Friday, April 6, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Kyoto City to Test Burn Disaster Debris Anyway

Despite the angry residents shouting down the national minister and local politicians at the JR Kyoto Station the other day, Mayor of Kyoto City Daisaku Kadokawa has already made up his mind. He has sent his official letter to the Ministry of the Environment, saying the city is ready to accept the disaster debris after conducting the burn tests at the city's 3 incineration plants.

The mayor seems quite willing to throw the 650 billion yen per year tourism industry in Kyoto City down the drain in exchange for a few billion yen subsidy from the national government. I do hear that Kyoto City is in a dire financial condition, despite all the money tourists from all over the world drop in the city.

The governor of Kyoto was quite satisfied with the government answer that the government would compensate Kyoto for damages from "baseless rumors". I guess the mayor is also quite satisfied with the answer.

Fukushima-origin cesium-134 has been detected in the fly ashes of the incineration plants in Kyoto City, and people like Professor Hayakawa of Gunma University (who is all for wide-area disposal and burning of disaster debris) are using the data to tell people who oppose wide-area debris disposal, "See, Kyoto is already contaminated". This is so disingenuous. Yes, cesium-134 is highly likely from Fukushima. But radioactive cesium get concentrated once burned, and the Ministry of the Environment says the concentration is 33 times in fly ashes. So, in the case of Kyoto City, with maximum cesium-134 at 9 becquerels/kg and cesium-137 at 14 becquerels/kg in the fly ashes (total cesium 23 becquerels/kg), the amount of cesium in a kilogram of garbage would be 0.7 becquerel.

Besides, since it is from the garbage, the contamination may be from the contaminated food items from Tohoku and Kanto. In 2010, the level of cesium-137 of the grass land soil in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto City was 1.8 becquerel/kg.

And what levels of radioactivity are we talking about on the disaster debris? Depending on the locations, they are anything from ND to over 1000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium according to the Ministry of the Environment, not even considering other nuclides, and that's before burning. The Ministry of the Environment says the max levels of contamination of the debris for wide-area disposal is 480 becquerels/kg before burning. Even if Kyoto City gets 100 becquerels/kg debris, that's more than 100 times the contamination that Kyoto has.

From Kyoto Shinbun (4/5/2012):

京都市、震災がれき 3施設で試験焼却 検証後判断

Kyoto City to test burn the disaster debris at 3 of its incineration facilities, and decide [whether to accept the debris] after the review of the test result


In order to accept the disaster debris from Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures from the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami, Kyoto City responded to the Ministry of the Environment in writing that it will conduct the test burn of the debris at its incineration facilities (Clean Centers) in the northeast (Shizuichi, Sakyo-ku), north (Umegahata, Ukyo-ku), and south (Yoko Oji, Fushimi-ku), and will accept the debris after reviewing the test result. The East Clean Center in Fushimi-ku will be closed by the end of this fiscal year, and it won't be used for test burn.


According to the city's plan, a committee of experts in radiation medicine and radiation safety management will be set up. The committee will examine the appropriateness of the standard set by the Kansai Wide Area Association (made of prefectures in Kansai Area) of 100 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium in the debris before burning, 2,000 becquerels/kg in the ashes, and study the protective measures during transportation of the debris for the test burning and the effect on the surrounding areas.


The debris will then be burned at the three Clean Centers, and the air radiation levels will be measured to make sure the levels are safe. The ashes will be buried in the huge landfill on Osaka Bay ("Phoenix"). The city will also evaluate the effect of transporting the ashes.


The city will conduct meetings for the residents around the Clean Centers, and the test result will be made public. The official in charge in the city says, "Many Kyoto residents support early recovery [of Tohoku]. We will do our best to persuade them."

It sounds all too familiar. Oh yes, the repeat of Shimada City. The city will do whatever it wants, no matter how the residents are against it. Meetings are for the formality, a facade, and the city will simply tell the residents what's already decided, which is to accept the debris and burn in their neighborhoods.

Kyoto City is in the basin, and the incineration plants surrounds the city. Smart move, mayor, for few bucks.

I wonder Mr. Iyer, who wrote for NY Times telling the readers "Now's the season!" to visit Kyoto, knows about this. I guess he does, and he will probably excoriate those foreign tourists who will stay away from Kyoto for such a trivial nuisance like potential radiation contamination.

