Monday, December 31, 2012

(OT) For the Quiet End of Another Tumultuous Year

Herbert von Karajan, Dirigent
Berliner Philharmoniker

Ludvig van Beethoven
Symphony No.7 Allegretto

Thank you again for your support this year.

(Now They Tell Us) US Nuclear Terrorism Specialists Were Sent to Japan Right After the Start of Fukushima Nuclear Accident to Measure Radiation

A short article by Kyodo News doesn't reveal much details, but it is clear, sort of, that the US was measuring radiation from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident from very early on.

Kyodo News writes as if everybody knew there was a team of US experts measuring radiation around Fukushima I Nuke Plant right after the accident. (Did we?)

Kyodo News (12/31/2012):

米、原発事故に核特殊チーム派遣 初展開、菅政権把握せず

US sent a nuclear special team to Japan, first [overseas] deployment of the team; Kan administration did not know about the deployment


It was revealed on December 31 that a team that the US government sent to Japan in order to measure radiation around Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant right after the start of the nuclear accident was a special team to counter nuclear terrorism. It was the first overseas deployment for this team, but the core officials in the Kan administration weren't aware of the deployment at that time. The actual measurement [as opposed to simulations like SPEEDI] by the team was therefore delayed, and it may have caused "unnecessary radiation exposure" for the residents (Namie Town Assembly chairman).


Multiple sources in the US government and the Japanese counterparts who were involved in the deployment disclosed the news to Kyodo Tsushin.


The team consisted of 33 people in "Damage Control and Response Team" [my translation, probably not the official name] in charge of measuring gamma radiation from the sky and analyzing the situation of contamination.

Could this team be from Nuclear Emergency Support Team? Kyodo article has a photograph provided by the US National Nuclear Security Administration, so it is likely it was this team.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Former NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko Visits Fukushima, Meets Evacuees

I haven't watched the entire program myself, but will do so tomorrow, before NHK finds the video and takes it down.

NHK BS-1 documentary "原発の“安全”を問い直す 米NRC前委員長 福島への旅 (NRC former chairman's trip to Fukushima - to re-examine the safety of nuclear power plants)", first aired on December 22, 2012. The program is in Japanese, but you can hear Jaczko's comments in English, and you can catch the interpreter.

Jaczko visited Japan in August this year, soon after he resigned from the NRC.

原発の“安全”を問い直す ~米NRC前委員長 福島... by tvpickup

While walking in Namie-machi with a former resident in Tyvek suits and mask, Jaczko says,

I see many different people with views about nuclear power. Some people try and say that really because no one was killed from radiation or appears to have received lethal doses of radiation that there's... such hype. But I think it is certainly very difficult to walk around here and see the livelihood that's just no longer there.

The town is frozen at March 11, 2011.

At the end of the program, Jaczko says,

"In the end, everyone has to keep in mind that the safety of the public is the number one responsibility, whether you are a power plant owner, whether you're a worker at the power plant, or a local or state or national government official, everyone has to recognize that safety of the people is the most important issue."

Well, it wasn't, in case of Japan. What came first and foremost was to tell people it was safe, and kept repeating it like a mantra.

Jaczko certainly does not come across as arrogant, bullying chairman that he was accused of being, by his colleagues.

Guess Who Has Made Out Like a Bandit in Japanese Stock Market: Goldman Sachs

The company that never, ever loses any opportunity, being prepared for every contingency. (Well, almost.)

Even when the nuclear reactor buildings in Fukushima started blowing up, Goldman Sachs flew in at least four senior exectives from the US, who told its expats in Tokyo to stay put, or they would not have jobs at Goldman. Probably because there were great trades to make, probably on TEPCO (stock and bonds).

It looks Goldman Sachs started buying even before then-Prime Minister Noda said on November 14 that he would call an election, and ridden the Nikkei all the way, 20% up from the recent bottom.

Goldman Sachs Tokyo says they are bullish on Japan in 2013. (That is likely to mean they are ready to sell what they have to retail investors.)

From Bloomberg News (12/28/2012; emphasis is mine):

Goldman Sachs Buying Japan’s Exporters on Abe Policy Bets

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) is buying shares of Japanese exporters and banks as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s new government promises to do more to end deflation and weaken the yen.

The investment bank’s asset management unit in Japan is buying shares of the nation’s machinery and electronics exporters, financial firms and electricity producers, according to Hiroyuki Ito, Tokyo-based head of equity investment at Goldman Sachs Asset Management Co., which oversees about $716 billion globally. Goldman Sachs started increasing its holdings in October in anticipation that elections would be called, he said. The Liberal Democratic Party took power in a Dec. 16 poll.

...“Japan finally has a catalyst for the stock market to rise,” Ito said in a Dec. 26 interview. “The new government have an understanding of the impending danger and a sense of urgency about boosting the Japanese economy. We’re finally going to see an end to Japan’s deflation and a strong yen.”

Ito declined to discuss individual stocks.

The Goldman Sachs Japan Equity Fund Auto Reinvest Ushiwakamaru fund, managed by Ito and one of firm’s biggest Japan-based equity funds, has returned 11 percent in the past month, beating 86 percent of its peers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The fund’s biggest holdings are banks, carmakers, wholesalers and trading companies, the data show.

...“We’re bullish on Japanese stocks next year and the basis for that is the currency,” said Ito. “The yen’s strength has really hurt Japanese industry, but that trend has ended. The government has made its message very clear: they will be rigorous in boosting the economy.”

...Ito is also positive on Japan’s financial sector. Shares of banks and brokerages have surged in the past month on optimism reflation will boost the value of assets, increase loan demand and appetite for risk as people become more confident.

(Full article at the link)

Problem is that what Ito describes - BOJ reflates under Abe's command, assets value rises, people become more confident and want to take on more debt and more risk - hasn't happened in the US. 4 years after the financial collapse in 2008, people are still busy deleveraging, and banks are busy bidding up the stock market instead of making loans. Maybe Japan is unique and different, and may react to the money printing differently. (Never mind that it didn't react in the 1990s and most of the first decade of the 21st century.)

In contrast, Morgan Stanley Asia's chairman and chief economist Stephen Roach calls the so-called "Abenomics" delusional (emphasis is mine):

...Unfortunately, it appears that Japan has forgotten many of its own lessons – especially the BOJ’s disappointing experience with zero interest rates and QE in the early 2000’s. But it has also lost sight of the 1990’s – the first of its so-called lost decades – when the authorities did all they could to prolong the life of insolvent banks and many nonfinancial corporations. Zombie-like companies were kept on artificial life-support in the false hope that time alone would revive them. It was not until late in the decade, when the banking sector was reorganized and corporate restructuring was encouraged, that Japan made progress on the long, arduous road of balance-sheet repair and structural transformation.

US authorities have succumbed to the same Japanese-like temptations. From quantitative easing to record-high federal budget deficits to unprecedented bailouts, they have done everything in their power to mask the pain of balance-sheet repair and structural adjustment. As a result, America has created its own generation of zombies – in this case, zombie consumers.

Like Japan, America’s post-bubble healing has been limited – even in the face of the Fed’s outsize liquidity injections. Household debt stood at 112% of income in the third quarter of 2012 – down from record highs in 2006, but still nearly 40 percentage points above the 75% norm of the last three decades of the twentieth century. Similarly, the personal-saving rate, at just 3.5% in the four months ending in November 2012, was less than half the 7.9% average of 1970-99.

The same is true of Europe. The ECB’s über-aggressive actions have achieved little in the way of bringing about long-awaited structural transformation in the region. Crisis-torn peripheral European economies still suffer from unsustainable debt loads and serious productivity and competitiveness problems. And a fragmented European banking system remains one of the weakest links in the regional daisy chain.

Is this the “cure” that Abe really wants for Japan? The last thing that the Japanese economy needs at this point is backsliding on structural reforms. Yet, by forcing the BOJ to follow in the misdirected footsteps of the Fed and the ECB, that is precisely the risk that Abe and Japan are facing.

Massive liquidity injections carried out by the world’s major central banks – the Fed, the ECB, and the BOJ – are neither achieving traction in their respective real economies, nor facilitating balance-sheet repair and structural change. That leaves a huge sum of excess liquidity sloshing around in global asset markets. Where it goes, the next crisis is inevitably doomed to follow.

Let's see, strictly on past performance, I would bet with Goldman Sachs over Morgan Stanley, even though I agree with Mr. Roach.

