trial. (1) Based on surveys of past tsunami deposits, it was possible to predict a tsunami as large as the 869 Teikan earthquake, and Tohoku Electric Power Co. and other companies besides TEPCO had been working on tsunami countermeasures. (2) TEPCO and its employees agreed that a 15.7-meter tsunami was inevitable, but senior management prioritized avoiding management risk over avoiding accident risk and delayed tsunami countermeasures (3) In order to delay countermeasures, Sakae Muto asked the Japan Society of Civil Engineers (3) Mr. Sakae Muto had instructed the Japan Society of Civil Engineers to delay the countermeasures by stalling for time and laying the groundwork for experts to discuss the matter.

 One of the victims, Ruiko Muto, a resident of Tamura City, Fukushima Prefecture, said, “If the district court’s decision is confirmed as it is, it would be extremely unjust. Ten years have passed since the accident, and in Fukushima there is no justice at all. We must not leave this kind of society to future generations. I hope the court will show justice.
http://www.kinyobi.co.jp/kinyobinews/2022/02/07/antena-1067/?fbclid=IwAR1x4Hq2ILZ432ZlOn6MVRjkDvOKbjq7QFw9PGIB48Jcg6PlB8X_wTHfyGA

February 9, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

I couldn’t tell anyone for 10 years

February 2, 2022
Six men and women between the ages of 17 and 27 who lived in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the accident filed a lawsuit against TEPCO on January 27, claiming they suffered from thyroid cancer due to radiation exposure from the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
They filed a lawsuit in the Tokyo District Court claiming a total of 616 million yen in damages. The main issue in the trial is expected to be whether or not there is a causal relationship between radiation exposure and thyroid cancer.

Lawyers and plaintiffs hold a press conference.
At the House of Representatives in Nagata-cho, Tokyo.

The six people in question, aged between 6 and 16 at the time of the accident, are high school students, temporary workers and employees living in the counties of Fukushima, Tokyo and Kanagawa. Two of them had a lobe of the thyroid removed, and the other four had to have the whole thyroid removed because of recurrence (in the case of one of them, metastasis had spread to the lungs). All of them had to stop their studies or their professional activity in order to undergo these surgical procedures and medical treatments. They live in fear and anxiety of a recurrence, and their daily lives have been curtailed due to fatigue and weakness caused by the disease.

The complaint points out that many of the thyroid cancers found in children in Fukushima County – including the six plaintiffs – are not hereditary and that the only possible trigger is radiation exposure. If there are other causes, it is up to TEPCO to prove it, she says.

Normally, the number of reported cases of thyroid cancer in children diagnosed is about 1 to 2 per 1 million. After the nuclear accident, a prefectural health survey in Fukushima Prefecture found about 300 people either suspected of having thyroid cancer or already diagnosed. But the expert commission appointed by the department said it “does not recognize for the moment” a causal relationship with radiation exposure.

For its part, the operator TEPCO announced that it would respond in good faith after learning more about the claims and allegations of the plaintiffs.


I want to change the situation by raising my voice

“We have spent the last ten years without telling anyone because we were afraid of being discriminated against if we revealed that we had thyroid cancer,” said one of the plaintiffs, 26, at a press conference in Tokyo on the afternoon of January 27. “But about 300 children have thyroid cancer,” she said, fighting back tears that choked her. “I want to improve the situation, if only a little, by raising my voice.

The woman from Nakadôri, in central Fukushima Prefecture, was a second-year university student when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2015 at the age of 19. The following year, after one of her thyroid lobes was removed, her physical strength decreased dramatically. As her health continued to deteriorate, she left the advertising agency where she was working in Tokyo after graduating from university after a year and a half. She is currently an office worker in Tokyo. She says, “I had to give up my dream job, and I am still struggling to do my job properly. I don’t have any dreams or hopes for the future.
Immediately after she was diagnosed with cancer, she felt very uncomfortable when the doctor told her that the disease had nothing to do with the nuclear accident.


That day, we were moving things…

The plaintiff at a press conference after her decision to sue TEPCO.
lawsuit against TEPCO.

The young woman’s mother, who was with her daughter when she was diagnosed, suddenly remembered what they were doing on March 14, 2011, the day of the hydrogen explosion in the No. 3 unit of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. They were outside their grandparents’ house, which was half destroyed by the earthquake, helping them move their belongings. At the end of the day, as soon as the mother heard about the explosion at the plant, she brought her daughter inside. “That day, I shouldn’t have asked you for a hand with the move,” the mother whispered as she drove home from the hospital. It was the only time she showed any remorse for forcing this moving chore on her daughter.