Many tourist destinations and residential areas are close to these Clean Centers. Kyoto International Convention Center is located 3 km southeast of the North Clean Center. The South Clean Center is located in Fushimi, one of the most famous places for sake brewing in Japan. Brewers are located about 2 kilometers northeast of the South Clean Center. (Information from one of my Japanese readers who is very upset about the whole issue).

Here's the map showing the Clean Centers in Kyoto City. They're going to do the test burn in the Centers in red circles:

What kind of country is this, willing to defile its ancient city steeped in history and culture that dates back more than 1,200 years that even the US decided not to bomb (although it did consider nuking the city...)?

Even if Kyoto City's mayor wants to burn, why would the national government even ask Kyoto City to burn the disaster debris that got contaminated with radioactive materials, arsenic, petrochemicals, and other toxins?

Kyoto is one of my favorite cities. I've visited countless times. This is just mind-boggling.


Anonymous said...

HI Ex SKF sama,
Thank you for your very interesting blog !
I couldn't find the contact link, so I contact you here.

What do you think of this ?

Not very natural, isn't it ?
Is Japan under attack ?

Darth3/11 said...

What can be done about this? Do Kyotoites and Fushimites know about this? Too many precious things there rely upon clean nature, especially the sake industry with its use of local rice and ground water.

Makes the hairs on my neck stand up in horror.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Sorry I fail to see the significance of the post you linked. Having seen many weather patterns on various radars, I don't think they are that unnatural.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@Darth3/11, things have moved really quickly in Kyoto City, apparently, taking the residents who oppose by surprise.

I am very disappointed that Japan has sunk this low, willing to possibly contaminate the oldest capital. (It's technically still the capital of Japan.)

Viola said...

I've been active since november last year to stop this insanity; passing about 370 pages of signatures to my local Japanese consulate, signing every petition I could find, writing letters... Feeling totally helpless about the situation.

They just don't care at all about their citizens. I wonder how much they're paid for it. Money that would better be spent in buying equipment to measure radiation in food and whole-body-scanners! But this is only done by citizen's organisations.

There's an organisation forming right now that needs financial help. They want to provide measurement possibilities to the general public.
Arevamirpal, maybe you could help to spread the news?

Chibaguy said...

As for Prof. Hayakawa and his radiation maps, I respect that and am thankful. No idea why he would support this plan that does NOT need to take place though?! If the mere citizens can see through this shell game he should be able to as well.

I have lived here long enough to know the Japanese in general cannot think in the future tense. Thus, the politicians do not understand the consequences. I think they are in the mindset of out of sight out of mind now. Wouldn't this world be nice if we could just burn and bury our problems without worrying about science?

Anonymous said...

I'm canceling my 18-APR Kyoto reservation. Suggest Kyoto mayor ask federal government for the 15,000 yen they lost (maybe 25,000 with family expenses). Will stay in nearby Tokushima instead. Tokushima is not accepting debris the last time I checked.

kintaman said...

Given that the people of Kyoto have shown that they strongly oppose the plan to burn debris in their prefecture and the government plans to go ahead anyway (ignoring their please), when will the people rise up and force change?

I really believe the only way any REAL change will happen to stop the current madness is for the people of Japan to rise up and yank control away from the current people in power.

Come on, if you are in a car and the drive is repeated running off the road you would force him to stop and kick him out of the driver's seat. I doubt though that any such action will occur in Japan. Their fate is sealed by their complacency and lack of real samurai fighting spirit. They will just stand aside and say "Ganbatte Nippon" like fools as the nation melts into the ocean.

Anonymous said...

Kintaman: This spring will tell. Frustration among the unheard is building, and spring is the best season for civil demonstration. Of course if the average age were younger Change would have a better chance.

Unknown said...

This Kadokawa seems to be one arrogant SOB. First he pushes through that stupid aquarium idea and now this.

Anonymous said...

Laprimavera, thank you for this precious information.
Do you know when exactly the tests at the incinerators are going to happen?

Anonymous said...

this wide-area burning of debris has only one plausible explanation (they could build special incineration facilities in Fukushima/Miyagi/Iwate): deliberate contamination of the entire archipelago. why? various reasons, but one in particular: disguise the long-term health effects. if it's spread all over, causality becomes almost impossible to prove. truly evil. the whole show is run by the power companies and their financiers.

evendine said...