My guess is that most Japanese would understand Goldman Sachs' view (or want to understand), and would not have a clue what Morgan Stanley's Roach is talking about (or do not want to know).

Saturday, December 29, 2012

OT: Lights Out for Paris, France

If you venture out in Paris between 1AM and 7AM, bring your torch (flashlight), says UK's Daily Mail.

As France's top court rules his 75% tax rate for the "rich" is unconstitutional, President Hollande goes on, trying to instill "sobriety" in the French by turning off lights in Paris and other cities, towns and villages all over the country.

And save money.

How about saving money by cutting your bureaucracy, Mr. President?

Instead, he will punish people - tradesmen, tourists, locals.

At least in France, rich people are defined as "having 1 million euro income or more", not like the US's 250,000 dollars or worse, Greece's 45,000 euro.

From Mail Online (12/29/2012; emphasis is mine):

Lights to be turned off in France to save money and show 'sobriety'

Paris may lose its trademark glow next year after plans emerged to extinguish its street lighting at night to save money.

French President Francois Hollande and his energy minister Delphine Batho are considering turning out the lights in and outside public buildings, offices and shops in the early hours of the morning.

If the scheme goes ahead, late-night revellers in the city would be advised to carry torches if they venture out between the hours of 1 and 7am.

The rules will also apply to other French cities, villages, and towns.

Batho said the measure would save energy and money, and show 'sobriety', although the plan has proved unpopular with traders.

It follows on from a new rule last July which states businesses must turn off neon lights between 1 and 6am. The measure was introduced as part of the French government's bid to improve its energy efficiency by 20 percent by 2020.

But the proposal was not popular with businesses, who believe that it could kill trade and discourage tourists.

'Visitors and locals follow the light, from one spot to another, all night long,' French chef and culinary consultant Didier Quemener told Quartz.

'My clients don’t want to be in the dark in the City of Light.'

France was visited by more than 81 million tourists in 2011 and the tourism industry employs some 900,000 people, according to government figures cited by

Fearing for the impact on the economy, vice-president of France’s Commerce Council, Sofy Mulle, told Bloomberg there must be a better way.

She said: 'Surely we can work out environmentally friendly solutions that have less impact on our society and economy.'

The plan is already in place at the city’s more than 300 churches, bridges, and monuments, including the Eiffel Tower.

'One of our main objectives is to change the culture,' energy minister Batho told a French TV station.

'We need to end the cycle of producing more because we are consuming more. There should be sobriety in energy use.'

The energy minister Delphine Batho's word sounds ominous to me. To change the culture, to what she and her boss think should be. There should be sobriety, forced by them.

Well, they won the election, so they must be thinking, like the US president and the Japanese prime minister, that they have the mandate.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Lawsuit by US Sailors Against TEPCO: "Goshi Hosono,You Lied!"

It's very interesting to see the reaction of the Japanese people on Twitter. I'd say the overwhelming majority is highly approving of the US sailors (they were not the helicopter pilots who were actually contaminated with radiation), buying all their arguments and sympathizing with them, particularly with the female sailor who was pregnant at that time.

(What was she doing on a nuclear aircraft carrier, pregnant?)

Anyway, the court paper filed on December 21, 2012 is here, for those who are interested. I'm skimming through it right now. So far, very flimsy.

One of their basis that the TEPCO/Japanese government (they use them interchangeably) lied to them was no other than Goshi Hosono, then a personal advisor to Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

Page 21 of the court document says (emphasis is mine):

94. Upon information and belief, as a further direct and proximate result of Defendant's negligence, Plaintiffs have been and will be required to undergo further medical testing, evaluation and medical procedures, including but not limiting to chelation therapy and bone marrow transplants in an effort to seek cure, and will be required to employ extraordinary means to achieve cure.

95. As a further direct and proximate result of Defendant's negligence, the Plantiffs incurred losses and damages for personal injury and property damage, loss of use and enjoyment of life and their property, the need for periodic medical examination and treatment, and economic losses, including wage loss, and the expenditure of time and money, and will continue to incur losses and damages in the future.

96. Plaintiffs also face additional and irreparable harm to their life expectancy, which has been shortened and cannot be restored to its prior condition.

97. Solely as the result of the defendant's negligence, carelessness and recklessness, the Plaintiffs, were caused to suffer severe and serious personal injuries to mind and body, and further, that the Plaintiffs were subjected to great physical pain and mental anguish.

Mr. Paul C Garner, who represents the Plaintiffs, seems to be an attorney from New York, specializing in "General Litigation; Corporate Law; Negligence Law; Medical Malpractice; Wills, Estates and Trusts; International Corporate; Entertainment Law; Business Law; Civil Practice; Environmental Law; Asbestos Litigation; Real Estate" (from

USS Ronald Reagan's Facebook post on that day (Sunday, March 13, 2011 at 11:52pm, probably the US time) by Commanding Officer Captain Thom Burke says (emphasis is mine):

Friends and Family of USS Ronald Reagan:

I want to take this opportunity to personally assure you that first and foremost all personnel aboard the USS Ronald Reagan are safe and healthy.

During our mission to assist our close allies of Japan, we were operating near the radioactive plume from Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant. As you may have already heard, radioactivity was detected on 17 personnel from our ship, however, we promptly took the proper precautions and the radioactivity was easily removed by using soap and water. The levels that were detected were very low levels. To put this into perspective, the maximum radiation dose received was equalt to the amount of natural background radiation one would receive in one month from sources such as rocks, soil and the sun.

Ronald Reagan has since repositioned away from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

As a nuclear-powered aircraft carrrier, we have extensive technical expertise onboard to properly monitor such types of risks, and if necessary, rapidly resolve the situation.

We have taken all the necessary precautions to ensure that everyone is safe. We have closely monitored spaces, evaluated everyone who has flown or worked on the flight deck and cleaned the aircraft.

I have not seen any levels of radiation or contamination that would cause me to have any significant concerns at all.

As we continue to assist Japan in this terrible catastrophe, our Sailor's--and your loves ones'-- safety will remain at the top of my priority list.

Capt. Thom Burke

The Japanese would take this as confirmation to their belief that all officials "lie".

All I can think of is how many bento would this money could buy for Futaba-machi evacuees in that abandoned high school building in Saitama. They could build a mansion for each and every one of them. Many of them, just like Mayor Idogawa, were there in Futaba-machi when Reactor 1 blew up and shiny, white particles were falling on them from the sky.

(H/T anon reader for USS Ronald Reagan's Facebook post)

Japan's Nuclear Regulatory Authority Experts Conducting 2nd Field Survey at Ooi Nuke Plant

The geologists headed by Dr. Kunihiko Shimazaki of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority are doing the second field survey in the only operating nuclear power plant in Japan, Ooi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture. They did the first survey last month, but there was an opinion expressed by one of the geologists that the fault may have been caused by a slide, and not an active fault. So they are conducting the second, expanded survey. The size of the trench is 80 meters long, double that of the first survey. (Information from ANN News)

Video from ANN News (12/27/2012):

The NRA has so far declared the faults in Tsuruga Nuke Plant and Higashidori Nuke Plant as "active". Geologists and NRA are almost laughing at Tohoku Electric's claim that what Higashidori Nuke Plant has is not an "active fault" but simply a swelling. They said if Tohoku Electric were correct, there would be an upheaval all around the world, because it would be news to all geologists.

If I remember right, the majority of the experts had declared the fault in Ooi Nuke Plant as "active" after the first survey. Dr. Shimazaki, deputy chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority has said they will need to look at the geological structure under the reactor buildings at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant. Dr. Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of NRA, is quite nonplussed about criticisms from the industry, saying he is simply evaluating, based on science, and giving full freedom to the experts to express their candid assessment.

Who could have known that this organization would be actually doing its work.

The experts are about to start a press conference on site.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

BBC: TEPCO Sued by Eight US Soldiers Over Radiation Disclosure

The soldiers were part of the Operation Tomodachi, which was such a tremendous help to the people in the disaster-affected areas in Tohoku in the early days of the earthquake/tsunami disaster in March last year. Unfortunately, the disaster also involved the nuclear accident, but at that time hardly anything about radiation exposure for the US soldiers, or SDF soldiers, or Japanese and international volunteers, were even mentioned in the news.

Asahi Shinbun reports that these soldiers were on board USS Ronald Reagan.