Before she was told she had cancer, the young woman had to travel back and forth between Fukushima and Tokyo for tests. However, the Fukushima county fully covers the medical expenses covered by the health insurance, but not the transportation expenses. So she took long-distance buses, which are cheaper than the high-speed train, but these trips became more and more physically demanding.
Surgery and medical examinations in Tokyo, a heavy financial burden

After the diagnosis, because of her distrust of the hospitals in Fukushima, she preferred to have surgery and medical examinations in Tokyo. Each time, her parents accompanied her. She had to pay the entire cost of the endoscopic surgery to minimize the scars on her neck out of her own pocket, as it was not covered by the prefectural aid at that time.

With all the demands of her treatment, she failed to apply for a renewal of her university scholarship, and by her third year of study, she had to pay her full tuition.

“When I heard my parents talking about taking a large amount of money out of their life insurance to fund my expenses, I felt depressed that I had caused them so much trouble,” she said.
Fear of recurrence: ‘I’m anxious about what comes next’.

After the surgery, she often caught colds, developed pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma. However, she can only receive assistance if the care is recognized as part of the treatment for thyroid cancer. The department has set up an annual budget, funded by a state grant, to cover medical expenses “for as long as possible,” according to the Department of Health Survey, but it’s unclear how long that will last. The young woman, who is still afraid of a recurrence, and feels very anxious about what will happen to her in the future, is therefore asking for more aid.

The article in Japanese in Tokyo Shimbun published on January 27, 2022

https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/156781

February 3, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

“I can’t think about marriage, childbirth or the future”

January 30, 2022
A 26-year-old woman with thyroid cancer and lung metastasis sues TEPCO.

Tokyo Shimbun, January 19, 2022

Six young people who developed thyroid cancer after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are seeking to establish the responsibility of TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) in court. They have strong doubts that, despite the discovery of thyroid cancer in about 300 people who were children at the time of the accident, no causal link with the accident has been recognized, especially since a reduction in the number of examinations is being considered. “I don’t want this to continue as if nothing happened,” said a 26-year-old woman who lives in the Nakadôri area of central Fukushima Prefecture and is worried about her future after learning that her cancer has spread to her lungs.


17 years old “Why me?”

“The doctor told me there was something suspicious in my neck in addition to the shadow detected on my lungs. I can’t think about marriage, having a child, or anything else in the future,” she says quietly at home that morning of November 11 before heading to her part-time job.

She goes to the hospital once every three months. Her heart sinks when she sees a young child in the waiting room. “The cancer was detected during a test when I was asymptomatic. Reducing the test[1] may not save lives.”

She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in March 2013, just before she started her third year of high school, at age 17. “I was told that if I didn’t have surgery, I might not live until I was 23. I tried to believe that everything was okay, even though I kept asking myself, Why me?”

The plaintiff, who underwent two operations to remove her thyroid gland and will have to take medication for the rest of her life. medication for the rest of her life,
is in Fukushima Prefecture.

Two surgeries, a room like a prison cell

Her 57-year-old mother held back tears as she heard the diagnosis along with her daughter. Her daughter entered high school in April 2011, just after the nuclear accident. At first, she wore a mask to protect herself from inhaling radioactive material, but she soon stopped wearing it. She walked 40 minutes each way to school, and participated in outdoor physical education classes. Her mother’s mind was filled with regret: “If only we had evacuated,” she said.

The girl wanted to go to university in Tokyo, but her mother, worried about her health, prevented her from doing so, and she went to university in the nearby prefecture. However, six months later, she began to feel lethargic, tired and had irregular periods. So she was retested.

“There is a recurrence on the remaining lobe of the thyroid gland. There was also a shadow on the lung,” the doctor told her. “I am not cured,” she said, breaking down in tears with her mother. She dropped out of college at age 19 to focus on her treatment.

The two surgeries and tests were difficult trials to endure. During one test, the deeper the needle went into her throat, the more painful it was. She had to undergo three sessions of iratherapy[2]. 2] She was placed in isolation in a cell-like room where she tried to cope by looking out a leaded window.


…but now I want to look forward.

On the day of the coming-of-age ceremony, her playful daughter told her father that she was happy to be able to wear a kimono. Her mother was shocked to learn that their daughter had contemplated death. “I have cancer, I won’t live long,” she repeated to herself, half-joking. This breaks her mother’s heart: “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her.

Her cancer marker values are higher than before the operation. Because of fears of recurrence and metastasis, she has given up on the idea of a full-time job in her desired profession. But now she wants to look ahead. “If it wasn’t the accident, why are there so many children with thyroid cancer? Maybe there will be more in the future. I feel I have to do what I can now.