It seems to me that the policy of deliberate radioactive contamination of a populated area qualifies as a 'crime against humanity' under international law.

Under Article 7 of the Rome Statute (jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court) section 1 states:

'For the purpose of this Statute, "crime against humanity" means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

(a) Murder;
(b) Extermination;
(f) Torture;
(h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;
(k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health'

Section 2 qualifies certain terms:

'b) "Extermination" includes the intentional infliction of conditions of life, inter alia the deprivation of access to food and medicine, calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population;
(e) "Torture" means the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, upon a person in the custody or under the control of the accused; except that torture shall not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to, lawful sanctions;
(g) "Persecution" means the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity;

It seems to me that all of the above clauses apply in this case.

Surely amongst those who are victims (or potential victims) of this apparent serious crime, there must be lawyers willing to take the government to the International Criminal Court? At very least, doing this will execution stop the policy in its tracks and cause the perpetrators / government deep embarrassment!

This site has much useful info on how to go about it:

evendine said...

It seems Japan has been party to the Rome Statute since 2007:

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I believe the right to live in an unpolluted environment is a fundamental human right. But as usual, Japan probably hasn't ratified that partiular treaty.

Re. tests - it seems a cheap trick. How can you be sure the samples are representative for the debris that will follow? Also, why the measurement of "air radiation"? Depending on the equipment used, those results will be very misleading.

Anonymous said...

So, how serious threat is this to Kyoto? I mean, is this really going to contaminate Kyoto in any serious amount or not?

I recently booked a flight to Japan and I'm planning to stay 4 weeks in Kyoto in July/August. Is this posing a threat to my health?

doitujin said...

i love kyoto and it's beyond comprehension for me how they can deliberately contaminate their most precious city...

Anonymous said...

@evendine: "deliberate radioactive contamination of a populated area qualifies as a 'crime against humanity' under international law."

Good luck with getting the ICC to look at this. As well as waging pre-emptive wars and wars of aggression, prohibited and condemned by the Nuremberg tribunal, the US military and its allies have been merrily spreading toxic depleted uranium contamination in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Former Yugoslavia, and any other part of the world that has been unfortunate enough to be target of their attention.

None of this is of interest to the ICC, which has focused its entire energies on catching the real war criminals, almost all of whom apparently just happen to be citizens of African countries.

As the saying goes, bourgeois law is like a spider's web: it ensnares the weak, while the strong brush it aside.

evendine said...

@Anon April 6, 2012 3:19 PM: I understand your points re 'real war criminals' and am not trying to belittle any of them by any means. All are crimes against humanity, as is subjecting the whole of Japan to radioactive poisoning for no good reason.

As I said above, '...there must be lawyers willing to take the government to the International Criminal Court? At very least, doing this will effectively stop the policy in its tracks and cause the perpetrators / government deep embarrassment!...'

Bringing a case can be done relatively quickly by any qualified lawyer, although winning one at the ICC is more problematic. Nevertheless, it may quickly lead to an injunction stopping the policy while the case is being processed through the courts. Isn't that what any sensible person wants - to stop this happening by any means available?

Anonymous said...

@evendine, '...there must be lawyers willing to take the government to the International Criminal Court? At very least, doing this will effectively stop the policy in its tracks and cause the perpetrators / government deep embarrassment!...'

I don't doubt your honesty or your intentions, but the suggestion that the ICC would do anything to stop the Japanese government in its tracks is based on illusions about the nature of bourgeois institutions, and to be blunt is quite a waste of time.

Ultimately the law boils down to questions of power, not of what is written in the books. The Japanese ruling class, or Blair, Bush and Obama for example, may be criminal gangsters but, unlike the petty African gangsters of the sort that have the attentions of the ICC, the Japanese ruling class have the financial and political backing, and control of state power, to ensure that they can conduct their crimes with nearly absolute impunity.

Just to illustrate what I mean, in 1999 Professor Michael Mandel, Professor W. Neil Brooks, Professor Judith A. Fudge, Professor H. J. Glasbeek, Professor Reuben A. Hasson et al, compiled a charge of war crimes against NATO to be brought before the so called International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. What do you think came of this? Do a google search if you like.