See, people in Japan, this is how much you should also sue TEPCO for - demanding US$10 million each (860 million yen), plus punitive damage of US$30 million. Add one or two zeros on your claim form.

The problem of course is that that money, or any money being demanded out of TEPCO, will eventually come from Japanese taxpayers' pockets, now and in the future. TEPCO is owned by the national government.

USS Ronald Reagan was in the Korean Peninsula region when the March 11, 2011 disaster struck. The carrier was diverted to Japan, and was used as a floating base off the coast of Sendai, Miyagi. From Wiki entry:

The ship departed for an Asian deployment on 2 February 2011. On 11 March 2011, Reagan was in the Korean peninsula region for a long-planned exercise off Korea, but was redirected towards Japan to provide support after the massive 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. The ship, stationed off Sendai, was used as a floating refueling station for Japanese military and coast guard helicopters flying relief missions in the area.[28] US Navy helicopters also flew relief missions from the carrier. On 14 March 2011, the ship was forced to relocate to avoid a radioactive plume from the Fukushima I nuclear accidents which had contaminated 17 crewmembers of three helicopter crews.[29][dead link] On 23 March, the Reagan's crew conducted a radiation decontamination operation to remove any further radiation hazards from the ship, which included scrubbing down any surface that could have been contaminated, including the flight deck and aircraft.[30]

The report on March 14, 2011 about the ship relocating is here. It says the 17 helicopter crews were exposed to one month worth of background radiation, and they were on a relief mission to Sendai, Miyagi.

From BBC (12/27/2012; emphasis is mine):

Japan's Tepco sued by US sailors over radiation

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), owner of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, has been sued by eight US sailors over radiation exposure.

They claim that Tepco lied about the threat posed by the leaks after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami damaged the plant.

The soldiers were involved in relief operations after the natural disasters.

They have each sought $10m (£6m) in compensatory damages and $30m in punitive damages from Tepco.

The soldiers, who have filed the case in a US Federal Court in San Diego, also want Tepco to set up a $100m fund to pay for their medical expenses.

They have claimed that the utility provider created an impression that the level of radiation leaks from the nuclear plant did not pose any threat.

As a result, the sailors say they went to areas that were unsafe and were exposed to radiation.

When contacted by the BBC, Tepco acknowledged that it has been sued, but said that it had not received the actual complaint and so was not in a position to comment.

The lawsuit is the latest setback for Tepco which is already facing billions of dollars in compensation claims.

The radiation leaks resulted in thousands of people and businesses being evacuated from the areas surrounding the plant.

On Thursday, the firm said that it now expects the compensation costs to total at 3.24 trillion yen ($38bn; £23bn), up 697 billion yen from its earlier projection.

The firm has already received nearly 1tn yen in government aid.

The utility was, in effect, nationalised after the government took a 50.11% stake in the group in exchange for the capital injection.

In September this year, the US Department of Defense set up a special registry for the participants of the Operation Tomodachi.

Bloomberg News: Toshiba in Talks to Sell as Much as 16% of Westinghouse

From Bloomberg News (12/26/2012; emphasis is mine):

Toshiba Corp. is in talks to sell a stake of as much as 16 percent in its Westinghouse Electric Co. nuclear-power unit, the Japanese company said.

The company is in talks with three parties over the possible sale, Toru Ohara, a spokesman for Tokyo-based Toshiba, said by phone today, confirming comments by President Norio Sasaki, reported earlier by MarketWatch.

The Japanese company said in October it had “received interest” from potential partners about acquiring a stake and was open to talks on the condition that Toshiba retains majority control. Toshiba is set to acquire 20 percent of Westinghouse from Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Shaw Group Inc. (SHAW) next month for 125 billion yen ($1.5 billion), bringing its total stake to 87 percent.

Toshiba paid $4.16 billion for 77 percent of Westinghouse in 2006. It nows owns 67 percent after Kazatomprom, Kazakhstan’s state nuclear company, purchased 10 percent in 2007.

Toshiba rose 3.2 percent to 321 yen at the close of trading in Tokyo, while Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 0.9 percent. The stock has advanced 1.9 percent this year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Japan Future Party Leader Kada Says She Will Split the Party by Year's End

(UPDATE) Jiji Tsushin reports (12/27/2012) that it's been decided by the deputy leader of the party Tetsunari Iida and Mr. Ichiro Ozawa that Mr. Ozawa's followers in the party, 15 of them including the Upper House councilors, will leave the party. Ms. Kada will have one Upper House councilor (she left Social Democratic Party to join Ms. Kada's party), but according to Jiji, Ms. Kada says her group will retain the name of the party and the party logo. Which means her party with only one elected official will receive all the government subsidy money for political parties, and Mr. Ozawa's new party, when he or his followers formally announces the formation, will have none. Good deal for Ms. Kada. What a joke.


So much for her pre-election talk of her being capable of "taming and controlling Mr. Ichiro Ozawa".

Faced with the opposition to her dictatorial ways of running the party ("No dissent allowed", said Ms. Kada), the leader of the "graduating from nuclear" party now says she will split the party by the year end, so that she and her small and mostly unelected party leaders will have their own way (while probably keeping the political party subsidy from the national government - taxpayers' money), and Mr. Ozawa's followers their own way by forming a new party (thus losing the subsidy even though they are the vast majority in the party).

After having no action, no comment from her after the disastrous election on December 16 when only 9 candidates managed to hold their seats while all of her own candidates lost, the first official political act by Ms. Yukiko Kada, the leader of the party that anti-nuclear Japanese citizens had pegged so much hope on, is to split the party.

Again, as with many instances since the election, she spoke to the press, without bothering to speak first to her party members, whom she apparently considered to be plotting a coup d'etat against her for daring to oppose her unilateral decision on party appointments.

The run-up to the meeting, and what transpired after the meeting, suggest that seasoned politicians with influence like Mr. Shizuka Kamei and Mr. Ichiro Ozawa made a grievous mistake joining her. So much so that Mr. Kamei has already decided to leave the party.

By the way, on December 26, the Shiga prefectural assembly passed the non-binding resolution demanding her to choose between the governorship and the party leadership. Ms. Kada's answer is that she will continue to hold both positions, as the resolution is non-binding. There was a talk of a binding resolution (no confidence), but the parties in the assembly decided to tone it down for some reason.

There are some who say Mr. Ozawa has lost his touch for having chosen her. I have been wondering why he, and for that matter Ms. Kada, decided to form a political party whose only distinct platform is "graduating from nuclear". (The rest of their so-called policies look no different from those of DPJ or LDP.) My feeling is that they were blinded by the supposedly overwhelming support for their position on the Internet. They themselves don't look to be particularly Internet-savvy but their lieutenants most likely are.

As usual (since March 11, 2011), there are die-hard online fans of the party, accusing anyone who dare criticize their dear leader (in this case Ms. Kada) who has promised she will take them to the post-nuclear Japan in 10 years.

"Fool me n-th time, shame on you", they would say to infinity.

(Links are in Japanese.)

#Radioactive Japan: Futaba-machi Mayor Idogawa Fights No Confidence Vote, Dissolves Town Assembly and Calls for an Election

I reported about the mayor and his town assemblymen who unanimously passed the no-confidence resolution against Mayor Idogawa on December 20.

Mayor Idogawa has decided to fight for his townfolks, some of whom are still living in an abandoned high school building in Saitama Prefecture, 21 months after the start of the accident. They have to pay for their own boxed meals, and over the New Year's holidays the bento vendor will be closed for business.

From Nippon Television News (12/26/2012):


Futaba-machi, whose municipal government has been temporarily moved to Kazo City, Saitama Prefecture following the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, has dissolved the town assembly at the order of Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa.


The no-confidence resolution against Mayor idogawa was submitted during the regular assembly meeting on December 20. The resolution was unanimously passed. The mayor will lose his position in 10 days after the vote, unless he dissolves the assembly. On December 26, Mayor Idogawa held a press conference, and announced that he has dissolved the assemly.


Mayor Idogawa said, "I have dissolved the assembly. I have been weighing things as best I can, and this is a gut-wrenching decision. It would have been a peaceful town if it hadn't been the nuclear accident. I am very disappointed."