EDITOR’S NOTE
[1] Thyroid ultrasound examination of people living in Fukushima Prefecture who were under 18 years old at the time of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident is conducted by Fukushima Prefecture. The decrease in the number of examinations is under discussion; the examination would be a source of concern for the examinees, and these examinations possibly followed by surgery would be a source of overdiagnosis.
[2] Radioactive Iodine Treatment
https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/154986?fbclid=IwAR3kenQXIPf2itXHKTp8qU4t-uWy4o8hdjntp1bTmwIDdzpJuiNPBPLAYS8

January 31, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I couldn’t tell anyone for ten years” – Six teenagers who developed thyroid cancer after the nuclear accident file lawsuit against TEPCO 

 

“””We’re scared to be discriminated against when we say we’ve got thyroid cancer, we’ve spent the last 10 years without telling anyone.”””

“But there are approximately 300 children suffering from thyroid cancer.”

“I want to change the situation for the better by raising my voice.”

Six men and women between the ages of 17 and 27 who were living in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the accident filed a lawsuit against TEPCO on April 27, claiming that they had thyroid cancer due to radiation exposure caused by the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. On the 27th, six men and women between the ages of 17 and 27, who were living in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the accident, filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court demanding a total of 616 million yen in damages including compensation from TEPCO. The biggest point of contention in the lawsuit is expected to be whether or not there is a causal relationship between radiation exposure and thyroid cancer.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers hold a press conference after filing a lawsuit against TEPCO for compensation for thyroid cancer caused by exposure to radiation from the nuclear power plant accident at the First Legislative Assembly Hall in the House of Representatives in Nagata-cho, Tokyo.

January 27, 2022
The six, who were between the ages of 6 and 16 at the time of the accident, are high school students, part-time workers, and office workers living in Fukushima Prefecture, Tokyo, and Kanagawa Prefecture. They were diagnosed with thyroid cancer in their teens, two had one side of their thyroid gland removed, four had it completely removed due to recurrence, and one had it spread to their lungs. They have had to quit college or work due to the surgery and treatment, and are also worried about the recurrence of the disease as their daily lives are restricted.
 The complaint points out that most of the thyroid cancers found in children in Fukushima Prefecture, including the six children, are not hereditary and that no cause other than radiation exposure is possible. It argues that if there are other causes, TEPCO needs to prove them.
 Normally, the number of cases of thyroid cancer in children that are diagnosed and reported is about one to two per one million people per year. After the nuclear accident, about 300 people were diagnosed with thyroid cancer or suspected of having thyroid cancer in Fukushima Prefecture through prefectural health surveys and other means, but the prefectural expert panel has stated that a causal relationship with radiation exposure is “not recognized at this time.

A plaintiff woman holds a press conference after filing a lawsuit against TEPCO.

I want to change the situation by raising my voice.
 On the afternoon of April 27, the plaintiff, 26, held a press conference in Tokyo after filing her lawsuit. In a press conference held in Tokyo after the lawsuit was filed, the plaintiff, 26, choked back tears as she made her appeal. There are still about 300 children suffering from thyroid cancer. I want to change the situation for the better by raising my voice, even if only a little.
 A woman from Nakadori in central Fukushima Prefecture was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2015, when she was a 19-year-old sophomore in college. After an operation to remove one side of her thyroid gland the following year, her physical strength dropped drastically. Her physical condition continued to deteriorate, and she left the advertising agency where she had worked after graduating from university in Tokyo after a year and a half. She is now working as an office worker in Tokyo. She said, “I had to give up my dream job, and it’s still hard for me to work properly. I no longer have any dreams or hopes for the future.
 Immediately after being informed of her cancer, she felt uncomfortable when the doctor told her that it had nothing to do with the nuclear accident.

She was moving outside that day…
 When her mother heard this with her, March 14, 2011, the day of the hydrogen explosion at the Unit 3 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, came to her mind. She was outside helping her grandparents move their belongings out of their house, which was half destroyed by the disaster. When I heard about the explosion in the evening, I immediately brought the woman inside. I wish I hadn’t let her help me move at that time,” she said. I wish I hadn’t let her help me move. This was the only time she showed any regret.
 The woman traveled back and forth between Fukushima and Tokyo many times for the tests before she was notified. The prefectural government provides full support for insured medical expenses, but does not include transportation costs. I took a long-distance bus, which is cheaper than the bullet train, but it became physically demanding.

Surgeries and examinations in Tokyo, a heavy burden
 Because of her distrust of hospitals in Fukushima, she underwent surgeries and tests in Tokyo after she was notified. Her parents traveled to Tokyo each time, and the endoscopic surgery she underwent to reduce the scar on her neck as much as possible was not covered by the prefectural government at the time, so she had to pay for it herself.
 As the treatment continued, the woman forgot to apply for a non-repayable scholarship from the university, and from her third year, she had to pay the full tuition. She said, “When I heard my parents asking for advice on reconfiguring their insurance, I felt depressed that I had caused them so much trouble.