Incidentally, the same Justice Louise Arbour who ran the sham called the ICTFY, and oversaw the NATO wars of terror against Yugoslavia, was also instrumental in setting up the ICC. And this is the organisation you suggest will somehow protect the people and environment of Japan?

Anonymous said...

This is just amazing, about people like Professor Hayakawa who originally emerged as a voice of reason and honesty, to be promoting the debris distribution system. Reminds me of Dr. Kodama of Tokyo University Hospital who gave a fiery speech to the Diet about the outrageous lack of response from the government regarding radiation from Fukushima at the time of the reactor explosions, who has now become a puppet of TEPCO decontamination, but letting TEPCO off the hook and get local people to volunteer to do dirty and dangerous decontamination. What frauds these men are. But then again where are the heroes in Japan?

When I called the Greenpeace Japan office to find out about the incinerator issue, the guy on the phone must not like foreigners much since he just had a typically arrogant dismissive manner and referred me to their website, which had no articles on the incineration issue! I emailed them my questions and of course received no reply. Greenpeace Japan: USELESS. That goes for another useless organization in Japan called Consumers Union Japan, run by idiots who think radiation is no big deal.
Go to their website and see if you can find much if anything on the nuclear crisis and food, not much there.

Anonymous said...

As far as Kyoto being a lovely tourist spot, that is ENTIRELY IRRELEVANT to the fact that no matter where debris is burned, if the effluents are contaminated with radiation, not to mention the filters and fly ash becoming radioactive, all of these places will have to deal with radioactive issues. The people in Kyoto are no more important than people living in the lower class urban areas who will receive the same radiation.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how much radiation escapes the chimneys when radioactive debris is burned? Or does it all stay in the fly ash? I heard that the government says it is 100 percent safe, but insiders in the incineration industry have rumored the filters do not work. Is there any published data from the govenrment about this issue? Thank you.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@anon at 4:31PM, no one is saying people in Kyoto are more important.

To many Japanese including myself, the place is special for its long history.

evendine said...

@Anon April 6, 2012 4:15 PM:

I think the key problem with the ICC is that the main perpetrators of crimes against humanity - powerful countries generally, as you say - e.g. the US, Israel, Russia, etc
have not ratified the Rome Statute, so can't be served an injunction, whereas Japan has ratified the statute and therefore must answer to the court. Diplomatically, at least, this would be deeply embarrassing...

There are examples of attempts to bring the heads of state of 'developed' countries who commit crimes against humanity to justice in the nuclear arena, e.g. the Davies injunction against nuclear weapons:

see also:

Anonymous said...


Contrary to what you seem to believe, Britain, Spain, Australia and a whole lot of other countries who waged the illegal war of aggression against Iraq as part of the Coalition of the Shilling, have ratified any number of garbage conventions that supposedly outlaw the very criminal behaviour which they have taken part in over the last decade or more.

Now let me see, Tony Blair, British citizen, or John Howard, Australian citizen; they must be, in the dock, behind bars, or at the very least under investigation by the Kangaroo International Criminal Court at this very moment, right?

Oh no, wait, I forgot Blair, Howard, et al, they're gangsters who, like the Japanese ruling class, represent states and institutions with real financial and political power, not just two bit thugs from the African bush, who are therefore fair game for the Kangaroo ICC.

However, if anyone wants to try and square the circle, or believe in tooth fairies, far be it for me, or mere facts, to get in their way.

Somehow, between facts and beliefs, the latter almost always seem to come out trumps, don't they?

Anonymous said...

Of course burning toxins that ends in Rube Goldberg machinery that has by design an "invisible plume" exiting the 200 meter stacks (Toshima plant in downtown Tokyo) are not all removed. You breathe them or maybe someone 10,000 miles away gets a speck of plutonium in their lung.

The Japanese bureaucrats do not reveal how much floats outt in the "invisible plume" but it has to be sizable considering how many metric tons are burned.

Read this 2000 document for a fascinating look at the world of Japanese incinerators. The invisible plume quote at the last sntence on page and the non- answer to your question on page 8.

Of interest is the electrical power production section as we know that with 52 NPPs out of action the need for electricity is solved by different strategies and incinerators are filling the void.


Anonymous said...