The town election is to be held within 40 days.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

#Radioactive Japan Under LDP: Shintaro Ishihara's Son to Become Minister of the Environment and Minister for Nuclear Plants

What an in-your-face insult to citizens of Japan, particularly for people in Kanto and Tohoku contaminated by radioactive materials from the nuclear accident, and even more so for the workers at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

Nobuteru Ishihara is the eldest son of the irascible ex-Governor of Tokyo Shintaro Ishihara, for now teaming up with the boy-wonder of Osaka City. (He didn't inherit his uncle (Yujiro Ishihara)'s good looks or charisma, unfortunately.)

In the early days of the nuclear crisis last year, Mr. Nobuteru Ishihara was the one who said that citizens should be banned from measuring radioactivity using their personal survey meter. His ostensible reason was that the survey meters may not be "accurate". It turned out the government's monitoring stations have been inaccurate.

In June last year, he was the one who called the anti-nuclear movement as "mass hysteria".

He was also the one who compared Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant to Aum Shinrikyo, a cult that was responsible for the sarin gas attack on the subway in 1995. Ishihara referred to Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant as "Fukushima I Satyam". "Satyam" is the word that Aum Shinrikyo followers used to designate their facilities.

(Aum Shinrikyo is alive and well, by the way. The name has been changed, and they are increasing followers in Japan.)

Under the prime minister whose proof of being fit to govern was to gobble up the curry rice with pork cutlet on top, Ishihara will be in charge of decontamination (or lack thereof) and ending the nuclear accident (probably by ignoring it). Needless to say, he is all for restarting nuclear power plants.

It won't be long that people start thinking fondly about Goshi Hosono and his disaster debris craft dolls. (At least Hosono is better-looking.)

I wonder if Ishihara is going to receive double salaries for the double positions. A minister in a Japanese cabinet makes about 37 million yen (about US$434,000) a year. For many workers in Japan, that would be 10 years worth of salaries.

Even Goshi Hosono declined to receive two salaries for his double duty as Minister of the Environment and the Minister in charge of nuclear plants/Fukushima accident.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

It is the second Christmas since my blog was overtaken by the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.

Taking the opportunity, I just want to thank you for your continued readership.

Contrary to occasional comments, this is blog is not supported by TEPCO or the Japanese government. It is financially somehow supported by my meager work, and it is morally supported by readers who care enough, after 21 months, to come here, read, and comment. Thank you.

Contrary to what the algo-infested US stock market may indicate, the real economy around the world is not doing too great, thanks to incessant printing by the US, European, and Japanese central banks. Despite that, there are these readers from different parts of the world who have found it in them to donate, in addition. Thank you.

Concerto Grosso in G-minor Opus 6 No.8, "Christmas Concerto", by Arcangelo Corelli, Allegro and Largo, played attacca (from 8:19), for no other reason than that I played this for the Christmas chamber music concert earlier this month, and love the music.

Merry Christmas.

Obama FDA Declares GM Salmon as "Safe as Food"

Now that the presidential election is over, say the supporters of this salmon.

I suppose. Huge multinational ag companies and food companies were busy doing the smear campaign to successfully defeat California's GMO labeling proposition.

The AquAdvantage salmon by AquaBounty Technologies contains genes from two different fish so that the growth hormone is produced all year round, instead of just during warm weather.

From New York Times (12/21/2012):

Engineered Fish Moves a Step Closer to Approval

by Andrew Pollack

Government regulators moved a big step closer on Friday to allowing the first genetically engineered animal — a fast-growing salmon — to enter the nation’s food supply.

The Food and Drug Administration said it had concluded that the salmon would have “no significant impact” on the environment. The agency also said the salmon was “as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon.” While the agency’s draft environmental assessment will be open to public comment for 60 days, it seems likely that the salmon will be approved, though that could still be months away.

The environmental assessment is dated May 4. It is unclear why it took until now for it to be released, but supporters of the salmon say they believe it is because the Obama administration was afraid of an unfavorable consumer reaction before the election in November.

Environmental and consumer groups quickly criticized the federal agency’s conclusions.

“The G.E. salmon has no socially redeeming value,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, a Washington advocacy group opposed to farm biotechnology, said in a statement. “It’s bad for the consumer, bad for the salmon industry and bad for the environment. F.D.A.’s decision is premature and misguided.”

But the decision was long in coming. AquaBounty Technologies, the company that developed the salmon, has been trying to win approval for more than a decade.

“We’re encouraged by this,” Ronald Stotish, the chief executive of AquaBounty, said on Friday. However, he added, “We’re not so foolish as to be wildly enthusiastic” that Friday’s action will definitely lead to approval. Among other things, some members of Congress have tried to block the agency from approving the fish.

The AquAdvantage salmon, as it is called, is an Atlantic salmon that contains a growth hormone gene from the Chinook salmon and a genetic switch from the ocean pout, an eel-like creature. The switch keeps the gene on so that the salmon produces growth hormone year round, rather than only during warm weather. The fish reach market weight in about 18 months instead of three years.

(Full article at the link)

AquaBounty Technologies is based in Maynard, Massachusetts. The company is listed on London Stock Exchange (FTSE), whose share price skyrocketed on the news, almost tripled from the recent low.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Sanjo City's Detection of Plutonium in the Iwate Debris and Soil Causing Excitement on Twitter

I saw several tweets (like these) today that has links to articles, posts about detection of strontium and plutonium in the fly ashes before and during the test burning of the disaster debris from Iwate Prefecture in Sanjo City, Niigata Prefecture. The city also disclosed the strontium and plutonium measurement of wood chips and soil samples from Iwate. There are even those retweeting an English article based on the Sanjo City test result, as if that gives some legitimacy to the fact that plutonium has been found.

Yes indeed, strontium and plutonium (Pu239+240) have been found. What these articles and tweets do not mention is that the levels are well within the background; they are actually much lower than the background measured in the past.

21 months after the nuclear accident, there are still enough people who see these articles and posts and freak out, "Look, there is plutonium detected! See how bad the Fukushima accident has really been! They've been lying to us!"

I know I'm totally wasting my breath here, as people believe what they want to believe anyway. But first, the PDF file from Sanjo City:

Plutonium 239+240 in wood chips from Otsuchi, Iwate, 0.0019 Bq/kg.
Plutonium 239+240 in soil samples from Otsushi, Iwate, max 0.13 Bq/kg.

Here are tables created from the Japan Chemical Analysis Center database.

Plutonium 239+240 in soil in Iwate Prefecture, from 1999 to 2010: Highest in 2004 at 2.6 Bq/kg. 0.27 and 1.6Bq/kg in 2010.

Plutonium 239+240 in soil in Niigata Prefecture, from 1999 to 2010: Highest in 1999 at 0.45 Bq/kg. 0.15 and 0.22 Bq/kg in 2010.

Strontium 90 in soil in Iwate Prefecture, from 1987 to 2011 (grassland picked for comparison, as Pu measurement is mostly on grassland): Highest in 1987 at 20.35 Bq/kg, 6.5 and 7 Bq/kg in 2011.

Strontium 90 in soil in Niigata Prefecture, from 1963 to 2011, intermittent (grassland): Highest in 1964 at 49.284 Bq/kg. 0.46 and 0.58 Bq/kg in 2011.

If the fly ashes only measured 0.016 Bq/kg of plutonium 239+240, that's actually low, considering the incineration condenses the per-kilo radioactivity by 100 to 300 folds.

Someone else in Japan recently fabricated the story that Hawaiians are suing the Japanese government and TEPCO because uranium of Fukushima origin has been detected from the urine. That spread very quickly on Twitter among people who do not/can not read English. I found out that the original English article was about depleted uranium in the army base. This someone is one of the few in Japan who clearly get a kick out of spreading false information.

For people who do not read or understand English well, these pieces of information accumulate like scums clogging the sewer, with no means to clear it.

For people who are not that curious to ask questions like "What was the background before the Fukushima nuke accident?", I don't know what to do.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Arrest Over Disaster Debris Disposal Protest in Osaka Was Made by Security Police

It is as if the act of protesting against burning the disaster debris from Iwate in Osaka City were an act of terrorism.

Security Police is the direct descendant of the Special Political Police - a secret police - that had existed until it was finally disbanded by the General Headquarters (GHQ, US occupation force) in 1945.

Something does not add up. Masaki Shimoji, associate professor (public finance) at Hannan University in Osaka who was arrested by this police on December 9 for his October "offense" of disturbing the operation of JR Osaka station, has been detained in jail since his arrest. The first judge denied the prosecutor's request for detention, then the judge was swiftly replaced and the second judge granted the request.