Fear of recurrence: “I’m worried about what will happen next.
 After the surgery, she caught colds frequently and developed pneumonia, bronchitis, and asthma. However, unless it is recognized as treatment for thyroid cancer, he is not eligible for support. The prefectural government’s support for medical expenses is budgeted every year with the government’s subsidies as the source, and “will continue for as long as possible,” according to the prefectural government’s Civil Health Survey Division, but there is no telling how long it will last. However, there is no way to know how long the support will last. The woman said, “I am always afraid of a recurrence, and I am very anxious about what will happen to me in the future. (Natsuko Katayama)

https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/156781?fbclid=IwAR1W3fEvpnge1RiedoQw863o8vpHEYxJjkcpBAMjxjnGYQFcT31h5unzBI4

January 28, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

6 people to sue TEPCO over thyroid cancer after Fukushima nuclear disaster

How may Tepco use now the word “sincerely” when they have shown the whole world their dishonesty and their lack of sincerity repeatedly for the past 10 years?

Kenichi Ido, left, head of the legal team for a group of plaintiffs set to sue TEPCO over thyroid cancer, speaks during a press conference in Tokyo on Jan. 19, 2022. (Mainichi/Kazuhiro Toyama)

January 21, 2022 (Mainichi Japan)

TOKYO — A group of six young men and women is set to file a class action suit against Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) claiming that they developed thyroid cancer due to exposure to radiation emanating from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and demand the utility pay a total of 616 million yen (about $5.4 million) in compensation.

It will be the first group lawsuit in Japan by those who were minors at the time of the 2011 nuclear disaster and have since been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

The plaintiffs, now aged between 17 and 27, were living in Fukushima Prefecture when the nuclear meltdowns occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in March 2011, and developed thyroid cancer after the disaster. They are filing the damages suit with the Tokyo District Court on Jan. 27, according to the legal counsel for the plaintiffs who revealed the plan at a press conference on Jan. 19.

An expert investigation committee set up by the Fukushima Prefectural Government has not recognized the causal relationship between radiation exposure from the Fukushima disaster and thyroid cancer, and whether there is such a correlation could be the focal issue in the lawsuit.

The six plaintiffs were aged between 6 and 16 at the time of the nuclear disaster. They were diagnosed with thyroid cancer between 2012 and 2018. Two of them had one side of their thyroid removed, while the other four had their thyroid fully extracted and need to take hormonal drugs for the rest of their lives. One of the patients had cancer spread to their lungs. Some of them currently reside in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture.

The Fukushima Prefectural Government has conducted a survey on thyroid glands covering some 380,000 people aged 18 or younger who were living in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the nuclear catastrophe. As of June 2021, 266 people had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer or suspected thyroid cancer. According to the legal team for the plaintiffs, five of the six complainants had their cancer detected in the prefectural survey. The remaining plaintiff found out about their cancer through testing at a hospital they voluntarily underwent.

According to the legal counsel, the cancer discovery rate in the Fukushima Prefecture survey stands several tens of times higher than usual. While the prefectural government points to the possibility of “overdiagnosis” through which many cancer cases requiring no treatment have been found, the plaintiffs’ cancer has actually progressed, the legal team asserted. The lawyers argue that none of the six plaintiffs’ cancer is hereditary, and that it is extremely highly likely that they developed their conditions due to the nuclear disaster.

In past pollution lawsuits including those over Minamata disease, there is a court precedent in which the company responsible for the pollution was ruled liable for compensation unless it could prove there was no causal relationship between the contamination and the plaintiffs’ diseases. The attorneys for the upcoming lawsuit claim that this decision could also be applied to nuclear plant accidents and that TEPCO should bear the burden of proving the absence of a causal link between radiation exposure and thyroid cancer.

Kenichi Ido, head of the legal counsel, commented, “Some plaintiffs have had difficulties advancing to higher education and finding jobs, and even given up on their dreams for their future.”

TEPCO released a comment saying, “We will respond to the case sincerely after hearing the content of their claims and their arguments in detail.”

(Japanese original by Kazuhiro Toyama, Tokyo City News Department)

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220121/p2a/00m/0na/018000c

January 24, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco sued over thyroid cancer cases – 6 people aged 6-16 at time of Fukushima nuclear accident – Tokyo District Court

Kenichi Ido, a former judge and head of the legal team, pointed out that “the Japanese government is assuming that there is no health damage caused by the accident. Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer, said, “There is strong social pressure to believe that cancer is not caused by the accident, and it took a lot of courage for the six people to file the lawsuit, which is why the time has come.

