Thursday, February 28, 2013

Another #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Worker Dies, Off Site, Cumulative Radiation Exposure of 25 Millisieverts; TEPCO Says It Cannot Reveal the Cause of Death Yet

Back in the land of abundant rice (a la PM Abe), a worker in his fifties died after having fallen ill at a stockyard in Hirono-machi (that's where J-Village, used as the staging area for the work at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, is located) in Fukushima Prefecture. He had been working at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant since June 2011, and most recently he was working on the prep work for the Reactor 3 building cover.

I think it is just lunacy to force workers to be anywhere near Reactor 3, but that's what the Japanese government and TEPCO have been doing to alleviate fears, basically, from so-called experts that Reactor 3 is in danger (along with Reactor 4) and to make them look as if they were doing something.

The worker's cumulative radiation exposure since June 2011 was 25 millisieverts, which NHK tries to characterize it as "low".

From NHK News (3/1/2013):


A worker in his 50s who had been working at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant was taken to hospital after he complained he wasn't feeling well, but he died in the evening of February 27.


TEPCO says they cannot disclose the cause of death because they haven't seen the medical certificate.


According to TEPCO, past 9AM on February 25, a worker in his 50s who had been doing the preparation work in the Reactor 3 building to install the cover over the reactor building at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant fell ill in the stockyard of the company he worked for in Hirono-machi in Fukushima Prefecture. At one point, he was in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest, and was taken to a hospital in Iwaki City.


Later at 11:30PM on February 27, the company notified TEPCO that the worker had died.


The worker had been working at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant since June of 2011. His cumulative radiation exposure was 25 millisieverts, lower than the annual limit of 50 millisieverts for radiation workers in the normal time.


TEPCO says they cannot disclose the cause of death because they haven't seen the medical certificate.


At Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, five workers have died so far from myocardial infarction (or heart attack) and other causes since the start of the accident.

The 50 millisieverts per year limit for radiation workers is rarely reached in normal condition, but NHK wouldn't volunteer that kind of information. Independent journalist Ryuichi Kino tweeted from TEPCO's press conference that the worker never regained consciousness.

Before the Fukushima accident, the natural radiation exposure in Japan was about 1.5 millisievert per year, including both internal exposure (radon inhalation, radioactive potassium from food) and external exposure (from cosmic rays, earth).

From TEPCO's press release on 2/28/2013 (pretty much the same as NHK News):

-At around 9:20 AM on February 25, at the material storage of cooperative company in Hirono Town, Fukushima Prefecture, a cooperative company worker who was engaged in the preparation for cover installation on Unit 3 Reactor Building reported being sick. The worker was transported to the medical clinic in J-Village. As cardiopulmonary arrest was confirmed at the clinic, an ambulance was called at 9:35 AM. After cardiac massage was performed, the worker's pulse was recovered at 9:54 AM. At 10:10 AM, the worker was transported to Iwaki Kyoritsu Hospital by ambulance. Later, we received an announcement from the main contractor that he was pronounced dead by a doctor at 11:32 PM on February 27.

At least these days they can call the ambulance, and the ambulance can get to the hospital quickly. It took 2 hours to transfer the very first worker who suffered a heart attack from the plant to the hospital in Iwaki City, about 48 kilometers from the plant.

WHO Report on Risk Assessment from #Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant Accident

WHO says "no observable increases in cancer rates above baseline rates are anticipated" inside and outside Japan. Greenpeace is crying foul, NHK quotes experts saying WHO is overly cautious and exaggerating the risks, UK's Guardian emphasizes "70%" increase in thyroid cancer (from 0.77% to 1.29%), Scientific American credits "fortunate" wind direction.

From WHO press release (2/28/2013):

Global report on Fukushima nuclear accident details health risks

A comprehensive assessment by international experts on the health risks associated with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (NPP) disaster in Japan has concluded that, for the general population inside and outside of Japan, the predicted risks are low and no observable increases in cancer rates above baseline rates are anticipated. 

The WHO report ‘Health Risk Assessment from the nuclear accident after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami based on preliminary dose estimation’ noted, however, that the estimated risk for specific cancers in certain subsets of the population in Fukushima Prefecture has increased and, as such, it calls for long term continued monitoring and health screening for those people. 

Experts estimated risks in the general population in Fukushima Prefecture, the rest of Japan and the rest of the world, plus the power plant and emergency workers that may have been exposed during the emergency phase response. 

“The primary concern identified in this report is related to specific cancer risks linked to particular locations and demographic factors,” says Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director for Public Health and Environment. “A breakdown of data, based on age, gender and proximity to the nuclear plant, does show a higher cancer risk for those located in the most contaminated parts. Outside these parts - even in locations inside Fukushima Prefecture - no observable increases in cancer incidence are expected.” 

In terms of specific cancers, for people in the most contaminated location, the estimated increased risks over what would normally be expected are:

  • all solid cancers - around 4% in females exposed as infants;

  • breast cancer - around 6% in females exposed as infants;

  • leukaemia - around 7% in males exposed as infants;

  • thyroid cancer - up to 70% in females exposed as infants (the normally expected risk of thyroid cancer in females over lifetime is 0.75% and the additional lifetime risk assessed for females exposed as infants in the most affected location is 0.50%).

For people in the second most contaminated location of Fukushima Prefecture, the estimated risks are approximately one-half of those in the location with the highest doses. 

The report also references a section to the special case of the emergency workers inside the Fukushima NPP. Around two-thirds of emergency workers are estimated to have cancer risks in line with the general population, while one-third is estimated to have an increased risk.

The almost-200-page document further notes that the radiation doses from the damaged nuclear power plant are not expected to cause an increase in the incidence of miscarriages, stillbirths and other physical and mental conditions that can affect babies born after the accident.

“The WHO report underlines the need for long-term health monitoring of those who are at high risk, along with the provision of necessary medical follow-up and support services,” says Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director for Public Health and Environment. “This will remain an important element in the public health response to the disaster for decades.” 

“In addition to strengthening medical support and services, continued environmental monitoring, in particular of food and water supplies, backed by the enforcement of existing regulations, is required to reduce potential radiation exposure in the future,” says Dr Angelika Tritscher, Acting Director for WHO’s Food Safety and Zoonosis Department. 

As well as the direct health impact on the population, the report notes that the psychosocial impact may have a consequence on health and well-being. These should not be ignored as part of the overall response, say the experts. 

This is the first-ever analysis of the global health effects due to radiation exposure after the Fukushima NPP accident and is the result of a two-year WHO-led process of analysis of estimated doses and their potential health implications. The independent scientific experts came from the fields of radiation risk modelling, epidemiology, dosimetry, radiation effects and public health.

For more information please contact:

Glenn Thomas
WHO Communications Officer, Department of Communications
Telephone: +41 22 791 3983
Mobile: +41 79 509 0677

Nada Osseiran
WHO Communications Officer, Public Health and Environment
Telephone: +41 22 791 4475
Mobile: +41 79 445 1624

The 172-page English report is available at the WHO site, here. The executive summary is also available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, and Russian. (Where's Spanish?)

Two Workers Killed, One Serioiusly Injured in Cattenom Nuclear Power Plant in France

(UPDATE) According to AFP, three workers fell 4 meters (13 feet) when the platform they were standing on collapsed.


Cattenom Nuclear Power Plant is located in Lorraine, in northeastern France. It has four pressurized-water reactors.

Press release from Autorite de Surete Nucleaire (2/28/2013):

Accident mortel du travail à la centrale nucleaire de Cattenom

L’ASN a été informée cet après midi par EDF de la survenue d’un accident du travail dans le bâtiment du réacteur 4 de la centrale nucléaire de Cattenom.

Cet accident a causé la mort de deux personnes et fait un blessé grave.

L’accident est survenu vers 17h00 lors de travaux de maintenance.

Le réacteur est à l’arrêt pour sa visite décennale depuis le 9 février 2013.