His supposed offense of disturbing the JR Osaka station's operation was to cross the hallway from one exit to another.

Some said the offense was this protest that took place outside one of JR Osaka's exits. (Threatening, isn't it?) But then others quickly pointed out that the place where he and his small group were standing is a public sidewalk, not the JR Osaka station's property.

(Photo from Kingo999 blog, 12/9/2012)

On December 22, Professor Shimoji's colleagues and other university researchers including Constitutional scholars held a press conference, and protested the unfair detention of Shimoji and other activists and demanded the immediate release. In that press conference, it was revealed by one of the professors at Hannai University where Shimoji teaches that the police who arrested him was from the Security Police, and the university officials were complicit and fully cooperative, even without asking to see the search warrant. From this togetter, by someone (a nuclear physicist) watching the press conference video:

流通学部の島教授: 逮捕の事は9日夜知った。下地君とは頻繁に会う間柄ではなかったが10日朝、奥さんと朴さんが説明に行きたいという事だったので取り次いだ。経済学部長、学長、副学長に案内した。

Professor Shima, Faculty of Business [at Hannan University]: I learned about the arrest at night on December 9. I wasn't that close with Shimoji, but his wife and Mr. Park [fellow professor at Hannan] wanted to explain the situation to the school administrators in the morning of December 10, so I introduced them to the head of the Faculty of Economics, University President and Vice President.


It was then just a hunch, but I felt they had known [about the arrest]. They weren't surprised, and received the information quite calmly.


On Wednesday December 19, I asked to meet with the president and vice president, with two others from the support group [for Shimoji]. We asked them about the response group [that I heard the university had set up, regarding the arrest]. They said, "On December 6, two detectives from the Security Police Section 3, and a detective from Matsubara Police Station came, and notified us that the arrest would be made on December 8, and his office would be searched on December 10." The one in charge was an organization related to Matsubara Police.


Then, that information was relayed to the university president at 5PM, and the crisis response management group was set up, they said as a matter of fact. We were tremendously shocked. We don't know why the police had forewarned the university, but the university received a call from them that the arrest would be made on 9th instead. They said "OK".


[When the police came to the university to search Shimoji's office,] they didn't even read the search warrant. The university officials didn't ask for one, didn't even see one. Since it is the year-end, we will press the university in the beginning of January. On the university's website, the message is that of a neutral third party but in reality they are not. Aside from the issue of Shimoji, I am deeply disappointed that the self-governance of the university has deteriorated this much.

Nonetheless, some influential persons on Twitter say it's all Professor Shimoji's fault for "breaking the law". When asked "what law?", they say "Everyone breaks law here and there, to a varying degree, everyday."

This tweet is from Professor Yukio Hayakawa, who has no problem spreading and burning the disaster debris from Tohoku, as long as fear of radioactivity is the reason for opposition:


I wonder if making speeches on the street corners should be protected as freedom of speech and expression. I wonder if the citizens should be allowed to freely choose how to express their opinions. I wonder if the freedom to insist on a particular way of expressing an opinion when there are a variety of other ways should be allowed for the citizens.

I asked the professor, "Then who should decide what type of expression is allowed for the citizens? Government? Police?"

His answer was, "Obey the law."

So, as long as one obeys the law, there's nothing to fear. A recent US court case where the judge threw out the prosecution's case because the law was unjust would totally befuddle the professor.

George Orwell must have based his novels on 2012 post-Fukushima Japan.

(Information gathered from these togetters with links to videos, news articles:,,

Emperor to Minister of Reconstruction on Disaster Debris Disposal: "It Must Be Difficult with Asbestos..."

(CORRECTION: His Majesty's word on asbestos was to the Minister of Reconstruction, not to the Chief Cabinet Secretary, as was in the original title.)

The emperor of Japan continues to be one of very few people in public positions to express genuine concern over the March 11, 2011 disaster and its aftermath. At the one-year anniversary ceremony on March 11, 2012, the emperor spoke about the radiation contamination in Fukushima in a clear, straightforward, and compassionate manner:

"Further, this disaster [earthquake and tsunami] triggered a nuclear power plant accident. People had to evacuate from areas made dangerous by the nuclear accident, where they had lived and worked for many years. In order for them to go back and live safely there, we have a difficult problem of radiation contamination to overcome."

Sankei Shinbun, which has always covered the imperial family in a positive light, has this bit (last paragraph) from the recent luncheon at the imperial palace (12/22/2012):


His Majesty the Emperor and the Crown Prince attended the luncheon at the Imperial Palace with the cabinet ministers including Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. 50 people including the ministers, vice ministers and officials from the Imperial Household Agency attended.


19 ministers were invited, and all attended. The luncheon is a customary one at this time of the year. However, it was unusual this year because the Democratic Party of Japan just lost heavily in the recent Lower House Election, and many ministers including the finance minister Jojima and the education minister Tanaka lost in the election.


Before the luncheon, His Majesty thanked them for their work this year, and said, "I hope you will remain in good health, and your new year will be a good year."


Then they spoke intimately over drinks. After speaking for a few minutes with Prime Minister Noda, His Majesty went to Chief Cabinet Minister Osamu Fujimura, who lost in the election, and thanked him for his work. "You must have been busy as Chief Cabinet Minister." "Please take good care of yourself."


With Minister of Reconstruction Tatsuo Hirano, asbestos in the disaster debris was the topic. After pointing out that asbestos cannot be [easily] measured like radiation, His Majesty said, "Isn't [the disposal of disaster debris that contains asbestos] rather difficult?" Further, His Majesty said, "We should pay attention so that people involved in the disposal won't regret it after they get old."

In the press conference on December 19 for his birthday (December 23), the emperor continued to express his concern and sympathy for people affected by the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami and nuclear disaster:

(Imperial Household Agency's official translation)

Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for all the concern shown me by the people when I underwent heart surgery in February of this year, such as those who came to sign the register books at the Palace and elsewhere during this period. I would also like to thank all the people who continue to wish me well.

A year and nine months has gone by since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the cold, harsh winter is back again in the afflicted areas. There are people who are unable to return to their homes they used to live in because of radioactive contamination, and people who must spend their second winter in temporary housing covered in snow. My heart goes out to all those afflicted. The number of dead or missing at the time of the disaster was reported to be over 18,000, but since then, there have been more than 2,000 disaster-related deaths, bringing the total number of victims to over 20,000. Many who survived the terrible earthquake and tsunami lost their lives because of harsh living conditions where sufficient medical care and other needs could not be provided. I feel this is indeed a tragedy. Recovery and reconstruction efforts in the afflicted areas include radioactive decontamination, removal of possible asbestos-containing debris harmful to health, and other dangerous tasks. Many of these operations pose health risks to those engaged in them, which is of deep concern. The Empress and I observed the radioactive decontamination operation being carried out in the village of Kawauchi in Fukushima Prefecture. The work consisted of climbing onto a roof and hosing away the contamination with water, work requiring great caution and concentration, which could lead to an accident otherwise. I sincerely hope that all operations will be carried out safely.

(In the original Japanese)



Imperial Household Agency translated as if this were a cliche-ridden, politician's speech, with as little "I" as possible. In the original Japanese, it is much more personal; I could interpret that every single sentence is about how he thinks and feels. When he says "Many who survived the terrible earthquake and tsunami lost their lives because of harsh living conditions where sufficient medical care and other needs could not be provided", it is a harsh criticism of what the government did (rather, did not do) after the disaster. Not to mention describing decontamination and disaster debris disposal as "dangerous".

DPJ Leadership Election: Banri Kaieda Says He Will Enter, Willing to Run Personal Risk for the Sake of the Party

Literally, he says he will pick up chestnuts out of fire.

17th Century French poet La Fontaine wrote a fable, after Aesop, in which a cat is coerced by a monkey to pick up chestnuts in the hot embers. The cat did it, but burned its paws badly. The monkey ate all the chestnuts.

Mr. Kaieda is saying he will be the cat, even if he knows it will burn his paws - i.e. ruin his career as politician.

Mr. Kaieda, who lost to Mr. Noda in the second round of the leadership election in August last year, partly thanks to NHK's erroneous reporting, is so far the only candidate for the Democratic Party of Japan's leadership election scheduled for December 25.

Younger politicians with ambitions like Seiji Maehara and Goshi Hosono have already declared they are not running this time.