Lawyers hold a press conference on the policy of filing lawsuits for six people who have developed thyroid cancer in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo on the afternoon of March 19.

January 19, 2022

Six people who were between the ages of 6 and 16 years old at the time of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co. On April 19, it was learned that six people, aged 6-16 at the time of the accident and living in Fukushima Prefecture, will file a lawsuit against TEPCO in the Tokyo District Court, seeking a total of 616 million yen in damages. This is believed to be the first lawsuit in which residents are suing for damage caused by the nuclear accident on the grounds that they have developed thyroid cancer.

The legal team representing the six revealed this at a press conference on the same day. The lawsuit is scheduled to be filed on the 27th.
 According to the lawyers, the six are currently residing in Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Fukushima prefectures. Four of them have had their thyroid glands surgically removed, and some have undergone multiple surgeries because of metastasis or recurrence.
 The Fukushima Prefectural Health Survey, which covers about 380,000 people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the accident, revealed 266 cases of cancer or suspected cancer in its report last October. In October last year, it was revealed that 266 people had cancer or suspected cancer. Some experts have pointed out the possibility of “over-diagnosis,” in which cancers that do not require treatment are found, but the lawyers are claiming that all six of the cases required surgery, and that this was due to the accident.
 On the other hand, the review committee for the prefectural health survey has stated that radiation is unlikely to be a factor in the development of thyroid cancer.
 Kenichi Ido, a former judge and head of the legal team, pointed out that “the Japanese government is assuming that there is no health damage caused by the accident. Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer, said, “There is strong social pressure to believe that cancer is not caused by the accident, and it took a lot of courage for the six people to file the lawsuit, which is why the time has come.
 TEPCO commented, “If the complaint is served, we will respond in good faith.
https://www.jiji.com/jc/article?k=2022011900881&g=soc&fbclid=IwAR0jA-AAx_XojY5Yngsp4n7eU8UrPgEU8A66AiSEXanInMIleC49saU_MWE

January 24, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Six people to sue Tepco over thyroid cancer after Fukushima disaster

The No. 1 and No. 2 reactor buildings of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture

Jan 19, 2022

Six people are set to sue Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. over thyroid cancer that they claim they developed due to exposure to radioactive substances released from the 2011 triple reactor meltdown at its stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, their lawyers said Wednesday.

The plaintiffs, who were between the ages of 6 and 16 at the time of the nuclear disaster and lived in Fukushima Prefecture, home to the plant, will seek ¥616 million in total damages.

This is believed to be the first lawsuit involving Fukushima Prefecture residents suing Tepco over thyroid cancer in connection with the nuclear disaster.

The six plan to file the suit with Tokyo District Court on Jan. 27, the lawyers said during a news conference.

They currently live in Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture and Fukushima Prefecture. Four of them have had their entire thyroid glands removed, the lawyers said. Some have undergone multiple rounds of surgery because of cancer metastasis or recurrence, they said.

A health survey by the Fukushima prefectural government, which covered some 380,000 people age 18 or younger at the time of the disaster, showed in October last year that 266 people had cancer or suspected cancer.

Some experts have pointed out the possibility of overdiagnosis, or the discovery of cancers that do not require treatment. The lawyers claimed that the plaintiffs developed cancer due to the nuclear disaster and needed to undergo surgeries.

A review committee on the prefectural health survey has said that the thyroid cancer apparently has nothing to do with what happened at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in March 2011.

Kenichi Ido, a former judge who leads the lawyers, criticized the Japanese government for determining that there has been no health damage from the disaster.

Lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai said that “there is strong social pressure to believe that cancer is not caused by the accident, so it took a lot of courage for the six plaintiffs to file the lawsuit.”

January 20, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | 1 Comment

Six people who were children at the time of the accident are suing TEPCO, claiming that they developed thyroid cancer due to exposure to radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident.

A woman has decided to file a lawsuit against TEPCO. She will have to have her entire thyroid gland removed and continue taking the medication in her hand for the rest of her life in Fukushima Prefecture.