Sorry... On My phone and copy and paste is not easy: I will try my laptop in a bit

Anonymous said...

Here is the incinerator study link from 2000:

Here is an American links showing estimated efficiency ratings of the three types of incinerators...I don't know but I am guessing the Japanese plants are of the thermal classification:

Take care!


Anonymous said...

Sorry...first comment...left out the "invisible plume" page. It is the last sentence on page 5. Very complicated reading for a layperson like me, but it does give me an overview of how these giant incinerators work.

Anonymous said...

"That goes for another useless organization in Japan called Consumers Union Japan, run by idiots who think radiation is no big deal. Go to their website and see if you can find much if anything on the nuclear crisis and food, not much there."

My partner tells me she met one of these idiots from the JCU recently at an international conference. This person, who happens to be a foreign resident of Japan, reported that he didn't think radiation is the problem it is usually made out to be, so much so that he went to a town near Fukushima Daiichi at the height of the crisis in March last year.

Anonymous said...

Having lived in Japan over 40 years, and most of those years in Kyoto, it pains me to see what the local mayor, Kadokawa, has agreed to do. Is what he's doing by accepting radiated refuse criminal? Perhaps not legally, but it probably should be considered criminal.
I don't think the problems in Japan have so much to do with money as much as a blind, lock-step, following of authority. This lock-step culture permeates not just the government, but businesses, journalism (mass media) and education as well. The "amakudari" system is not just applicable to former government ministers, but permeates businesses, too. For example, Company A may have some 10,000 employees working directly for the company, but may have 300,000 ~ 400,000 employees indirectly through subsidiary companies. When the top executives retire, they "amakudari" to some subsidiary for several more years of income and extra funds. Also, the Journalist Club is nothing more than embedded reporters who never criticize the hand of the dog...
No one should assume that there any easy solutions to the radiation problem, but that doesn't mean it should be handled in a half-assed, piecemeal manner as the current mayor is doing. Shame on you, Mr. Kadokawa. What you are about to do to your city will be far worse than anything those monks up on Mt. Hiei ever did to the city.

Elo said...

I am the Anon of april 6, 6:41 am, I also left a comment on a previous post about protests in Kyoto against Hosono, saying "I hope Kyoto people will not diappoint me"...right, this post came to contradict me.

@ Laprimavera:
I was living in Kyoto Fushimi-ku, near the sake brewers you are talking about. I love Kyoto.
My husband is still there. I would appreciate if you have any further information about the time these tests are supposed to be carried out.

By the way, I am also curious to know how they will do the burn tests...I mean, they will burn debris at the incinerators and then tell the results to the citizens?! And if the results show incredible high levels of contamination they will tell the citizens "the city's air is now highly contaminated - no immediate effects on your health though, therefore we can carry on with the debris burning, thank you for your cooperation."

I repeat myself, I hope Kyoto people can find an efficient way to stop this crime and set an example for all Japan.

evendine said...

@foolish April 6, 2012 7:38 PM Anon:

Anonymous said...

Elo, there seems several civil groups acting against spreading radioactive materials in Kyoto. Citizens are now starting act against central and local governments. If your husband is in Kyoto, his opinion would be precious for such groups. Exactly many Kyoto people expects that foreign people feels crisis about current Kyoto situation. We desire such foreign people to say NO to Kyoto. It would be a great power to change the completely crazy politics in this country.

Elo said...

@ Anon 8:45 AM
I will tell my husband about civil groups' activities. He is Japanese, he may join civil groups if he gets information about their meetings.
I would have been the foreigner, but I left six months ago. Although I cannot join Kyoto people this time, my thoughts will be with them.
I wish I could do more, it is so frustrating to watch what is going on in Japan.

Anonymous said...

Elo, I found following civil groups for example.
If your husband lives near the brewers, it may be interesting for him to visit civil groups preparing to establish a contamination measuring center in Fushimi. I think such a group is also interested in the debris.

Elo said...

@ Anon 5:59

thank you for the useful links, I didn't know there were such groups, I will inform my husband on those.
Let's keep in touch here if there are any news about activities in Kyoto. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Elo, I found a signature-collecting campaign for Kyoto.
I hope you will see here.

Elo said...

Hi Anon 7:26 AM
I just saw it and sent to my husband. We are going to sign it, hoping for the best. Thanks.

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