Speaking of Christmas presents...
The Ministry of the Environment, once an utterly unimportant, powerless ministry in the Japanese government, is now one of the most powerful under Goshi Hosono, who still doubles as Minister in charge of the nuclear accident that has ended. The measure of power? Its budget size.
It is set to quintuple in the fiscal 2012 to more than 1 trillion yen (US$13 billion) because of the "decontamination" work in Fukushima Prefecture and other 7 Prefectures. However, as no one pretends to know how much it will actually cost to carry out "decontamination", by doling out the money to top-tier general contractor joint ventures who will then dole out jobs down the subcontracting pyramid, the sky's the limit for the Ministry's budget. It doesn't even include the construction cost for the "temporary" storage facilities for the contaminated waste.
From Asahi Shinbun, which will soon go the UK's Times way and charge fees for the online readers to read its articles (12/24/2011):
The budget of the Ministry of the Environment in the fiscal 2012 will quintuple to over 1 trillion yen. The Ministry is in charge of disaster debris disposal and decontamination of land contaminated by radiation. Of the 1 trillion yen, 825.8 billion yen is from the Recovery Special Budget, constituting the bulk of the increase.
451.3 billion yen will be earmarked for decontamination and contaminated waste disposal. Already, this year's 3rd Supplementary Budget allocated 245.9 billion yen to decontamination. The cost for decontamination is estimated to be 1 trillion and several hundred billion yen.
The national government will carry out the decontamination in the no-entry zone within the 20-kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, and in the planned evacuation zone where the annual cumulative radiation exposure [external only] is expected to exceed 20 millisieverts. In addition, there are location within [the planned evacuation zone] where the radiation exposure will exceed a certain level, and the government will give financial support to 102 municipalities in 8 prefectures in Tohoku and Kanto which have been designated recently as "contamination situation priority survey areas".
However, this budget does not include the construction cost to build temporary storage facilities for contaminated waste resulting from decontamination. It includes only 2 billion yen for the feasibility study for such facilities. The officials at the Ministry of the Environment says "The ultimate cost of decontamination is still unknown to us."
Uh huh. It is more like "The ultimate cost of decontamination is still unknown to us but we know it's going to be gigantic; in fact it is so gigantic we would rather not tell you lest we be held accountable. So we say we don't know, and when SHTF we will say "Who could have known?", and you will say "Oh well nothing could be done now so let's keep doing what hasn't worked, because if we do it enough it may finally work"". And so it goes.
You can be pretty sure that the government will pick the costliest, most complex and probably the most ineffective so-called "technology" do decontamination. The costlier the project, the profitable for all parties taking part. (Never like that coffee filter removal of radioactive cesium invented by a layman.)
Ben "Bernank" Bernanke of the US Federal Reserve would know what to do ("print" money), but not so Shirakawa of the Bank of Japan. Instead, the Noda administration is extra keen on raising taxes on the general public, removing the social benefits even further, and expanding the government so that "Fukushima recovers and the economy grows".
As more and more people in Japan become aware that they've been had, and that so-called "decontamination" is about giving lucrative contracts to the well-connected and entrapping the residents in the highly contaminated area, the governments of all levels - national, prefectural, municipal - go the other way, preaching the virtue of helping out fellow Japanese by eating contaminated food, burning contaminated debris, and paying for "decontamination" to revive Fukushima.
I guess the current batch of ministers is too young to have ever heard of what happened in Japan during the World War II - like practicing to down a B29 bomber that sprayed incendiary cluster bombs using bamboo spears.