January 19, 2022
 Six men and women between the ages of 17 and 27 who were living in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the accident filed a lawsuit against TEPCO on January 27, claiming that they developed thyroid cancer due to radiation exposure caused by the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. On April 27, six men and women aged 17 to 27 who were living in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the accident filed a lawsuit against TEPCO in the Tokyo District Court, seeking a total of 616 million yen in damages. According to the lawyers, this is the first time that patients who developed thyroid cancer as children are suing TEPCO because of the nuclear accident. (Natsuko Katayama)
Defense: “We can’t think of any cause other than radiation exposure.
 The lawsuit is filed by four people who lived in Fukushima City and Koriyama City, and one each in the Aizu region in the western part of the prefecture and the Hamadori region in the eastern part of the prefecture. They were between the ages of 6 and 16 at the time of the accident, and are now high school students or working as office workers or part-time employees in the prefecture or in Tokyo.
 Two have had one side of their thyroid gland removed, four have had total thyroidectomy due to recurrence, and are undergoing or planning to undergo radiation therapy. Some have had four operations and others have metastasized to the lungs. Some have had four surgeries and others have had their lungs metastasized. The treatments and surgeries have forced them to give up their desired jobs, drop out of college, or retire. They are not only worried about relapse, but also about whether they will be able to get married or have children.
 The lawyers argued that most of the thyroid cancers found in the children, including the six, were papillary cancers, which were confirmed in children and young adults after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, and that they were not hereditary and could not be caused by anything other than radiation exposure. Kenichi Ido, the head of the legal team, said, “Many of the cancers have recurred, so it is hard to imagine overdiagnosis. TEPCO should admit that the cause of the cancer was the nuclear accident and provide relief as soon as possible.
The expert panel’s position is that a causal relationship cannot be established.
 With regard to the causal relationship between exposure to radiation from the nuclear power plant accident and thyroid cancer, the Fukushima prefectural government’s expert panel has taken the position that “no causal relationship can be recognized at this time.
 Since the nuclear accident, the prefecture has been conducting tests for thyroid cancer as a part of the prefectural health survey for a total of about 380,000 people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the accident and who were born before April 1, 2012 (including those who evacuated from the prefecture).
 Normally, the incidence of pediatric thyroid cancer is estimated to be about one to two cases per one million people per year, but according to the survey and other findings, by June last year, about 300 people had developed thyroid cancer or thyroid cancer-related diseases. By June last year, however, about 300 people had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer or suspected of having thyroid cancer. All the medical expenses are covered by the “Prefectural Health Care Fund” established with financial support from the government and compensation from TEPCO.
 The expert panel is continuing to investigate the results of the diagnoses, saying, “It has been pointed out that there is a possibility of over-diagnosis, finding cancers that do not need treatment in the future.
https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/154959?fbclid=IwAR06xqKA6vo3utW1-lfN3PIkFiBnS20b6BMD1WAXyzUo5yJKMzU3KU5elGs

January 19, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO slow to respond to growing crisis at Fukushima plant

A special container, right, to store radioactive slurry at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on Nov. 26
Mock slurry gives an idea of the stuff accumulating at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The imitation material does not contain radioactive substances.
Bags filled with zeolite lie in pools of radioactive water in an underground space below a building at the nuclear complex in Fukushima Prefecture.

January 2, 2022

Radioactive waste generated from treating highly contaminated water used to cool crippled reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has thrown up yet new nightmarish challenges in decommissioning the facility, a project that is supposed to be completed in 30 years but which looks increasingly doubtful.

The continuous accumulation of radioactive slurry and other nasty substances, coupled with the problem of finding a safe way to dispose of melted nuclear fuel debris at reactors No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3, has plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. frantically scratching around for ideas.

One problem is that storage containers for the tainted slurry degrade quickly, meaning that they constantly have to be replaced. Despite the urgency of the situation, little has been done to resolve the matter.

Fuel debris, a solidified mixture of nuclear fuel and structures inside the reactors melted as a consequence of the triple meltdown triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster has to be constantly cooled with water, which mixes with groundwater and rainwater rainwater that seep into the reactor buildings, producing more new radioactive water.

The contaminated water that accumulates is processed via an Advanced Liquid Processing System to remove most of radioactive materials. The ALPS is housed in a 17-meter-tall building situated close to the center of the plant site.

Reporters from the Japan National Press Club were granted a rare opportunity in late November to visit the crippled facility to observe the process.

The building houses a large grayish drum-like container designed especially to store radioactive slurry. The interior of each vessel is lined with polyethylene, while its double-walled exterior is reinforced with stainless steel.

ALARMING DEVELOPMENTS

The use of chemical agents to reduce radioactive substances from the contaminated water in the sedimentation process produces a muddy material resembling shampoo. Strontium readings of the generated slurry sometimes reach tens of millions of becquerels per cubic centimeter.

TEPCO started keeping slurry in special vessels in March 2013. As of November, it had 3,373 of the containers.

Because the integrity of the vessels deteriorates quickly due to exposure to radiation from slurry, TEPCO and the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) predict that durability of the containers will reach the limit after exposure to an accumulated total of 5,000 kilograys of radiation–a level equivalent to 5 million sieverts.

Based on that grim forecast, TEPCO speculated the vessels will need replacement from July 2025.