From Asahi Shinbun (12/22/2012):


Banri Kaieda, ex-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry and a Democratic Party of Japan member, held a press conference at a hotel in Tokyo on December 22 and declared his candidacy in the leadership election to be held on December 25. He said, "I have decided to enter the leadership election, to pick up chestnuts in the hot embers." Former Minister of Agriculture Hirotaka Akamatsu, former Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Akihiro Ohata, and the former Democratic Socialist Party group are expected to support him. Mr. Kaieda is the first person to declare candidacy in the leadership election.

Meanwhile, Japan Future Party under Ms. Yukiko Kada, governor of Shiga Prefecture is planning to work very closely with Social Democratic Party in the Lower House, forming a parliamentary group. Ms. Kada's party managed to send 7 members to the Lower House in the December 16 election, and there are two Social Democrats who survived the election.

As I posted previously, Ms. Kada has expressed her intention to work closely with the boy wonder's party (Japan Restoration Party).

I do have a feeling that people may wish DPJ were still in power.

Friday, December 21, 2012

San Onofre Nuke Plant: "Mitsubishi Heavy failed certain requirements", Says NRC

NRC says Mitsubishi Heavy Industries failed to meet requirements related to the mock-up and testing of re-designed components for the steam generators.

So-Cal Edison wants to restart Reactor 2 in March. It says independent experts from Areva, Westingshouse/Toshiba, and Intertek/Aptech conducted the operational assessment.

SCE insists the company didn't rely on Mitsubishi (as if it is a good thing; maybe it is...).

For more on the Mitsubishi-made steam generator problems at San Onofre, see my posts (here and here).

From Reuters (12/19/2012; emphasis is mine):

SCE's Calif. San Onofre restart plan didn't rely on Mitsubishi

* NRC says Mitsubishi Heavy failed certain requirements

* SCE wants to restart Unit 2 at San Onofre

* NRC may approve of San Onofre 2 restart in March

* San Onofre reactors shut in January

Dec 19 (Reuters) - California power company Southern California Edison (SCE) said it did not rely on testing by Japanese engineering firm Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd to develop its restart plan for Unit 2 at the San Onofre nuclear plant in California.

Both reactors at the 2,150-megawatt (MW) San Onofre plant shut in January due to tube wear problems in the units' new steam generators. Mitsubishi Heavy built those steam generators and installed them in 2010 and 2011.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said in a letter posted on its website that Mitsubishi Heavy failed to meet certain requirements related to the mock-up and testing of re-designed components for the steam generators that may be used to repair the San Onofre steam generators.

But in a statement Tuesday night, SCE, a unit of California power company Edison International, said it did not consult or rely upon the Mitsubishi testing under review by the NRC to create the utility's plan to restart Unit 2.

The NRC is also reviewing SCE's plan to restart Unit 2 and may issue a decision on that plan in March. The reactor cannot restart without the NRC's approval.

SCE's plan to restart Unit 2 includes preventive plugging of tubes in the steam generators and operating the 1,070-MW unit at 70 percent power for a five-month period.

San Onofre is one of the biggest power plants in California and its shutdown since January has caused reliability challenges for the Southern California power grid.


SCE said its team of experts conducted three independent operational assessments of tube wear. The assessments were done by units of nuclear engineering firm Areva SA of France, the Westinghouse Electric unit of Japan's Toshiba Corp , and international testers at Intertek/Aptech.

SCE said none of its experts based their review and recommendations on testing by Mitsubishi. SCE said this was confirmed Tuesday at an NRC public meeting in Rockville, Maryland.

SCE submitted technical information to the NRC in October in support of its proposed restart plan for Unit 2. That plan did not include a restart for Unit 3 in part because the steam generators in Unit 3 suffered more tube wear.

The company shut Unit 2 on Jan. 9 for a planned outage. Unit 3 shut on Jan. 31 after station operators detected a leak in a steam generator tube.

SCE operates San Onofre for its owners: SCE (78.21 percent), Sempra Energy's San Diego Gas & Electric (20 percent) and the city of Riverside (1.79 percent).

I think NRC's letter mentioned in the article is this. It's more a report than a letter, dated November 30, 2012. So NRC staff made a trip to Kobe, Japan to inspect Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' noncompliance. Interesting.

Addressed to the Quality Assurance Manager Mr. Otake, NRC says:

From October 9-17, 2012, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff conducted an inspection at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd (MHI) facility in Kobe, Japan. The purpose of this reactive inspection was to assess MHI’s compliance with the provisions of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Part 21, “Reporting of Defects and Noncompliance,” and selected portions of Appendix B, “Quality Assurance Program Criteria for Nuclear Power Plants and Fuel Reprocessing Plants,” to 10 CFR Part 50, “Domestic Licensing of Production and Utilization Facilities.”

This reactive inspection evaluated MHI’s quality assurance activities associated with the mock-up and testing of re-designed anti-vibration bars that may be used as a long-term repair of both Unit 2 and Unit 3 San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) steam generators. The inspection will assist the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) when and if modifications are installed at SONGS. The design and installation of the modification will require that the NRC conduct an independent review of the modification and possibly approval of the design change. The inspection evaluated if MHI’s design, manufacturing, preparation, and testing of the mock-up and testing of re-designed anti-vibration bars meet the applicable requirements of Appendix B to 10 CFR Part 50, 10 CFR Part 21, and American Society of Mechanical Engineers Code Section III, “Rules for Construction of Nuclear Facility Components”. The enclosed report presents the results of this inspection. This NRC inspection report does not constitute NRC endorsement of MHI’s overall quality assurance (QA) or 10 CFR Part 21 programs.

During this inspection, the NRC inspection team found that the implementation of your quality assurance program failed to meet certain NRC requirements imposed on MHI by its customers or NRC licensees. Specifically, MHI: 1) failed to verify the tube outside diameter straightness, tube bending radius, and total tube length conformed to the requirements identified in the purchase order and purchase specifications to Sumitomo Metal Corporation for the alloy 690 seamless tubes used to construct the steam generator u-tube bundle mock-up; and
2) failed to perform dedication of the commercial calibration services provided by Tokyo Sokki Kenkyujo Co., Ltd.
The enclosed Notice of Nonconformance (NON) cites these nonconformances, and the circumstances surrounding them are described in detail in the enclosed inspection report. Even though the NRC inspection team did not identify issues in all areas reviewed, in the response to the enclosed NON, MHI should document the results of the extent of condition and determine if there are any effects on other associated QA activities.

Please provide a written statement or explanation within 30 days from the date of this letter in accordance with the instructions specified in the enclosed NON. We will consider extending the response time if you show good cause for us to do so.

The letter is followed by the notice of nonconformance and the detailed inspection report.

Quick check on MHI's website, and there is still no mention of the accident.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Steel Beam Removed from Reactor 3 Spent Fuel Pool

It took TEPCO (most likely subcontractors, most likely Kajima and/or Hitachi) 3 months to finally remove the steel beam that had accidentally fallen into the Reactor 3 Spent Fuel Pool back in September.

About the beam, please see my posts, here and here (with video of the accident).

From TEPCO's Photos and Videos, 12/21/2012:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sweden's Ringhals Nuclear Reactor Shut Down Due to Seawater Infiltration, "No Safety Problem"

No details as to where in the system the seawater infiltrated.

From Channel News Asia, Quoting AFP (12/21/2012; emphasis is mine):

Swedish nuclear reactor shut after sea water infiltration

STOCKHOLM - A reactor in Sweden's biggest nuclear plant was stopped on Thursday after an infiltration of sea water, the operator Vattenfall and the national nuclear industry watchdog said.

"There is no safety problem" at Reactor 4 at the Ringhals plant near Gothenburg in the country's southwest, nuclear authority inspector Jan Gällsjo told the national TT news agency.

He added that the presence of salt water in the pressurised water system was nonetheless an anomaly which needed to be fixed.

Earlier this month, a reactor at another Swedish nuclear plant was shut down after the nuclear watchdog said the operator had failed to comply with its safety requirements, safety officials said.

The Oskarshamn plant's number two reactor was taken out of service after the operator was unable to show the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority that standard maintenance work had been performed on two diesel generators used for emergency power supply.

Some 35 percent of electricity in Sweden is generated from nuclear power.

- AFP/al

In July this year, Reactor 2 at the same nuclear power plant shut down 9 hours after it was restarted, for causes unknown.

Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant in Shizuoka Prefecture had a problem of having seawater in the pressurized water reactor system last year. It turned out to be a very big problem.

OT: Research In Motion's Round Trip After Hours - Up 8%, Then Down 11%


The stock (RIMM) ended the regular session at $14.12 on high expectation of a better quarter. It is currently trading at $12:53, down 11% from the close.

The company that makes Blackberry mobile devices beat both top line and bottom line (i.e. it lost less than expected), but when the investors read the fine print, they'd rather be out.

Articles like this one ("RIM Rally Ain’t Over: Shares Jump After Earnings") by Wall Street Journal were written prematurely, obviously.

#Radioactive Japan Under LDP: Futaba-machi Assembly Finally Passes No-Confidence Resolution Against Mayor Idogawa

This is the assembly's third attempt, and this time all 8 assemblymen voted yes to demand Mayor Idogawa to step down.

Why? Because the mayor refuses to "move forward".

What's "moving forward" for the town which had to relocate to Saitama temporarily because of severe contamination from the nuclear accident?

Talking with the national government "constructively" to build intermediate storage facilities for nuclear waste in Futaba-machi, for a start. The first step will be to agree to the field survey by the national government.

The town may have no choice, but what these assemblymen are after seems to be more about money, a huge wad of money from the national government in exchange for simply agreeing to start talking.

Just change "intermediate storage facilities" with "nuclear reactors". It's the same old story. Simply agreeing to the survey will probably produce a ton of money for the town. Of all people, Mayor Idogawa should know very well.

Mr. Idogawa has been tirelessly campaigning for the people of his town, a changed man after the nuclear accident. Inconvenient for the town assembly, obviously.

For his account on March 11, 2011 as he experienced, see my post from February.

From Kyodo News (12/20/2012):

双葉町議会が町長不信任を可決 中間貯蔵施設の協議欠席で

Futaba-machi town assembly passes the no-confidence resolution against the mayor because he skipped the negotiation for intermediate storage facilities


The December Assembly of Futaba-machi, Fukushima Prefecture was held on December 20 in Kazo City in Saitama Prefecture where the town's government has been temporarily moved. Futaba-machi in Fukushima is one of the locations where the national government wants to conduct the feasibility study for building intermediate storage facilities to store contaminated soil from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. The no-confidence resolution against Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa was unanimously passed by all eight assemblymen.


Unless the mayor dissolves the assembly within 10 days, according to the Local Autonomy Law, he will lose his job.


Mayor Idogawa said to the reporters, "I would like to sort things out quietly. I will decide over the weekend."


The resolution criticized the mayor for having skipped the negotiation in November whereby Governor of Fukushima Yuhei Sato and other seven mayors of municipalities in Futaba County agreed to the survey [for waste storage facilities].

Mayor Idogawa, in his December 20 letter to the town residents, explains why he refused to sit down with the fellow mayors and the governor of Fukushima:



As to the intermediate storage facility, we are told to accept without any discussion because it's only the field survey for now. But how will this survey be paid for? This facility is supposed to be there for only 30 years, but there is no formal agreement on that between the national government and us. No one can live near this facility. No one lives inside the 2 kilometer radius of Rokkasho-mura [where the Reprocessing Plant is located]. The 2 kilometer radius would include almost all central Futaba. What should we do then? That discussion should come before anything else. To conduct the boring survey means the start of construction. If we look at the budget [for the intermediate storage facility] there is a line item called "survey cost" under "development". As far as the administrative decision goes, this is the start of construction. Please understand that I've been trying my best to stall [the survey] so as not to give the government the fait accompli of construction started.

It should proceed after ample discussion and understanding of all the town residents. This is the first ever such project in Japan. It is the greatest loss for the town, and if we just let it proceed without any firm promise, our children will suffer. I would like to talk patiently with the new administration, and proceed so that our children would understand. Please know that we have suffered a great loss.

Earlier in his letter, he pleads with the residents to think about their "loss", that it's not just about the loss of tangible assets like real estate but intangible assets like health and future prospect.

His words clearly fell on deaf ears of eight assemblymen who see very tangible assets (money) in front of them.

Mayor Idogawa sees the details, and knows the process. So, they'd rather shut him up, and join others in pointing the bright sky on the horizon - "Look, that's the future..."

I wonder if he dissolves the assembly and calls the election. I doubt it.

It's a new Japan - Japan that cannot focus its attention long enough to think things through and simply latches on to soundbites. I guess that has been the global trend, but Japan manages to do it in the middle of the most severe nuclear accident in the country that has contaminated wide areas in Tohoku and Kanto.

#Radioactive Japan under LDP: "Government Should Tell People 20 Millisieverts Per Year Exposure Is Safe", Says Ms. Yoshiko Sakurai, Candidate for Cabinet Post Under Abe

She used to be an announcer who once reported sympathetically on children in the areas severely affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Time has passed and she has flipped to the pro-nuke spokeswoman along the way.

Now rumored to be selected to Shinzo Abe's new cabinet, 67-year-old Ms. Sakurai spoke to the officials of Futaba County of Fukushima Prefecture, and told them the standard for decontamination and radiation exposure needs to be loosened to preserve the life and living of people in Fukushima.

She says 20 millisieverts for adults, and 10 millisieverts for children are safe, and the government should guarantee it.

I have this sinking feeling that she will become the Minister of the Environment, if she was speaking about decontamination and radiation exposure in Fukushima.

People may soon start to miss Goshi Hosono and his disaster debris dolls.

From Kahoku Shinpo (12/9/2012):


On December 8, journalist Yoshiko Sakurai gave a speech in Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture to a group of assemblymen from 8 municipalities in Futaba County. She said, "The standard of 1 millisievert/year radiation exposure for decontamination should be loosened in order to revive your home towns." Many Futaba County residents continue to remain away from their homes due to the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, and some assemblymen got angry in the Q&A session.


Ms. Sakurai forcefully said, "There is a wide range of opinions regarding radiation, but politicians should see the facts. Only scientific facts [regarding radiation] available to the human race are the epidemiological data from Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Chernobyl. UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation) and the International Commission on Radiological Protection have already concluded that there is no [statistical] significance of radiation below 100 millisieverts."


Further, she declared, "To set 1 millisievert per year as standard for decontamination, which is scientifically baseless, and to create large piles of dirt, you are creating a new problem yourselves. It's the national government's responsibility to say that up to 20 millisieverts/year is safe for adults, and 10 millisieverts/year is safe for children. You, as municipal assemblymen, should not lose your head like the residents."


Her remarks stirred angry feeling in the assemblymen gathered, who asked her, "Can you really guarantee the safety?", "1 millisievert [per year] is the last resort for the evacuees." Ms. Sakurai responded, "I'm not surprised by your anger and disappointment. It's important to continue the discussion toward the facts. I will get involved until the recovery and revival of Fukushima."

So you get angry? I don't care, she says.

I was afraid she would be the next Minister of the Environment, but I've just happened on a suggestion that's far worse. She may become the Minister of Education.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

South Koreans Choose Daughter of Dictator as New President

Ms. Park Geun Hye is the daughter of the nation's longest-serving dictator Park Chung-hee.

East Asians love political dynasties, despite their lip service to the otherwise. With the election of Shinzo Abe, Japan is after all a proud member of East Asia.

From Bloomberg News (12/19/2012):

Park Geun Hye was elected president of South Korea, becoming the first woman to lead Asia’s fourth- biggest economy more than 30 years after her father’s reign as dictator ended with his assassination.

Park, 60, of the ruling New Frontier Party, led main opposition nominee Moon Jae In, 51.7 percent to 47.9 percent with 94.2 percent of the vote counted, the National Election Commission said on its website as of 12:55 a.m. local time. Moon, 59, conceded defeat, saying he was sorry he couldn’t fulfill the expectations of his supporters.

The never-married daughter of the nation’s longest-serving dictator will lead a country with one of the world’s most entrenched gender gaps. She must confront a slowing economy, widening income disparity and re-engagement with North Korea after the totalitarian state’s rocket launch last week.

“Park’s victory is historically symbolic,” said Lee Nae Young, a political science professor at Korea University in Seoul. “Voters decided she will offer the most stable leadership to navigate the country through a global recession, and mounting internal and external uncertainties, especially in foreign affairs and national security.”

Park will take office on Feb. 25, when President Lee Myung Bak’s single five-year term ends.

“This is your victory,” she told a crowd in Seoul. “You’ve opened a new era and I will carry your trust deeply in my heart.”

(Full article at the link)

This is your victory. This is a new era. Hmmm. Where have I seen these words before?

What's historical about her victory escapes me, other than the fact that she is a woman. I suppose that's enough as "historical".

#Radioactive Japan: "New Nuke Plants Possible in a Safe Location", Says LDP's Abe

Japan is trying its best to pretend that the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident has been a minor inconvenience that no amount of newly printed money cannot overcome.

After all, this is the country that has perfected the theater called "Kabuki", where a person dressed in black is on the stage assisting the actors but everyone in the audience is expected to see but pretend not to see.

From Tokyo Shinbun in the December 1, 2012 article (part):


Mr. Abe emphasized that he would do his utmost best to introduce renewable energy sources for 3 years if his party returned to power. But he also pointed out that "moving away from dependence on nuclear energy through innovation may not make rapid progress", and said, "As a matter of course, we should study if it makes sense to use the state-of-the-art technology to build (a new nuclear power plant) in a very safe location."


As to the restart of the existing nuclear power plants, he said "It should be decided by the government made of politicians elected by the citizens."

Well, Mr. Abe, less than 25% of the eligible citizens voted for your party candidates in the Small District Election, and only about 16% voted for your party in the Proportional Representation Election. You do not have a mandate.

As to your very safe location for a new nuke plant, where?

Even if there is a safe place somewhere in the earthquake and tsunami-prone mountainous archipelago whacked by seasonal typhoons, Japan continues to have three gravest threats to nuclear safety: politicians, bureaucrats, and electric power companies.

Toshiba, Hitachi and Mitsubishi may be able to sell their systems in foreign countries, but the Japanese in Japan are uniquely incapable of handling this technology.

But that doesn't even occur to the third-generation politician who is the head of the triumphant LDP.

In the meantime, Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is fast running out of workers willing to work for as little as 140,000 yen (US$1,660) a month with no benefits.

Look over there, say "beyond (anti, or graduating from, whatever) nuclear" politicians and activists, pointing to the sky on the horizon. That's the future we will go. No, look this way, say pro-nuclear politicians and activists (yes there are such people), pointing to a different part of the sky on the horizon. That's the future we will go. People, caught in the middle, move about here and there, but eventually herded into some directions, all looking up at the sky for bright future. They are unaware that they've been stepping on piles of shit.

My only hope is the fact that Mr. Taro Yamamoto got more than 70,000 votes in a district in Tokyo; he pointed to the piles of shit and told people, look, we have to do something about these first, it's all over the place.

Clearly that's too much detail for most people.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Japanese Election: LDP Managed to Win 2/3 of Seats Even Though It Only Got 42% of Votes Cast

Or only 25% of all eligible voters (103,959,866 voters)

Before it disappears, from Tokyo Shinbun (12/18/2012; English labels are mine):

Tokyo Shinbun comments in the article:


The current election system for the Lower House is Small Electoral District Election and Proportional Representation Election. The Small Electoral District Election is aimed at creating a two-party systems by concentrating the votes, and LDP won three times as many seats as the percentage of the votes in the total eligible voters indicates. It is an incredible dissociation from the public opinion.

The Small Electoral District Election elects 300 representatives and the Proportional Representation Election elects 180 representatives. There is only one winner in each Small District.

The Small District system is conductive to giving major, established parties more seats.

It is highly ironic that it was Ichiro Ozawa who successfully pushed for the adoption of the Small District Election format. Thanks to his system, all his followers lost in the Small District Election, who had to fight under the unfamiliar, fluffy party name of Japan Future. Mr. Ozawa, under the tutelage of Kakuei Tanaka, pushed for the electoral reform in order to create the "two-party system" for political stability. It has resulted in a huge swing, instead.

The US has the Small District Election system, but not foolhardy enough to elect all representatives all at once.

Australia Is Celebrating Japan's LDP Win, Sending Share Prices of Uranium Miners Soaring

Australian uranium miners are positive that the reactors in Japan will be back on shortly under the LDP administration, as they are certain that US$100 million a day spent on extra coal, oil and gas is simply unsustainable for Japan. Australia is here to help, they say.

Sydney Morning Herald reports the shares of Paladin soared more than 8% on Monday following the Japanese election results:

(The announcer looks pretty, but her Australian English is scary.)

Also from the paper's article (12/18/2012; emphasis is mine):

Producers bullish on Japanese demand

by Paddy Manning

GLOBAL uranium demand is set to rebound as Japan's nuclear reactors are gradually switched back on by the new Liberal Democratic Party government, elected over the weekend.

Greg Hall, managing director of junior Toro Energy, said Japan had been spending an additional $US100 million a day on extra coal, oil and gas, which represented a ''very, very high cost''.

After the weekend's election, he said the country now had the political will to restart its reactors. A new independent safety authority would be in place by April and Japan's nuclear power capacity would be restored through 2013-15.

Shares in uranium producers Paladin Energy and Rio Tinto's Energy Resources Australia surged on Monday - by 8 per cent and 5 per cent respectively - and the spot price of uranium oxide neared $US44 a pound.

Paladin Energy chief John Borshoff predicted Germany, too, would eventually return to the nuclear power fold. ''Germany can't survive on a no-nuclear basis with all the countries around it pouring electricity into the country. How could Japan survive as an island country?''

Mr Borshoff said it was impossible for Japan to do without 27 per cent of its electricity-generating capacity. ''We've been working on the basis the nuclear programs will resume in some modified form. Germany have set an irreversible path but I believe in eight-10 years they'll be back on the drawing board.''

UBS resources analyst Glyn Lawcock welcomed the Japanese news saying it had been a ''torrid'' 18 months for uranium markets since the closure of the Fukushima Daiichi reactor after last year's Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Japan shut its fleet of 54 reactors in the wake of the partial meltdown, causing power shortages and a rise in energy prices as coal, oil and gas made up the shortfall.

Spot uranium prices fell from their pre-Fukushima level of about $US65/lb to a low of $US40.80 in November and have recovered somewhat since.

Mr Lawcock said until recently investors had been concerned that Japan, which had deferred some deliveries of uranium as stockpiles rose, would turn around and become a net seller into the world market. Paladin was better placed than ERA to benefit, he said, because three-quarters of its output would be sold at prices linked to a rising spot market.

UBS commodities analyst Tom Price said the Fukushima Daiichi reactor was one of Japan's oldest and slated for closure within two years. ''Fukushima was a genuine tragedy but nuclear is a genuine alternative for baseload power stations to coal, and relatively cheap, once built,'' he said.

The indefinite deferral of BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam expansion, and the re-election of the LDP in Japan, were ''two bull points'' for the uranium price and UBS was forecasting a recovery to $US50/lb in 2013, and $US55/lb in 2014 and a long-term price of $US65/lb, he said.

Toro Energy is expecting a decision this week from federal Environment Minister Tony Burke on its 100 per cent-owned Wiluna uranium mine in Western Australia. Toro shares were unchanged on Monday at 11.5¢.

"Mr Borshoff said it was impossible for Japan to do without 27 per cent of its electricity-generating capacity" ??

Mr. Borshoff clearly isn't aware (or chooses not to be aware) that Japan has been doing without the so-called 27% of electricity-generating capacity ever since March 11, 2011, and all it has suffered was a manufactured threat of rolling blackouts thanks to then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano and NISA's Nishimura.

"UBS commodities analyst Tom Price...'Fukushima was a genuine tragedy but nuclear is a genuine alternative for baseload power stations to coal, and relatively cheap, once built'"??

Nuclear power plants needs electricity from other power plants to operate, not at all suitable for baseload power stations. And for him to say nuclear is cheap once the plant is built, I suppose he is assuming an accident will never happen.

Mr. Greg Hall, managing director of junior Toro Energy talks about the "political will to restart the reactors".

LDP won two-thirds of the seats by getting votes of only 25% of eligible voters (or 42% of votes actually cast). It's hardly a mandate, but yes political will will be there, which has hardly anything to do with what the majority of the citizens want.

Mr. Hall says one thing that greatly distresses me: new independent safety authority will be in place by April. Hmmm. Either he doesn't know about the Nuclear Regulatory Authority that exists already, or the current Nuclear Regulatory Authority will be ditched, as I've been fearing all along.