L’ASN est en charge de l’inspection du travail dans les centrales nucléaires en France.

Les inspecteurs du travail de la division de Strasbourg de l’ASN se rendent sur place.

(Google Translation, with some funny words but you get the idea)

Fatal accident at Chattenom Nuclear Power Plant

ASN was informed this afternoon by EDF of the occurrence of an accident in the reactor building 4 of the nuclear power plant Cattenom.

The accident killed two people and one seriously injured.

The accident occurred around 17:00 during maintenance.

The reactor was shut down for a visit ten since 9 February 2013.

The ASN is responsible for labor inspection in nuclear power plants in France.

Labor inspectors of the division Strasbourg ASN go there.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: 510,000Bq/kg of Radioactive Cesium from Greenling Inside the Plant Harbor

TEPCO announced (link in Japanese) on February 28, 2013 that a greenling caught inside the harbor of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on February 17, 2013 was found with 510,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, highest ever tested in fish since the start of the nuclear accident.

  • Cesium-134: 180,000 becquerels/kg

  • Cesium-137: 330,000 becquerels/kg

In January 2013, a spotbelly rockfish inside the harbor was found with 254,000 becquerels/kg of cesium.

A Pacific cod, caught in the same location as the 510,000 Bq/kg greenling (near the harbor mouth), had only 130 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. Greenling is a bottom-dweller, while Pacific cod isn't.

#Radioactive Japan: PM Abe Says "Japanese Ag Products Are Popular in the World Among the Wealthy"

In his first policy speech in the Diet as the prime minister on February 28 afternoon, Prime Minister Abe promised he would make Japanese agriculture aggressive and strong so that more rich people in the world buy healthy Japanese produce.

(Like wealthy Thais in Bangkok buying peaches and apples and pears and persimmons from Fukushima?)

Sankei Shinbun has his photo, as he delivers the speech. He looks tired and bloated.

From Sankei Shinbun, part 2 of the policy speech by Abe (2/28/2013):


Healthy Japanese cuisine is creating a sensation all over the world. Japanese agricultural products are grown with great care with the change of four seasons. I have no doubt that Japanese agricultural products will be even more popular as the number of wealthy people increases around the world. To prepare for the demand, we need "aggressive agricultural policy". Japan is the Land of Abundant Rice [the term that appears in ancient Japanese mythology]. Breathtaking view of terraced rice paddies, traditional culture. I will build a "strong agriculture" so that the young people can protect the beautiful homeland and have "hopes" for the future.

Creating a sensation... Well where has he been in the past several decades? Doesn't he know "hope" is a dirty word?

Japan had routinely used excessive amount of pesticides on agricultural products even before radioactive iodine and cesium landed on them. But that aside, "aggressive and strong" agriculture, whatever he means, is not what has produced the food that people in the world have come to like. It is mom-and-pop, small-scale farmers.

In the same speech, Abe declared he will restart the nuke plants.

Browsing through his speech, I just realize this prime minister is about half a century too late. He says he wants to make Japan "the world number one", as if this were 1950's, right after the Korean War. How he is going to achieve that with declining population and soaring government deficit, nobody knows. Well, the debt load percentage is definitely the world number one.

(War, anyone?)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Obama to Appoint the Daughter of Late John F. Kennedy as Ambassador to Japan

Why? Because she has been a staunch supporter of Mr. Obama.

I'm positive the Japanese will be thrilled. They like famous people just because they are famous for whatever reason.

Ambassador to the Court of St. James's will be the chair of Mr. Obama's presidential campaign. Ambassadors to France and Germany will be heads of investment firms who were instrumental in fundraising.

From Bloomberg News (2/27/2013):

Caroline Kennedy Said to Be Candidate for Envoy to Japan

Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, is a leading candidate to become President Barack Obama’s nominee as U.S. ambassador to Japan, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Kennedy, 55, would replace Ambassador John Roos, a former technology lawyer and Obama campaign donor, as the U.S. envoy in Tokyo, according to the people, who asked for anonymity because the decision hasn’t been made official. While the president has signed off on Kennedy’s nomination, her vetting for the post hasn’t been completed, said one of the people.

An early backer of Obama in his 2008 run for president and a co-chairman of his 2012 campaign, Kennedy is one of several Obama political supporters and donors being reviewed for ambassadorships to top U.S. allies.

The president is considering John Emerson, the president of Capital Guardian Trust Co. as U.S. ambassador to Germany, said the people. For the U.S. embassy in France, the leading candidate is Marc Lasry, the chief executive officer of Avenue Capital Group LLC, who helped unite the fundraising networks of Obama and former President Bill Clinton.

After considering Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, as envoy to the U.K., Obama is leaning toward Matthew Barzun, finance chairman of Obama’s presidential campaign, for the job, officially known as ambassador to the Court of St. James’s.

For those who say, "Oh that's what every president does", Bloomberg article continues:

Obama has drawn ambassadors from the political ranks at a higher rate than the historical average of 30 percent, according to the American Foreign Service Association. In his first term, Obama nominated 59 ambassadors, including 40 fundraising bundlers, who lacked experience in the diplomatic corps.

(Full article at the link)

Avenue Capital Group is a private equity firm and hedge fund, specializing in distressed securities, with $12 billion asset under management.

Capital Guardian Trust is part of the Capital Group Companies with total group asset of over one trillion dollars.

Ms. Kennedy serves on the board of many non-profit organizations.

Groupon, JC Penney Crash After Hours on Missed Earnings, Very Weak Outlook

I wonder where the Japan under so-called "Abenomics" is planning to sell their goods. I guess it has to be to the so-called "One Percent" wealthy Americans, as JC Penney and Groupon are not really about these "One Percenters" but about the dwindling so-called "middle class" and "working class" people who want to stretch their dollars which got crimped further by 2% rise in employment tax starting January 1, 2013 thanks to the wealthy president and wealthy Congress.

Groupon, down 25% after hours:

Revenue: $638 million expected, $638 million actual
Profit per share: 3 cents expected, but the actual result was a loss.
Forecast: $650 million expected, the company guided to $560 to 610 million

JC Penney, down 12% after hours:

Revenue: $4.08 billion expected, $3.884 billion actual
Profit per share: -23 cents expected, 2.51 dollar actual
Q4 Comp store sales excluding the 53rd week were down 31.7%
Q4 Internet sales down 34.4%

Speaking of "Abenomics", I really thought the word was like "Obamacare", a satire, caricature, a snide. I was so wrong. Prime Minister Abe himself proudly referred his economic policies of cheapening yen as such, in his English speech at the CSIS the other day. Go figure. The world is nuts.

Cyanide Leak in Hanamaki, Iwate Reached the Nearby River, Company and Prefecture Failed to Alert Public for One Full Day

The river, Aburasawa River, flows into Kitakami River, the largest river in Tohoku and used for water supply.

From RSOE EDIS Event Report (2/27/2013):

The equivalent of 125,000 lethal doses of cyanide leaked from a factory in Japan after a snowplough accident, a plant operator said Wednesday. At least five tonnes of liquid waste containing sodium cyanide spewed out of a tank after it was hit by a snowplough at a plating factory run by Kurosaka Plating Co. in Hanamaki, northern Japan, on Tuesday, a company official said. One litre of the toxic liquid waste, used to remove nickel plating from surfaces, is enough to kill 25 people, the official said. The leak occurred when workers were trying to remove piles of snow from the site, which has seen severe winter weather over the last week, and damaged a valve on the tank in which the chemical was stored.

"Fortunately, snow absorbed most of the liquid and we have been able to collect the contaminated snow," the official said. "The leak has not reached a nearby river and we have not received any reports of impact on people."

As Iwate Nippo reports it (2/27/2013), the company who operates this factory and the Iwate prefectural government sat on the accident for more than one day before they admitted to the incident. To summarize Iwate Nippo's article,

  • The accident happened at 7AM on February 25 when a snow plowing machine slammed into the valve of the storage tank.

  • The company, Kurosaka Plating Co. headquartered in Tokyo, did alert the city of Hanamaki where the factory is located.

  • The city conducted the water sampling tests of the reservoir in the industrial park where the factory is located, and the nearby Aburasawa River.

  • The city finally decided to say something about the accident on February 26.

  • No leak into Aburasawa River.

However, later Yomiuri Shinbun article (2/27/2013) says there was a leak into the river:


5.9 milligrams per liter of sodium cyanide was detected in the reservoir of the industrial park [in the February 27 testing], 1.4 milligram/liter where the reservoir drains to Aburasawa River where on February 26 evening 0.7 milligram/liter had been detected. At two locations downstream on Aburasawa River, 0.1 milligram/liter was detected. It was ND at other locations. The city has piled up sandbags to prevent the leak from the reservoir into the river, and has stopped the water intake at Kitakami River into which Aburasawa River flows.

The maximum amount of cyanide allowed in waste water is 0.1 milligram per liter.

Whether it is a nuclear accident or a chemical accident, Japan seems to respond the same anyway - not telling anyone anytime soon so as not to cause panic among the general public, when in fact it is the government officials and the companies involved who panic.

(And their favorite tools are sandbags and duct tapes. Well, they work.)

So, while the city disclosed the leak at the factory one day late on February 26 the leak continued into Aburasawa River then into Kitakami River for another day.

(H/T reader Helios)

(OT) Real Communication Between a Japanese and an American, 110 Years Ago

Excellent repartee by Tenshin Okakura, when an young American made fun of him and his group walking about in traditional Japanese outfit in 1903 Boston, as recounted in the Japanese wikipedia entry of Okakura:

Young man: "What sort of nese are you people? Are you Chinese, or Japanese, or Javanese?"

Okakura: "We are Japanese gentlemen. But what kind of key are you? Are you a Yankee, or a donkey, or a monkey?"

Okakura was a famous art critic and philosopher who was instrumental in preserving pre-Meiji Japanese arts that were being thrown away at a furious pace after the Meiji Restoration, but I just learned that he also wrote a book in English on tea, titled "The Book of Tea". The book was first published in 1906, and it is still sold today.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Japan PM Abe Picks Washington Post for Exclusive Interview, Says China Has "Deeply Ingrained" Need to Spar with Japan, Denies He Said That, Probably Misunderstanding the English Word "Spar"

Prime Minister Shinzo "pork cutlet over curry rice because my stomach is now strong" Abe has abolished the tradition that lasted for time immemorial of reporters asking additional questions after official press conference by following him around, in favor of Facebook. He tells the reporters to go like him and read the latest on his Facebook page.

He also seems to have picked up the same penchant as US President Obama of giving an "exclusive interview" to a particular media of his choice. In Abe's case, it was Washington Post.

Abe gave an exclusive interview with Washington Post right before he departed for the US visit which seemed devoid of meaning except for the domestic Japanese political maneuvre. In the interview, as Washington Post reports it, Abe spoke in unusually great details about China, describing China as having a "deeply ingrained" need to spar with Japan and other Asian neighbors over territory for domestic purposes.

(Photo is tweeted by the writer of the Washington Post article, Chico Harlan. Note the rectangular badges that Abe wears as if he were a military man. One is for Tokyo Olympic 2020, the other is for Japanese abductees in North Korea, I hear. He wore those same badges when he met with President Obama.)

Photo by chicoharlan

From Washington Post (2/20/2013; emphasis is mine):

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: Chinese need for conflict is ‘deeply ingrained’

TOKYO — China has a “deeply ingrained” need to spar with Japan and other Asian neighbors over territory, because the ruling Communist Party uses the disputes to maintain strong domestic support, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in an interview.

Clashes with neighbors, notably Japan, play to popular opinion, Abe said, given a Chinese education system that emphasizes patriotism and “anti-Japanese sentiment.”

Abe’s theory on the entrenched motivation behind China’s recent naval aggression helps explain why he has spent more effort trying to counter the Chinese than make peace with them: He thinks the fierce dispute with China over an island chain in the East China Sea isn’t going away anytime soon.

Abe spoke about China in what aides described as unusually detailed terms, laying out challenges that Chinese leaders might face if other Asian countries, unnerved by Beijing’s maritime expansionism, decide to reduce trade and other economic ties. China’s government would be hurt by such moves, Abe said, because without economic growth, it “will not be able to control the 1.3 billion people . . . under the one-party rule.”

Abe also laid out his plans for deterrence, which include boosting military spending and strengthening ties with Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and other nations that share concerns about Beijing. Abe, who is to meet Friday with President Obama in Washington, said the U.S. presence in Asia is “critical” to deter China from taking territory controlled by other countries.

His comments came in an interview Saturday [February 15, 2013] with The Washington Post, which The Post was granted on the condition that the article not be published until Abe was departing for Washington.

(Full article at the link)

Then, two days later on 2/22/2013, Washington Post says PM Abe's office protested against the exclusive interview article (emphasis is mine):

Japan says Abe’s quotes about China in Post interview were ‘misleading’

TOKYO — Japan sought Thursday to clarify comments about China that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made to The Washington Post this week, with a top government spokesman saying that quotations published by the newspaper were “misleading.”

The Post had quoted Abe as saying that China’s Communist Party had a “deeply ingrained” need to spar with Japan and other Asian neighbors over territory, because the government uses such conflicts to win strong support from citizens whose education system emphasizes patriotism and “anti-Japanese sentiment.”

There is no comment made by the prime minister as saying that China wants to clash or [have] collision with other countries,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. “As I said, as the prime minister said, we value mutually beneficial relations with China based on strategic interests.”

Japan’s response came after China denounced Abe for the reported remarks.

“It is rare that a country’s leader brazenly distorts facts, attacks its neighbor and instigates antagonism between regional countries,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. “Such behavior goes against the will of the international community. . . . We have solemnly demanded the Japanese side immediately clarify and explain.”

...During the interview with The Post, Abe spoke at length about China, laying out a theory of how the Chinese government, no longer able to promise economic equality, now needs new pillars for its legitimacy. One is economic growth. The other is patriotism, which he said often equates to anti-Japanese sentiment. Those factors, Abe said, push China to expand its maritime territory “by coercion or intimidation,” directed both against Japan, in the East China Sea, and in the South China Sea against its Southeast Asian neighbors.

Then, answering a question about the “maritime issue,” Abe responded, “What is important, first of all, is that their leaders as well as business leaders recognize how deeply ingrained this issue is.”

The Japanese government says that a transcript of the interview posted on The Post’s Web site is correct.

(Full article at the link)

"There is no comment made by the prime minister as saying that China wants to clash or [have] collision with other countries" ... Well, the Washington Post article doesn't say that either. It says China has a need to spar (i.e. argue, or spar as in boxing practice), and that's quite different from saying China wants to clash.

"Transcript is correct"... So what was the point of inviting Washington Post reporters to write up an article?

Reading both articles again, I think I understand better. PM Abe or his spokesman misinterpreted the word "spar".

spar - verb: Make the motions of boxing without landing heavy blows, as a form of training: "broke his nose while sparring". Dispute

In the minds of the prime minister and his men, this word became synonymous with "clash, fight".

It looks that the prime minister made a fool of himself. I bet he doesn't even know it.

Idiosyncratic Japan's New Campaign: "Cool Japan Promotion"

In a beautiful fractal way (with Fukushima officials selling Fukushima as "heart-throbbing place"), here's the Japanese national government setting up a council to sell Japan as a "cool place" to foreigners.

What do they want to sell to foreigners? Anime and fashion.

One of the council members is going to be a famous (infamous, depending on whom you ask) TV producer who runs the all-girl "idol" group of AKB. The 54-year-old producer has these young girls and women live together under his tight rules, which include never to date a boy while being a member of this idol group. One of the girls was caught breaking the rule, but she disciplined herself voluntarily by shaving her head and made a tearful apology on video.

Anyway, the Abe administration's idea of "Cool Japan" is to include people like this producer (calling them "learned or knowledgeable people" or "the wise") in a committee headed by an LDP politician whose political views are characterized as "ultra-nationalist" by some. It's apparently so important for the prime minister that this politician, Ms. Tomomi Inada, has a ministerial position.

From Asahi Shinbun, whose reporting definitely changed in January in favor of the Abe administration (2/26/2013):

秋元康氏らがメンバーに 政府のクールジャパン推進会議

Mr. Yasushi Akimoto will be one of the members of the government's Cool Japan Promotion Council


The Abe administration set up the "Cool Japan Promotion Council" (chaired by Tomomi Inada, minister in charge of Cool Japan strategy) in order to come up with ways to sell Japanese fashion and culture to foreigners.


The council will made up of vice ministers from the related ministries and seven people of knowledge including Mr. Yasushi Akimoto, producer of "AKB48". The council will discuss how the government and private industry can cooperate to increase the export of contents and how to disseminate information, and come up with the proposals. The proposals will be incorporated into the growth strategy that the national government is to finalize in June.


Other people of knowledge are: Tsuguhiko Kadokawa (chairman of Kadokawa Group Holdings, a publishing and media entity), Kin Bí-Leng (commentator), Junko Koshino (fashion designer), Rikifusa Satake (director of Japan Food Service Association), Sen Soshitsu (current head of the Urasenke tea school), Tatsumi Yoda (CEO of Gaga Corporation, a movie distributor).

Here are faces of the people who will decide "cool":

Tomomi Inada, minister in charge of Cool Japan strategy:

Yasushi Akimoto of AKB fame:

Mr. Tsuguhiko Kadokawa:

Ms. Kin Bí-Leng:

Ms. Junko Koshino:

Mr. Rikifusa Sateke:

Sen Soshitsu:

Tatsumi Yoda:

#Fukushima Prefectural Officials Want Children to Come to Fukushima on School Trips, Promise "Charm and Safety" and "Heart-Throbbing Experience"

Meanwhile in Fukushima Prefecture, the officials are ever more eager to persuade schools in other parts of Japan to send their pupils and students to Fukushima, for educational trips.

The officials hope that school educational trips will result in increase of tourism revenue for the prefecture.

From one of the Fukushima local newspaper Kahoku Shinpo (2/23/2013):

「教育旅行」福島に来れ! 県、呼び戻しへ本腰

Come to Fukushima on "educational trips"! The prefecture to make serious effort to win them back


Fukushima Prefecture will make serious effort to win back the school trips and excursions to Fukushima, which have declined in numbers after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. The prefecture will develop trip plans based on the experience of the nuclear accident and the March 11, 2011 disaster, and sell such trip plans to teachers, parents and children on Fukushima's charm and safety.


Residents from the tsunami-affected areas and (former) evacuees in the nuclear accident evacuation zone will act as "storytellers" to relate their experience to the children. In addition to regular tourist spots, children will get to see the disaster-affected areas where possible. The prefecture will ask multiple travel agencies to propose trip plans.


The prefecture will continue to visit schools in the Tokyo Metropolitan areas and in Kyushu to persuade them to come to Fukushima again. These schools stopped school trips to Fukushima after the nuclear accident. The budget of about 75 million yen [US$814,000] has been included in the fiscal 2013 budget.


The number of students who came to Fukushima on school trips was about 710,000 in the fiscal 2009, and 670,000 in the fiscal 2010. In the fiscal 2011 when the nuclear accident happened, the number collapsed to 130,000. The school trips from Tokyo, which used to be 20% of total school trips to Fukushima, decreased by 83% in the number of school trips and by 91% in the number of students.


There were 38,000 students from [neighboring] Miyagi Prefecture in the fiscal 2010, but the number dropped to 6,100 in the fiscal 2011.


In the current fiscal year of 2012, there are signs of recovery in the Aizu region [mountain third of the prefecture], but fear of radiation among schools and parents is deep-seated.


Fukushima Tourism Section says, "We would like [students and pupils] to see the prefecture whose life is getting back to normal, and we hope that will revive the tourism in Fukushima."

"Normal life" in Fukushima has nothing to do with the existence of radiation, much elevated than in the surrounding prefectures, but in the minds of these officials "normal life" equals "no radiation".

Or "no immediate effect on life and health", as, after all, the vast majority of Fukushima residents have stayed put for one reason or another (blaming the job situation or blaming children for wanting to stay, for example).

To promote the school trips and excursions to Fukushima, the prefecture has set up this website, no doubt paid for generously with taxpayers' money (i.e. national government subsidies). The title of the site says:


Heart-throbbing experience in Fukushima!! We gotta do it! Educational trips to Fukushima Prefecture

Monday, February 25, 2013

OT: Italy Election Pointing to Hung Parliament

Almost all so-called analysts were dead wrong, who predicted an easy, majority win for the center-left coalition of Pier Luigi Bersani. They thought the coalition would then continue the austerity policies of the technocrat administration of Mario Monti.

Instead, Silvio Berlusconi's coalition has a very strong showing, spooking the financial markets somewhat.

From Reuters (2/25/2013; emphasis is mine):

Italy election forecasts point to political gridlock

(Reuters) - Conflicting early forecasts of the result of Italy's election on Monday raised the specter of deadlock in parliament that could paralyze a new government and re-ignite the euro zone crisis.

Officials from both center and left warned that such gridlock could make Italy ungovernable and force new elections.

Opinion polls have long pointed to the center-left of Pier Luigi Bersani winning the lower house, but projections from RAI state television showed Silvio Berlusconi's center right in front in the Senate - which has equal lawmaking power - but unable to form a majority.

RAI showed the center-left well short of a majority in the Senate even in coalition with Monti, who was seen slumping to only 19 out of 315 elected Senators against a massive 65 for the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement of comedian Beppe Grillo.

Senate votes are counted before the lower house.

The latest projections ran counter to earlier telephone polls that showed the center left taking a strong lead in the Senate as well as the lower house.

Italian financial markets took fright after rising earlier on hopes for a stable and strong center-left led government, probably backed by outgoing technocrat premier Mario Monti.

Such government is seen by investors as the best guarantee of measures to combat a deep recession and stagnant growth in the euro zone's third largest economy, which is pivotal to stability in the currency union.

Berlusconi's declared aim is to win enough power in the Senate to paralyze a center-left administration.

(Full article at the link)

A deep recession and stagnant growth in Italy to be cured by austerity programs by unelected technocrats? No thanks, saying enough Italians.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

PM Abe's Speech in Word Cloud - Japan, More, Japanese

Prime Minister Abe's speech in February 22, 2013 at the CSIS in word cloud - Japan More Japanese. Other than those words and a few others, the words are mostly of equal sizes. Probably an indication of flat, unfocused speech.

For comparison, Mr. Seiji Maehara's speech in September 12, 2012 for the Congressional Study Group on Japan of FMCin word cloud - Japan United States Alliance Important Security Cooperation

It almost makes me wish Maehara were the prime minister.

(Updated with Word Cloud of Speech) PM Abe Goes to Washington DC, Declares "I Am Back, So Japan Shall Be", Hardly Anyone Cares in the US

The Japanese media has made a big deal out of Abe's visit, telling us how the prime minister negotiated the shale gas deal and TPP (Transpacific Partnership free trade scheme) and how he gave an English speech at a prestigious institution (Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS).

Not just the media but Japanese citizens in Japan have been making a big deal out of it. Some support him, others criticize him for committing too much in favor of the US.

So I searched if there was any major coverage of the visit in the US mainstream media. After all, with the 20% fall of yen in a short span of time and with accusation of currency manipulation, you would think the visit generated some media interest. North Korea did the nuclear test, China continues its rhetoric over the Senkaku Islands.

Wrong. Of the major papers, all I found was an article in Wall Street Journal on February 22, and it was written by a Japanese reporter.

I went to the CSIS site, and found the video and the transcript of the speech and the Q&A session that followed.

The speech is devoid of substance, meaningless in a literal sense to the English-speaking audience (I can just see through the original Japanese). What's even sadder is that there was only one question from the media. The other questions were from the CEO of CSIS, a college student, and a CSIS staff.

I searched for the video of the press conference after the meeting with President Obama. Well, it was not even a press conference but just an extremely brief chit-chat with the press in the Oval Office with the president and the prime minister sitting on their chairs with legs crossed.

All questions were directed to President Obama, except one. And that only one question was asked by a Japanese reporter in Japanese.

Here's from Abe's speech at the CSIS. He starts off by talking about himself. According to his narrative, his quitting the prime minister's job was to reflect on the future of Japan, not because of his chronic diarrhea:

...I am back and so shall Japan be.

...The time I’ve spent, five long years, since leaving office as prime minister was my time for reflections. First and foremost, I reflected upon where Japan should stand in the future. I didn’t think whether Japan could do this or that. I thought more often what Japan must continue to do.

He also says he looked at the globe. (Huh?)

I also looked at the globe. It tells me that as your long-standing ally and partner, Japan is a country that has benefited from and contributed to peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific for well over half a century. The bedrock for that, needless to say, has been our alliance.

It is high time in this age of Asian resurgence for Japan to bear even more responsibilities to promote our shared rules and values, preserve commons and grow side by side with all the high achievers in the region. No luxury is allowed for Japan to be self-absorbed in its struggle against economic malaise.

My mental globe also told me that Japan must remain a robust partner in fight against terrorism. My resolve is even stronger now after what happened in Algeria, the killing of 10 Japanese and three American engineers.

The world still awaits Japan, I thought, in promoting human rights in the fight against poverty, illness and global warming, and the list goes on. That’s why, ladies and gentlemen, I stood for office again. That’s why I’m resolute to turn around Japanese economy.

"In this age of Asian resurgence"? He said this to the US audience? Oh boy. Hubris is back.

I have no doubt that the original Japanese speech was written by the prime minister himself who is, basically, full of himself.

Quite a contrast to the speech that DPJ's Seiji Maehara gave to the former Congress members back in September 2012. Maehara's speech had substance, and was interesting - so much so that I ended up watching the entire 1 hour video.

Abe's speech, I lasted for about 3 minutes. I couldn't even bother to read the transcript carefully looking for meaning that wasn't there. If you want to torment yourself, here's the link to the video and the transcript.

From my past interactions with the Japanese readers, it seems very difficult for them to accept that Japan doesn't count much outside Japan. With the leader like this, it is little wonder.

Abe's speech in word cloud - Japan more Japanese...:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Knowledge Remains Sketchy in Japan After Nearly 2 Years from the Start of #Fukushima Nuclear Accident

Is Fukushima twice as bad, or four times as bad, as Chernobyl?

I've found two sure-fire ways to lose my Japanese Twitter followers. First is to tweet something critical of the current US president whatever the topic is, and second is to tweet something that doubts the orthodoxy commonly held almost as a sacred truth by people who are extremely afraid of radiation exposure (or so they say, while many continue to live and eat as before).

This one is the latter. And the particular orthodoxy is: "The amount of radioactive materials released by the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident is several times larger than the amount released by the Chernobyl nuclear accident." I've seen tweets saying "four times", and a more modest "twice as much".

From the tweet that was retweeted today by one of people I follow:


Japan will be visited by a far worse disaster [than Chernobyl]. Because the amount of radioactive materials released is twice as much as in Chernobyl, plus Eat and Support campaign, and disaster debris

I was at a loss for a moment as to where this person got this idea, so I googled the part of her tweet about the amount of radioactive materials. Up came a number of links that tried to figure out what this grave-sounding news was about, that radioactive materials released from Fukushima were several times greater than those released from Chernobyl. The date of these links were mostly May 2012. I followed one link, and the linked page mentioned a Yomiuri English article.

Then I suddenly remembered. Of course. Number in iodine equivalence, cesium-137 times 40, to compare in the INES event scale.

It was the English article by Yomiuri Shinbun on May 24, 2012, in which the writer or the editor edited out the word "iodine equivalent", out of carelessness and/or ignorance. As it stands, after the correction, the article does say "iodine equivalence":

TEPCO estimate sees more radiation than NISA's

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has estimated the total amount of radioactive substances discharged from its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant measured 760,000 terabecquerels in iodine equivalence [this was missing in the original version], 1.6 times the estimate released by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency in February.


The amount of radioactive substances discharged in the Chernobyl accident in 1986 was 5.2 million terabecquerels. ...

The version that did not have "iodine equivalence" was then quoted by ENENEWS on May 24, 2012, and RT put out an article the same day with the headline "Cesium-137 contamination: Fukushima amounts to four Chernobyls".

Some Japanese people then translated these two articles and a host of other English articles based on these two back into Japanese, and wrote in blogs, tweets "See, Fukushima is 4 times worse than Chernobyl! English language news says so! TEPCO is lying, the Japanese government is lying!"

Yomiuri English corrected the mistake after I wrote to them a few days after the original article was published, but the damage was done by then. (Unlike Mainichi English, Yomiuri English actually responded to my email and corrected the article.) But many people in Japan, like the person who tweeted above, continue to believe in the "Japanse translation" of the English articles based on a faulty Yomiuri English article based on Yomiuri's Japanese article based on TEPCO's press release.

After nearly two years, this, "Fukushima is 4 times as bad as Chernobyl", remains a basis of people's knowledge of the accident.

(And sure enough, after I tweet about iodine equivalence, my twitter followers decrease.)


Here's what I wrote on May 26, 2012:

and on May 24, 2012, with TEPCO's press release in English:

Yomiuri English incorrectly says Fukushima released 760,000 terabecquerels in iodine equivalence, TEPCO says 900,000 terabecquerels in iodine equivalence. Without converting cesium-137 to iodine equivalent, Fukushima released 10,000 terabequerels of cesium-137, Chernobyl released 85,000 terabecquerels.

Iran to Build 16 New Nuclear Power Plants Over the Next 15 Years

Like I said, if anything, the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident HAS ENCOURAGED developing nations to embark on the construction of new nuclear power plants.

Here's Iran, wanting 16 new plants across the country.

Iran's Bushehr nuclear facility sits on an active fault. But so what, just look at Japan. The entire country is effectively one big active fault and they have 50 nuclear reactors. They used to have 54, and 4 will be decommissioned after 3 of them had core meltdowns. No big deal, isn't it?

From The Times of Israel (2/23/2013; emphasis is mine):

Iran selects 16 new sites for nuclear plants
Locations chosen in part for their resistance to military airstrikes; state TV reports new uranium reserves discovered

TEHRAN — Iran has selected 16 locations for the construction of nuclear power plants as part of a plan to generate 20,000 megawatts of electricity at multiple sites over the next 15 years.

Iranian state TV said Saturday that experts at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran had finished studies to select the best locations across the country. It added that sites were chosen in part for their resistance to earthquakes and military airstrikes.

The Islamic Republic claims it needs 20 large-scale plants to meet its growing electricity needs over the next one-and-a-half decades.

State TV also said on Saturday that Iran had discovered new uranium resources in the country that will put its reserves at 4,400 tons compared to 1,527 tons three decades ago.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator struck a belligerent tone just three days ahead of talks with world powers in Kazakhstan, saying that the Islamic Republic had fulfilled all of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“We will not accept anything beyond our obligations and will not accept anything less than our rights,” Saeed Jalili told nuclear industry officials in Tehran on Saturday. “Iran has fulfilled its NPT obligations as an active and committed member, therefore it should gain all of its rights,” he added in remarks quoted by the Iranian Students’ News Agency.

(Full article at the link)

Here's from Iran's Press TV (2/23/2013; emphasis is mine):

Iran designates 16 nuclear power sites: AEOI

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) announces that the Islamic Republic has designated 16 nuclear power sites.

“Following months of efforts, 16 new sites for nuclear power plants have been designated in coastal areas of the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman, [southwestern province of] Khuzestan and northwestern part of the country,” the AEOI said on Saturday.

It added the projects are in line with Iran’s long-term plans to develop electricity generation via nuclear power plants and in accordance with standard and international regulations.

The organization also said that Iran has discovered more uranium deposits to further improve its position among countries possessing nuclear technology.

Following the new discoveries over the past 1.5 years, the country’s mineral reserves and resources have increased 4.5 times compared to 35 years ago.

Iran says all activities by its nuclear experts are aimed at defending the Iranian nation.

The AEOI homepage says "Nuclear Energy a Symbol of Pride for Nation".

Japan was like that in 1960s, as reactors were being built in Fukushima. Good old days.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Six, Not One, Rad Waste Tanks Are Leaking at Hanford, Washington Governor Says

Governor Jay Inslee had said a week ago that one tank was found leaking (see my 2/16/2013 post).

Now it turns out there are six tanks leaking extremely toxic liquid, but they don't know which six, out of 177 tanks.

From Fox News quoting AP (2/22/2013; emphasis is mine):

6 underground Hanford nuclear tanks leaking, Washington governor says

Six underground tanks that hold a brew of radioactive and toxic waste at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site are leaking, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday.

The leaking tanks strike another blow to federal efforts to clean up south-central Washington's Hanford nuclear reservation, where any successes often are overshadowed by delays, budget overruns and technological challenges.

State officials just last week announced that one of Hanford's 177 underground tanks was leaking in the range of 150 to 300 gallons a year, posing a risk to groundwater and rivers. So far, nearby wells haven't detected higher radioactivity levels.

Inslee traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to discuss the problem with federal officials. He said Friday he learned during meetings that six tanks are leaking waste.

"We received very disturbing news today," the governor said. "I think that we are going to have a course of new action and that will be vigorously pursued in the next several weeks."

Inslee noted there are legal and ethical considerations to cleaning up the Hanford site, both at the state and national level. He also stressed the state would impose a "zero-tolerance" policy on leaking radioactive waste into the soil and insisted that the Department of Energy fully clean up the site.

The tanks already are long past their intended 20-year life span. They hold millions of gallons of a highly radioactive stew left from decades of plutonium production for nuclear weapons.

The leaking tanks were missed because graphs that monitor the waste levels were evaluated only over a short period, rather than a longer period that might have shown the levels changing, Inslee said.

"It's like if you're trying to determine if climate change is happening, only looking at the data for today," he said. "Perhaps human error, the protocol did not call for it. But that's not the most important thing at the moment. The important thing now is to find and address the leakers."

The federal government created Hanford in the 1940s as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. The government spends $2 billion each year on Hanford cleanup -- one-third of its entire budget for nuclear cleanup nationally. The cleanup is expected to last decades.

Central to the effort is the construction of a plant to convert millions of gallons of waste into glasslike logs for safe, secure storage. The $12.3 billion plant is billions of dollars over budget and behind schedule.

Inslee and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber have championed building additional tanks to ensure safe storage of the waste until the plant is completed. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said earlier this week that he shares their concerns about the integrity of the tanks, but that he wants more scientific information to determine it's the correct way to spend scarce money.

Wyden noted the nation's most contaminated nuclear site -- and the challenges associated with ridding it of its toxic legacy -- will be a subject of upcoming hearings and a higher priority in Washington, D.C.

Tanks as they were being installed, (from Wikipedia on Hanford):

These tanks were made of carbon steel, not stainless steel, and surrounded by reinforced concrete. According to a non-profit organization called Hanford Challenge (emphasis is original):

The tanks are leaking due to poor tank integrity – the waste is corroding the carbon steel lining. When the tanks were built during the World War II, a shortage of stainless steel necessitated the use of cheaper, less robust carbon steel – this practice continued long after stainless steel was again available.

Carbon steel corrodes in highly acidic environments like those in Hanford’s tanks, so large amounts of other chemicals were added to neutralize the pH in the tanks, minimizing the corrosion problem but making the waste very difficult to stabilize.

The tanks were built to last 20 years. They were never designed to permanently store high-level radioactive waste. Most of these tanks, 149 of them, are single-shelled and built between 1943 and 1964. These have far exceeded this 20-year projection. It is no surprise that they are failing. The double-shell tanks, 28 of them, are double-shelled, built between 1977 and 1986. The double shell tanks are more robust, but are also made of carbon steel. To date, none of the double-shell tanks have leaked, but a more secure solution is needed to contain this waste and prevent even more waste from leaking into the groundwater.

I'll go find out what kind of containers used in AREVA's decontamination system (which has been shut down for more than a year now), Kurion's cesium absorption system (also shut down), and Toshiba's SARRY (in operation) at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Sediment Sample Collected from Flooded Torus Room of Reactor 1

Uh... They put the sediment sample in a plastic bottle?

According to TEPCO, the plastic bottle is emitting 4 millisieverts/hour radiation with the sediment in it.

From TEPCO's Photos and Videos Library, 2/22/2013:

Workers in full gear collecting samples through the hole on the first floor of the Reactor 1 building, where the air radiation dose ranges from 2 to 10 millisieverts/hour. It took 20 workers 2 hours and 35 minutes to complete the task, for which they received 1.46 millisievert (maximum) of radiation exposure.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Gamma-Ray Camera Image of Reactor 2 Operating Floor

As the new LDP administration under Shinzo Abe is very eager to be done with the Fukushima nuclear accident by urging TEPCO to do the decommissioning work way ahead of schedule (which is not feasible even its current form), TEPCO dutifully follows the government prompting (which is tantamount to an order without saying it is an order).

The effort to do things ahead of schedule, or to catch up on the behind-schedule work, has already resulted in dropping a fuel transfer machine part into the Spent Fuel Pool in Reactor 3 as the workers carried out the work in heavy snow.

Now, TEPCO just did the gamma-ray imaging of the Reactor 2 operating floor. Although the Reactor 2 building looks intact except for the open blowout panel, the radiation levels on the operating floor is just too high for the carbon-based or silicon-based workers. The lowest level is 40 millisieverts/hour, the highest 880 millisieverts/hour right above the reactor well, as mapped by the robot Quince No.2 in June last year.

What TEPCO did therefore was to build a platform on top of the turbine building to the height of the blowout panel, and lifted up the gamma camera onto the platform using a crane.

TEPCO says the analysis will take about a month.

From TEPCO's Photos and Videos Library, 2/22/2013:

According to the handout that accompanies the photo, TEPCO plans to "decontaminate" the floor whose air radiation doses are as high as 880 millisieverts/hour in order to remove fuel assemblies from the Spent Fuel Pool in the "future".

At a much lower air dose level of about 10 millisieverts/hour, Quince No.1 robot has been stranded on the 3rd floor of Reactor 2 since October 2011.

I have no idea how "decontamination" is possible.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hilarity of the Day: Kochi Prefecture to Build Underground Shelter... Against Tsunami...

According to a Kochi resident (and nuclear scientist) whom I follow on Twitter, Kochi has been known to build absolutely worthless systems like some IT system incompatible with any system outside the prefecture that ended up as a costly, outdated LAN not even used inside Kochi Prefecture.

Kochi Prefecture, and particularly Muroto City, where this so-called shelter will be built, is regularly hit hard by typhoons. Kochi Prefecture is located in Shikoku, and is facing the Pacific Ocean.

This is plain idiocy, and therefore it will be generously funded by the national government as the Kochi governor is requesting. Just like so-called decontamination project, just like so-called wide-area disposal of disaster debris.

From Kyodo News (2/14/2013):

崖のシェルターに逃げろ 高知県、津波対策で建設へ

Run to the shelter in the cliff - Kochi Prefecture to construct shelters for tsunami


Kochi Prefecture is expected to be hit with a tsunami from Nankai Trough Quake as high as 34 meters (112 feet). The prefectural government decided on the plan on February 14 build the first tsunami shelter in a cliff on the coast of Muroto City.


The candidate location is in Tsuro District of Sakihama-cho in Muroto City in the eastern Kochi. The houses are buuit close to the ocean, and the cliff is right behind the houses. There is no appropriate place to build a "shelter tower".


The prefectural government will submit 60 million yen (about US$644,000) in the fiscal 2013 budget plan for design and geological survey.


A tunnel with the diameter of 3 meters will be dug into the cliff in the district. The entrance to the tunnel will have double-door that will stop the sea water. In the back, a vertical shaft will be dug, so that the evacuees are able to escape to the mountain top several tens of meters higher.

Here's the visual:

According to the Kochi resident above, there was no vertical shaft in the original plan. He suspects that was added as an excuse after the initial idea was ridiculed. The Kochi government thinks elderly residents (over 40% of this particular district) can climb up a spiral staircase for the height of a 10-story building.

Nikkei Shinbun gushes that this shelter and many others like this along the steep coastline of Kochi Prefecture will each protect 100 residents for 24 hours. The tower is expected to cost 200 million yen (US$2.1 million)

24 hours? One day? Don't they know that a help didn't come to many of the disaster affected areas after March 11, 2011? It took days. In many locations, it never came. Nankai Trough Quake is estimated to be Magnitude 9.1. And they think sheltering residents for 24 hours is enough.

So what are other obvious problems?

  • They think they can close the double door and the tsunami won't come in. Fine. Why do they think it can open again? Tsunami debris anyone?

  • Why do they assume the vertical shaft would remain intact after a mega earthquake like the one they are anticipating? For that matter, why do they assume the cliff will survive the quake and tsunami?

  • Water-tight means air-tight. Any plans for oxygen tanks?


  • Who is going to close the double door, when, no doubt, there are still people trying to get in?

More than anything, the human instinct when a tsunami is coming is to run to the higher ground. That's the only thing that worked in March 11, 2011 tsunami. There were stories of farmers and fishermen in their 80s who ran so fast that they were amazed at themselves. Instead, the Kochi government wants the residents to go underground, to a location practically on the sea level.

It is not just human instinct. When the 2004 Sumatra–Andaman earthquake hit, animals headed uphill. Humans who followed the animals survived the tsunami.

The idiotic governor who came up with this brilliant idea is Mr. Masanao Ozaki, another Tokyo university graduate and former career bureaucrat from the central government, from the Finance Ministry. A 45-year-old punk who won the second term of governorship in November 2011 because there was no other candidate. Well, the above Kochi resident says Kochi people deserve what they will get, for having selected this guy by default.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 1 Torus Room Video Shows a Pile of Sediments on the Floor

Workers lowered the video camera, thermometer, and dosimeter through the hole on the first floor of Reactor 1 building in the 2 to 10 millisieverts/hour environment.

Water is murky, 4.9-meter deep from the torus room floor. TEPCO said in the 2/20/2013 handout (in Japanese; there is no English handout) that visibility was about 60 centimeters.

From TEPCO's Photos and Videos 2/21/2013, with brief explanations of the photos from the Japanese version:

Suppression Chamber wall (OP 3200, in the water):

Torus room floor (OP -800):

Water surface (OP 3700):

Torus room ceiling (OP 7700):

(OP is "Onahama Peil", average sea level used for the plant. The numbers are in millimeters. So, OP 3700 means the level is 3700 millimeters (or 3.7 meters) above the sea level.)

It is stating the obvious, but it nonetheless did not occurred to me until I read the comment from the blog reader Atomfritz - that the Reactor 1's Suppression Chamber is also broken.

TEPCO's video shows (from 35 to 45 seconds in the video) a large pile of sediments on the torus room floor under water:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 1 Torus Room Max Radiation 920 Millisieverts/Hour

(UPDATE) Video and photos in the latest post.


After successfully drilling a hole through the 1st floor of Reactor 1 building and finding no obstruction, TEPCO sent workers to lower the camera, thermometer, and dosimeter through the hole into the torus room in the basement.

The highest radiation dose was right above the water, at 920 millisieverts/hour.

It took 20 workers 2 hours and 25 minutes to do the first day of work, with maximum radiation exposure of 1.78 millisievert. From TEPCO's February 14, 2013 handout (see my post), the air radiation level at the hole on the first floor of the reactor building is 10 millisieverts/hour, and at 1.2 meter above the hole it is 2 millisieverts/hour.

From TEPCO's Handout for the Press, 2/20/2013:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

North Korea Threatens South Korea with "Final Destruction" in the UN Disarmament Conference, US Ambassador Tweets "Offensive"

North Korea has been doing its best to get the attention of the US, and the US just yawns.

The US Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament Laura Kennedy tweeted the threat was "offensive".

From Reuters (2/19/2013; emphasis is mine):

North Korea threatens South with "final destruction"

(Reuters) - North Korea threatened South Korea with "final destruction" during a debate at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday, saying it could take further steps after a nuclear test last week.

"As the saying goes, a new-born puppy knows no fear of a tiger. South Korea's erratic behavior would only herald its final destruction," North Korean diplomat Jon Yong Ryong told the meeting.

Jon's comments drew quick criticism from other nations, including South Korea, France, Germany and Britain, whose ambassador Joanne Adamson said such language was "completely inappropriate" and the discussion with North Korea was heading in the wrong direction.

"It cannot be allowed that we have expressions which refer to the possible destruction of U.N. member states," she said.

Spanish Ambassador Javier Gil Catalina said the comment left him stupefied and appeared to be a breach of international law.

"In the 30 years of my career I've never heard anything like it and it seems to me that we are not speaking about something that is even admissible, we are speaking about a threat of the use of force that is prohibited by Article 2.4 of the United Nations charter," Catalina said.

Since the North tested a nuclear bomb last week in defiance of U.N. resolutions, its southern neighbor has warned it could strike the isolated state if it believed an attack was imminent.

Pyongyang said the aim of the test was to bolster its defenses given the hostility of the United States, which has led a push to impose sanctions on North Korea.

"Our current nuclear test is the primary countermeasure taken by the DPRK in which it exercised its maximum self-restraint," said the North Korean diplomat Jon.

"If the U.S. takes a hostile approach toward the DPRK to the last, rendering the situation complicated, it (North Korea) will be left with no option but to take the second and third stronger steps in succession," he said, without indicating what that might entail.

North Korea has already told key ally China that it is prepared to stage one or two more tests this year to force the United States into diplomatic talks, a source with direct knowledge of the message told Reuters last week.


U.S. Ambassador Laura Kennedy said she found North Korea's threat on Tuesday profoundly disturbing and later tweeted that it was "offensive".

Poland's representative suggested North Korea's participation in the U.N. forum should be limited.

Impoverished and malnourished North Korea is one of the most heavily sanctioned states in the world.

It is still technically at war with South Korea after a 1950-53 civil war ended in a mere truce.

Washington and its allies are believed to be pushing to tighten the noose around North Korea's financial transactions in a bid to starve its leadership of funding.

Jon said last week's test was an act of self-defense against nuclear blackmail by the United States, which wanted to block North Korea's economic development and its fundamental rights.

"It is the disposition and firm will of the army and people of the DPRK to counter high-handed policy with tough-fist policy and to react to pressure and sanctions with an all-out counter-action," he said.

Jon said the United States had conducted most of the nuclear tests and satellite launches in history, and he described its pursuit of U.N. Security Council resolutions against North Korea as "a breach of international law and the height of double standards".

Neither Russia nor China, which are veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, spoke at Tuesday's meeting in Geneva.

Before its nuclear test, North Korea was already facing growing diplomatic pressure at the United Nations.

The U.N. Human Rights Council is widely expected to order an inquiry next month into its leaders' responsibilities for crimes against humanity.

"Foodstuffs from Tohoku Are Just Wonderful", Presidential (France) and Royal (Monaco) Chefs Exclaim

From Jiji Tsushin (2/19/2013)


Foodstuffs from Tohoku are wonderful, head chefs at the Élysée Palace and at the Palace of Monaco say


Bernard Vaussion, Head Chef of the Elysee Palace in France, and Christian Garcia, Chef of the Prince of Monaco, held a press conference at Japan Press Club in Tokyo after having visited the disaster-affected areas in Tohoku. Mr. Garcia said, "Foodstuffs from Tohoku are extremely wonderful. I will do whatever I can do but I would like people in Japan to do their best to support."


Mr. Vaussion visited Aizuwakamatsu City in Fukushima Prefecture from February 14 to 16, while Mr. Garcia visited Kesennuma City in Miyagi Prefecture during the same period. Of people in the disaster-affected areas, Mr. Garcia said, "I was very moved that people were determined to make a fresh start."

The two chefs were invited by Palace Hotel Tokyo as part of Japan's on-going effort to assist the recovery of Tohoku from the March 11, 2011 disaster (yes, the same old, the same old). They served up their dishes at a gala dinner event on February 19 at Palace Hotel Tokyo in Marunouchi, according to the web magazine Openers.

(Christian Garcia, left, Bernard Vaussion, from Openers magazine)

According to the Palace Hotel Tokyo flier, the dinner was 40,000 yen per person (US$428; 321 euro), and the event was organized by NHK Enterprises. The trip to Tohoku was for the chefs to source foodstuffs to use in the gala dinner.

There is no indication in the article that the chefs were made aware of the radiation contamination in Tohoku, particularly in Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate. Whether that would have mattered or not, I do not know.

By the way, the EU has lifted the ban on Japanese beef. Yomiuri article (2/8/2013) says Japan has been demanding the EU lift the ban since 2005. Nice timing, EU.

Monday, February 18, 2013

"Unexpected" (想定外 So-tei-gai) Consequence of Obamacare: Part-timers May Lose Hours, Jobs

Who could have known? (Anyone who actually read the 1,000-plus-page bill could have. I know there are a few people in the US who did read the bill in its entirety...)

From Financial Times (2/18/2013; emphasis is mine):

US business hits out at ‘Obamacare’ costs

By Barney Jopson in New York and Alan Rappeport in Washington

US retailers and restaurants chains that employ millions of low-wage workers are considering cutting working hours or paying fines rather than enrolling employees in health insurance plans under Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare law.

Employers are concerned that the law increases the cost of insuring employees on existing plans, partly by broadening the range of benefits. It also requires companies to insure some employees not previously covered.

David Dillon, chief executive of the Kroger supermarket chain, told the Financial Times that some companies might opt to pay a government-mandated penalty for not providing insurance because it was cheaper than the cost of coverage.

Nigel Travis, head of Dunkin’ Brands, said his doughnut chain was lobbying to change the definition of “full-time” employees eligible for coverage from those working at least 30 hours a week to 40 hours a week.

Some restaurants, including Wendy’s and Taco Bell franchises, have explored slashing worker hours so fewer employees qualify for health insurance, arguing that they cannot afford the additional healthcare costs. Other businesses are deliberately keeping headcounts below 50.

...“If you look through the economics of the penalty the companies pay versus the cost to provide coverage, the penalty’s too low, or the cost of coverage is too high, or the combination is wrong,” he said.

“If [policy makers] get those things too far out of balance, everybody will have to reconsider their position on that point, including us. But we’re going to wait and see how that all develops.”

The penalty for not providing coverage is $2,000 per worker. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan policy group, the average annual cost to employers of insurance is $4,664 for a single worker and $11,429 for a family.

(Full article at the link)

I sense what will happen next. The Obama government will raise the penalty, so the penalty matches or exceeds the coverage requirement. Then, bye bye 30-hour-per-week part time jobs ...

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Another Day, Another Leak (20 Tonnes)

The water was from Reactor 6 turbine building basement - underground water seeping into the turbine building. The contamination level is low, according to TEPCO's handout on February 18, 2013. After desalination treatment, this water is being sprinkled throughout the compound. It's also the same water that Goshi Hosono's sidekick drank, back in October 2011, to prove how safe it was.

From TEPCO's photos and videos page, 2/18/2013:

Date and time: At around 7:36 PM on February 16, 2013
Location: Water intake tank which is a part of the desalination
system installed outside of Units 5-6

A cooperative company worker found water overflowing from
the water intake tank which is a part of the desalination system

installed outside of Units 5-6. Though the leaked water has
absorbed into the ground (gravel), it has not flowed out to the
ocean considering that there is no side ditch, etc. in the
surrounding area. The amount of leaked water is evaluated to
be approx. 19.8m3.

Radioactivity analysis results
Cesium 134: 6.8×10-2Bq/cm3
Cesium 137: 1.3×10-1Bq/cm3
All γ: 2.0×10-1Bq/cm3

A small photo that the workers took of the water intake tower shows tubes and pipes reinforced by what looks like duct tape. The location of the leak is circled in red.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

(OT) Happy Birthday To Me, Happy Birthday To Me

Happy Birthday to Meee-eeeee

Happy Birthday to Meeeeeeeee

(Taking the day off. Maybe.)

For your Sunday amusement, from Bloomberg News (2/17/2013), a joke called G20 says as long as Japan doesn't publicly say it wants a cheaper yen, everything will be fine and dandy. The US and the UK cannot say much anyway, with their central banks printing like there is no tomorrow:

G-20 Signals Support for Japan Stimulus Without Yen Talk

Global finance chiefs signaled Japan has scope to keep stimulating its stagnant economy as long as policy makers cease publicly advocating a sliding yen.

The message was delivered at weekend talks of finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 in Moscow. While they pledged not “to target our exchange rates for competitive purposes,” Japan wasn’t singled out for allowing the yen to drop and won backing for its push to beat deflation.

There was no censure of the Japanese attitude, which was considered a policy to develop its economy and not to intentionally devalue,” Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega told reporters after the meeting. South Korean Finance Minister Bahk Jae-Wan said “comments suggesting specific levels of foreign-exchange rates should be dealt with caution.”

The G-20’s harder line on exchange rates was adopted after the yen’s 7 percent slide against the dollar this year raised concern Japan is starting a currency war, in which countries seek to protect exports through devaluation. The agreement, hashed out at all-night talks beside the Kremlin, now leaves Japan free to try to revive its economy while putting pressure on officials to avoid explicitly targeting a cheaper yen.

That probably means the Japanese currency will continue depreciating in the near term below the 93.50 per dollar it reached at the end of last week, said Jan Dehn, London-based co- head of research at Ashmore Investment Management Ltd., which manages $71 billion.
‘Can Continue’

The G-20 is “saying there isn’t exchange rate manipulation by Japan and everything they’re doing is interpreted to be aimed at getting domestic growth going,” he said Feb. 16 by phone. “The yen can continue to weaken.”

The yen has fallen as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe campaigned for looser monetary policy to revive an economy plagued by 15 years of deflation and three recessions in the past five years. Gross domestic product shrank an annualized 0.4 percent in the last quarter, the Cabinet Office in Tokyo said on Feb. 14.

Since Abe won elections in December, the Bank of Japan has agreed to a 2 percent inflation target and to make open-ended asset purchases from 2014. The prime minister has to announce his nominees for a new central bank governor and deputies by March 9, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko said on public broadcaster NHK yesterday.

(Full farce at the link)

And who will be the most likely candidate for the Bank of Japan governorship? A career bureaucrat from the Finance Ministry. Some central bank independence.