But the NRA accused TEPCO of underestimating the impact of the radiation problem. It blasted the operator for measuring slurry density 20 centimeters above the base of the container when making its dose evaluation.

“As slurry forms deposits, the density level is always highest at the bottom,” a representative of the nuclear watchdog body pointed out.

The NRA carried out its own assessment in June 2021 and told TEPCO that 31 containers had already reached the end of their operating lives. Its findings also showed an additional 56 would need replacing within two years.

The NRA told TEPCO to wake up and “understand how urgent the issue is since transferring slurry will take time.”

In August, TEPCO conducted a test where slurry with relatively low radiation readings was moved from one container to another. The work took more than a month to complete due to mechanical troubles and other reasons.

An analysis of the radioactive materials’ density data collected during the transfer procedure also turned up another challenge to be overcome. The NRA in October said there was an unacceptable risk of radioactive substances being released into the air during the process and insisted that the refilling method be radically reviewed and changed.

TEPCO is currently considering what steps to take, including covering the workspace with plastic sheets.

Slurry in some containers in need of replacement have strontium levels of more than 1,000 times that of the one in the August test.

TEPCO says that the “container covers will be opened and closed remotely.” But it has not revealed how it plans to safely deal with such readings to carry out the vital work.

It was envisioned that equipment to dehydrate hazardous materials to prevent radiation leakage could be built, but as yet there is no finished design for the device.

With no drastic solutions in sight, a succession of containers will reach the end of their shelf lives shortly.

ANOTHER NIGHTMARE PROBLEM

Radioactive slurry is not the only stumbling block for decommissioning.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2011 disaster, TEPCO stored contaminated water in the underground spaces below two buildings near the No. 4 reactor. In doing so, bags full of a mineral known as zeolite were placed in the temporary storage pools to absorb cesium so as to reduce the amount of radioactive substances.

Twenty-six tons of the stuff are still immersed in the dirty water on the floors under the buildings. Radiation readings of 4 sieverts per hour were detected on their surfaces in fiscal 2019, enough to kill half of all the people in the immediate vicinity within an hour.

TEPCO plans to introduce a remotely controlled underwater robot to recover the bags, starting no earlier than from fiscal 2023, However, it has not determined how long this will take or where to store the bags once they are retrieved.

In addition, radioactive rubble, soil and felled trees at the plant site totaled 480,000 cubic meters as of March 2021, leading TEPCO to set up a special incinerator. The total volume is expected to top 790,000 cubic meters in 10 years, but where to dispose of the incinerated waste remains unclear.

TEPCO is in a race against time. That’s the view of Satoshi Yanagihara, a specially appointed professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Fukui who has specialist knowledge on processes to abandon reactors.

“Now, only 30 years remain before the target date of the end of decommissioning set by the government and TEPCO,” said Yanagihara.

As decommissioning work is due to shortly enter a crucial stage, such as recovering nuclear fuel debris on a trial basis from as early as 2022, Yanagihara noted the need for careful arrangements before forging ahead with important procedures.

“The government and TEPCO need to grasp an overall picture of the massive task ahead and discuss how to treat, keep and discard collected nuclear debris and the leftover radioactive waste with local residents and other relevant parties,” he said.

(This article was written by Yu Fujinami and Tsuyoshi Kawamura.)

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14503708

January 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO to Get Ruling in July over March 2011 Meltdowns

In a little-publicized civil trial, shareholders sued TEPCO’s executives for their roles in the 2011 nuclear disaster. The trio was also brought up on criminal charges for the same negligence issues. This civil trial seeks to compensate shareholders for their losses when TEPCO’s stock tanked after the disaster. The court has heard arguments and will have a verdict around July of 2022. The shareholders are seeking 22 trillion yen, about $194 billion USD.

December 1, 2021

Tokyo, Dec. 1 (Jiji Press)–A ruling on a shareholder derivative lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. over the March 2011 nuclear accident at its Fukushima No. 1 power plant will be handed down on July 13 next year.

In the lawsuit, shareholders are demanding that TEPCO pay 22 trillion yen in damages to take responsibility for the alleged failure of five former executives, including former Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 81, to take countermeasures against tsunami.

Oral proceedings at Tokyo District Court were concluded on Tuesday, more than nine years since the lawsuit was instituted, marking a milestone in the civil suit with demand for the highest-ever compensation in Japan.

During Tuesday’s hearing, shareholders once again pointed to negligence on the part of the five former TEPCO executives over the nuclear accident at the power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. An unprecedented triple meltdown accident occurred after the plant was struck by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequently triggered huge tsunami.

Shareholders claim that TEPCO could have predicted the tsunami and taken precautions against flooding, on the basis of long-term assessments by a government committee noting the possibility of an 8.0-magnitude-class massive quake along the Japan Trench in the Pacific, including off the coast of Fukushima.

https://www.nippon.com/en/news/yjj2021113001178/

December 7, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan PM’s nuclear push faces resistance ahead of election

Oct 28, 2021

KASHIWAZAKI, Japan – A decade after triple meltdowns at Fukushima forced mass evacuations and a shut-down of the nuclear industry, Japan has restarted only a third of its 33 operable reactors

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s push to restart Japanese nuclear power plants idled after the Fukushima disaster faces stiff opposition ahead of a
general election on Sunday, October 31, where his future as leader hangs in
the balance if the vote is tight.

A decade after triple meltdowns at Fukushima forced mass evacuations and a shut-down of the nuclear industry, Japan has restarted only a third of its 33 operable reactors.

Debate over whether to fire more of them back up is highly charged, with 40% of the population opposing the move.

It matters most in rural cities hosting the idled plants which had once relied on them for economic activity, such as Kashiwazaki, 265 km (165 miles) northwest of Tokyo – home to the world’s largest atomic power complex.

“The reason why we feel so strongly about this is because we feel the danger of the nuclear power plant – it hangs over our heads every day,” said Mie Kuwabara, a resident of a town close to Kashiwazaki and anti-nuclear activist.

Voters mostly care about economic recovery from the pandemic. But energy policy came into sharp focus last month, when Kishida beat a popular anti-nuclear candidate in the race for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) chief.

The architect of Kishida’s victory, party veteran Akira Amari, assumed a key party post and immediately pushed for restarts of 30 reactors while also promoting new, smaller reactors to replace aging ones.

Amari says Japan must revert to nuclear power to meet its 2050 carbon neutrality pledge, avoid rapidly rising prices of imported coal and gas and to cut its reliance on other countries for energy needs.

Amari faces a tight race in his home district, where he is struggling to attract support from anti-nuclear junior coalition partner, Komeito.

Opposition to his plan is strong in Kashiwazaki too.

“This prefecture as a whole, even within the LDP, is united behind the idea that the nuclear power plant can’t be restarted,” said Mineo Ono, who runs the LDP’s local chapter where anti-nuclear proponent Taro Kono polled higher than Kishida in the leadership race vote.

Ono cited local distrust caused by what he called multiple mishaps by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Holdings (Tepco).

The nuclear regulator upended plans for a restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, which can power 24 million households, in April, after identifying operational issues including faulty intruder detection alarms and the misuse of ID cards.

Nation-wide, restarts have been delayed by technical issues, lawsuits and regulatory reviews.

Tepco in an emailed statement apologized and said it would work to regain the trust of locals. It added that while nuclear energy is instrumental in achieving carbon neutrality, the time is not right to discuss restarts.

That poses a problem for the LDP, which polls show is on the brink of losing its simple majority, an outcome that would still let it cling to power thanks to the coalition with Komeito, but that may lead to a push inside the party to oust Kishida.

The government said in its latest energy policy on Friday it would double 2020 levels of renewable energy to 38%, but has maintained nuclear power will provide some 22% of the country’s energy by 2030, up from 6% in the 2018 financial year.

‘Dividing factor’

Kashiwazaki, a town of 80,000, sits on the coast of the Sea of Japan. In the evening, buses unload workers maintaining the complex around the main train station.

“We host the world’s biggest nuclear plant, but that energy goes mostly to Tokyo and its surrounding regions. Locals feel deeply about that,” LDP’s Ono said. There is a ‘divide’ between the sentiment of the locals and people in Tokyo, he said.

A restart is critical for Tepco, which needs money to fund the clean-up at its Fukushima plant. Restarting two reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa would save an estimated $880 million per year in fuel costs, it says.

But even the local chamber of commerce, instrumental in wooing the plant which started operations in 1985, says it is tired of what it sees as Tepco’s repeated failures.

“It’s almost unbearable, seeing how shoddy they are,” said chamber of commerce chief Masao Saikawa.

To allay these fears, Kenichi Hosoda, the LDP candidate in the district who serves as the vice minister at the Ministry of Industry overseeing energy policy, has toned down his pro-nuclear message.

“Now is not the time to discuss the issue,” he told Reuters after a recent rally held near the plant.

In response to a question on why discussions on the nuclear plant have been toned down before the vote, local LDP leader Ono spoke of “a large group of swing voters who the candidates have to capture.”

“When it comes down to it, the issue of nuclear energy will be the dividing factor. It’s a fact that the nuclear element has an influence,” said Ono. – Rappler.com

https://www.rappler.com/world/asia-pacific/japan-pms-nuclear-push-faces-resistance-ahead-of-election

October 30, 2021 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment