Saturday, June 2, 2012

High Beta Radiation on Floor Surface in Reactor 2 Building at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

As Toshiba workers splashed strippable paint on the floor at the Truck Bay Door of the Reactor 2 building (southwest corner) and stripped the paint to remove radioactive materials on the floor to lower the radiation for the future work (installing thermocouples), they were mostly removing the radioactive materials emitting beta radiation.

Outside Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, if the gamma radiation levels are measured in microsievert/hour in single or double-digit (i.e. 2 microsieverts/hour or 20 microsieverts/hour), they are considered high. The samples of the "black dust (thing, material, plant, dirt, etc.) measure anything from 0.6 microsievert/hour to over 50 microsieverts/hour depending on the locations, usually measuring gamma ray only.

At the entrance of the Reactor 2 building, the radiation levels on the floor are measured in millisieverts/hour. Of the four decon methods tried on the floor, vacuuming and strippable paint were somewhat effective in reducing the gamma radiation. Strippable paint was the most effective in reducing the beta radiation, and wet mopping and vacuuming were somewhat effective. Dry mopping spread the beta contamination, instead of reducing it.

10 millisieverts/hour is 10,000 microsieverts/hour.

I'm waiting to see if TEPCO does the nuclide analysis of the vacuumed dust or stripped paint, but TEPCO being TEPCO I don't have much hope. I'd love to know what kind of radioactivity by what nuclide would cause such high radiation levels.

From TEPCO's Working Group meeting reference material, pages 8 to 18 (I added English labels; 5/28/2012):

All this work is to later install thermocouples in the Containment Vessel, and that will have to be done by human workers. The Truck Bay Door is one of the two ways to get to the possible installation locations (there are two). Near one of the installation location candidates, there is a spot whose surface radiation exceeds 3,000 millisievert/hour (3 sieverts/hour or 3 million microsieverts/hour, take your pick). TEPCO's first choice is to install on top of the TIP Room by entering from the Truck Bay Door (access route 1, in blue). They may not be too keen to do the installation work near 3,000 millisievert/hour location...

Workers Decontaminate the Entrance to #Fukushima Reactor 2 in Prep for Installing Thermocouples

Workers wearing suits marked with "Toshiba" logo hustled to spread yellow, strippable paint on the floor of the entrance (Truck Bay Door) to the Reactor 2 building at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The workers had tested different methods to decontaminate, and using the strippable paint had proven to be most effective.

(UPDATE) Workers were mostly removing beta nuclides by using the paint. See my new post on the decon testing which has the beta+gamma radiation levels on the floor surface.

Kyoto Proposes to Become "Backup Capital" in a Disaster

They are counting that whatever disaster hits Tokyo won't hit Kyoto at the same time.

Kyoto is not without danger, as it is located downwind from the "Nuclear Ginza" (including Ooi Nuclear Power Plant and Monju) in Fukui Prefecture. For that matter, nowhere in Japan seems safe from a nuclear accident.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (5/31/2012):

皇室や文化庁 京へ移転を 首都バックアップ検討委

Capital backup committee suggests the Imperial Household and the Agency for Cultural Affairs move to Kyoto


A meeting of a study committee regarding the backup of functions of the capital in time of a disaster was held on May 30 in Kamigyoku [district of Kyoto City]. The interim report was almost complete, which would include having the Imperial Household residing in Kyoto and moving the Agency for Cultural Affairs.


The committee is made up of officials in Kyoto Prefecture and Kyoto City and persons of experience and academic standing. The areas that would host the backup functions would be Kyoto City center, Katsura Innovation Park, Rakunan Shinto, [Kansai] Cultural and Academic Research City.


The committee acknowledged Kyoto to have a low possibility to be hit by a disaster at the same time as the Tokyo metropolitan areas, and to be easily accessible geographically. In addition, the existence of Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kyoto State Guest House makes it easier for the Imperial Household to reside in Kyoto and conduct ceremonies. The committee will suggest to the national government to move the Agency for Cultural Affairs and Japan Tourism Agency and to strengthen the Kyoto International Conference Hall to serve as the National Diet and the Prime Minister's Official Residence.

Friday, June 1, 2012

New York Times: Obama Ordered Stuxnet Attacks on Iran Nuclear Facilities

A long article that appeared on New York Times (6/1/2012) does mention that the program was started by President Bush.

According to the article, the Nobel Peace Prize winner president's decision to use the computer virus on Iranian nuclear facilities was made in his first months in office. I remember one of the very first things he did after his inauguration was to bomb Pakistan.

From New York Times (6/1/2012):

Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran

WASHINGTON — From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.

Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet.

At a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s “escape,” Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised.

“Should we shut this thing down?” Mr. Obama asked, according to members of the president’s national security team who were in the room.

Told it was unclear how much the Iranians knew about the code, and offered evidence that it was still causing havoc, Mr. Obama decided that the cyberattacks should proceed. In the following weeks, the Natanz plant was hit by a newer version of the computer worm, and then another after that. The last of that series of attacks, a few weeks after Stuxnet was detected around the world, temporarily took out nearly 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges Iran had spinning at the time to purify uranium.

(Full article at the link)

That's an act of war by the way, without declaration. But that's nothing new in the US. Zero Hedge has a post dissecting the NY Times article, here.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Black Dust" in Soma City Is Also Highly #Radioactive, at 56.3 Microsievert/Hr

There's a newspaper published by a citizen group in Soma City, Fukushima, urging the former residents, particularly mothers with children, to return to the city. Soma City is located just north of Minami Soma City where the "black dust" was first reported by Assemblyman Ooyama.

It turns out (no real surprise, but...) that Soma City also has "black dust" with very high radiation. The newspaper that urges mothers to come back has this article in its May 2012 issue:

It says:

Please be careful!

On the roads and near the side drains by the side walks in Minami Soma City and Soma City, we've started to see the black substance that looks like dirt. There has been some media report on this substance, and it is said to be a certain kind of bacteria that has dried out. It has been known to have very high radiation levels, and there is a possibility that it affects human bodies. Please do not go near it. We placed the survey meter on the substance in the photo. The survey meter shows 56.3 microsieverts/hour. Young children in particular should pay attention.

Again, the group wants mothers with children who evacuated from the city to come back. The reason why the group is publishing the newspaper is, according to the website:



We want to protect our children.
We want to keep hope for the future.

TO do that, we will "change" our way of life.
We will "change" the city into a healthy city.

How are they going to achieve that? By measuring radiation, as far as I could tell from their newspaper.

Sorry to say it but the "bamboo spear" spirit seems to be alive and well in Japan, even after 67 years.

#Radiation Exposure of Children to Be Measured in Miyagi to See if Decontamination Work Is Effective

Researchers from Tohoku University are going to monitor the radiation exposure of children in a town in southern Miyagi Prefecture bordering Fukushima Prefecture. It's not that they are particularly worried about the potential negative effect on radiation on the children's health. They want to evaluate how effective the decontamination will be, and they want to use children as indicators (if I may be so cynical).

From NHK News (6/1/2012):


A group of researchers in the graduate school of Tohoku University will measure the levels of radiation exposure of children for four years to see if the decontamination work is effective in Marumori-cho in Miyagi Prefecture where the decontamination work is set to start.


Marumori-cho in Miyagi Prefecture is situated near the border to Fukushima Prefecture, and has relatively high levels of radiation. It is designated as the area where the national government will pay for the decontamination of soil.


The decontamination will start this summer and take about 3 and a half years. A research group led by Hiroko Yoshida, lecturer at the Graduate School of Tohoku University, has been conducting the survey of radiation exposure in Marumori-cho. Her group is going to measure the radiation exposure of children for the next 4 years to see if the decontamination work is effective.


The subjects will be about 1,300 children up to junior high school ages and their parents who live in Marumori-cho. The group will soon have the meeting for the local residents and ask for volunteers.


Lecturer Yoshida says, "The decontamination work will start with the public buildings like schools, but children tend to be at their homes longer. We would like to study how the decontamination can reduce the effect of radiation on children."

On a separate news, Koriyama City will start lending out personal survey meters to pregnant women so that they can see their cumulative radiation exposure during their pregnancies.

But as the Rinzai monk/author in Miharu-machi in Fukushima says, children are stronger in resisting radiation. Then the unborn children inside the mothers' wombs must be even stronger (if I may be more cynical).

US 10 Year Treasury Yield Hit All-Time Low at 1.5340%

It has risen a bit, at 1.5810. Flight to liquidity, for sure. Not sure about "safety" but it's all relative.

Group of Students from Middle Tennessee State University to Go to #Fukushima as Disaster Recovery Cleanup Volunteers

From (5/31/2012; emphasis is mine):

MURFREESBORO — A contingent of 10 students and two professors from Middle Tennessee State University will leave Nashville early Monday, June 4, to participate in the cleanup and rebuilding mission in Fukushima, Japan.

Three of the students are from Rutherford County: Bridgette Gleaves of Smyrna and Mark Wester and Justin Bingham, both of Murfreesboro.

On March 11, 2011, an earthquake registering 9.0 on the Richter scale created a tsunami that killed nearly 16,000 people and left more than 3,000 missing on the main island of Honshu. In addition, ocean waves engulfed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, sending three reactors into meltdown.

“MTSU has assessed the current situation and consulted with Fukushima University,” said David Schmidt, vice provost for international affairs. “At no time while engaged in program-related activities will students be in areas where the U.S. government recommends its citizens avoid travel.”

The triple catastrophe left behind an estimated 23 million tons of debris in the hardest-hit coastal areas of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures alone. The Japanese government announced Feb. 21 that the country has cleaned up only five percent of the rubble more than a year later.

The MTSU students will hear presentations from Fukushima University students, work with other volunteers to clear debris and prepare meals in the Soma district. At the program’s conclusion, they will exchange observations with the Fukushima students.

Not only are the MTSU students intrigued by the opportunity to witness a national disaster firsthand, but they are compelled to help by persistent images of the damaged lives left behind.

“I remember a Japanese woman crying over her lost family member at a function I went to in Nashville,” says Preston Nalls, a mass-communication major from Franklin. “All I could do was just watch … as other Japanese comforted her. I didn’t know her, so although I felt compelled to say something, I just clenched my fist and grieved for her from afar,” he said in a press release.

Sure, we are only going to Fukushima, but that will resonate all over Japan,” adds Justin Bingham, a liberal-studies major from Murfreesboro. “So, in a way, we 10 students are going to help an entire nation. That’s something worth smiling about,” he said in a press release.

Each student will pay a fee of $1,000 to cover all instruction fees, lodging and international airfare from Nashville to Japan. The group is slated to return June 15.

This education-abroad program is a joint effort of MTSU International Affairs and Fukushima University with support from the Japanese Ministry of Education. For more information, contact the MTSU Office of International Affairs at 615-904-8190 or Schmidt at

"Sure, we are only going to Fukushima, but that will resonate all over Japan"... It may, but it may not be in the way he thinks.

(H/T Enformable)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Greek Pensioner Hangs Himself In Protest That "Greece Will Be Wiped Off The Map"

From Zero Hedge (5/30/2012):

Two months ago, an elderly Greek took his life in broad daylight in Athens' central square while decrying the country's traitors in government, and who preferred to take his own life than to defer his debts to his children or "fishing through garbage cans for his sustenance." Hours ago, another tragedy struck.
From Athens News:

A 61-year old pensioner was found hanging from a tree on Wednesday, in the Agios Filipos park of the Nikaia area. The lifeless body of the pensioner was discovered by a park attendant, who also found his suicide note which read as follows:

"The police does not know me. I have never touched a drink in my life. Of women and drugs I have never even dreamed of. I have never been to a kafenio (coffee house), I just worked all day! But I commited one horrendous crime: I became a professional at age 40 and I plunged myself in debt. Now, I’m an idiot of 61 years and I have to pay. I hope my grandchildren are not born in Greece, seeing as there will be no Greeks here from now on. Let them at least know another language, because Greek will be wiped off the map! Unless of course there was a politician with Thatcher’s balls so as to put us and our state in line.

Signed, Alexandros 29/5/2012”

His neighbours described the pensioner – a father of two- as a hard working man. He had been employed in ship repairs and construction sites and up until recently, he had been working as an electrician on a merchant ship.

He was facing sizeable financial problems and it was these that pushed him over the edge.

According to neighbours, prior to taking his own life, he was seen wearing his work overalls, carrying his tools and sitting on a bench in the park.


The Maastricht Treaty was signed in February 1992, around the time when this pensioner took on debt.

#Radioactive Japan: Buddhist Monk and Author in #Fukushima Says "Children Withstand Radiation Much Better than Adults"

The column by Sokyu Genyu, a Zen Buddhist monk (Rinzai-shu) and a published author who lives in Miharu-machi in Fukushima Prefecture, appears on the Sunday paper of Fukushima Minpo.

In the most recent column, Genyu says that children are able to withstand radioactive cesium much better than adults, and the traditional thinking that children are more affected by radiation has proven false by numerous examples in Fukushima Prefecture.

Quick translation (not literal; link added):

Prayer on the Children's Day

by Sokyu Genyu

I feel that we cannot talk frankly about radiation in Fukushima right now. Everyone has formed his/her opinion already based on a certain level of knowledge and won't listen to the new information that may be contradictory. It is the same with the media such as newspapers and TV stations. They have been disseminating various information, and it may be that they cannot write about it at this late stage. They are extremely timid about upsetting the widely-held knowledge.

What is this widely-held knowledge? It is the thinking that children are more affected by radiation exposure than adults. It derives from the experiment whereby the rat cells were irradiated with the massive dose of gamma-ray. The result was that the more immature (undifferentiated) the cells were the more damage were sustained (Bergonié-Tribondeau law). So they reasoned, "it should be the same" with adults and children or low radiation exposure.

It was too coarse an analogy to be called scientific. But recently there are various empirical data that refute this analogy.

For example, Dr. Ryohei Takahashi, OB/GYN doctor in Minami Soma wrote in late November last year, after having observed children who were born after the March 11 disaster: "I know it is considered a taboo, but I have found out that children have more resistance to cesium than adults. They have the capability several times higher than that of adults to repair damaged chromosomes, excrete [radioactive materials in the body] in urine, and in terms of half life at various organs in the body."

Dr. Tsubokura at Minami Soma General Hospital, who has been conducting the WBC (whole body counter) measurement, says that the biological half life of cesium in adults are 100 to 120 days, whereas it is about a month in 6 year olds and 10 days in one year olds.

To begin with, children seldom get cancer. It should be quite easy to see that children has much higher ability to nullify the free radicals and higher immune functions than adults. However, some people have been saying that children are affected by radiation exposure by "manyfold", based on the mere fact that cell divisions are more active in children and on the Bergonié-Tribondeau law.

It is true that if this widely-held knowledge is overturned, there may be a big confusion.

People who have evacuated from Fukushima have done so "for the sake of their children", and they have endured hardship. The very basis of their decision to evacuate would disappear. Calculations for compensations are based on the premise that children are more affected. [The bottom of the next sentence is cut off, but I think it is something like] It would take a great amount of time to redo the calculations.

But what's important right now is not to be obstinate and possessed with the idea that things may go bad for children. Rather we should be amazed by the strength of children and accept a new way of looking at the situation. In order to revive the community, we must study this issue intensively.

I kept scratching my head as I translated. The laws of nature may indeed be different in Fukushima. I've seen a bizarre presentation material prepared by someone in Koriyama City that claims that if there are 10 cesium-137 atoms, 5 atoms will decay in 30 years; if there are 10 plutonium-239 atoms, 5 plutonium atoms will decay in 24,000 years, therefore it's nothing to worry about in our lifetime. I may write about this presentation later, but it just boggles my mind that people are persuaded by this kind of talk, particularly in a country that has supposedly risen from the ashes after the World War II because of its technological strength. (I guess it was a nice, overrated myth...)

4 More Thermocouples May Be Going Bad in Reactor 2 at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

It looks like four more thermocouples inside the Reactor 2 Containment Vessel are failing:

  • return air drywell cooler(TE-16-114A)

  • return air drywell cooler(TE-16-114D)

  • supply air D/W cooler(TE-16-114F#1)

  • supply air D/W cooler(TE-16-114H#1)

The locations of these thermocouples can be (sort of) figured out with this TEPCO document, as of April 25, 2012 (I put the red rectangles around the failing thermocouples):

TEPCO's handout for press, 5/29/2012 lists "Thermometers which indicated large fluctuation". Temperatures have been fluctuating in a meaningful way (increase or decrease in large steps) since May 28 (red rectangles added to indicate the large fluctuations; click on the table for a better image):

But do not worry. TEPCO has a plan to send human workers inside the Reactor 2 building again to somehow install new thermocouples. According to the reference document for the Working Group meeting on May 28, 2012 (pages 10 to 17), the installation work should start sometime in August, after the decontamination of the 1st floor of the Reactor 2 building is complete by mid July. The trial decontamination has already been done by the workers to compare different methods (strippable paint is most effective, so is the radiation shield), and they have just stated the actual decontamination in the environment where the highest radiation level is 4,400 millisieverts/hour (on the surface of the penetration X-34, near the location that TEPCO wants to insert a new thermocouple).

I don't know why there is no robot by now that can do such a work.

Unlike Reactor 4, where carbon-based human workers routinely enter and work in the radiation levels measured in microsievert/hour, Reactors 1, 2 and 3 have much higher radiation levels measured in millisievert or even sievert/hour. Upper floors of Reactors 1, 2 and 3 are too radioactive for human workers, and even the robot (Quince) was left stranded in Reactor 2's 3rd floor because of high radiation that precluded the rescue mission.

Japanese Government to Make "Political" Decision to Restart Ooi Nuclear Power Plant in June

Politicians, from the prime minister down to heads of municipalities, simply do whatever they want, and say they will take responsibility for their political decisions as if they would remain in office for life. In this case, the decision involves the restart of Ooi Nuclear Power Plant in Ooi-machi in Fukui Prefecture.

The town is very much eager to restart the plant. It is not just the town's politicians but the residents who are all for it because their jobs depend on the plant in direct and indirect ways.

Yomiuri Shinbun reports that Ooi Nuke Plant may be restarted in June, now that the conditional agreement from the Union of Kansai Governments, a political alliance of 7 prefectures in Kansai Region set up in 2010 whose aim is to create a semi-autonomous political and administrative block limiting the power of the central government.

In this case, the Union seems like a convenient cover to override the dissent within the Union and to let the central government restart the plant operated by Kansai Electric (KEPCO) in one of the member prefectures.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (5/30/2012):


Restart of Ooi Nuke Plant to be decided in first half of June, after the Kansai governors agreed


The government held a ministerial meeting headed by Prime Minister Noda on May 30 over the restart of Reactors 3 and 4 at Ooi Nuclear Power Plant (located in Ooi-cho in Fukui Prefecture). The ministers came to a conclusion that there was a certain understanding of the safety of the plant among the municipalities in Kansai Region.


Prime Minister Noda is to ask Fukui Prefecture and Ooi-cho for consent to restart the plant. If the consent is obtained, the ministerial meeting will be held sometime in the first half of June to formally decide to restart the plant.


In the meeting with Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Edano, Minister in charge of nuclear accident Hosono, and Chief Cabinet Minister Fujimura, Prime Minister Noda said, "We are getting a certain understanding from the related municipalities. If the decision by the municipality where the nuclear power plant is located is obtained, we will discuss the matter thoroughly in the ministerial meeting. Eventually, I would like to make the decision [to restart] under my responsibility."


All 50 nuclear reactors have been stopped after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident in March 2011. If the reactors at Ooi Nuclear Power Plant restart, they will be the first to do so after the accident.


The Union of Kansai Government (headed by Governor of Hyogo Prefecture)released the statement on May 30 that said, "[Our] evaluation of safety is provisional, and we strongly urge (the national government) to decide appropriately that the scope of the restart is limited". With the statement, the Union has effectively agreed to the restart, provided that the plant operates only during the summer. The national government has determined [from the statement] that a "certain understanding from the consumer of electricity" has been obtained, which is one of the government's conditions for a restart of a nuclear power plant. After the release of the statement, Governor of Hyogo Prefecture Ido told reporters, "We will leave the final decision to the national government. We are in no position to take further action at this time", emphasizing that it would be up to the national government.

So these 4 ministers, dexterously maneuvered by Mr. Sengoku from beyond the scenes, make a political decision to restart a nuclear power plant. Nuclear power generation still is the "national policy" where all decisions therefore are made politically (as if politics can ensure safety). And the Union of Kansai Governments, despite the stated objective to be more "independent" of the central government, simply tosses the ball back to the central government.

Noda asking for "consent" is a mere formality, just like those town hall meetings to "discuss" whether to accept a nuclear power plant, a restart of a nuclear power plant, or disaster debris. As to his "responsibility", he is not likely to remain a prime minister of Japan for long (although he could surprise people on that).

But what's most notable was the remark by Goshi Hosono, which is not in the above Yomiuri Shinbun news but was reported by Fukui Broadcasting Co (Nippon Television Network) in Fukui Prefecture (5/30/2012). The Fukui Broadcasting Co. piece demands the strong national government policy decision, and quotes Goshi Hosono as saying:


"There is no limit to assuring safety. We will aim for a higher safety as we make sure to incorporate new knowledge."

NHK has a bit more details:


"It's not possible to take all the necessary measures [to ensure safety] of nuclear power plants. The government thinking is to take ever-higher levels of measures based on new knowledge."


"We will establish a new set of safety standards under the Nuclear Regulatory Agency [to be created], and will re-evaluate Ooi Nuclear Power plant. If the re-evaluation reveals something wrong, we will take strict measures including stopping the use of the plant."

(Hosono really doesn't know what he's talking about...)

Many Japanese have interpreted his remark as: "It is not possible to achieve 100% safety, therefore we will simply restart the plant and see what happens. If something bad happens, then we will stop the plant."

Mr. Hosono also promised that one of the two Senior Vice Ministers of Economy, Trade and Industry will be stationed in Ooi-cho supposedly to keep an eye on the plant and make sure it's "safe". Isn't that reassuring.

If the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident taught us anything, it is that you cannot necessarily stop the plant when something bad does happen. All these politicians must be hoping that won't happen during their tenures.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Goshi Hosono Admits to Harvard Professor: "We Should Have Admitted to a Core Melt Possibility"

Goshi Hosono, as the minister in charge of the nuclear accident, met with the Harvard political professor Michael J. Sandel, to whom Hosono said that his government should have admitted a core melt (meltdown) possibility earlier.

Well, the government actually did, very early, like the very next day of the disaster on March 11, 2011. But the Kan administration quickly replaced the official of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency who spoke about the possible core melt in the press conference at noon on March 12, 2011. So they officially admitted, as if by mistake, in the initial confusion. Then, they were busy backtracking from that statement until several weeks later. Even for those who heard and read about the statement, I don't think it registered on them as people weren't as educated about things nuclear at that time as they are now.

For that matter, the government, with Mr. Edano as the spokesman, didn't officially tell the public that there was an explosion of Reactor 1 on March 12, 2011, until after 5 hours had passed.

When Goshi Hosono as a personal assistant to then-Prime Minister Kan went on a TV program in April 2011 and said "We knew it was a meltdown but we just didn't feel like telling people", there was hardly any reaction from the media or the general public.

And now here's what Goshi Hosono said to the Harvard professor, via Kyodo News (5/29/2012):

細野氏「溶融認めるべきだった」 米のサンデル教授と対談

Mr. Hosono met with US professor Sandel, said "We should have admitted to a core melt"


Goshi Hosono, minister in charge of the nuclear accident, met with Professor Michael Sandel of Harvard University, known for his lively lectures on political philosophy, in his office in the Cabinet Office on May 29. Concerning the government response right after the start of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, Hosono said, "If we had frankly admitted to the possibility of a core melt, people's trust in the government announcement may have been different from what it is now. I think there was a problem."


Over the information disclosure, Mr. Hosono said "On the whole, Japanese citizens are very calm and able to discuss various subjects". He went on to emphasize that "With such citizens, the information disclosure and the communications should be changed."

"We should have admitted to a core melt", Hosono now says. Several years down, he may be saying "We should have never done the wide-area debris disposal", says one of my Japanese twitter followers after reading the Kyodo News.

OT: Zimbabwe's Mugabe as UN's International Envoy of Tourism

From UK's Guardian (5/29/2012):

Robert Mugabe asked to be UN 'leader for tourism'

The Zimbabwe president, accused of ethnic cleansing and bankrupting his country, asked to champion tourism

With a line-up that includes Drew Barrymore, David Beckham, Orlando Bloom, and Ricky Martin, the UN's choice of ambassadors has been known to cause raised eyebrows or the odd smirk.

Seldom, however, has there been such anger, or questioning of the organisation's credibility, as that greeting the appointment of a new international envoy for tourism: Robert Mugabe.

Improbable as it seems, the Zimbabwean president, who is widely accused of ethnic cleansing, rigging elections, terrorising opposition, controlling media and presiding over a collapsed economy, has been endorsed as a champion of efforts to boost global holidaymaking.

Despite that fact Mugabe, 88, is under a travel ban, he has been honoured as a "leader for tourism" by the UN's World Tourism Organisation, along with his political ally, Zambian president Michael Sata, 75. The pair signed an agreement with UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai at their shared border at Victoria Falls on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe's state-owned Herald newspaper quoted Rifai urging tourists from around the world to visit : "I was told about the wonderful experience and the warm hospitality of this country … By coming here, it is recognition, an endorsement on the country that it is a safe destination."
The agreement will also see the two southern African countries co-host the UNWTO general assembly in August next year.

UNWTO said it had not appointed Mugabe to any formal position but acknowledged he would receive an open letter like other heads of state who have joined its leaders for tourism campaign.

(Full article at the link)

Well, the bigger the atrocities, the bigger the fame and recognition, it seems, for the power that be.

Monday, May 28, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Someone Emailed "Go to Hell" to Shimada City, Shizuoka for Burning Disaster Debris

In tea-growing Shimada City in Shizuka Prefecture where the mayor of the city is in the waste management business, they have started to burn the disaster debris in earnest, now that the test incineration in the state-of-the-art melting furnace was done.

Someone was very unhappy about it, and let the city known in no uncertain terms.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (part; 5/28/2012):


"Go to hell" email to debris-burning Shimada City


Shimada City in Shizuoka Prefecture started to accept the disaster debris from March 11, 2011 disaster. On May 28, the city announced that it received 8 emails to the city's email address including an email with the message "Wash your neck [and be ready to be executed by beheading] and wait for me."


The emails express strong opposition to the city's acceptance of the debris. The city is considering filing a damage report with the prefectural police as they could be construed as threats.


According to the city, the emails were sent from the same address between May 20 and 25, and contained the messages like "How dare you continue burning the debris!" and "Go to hell".

Not that I have much sympathy for the city government, but it is just one example of how divisive the national government's continued insistence on the wide-area disposal of disaster debris.

These emails could have also been sent by someone who is pro-incineration, to discredit the opponents.

The Japanese society has become not only radioactive but coarse, where pro-nuclear people and experts and anti-nuke counterparts not only go at each other but also scold or ridicule people in the "middle" who are trying to figure out what's going on. That middle is not a "silent majority". It is a silent minority dwindling fast, cowed by attacks from both sides.

Meanwhile, a city that is almost bankrupt in Osaka Prefecture wants to accept non-flammable disaster debris. The city, Izumisano City, desperately needs money.

"It's all about money, isn't it? If someone says no at 100 million yen, tell them you will double the money. If he still says no, then triple it. If he still says no, there will be someone else who will take that money anyway" - this is the gist of what Dr. Haruki Madarame of the Nuclear Safety Commission said in 2005 while he was still a professor at Tokyo University.

Dr. Madarame was talking about the nuclear fuel cycle and the final disposal site. It's the same with the disaster debris disposal, with pro-government researchers and the government money.

Spiegel Interviews Tsipras: "If Greece Is Destroyed, Angela Merkel Will Be Guilty"

Mr. Alexis Tsipras, the Syriza leader, promises Greece will stay in euro, and no he won't abide by the austerity diktat. If anything goes wrong in Greece, it will be Angela Merkel's fault, and other European forces.

He probably scoffs at IMF Chief Christine Lagarde too, who told the Greeks to "pay up".

In the interview below, the Spiegel reporters don't sound too happy.

From Spiegel Online International (5/28/2012):

Greek Leftist Leader Alexis Tsipras 'It's in Europe's Interest to Lift the Austerity Diktat'

Alexis Tsipras, head of the leftist Syriza party, wants an end to austerity in Greece. Ahead of Greek general elections in mid-June, he speaks with SPIEGEL about the dangers his country poses to the euro, the failure of economization measures thus far and why Chancellor Angela Merkel would be to blame if the Greek economy collapses.

Tsipras, the 37-year-old rising star in Greek politics, lays his Ray-Ban sunglasses on the table. It's Tuesday afternoon, and he looks exhausted. Indeed, he has a packed schedule: first Paris and then Berlin, where he met with Gregor Gysi and then with Jürgen Trittin and Sigmar Gabriel, senior officials in Germany's Left Party, Green Party and Social Democratic Party, respectively. Tsipras was the surprise victor when his Radical Left (Syriza) party took second place in May 6 general elections in Greece. Because leaders were unable to form a coalition government, a new election will be held on June 17. Most believe that Tsipras will attract even more votes in this second election.

Tsipras' tour through "Europe's two most important capital cities," as he put it, was primarily about cultivating his image. The civil engineer, already politically active in high school as a member of the Communist Youth of Greece, numbers among the strongest critics of the EU-International Monetary Fund (IMF) strategy for Greece, which calls for radical budget cuts and austerity in return for international aid. Should he win the June 17 election, Tsipras plans to ditch the terms of the bailout agreements struck with its creditors. On the campaign trail, one of his slogans has been that Greece is in danger of becoming a "German colony." But he toned things down in Berlin, saying: "We want to persuade, not blackmail."

SPIEGEL: Mr. Tsipras, is Berlin really as bad as you always say back home in Athens whenever you rail against the evil Germans?

Alexis Tsipras: Berlin is my favorite capital city in Europe. It's too bad that I'm always here only briefly. I'd like to have more time.

SPIEGEL: You might be Greece's prime minister the next time you come to Berlin. If that happens, will Greece still be a member of the euro zone?

Tsipras: Of course. We'll do everything we can so that Greece can retain the euro. We're trying to convince our European partners that it's also in their interest to finally lift the austerity diktat. We need policies that don't destroy the Greek economy but, rather, allow for renewed growth. If the austerity course isn't changed, it will result in the complete destruction of the Greek economy. That would indeed be a danger to the euro.

SPIEGEL: But even some parts of Syriza, the leftist alliance you lead and which came in second place in the May 6 election, have been calling openly for a return to the drachma.

Tsipras: That's only a minority. In each party, no matter whether big or small, there are different orientations, different opinions. Then there will be a vote, and the majority decides. What's more, this minority among us isn't in favor of an exit from the euro, for example; it just wants to ensure that Greece can also survive, with the help of another currency, for example, if others have completely ruined our national economy.

SPIEGEL: Which "others" do you mean? The Greek economy is already in a shambles.

Tsipras: What I mean by that is if our economic foundation is completely destroyed and the decisions of an elected Greek government are not responsible for it but, rather, certain political forces in Europe. Then they too will be guilty, for example Angela Merkel.

SPIEGEL: Are you seriously claiming that the reforms which Europe is demanding as a precondition for loan assistance are the reason for Greece's miserable situation?

Tsipras: If we are once again pushed and blackmailed into an austerity program that has so obviously failed, then it won't be long before Greece is in fact no longer capable of paying its creditors. The result will be a halt in payments, one into which we were practically forced. This would not only be dangerous for Greece, but for the entire European economy. These days, the financial systems of all countries are so closely intertwined with each other that one can't limit the crisis geographically. It's a problem of all countries and of all national economies.

SPIEGEL: If Greece ultimately exits the euro, you will also bear some of the blame. You promised your voters the impossible: retaining the euro while breaking Greece's agreements with the rest of Europe. How can such a plan find success?

Tsipras: I don't see any contradiction in that. We simply don't want the money of European citizens to vanish into a bottomless pit. The fact that there is financial assistance is the principle of European solidarity and a mark of being part of a community. That's good. But we think these resources should also be put to sensible use: for investments that can also generate prosperity. Only then will we in fact be able to pay back our debts.

SPIEGEL: For you, other people are always the scapegoat. It's other people's fault that the economy is languishing, so other people also have to rescue it …

Tsipras: That's not correct; we naturally also take a critical look at ourselves. We bear significant responsibility for our situation. We've accepted politicians who have destroyed our country's manufacturing base and created a corrupt state. We have elected the very people who have stashed their money away abroad and not only allowed tax evasion to occur, but also fostered it. Of course we are responsible for that; we allowed it all to happen. But we also have the responsibility to change exactly that right now.

SPIEGEL: Given your dependence on financial support and your rejection of vital structural reforms -- such as that of the public administration -- already agreed on, how do you propose doing so?

Tsipras: We're not opposed to reforms. We're only saying what so many economists, what many German newspapers and what even former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt are saying -- and what the OECD has now reconfirmed in a study: The austerity policies we've been implementing for two years -- the policy of solely relying on drastic belt-tightening -- have failed. We now find ourselves in the fifth year of the recession. This year too, our economy will once again contract by at least 6 percent.

SPIEGEL: Is that the complete truth? Even Alekos Alavanos, your old mentor and the former Syriza floor leader in parliament, has called on you to finally be honest with your fellow Greeks.

Tsipras: Alavanos left the party some years ago because he didn't share our conviction about remaining within the euro zone. It's fairly odd that I now have to justify myself for the fact that we -- like the vast majority of the population, incidentally -- want to stay within the euro association.

The political reality is simple: The austerity programs, as constructed thus far, have failed, partly because they've been based on a false model, namely, that of domestic devaluation. But we're not an exporting country. It is much more the case that most of what we produce, we consume. Our ability to compete doesn't only depend on labor costs, as so many people say; they also depend on other parameters, such as the infrastructure and the mind-set of people and politicians. We really do long for a bit more meritocracy …

SPIEGEL: The concept of merit-based remuneration hasn't made it all that far in Greece. Instead, there's widespread corruption, cronyism and clientelism -- not exactly an advantage when it comes to competitiveness.

Tsipras: I am aware of the problems the Greek state has. It was systematically run down by the politicians of ours who were in power. And many Greeks share in the blame: They've supported this system; they've sustained it by continually electing the same politicians. But this can't be the cause of the crisis but, rather, at most it is a symptom. The financial and debt crisis isn't purely a Greek problem -- otherwise, there wouldn't be high government deficits in other countries, as well, such as in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. So there must be other causes. That's why we have to analyze the structure of the community, its architecture. Also that of our common currency, the euro.

SPIEGEL: Do you see in François Hollande, France's newly elected Socialist president, a new ally in the battle against the austerity diktat coming out of Germany?

Tsipras: Hollande is clearly a great white hope for us. Now, ideas and arguments that haven't been listened to will once again be heard and discussed, such as a stronger role for the European Central Bank or the introduction of euro bonds. We can't just treat symptoms, or we really will stumble over Greece. That doesn't help anyone. If our country exits the euro zone, all of Europe is in danger. We mustn't fool ourselves about that.

SPIEGEL: The most recent talks in Athens aimed at forming a government failed because you refused to join in any coalition. At the moment, opinion polls indicate that your Syriza alliance is running neck and neck with the conservative Nea Dimokratia (New Democracy) party. Who would you like to partner with after the new elections on June 17?

Tsipras: We would, of course, like to have a left-wing coalition. And we'll do everything we can to make things add up in our favor this time.

Interview conducted by Julia Amalia Heyer and Manfred Ertel

Translated from the German by Josh Ward

Zero Hedge, where I took the link to Spiegel article, says "Well, in the US, it is all Bush's fault".

(UPDATED) Stanford Researchers Found Radioactive Cesium of #Fukushima Origin in Pacific Bluefin Tuna Off California Coast

(UPDATE) The paper as posted in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS):

(H/T karl)


The researchers from Stanford University, California caught 15 tuna fish off the coast of southern California last August and measured radioactive cesium-134 and -137. Nine months later, it is in the news now that their research paper has finally been published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Neither the Wall Street Journal article below, or Reuters', mentions the exact numbers for radioactive cesium, but Japan's Kyodo News does:

Cesium-134: 4 Bq/kg
Cesium-137: 6.3 Bq/kg

The Stanford researchers think the fish were in the Japanese water about a month after the accident started. Daniel Madigan, who led the study, said they were surprised to find cesium at all, and that it was found in all samples they collected and tested.

Wall Street Journal says the added radioactivity is about 3% of the naturally occurring radioactivity in the fish, and Reuters converts becquerels into curie to put things in perspective saying "It takes 37 billion becquerels to equal 1 curie".

Well, at least the Japanese media, MSM or alternative, has gotten comfortable over the last year quoting the measured numbers instead of trying to put them in perspective without mentioning the numbers.

From Wall Street Journal (5/28/2012; emphasis is mine):

Tuna Carried Fukushima Radioactivity to U.S. Coast


Pacific bluefin tuna migrating last year from coastal Japan to the waters off Southern California contained radioactive cesium isotopes from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, scientists reported Monday.

The amount of radioactivity in the fish was one-tenth the level the U.S. and Japan consider dangerous, and likely posed no public health hazard or risk to people who ate the seafood, the scientists said. But the study showed for the first time that migrating sea life rapidly brought traces of radioactive elements from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors across vast distances.

"The tuna packaged it up and brought it across the world's largest ocean," said marine ecologist Daniel Madigan at Stanford University, who led the study team. "We were definitely surprised to see it at all and even more surprised to see it in every one we measured."

Their findings raise the possibility that other wide-ranging sea-life that foraged near Japan, such as turtles, sharks and seabirds, may also have carried low levels of radioactive cesium from the accident around the Pacific basin. The scientists expect to conduct more tests on migrating bluefin tuna as well as albacore tuna, sea turtles, and several shark species this summer.

Their research was published Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Prized as a sushi delicacy in Japan and around the world, Pacific bluefin tuna spawn in the Sea of Japan, among other locales. As they grow, the fish usually travel around the southern tip of Japan and follow the Kurishio Current up the country's east coast, past the scene of the nuclear accident, before migrating over 6,000 nautical miles to the eastern Pacific. The fish eventually return to their birth waters to spawn.

In their study, Mr. Madigan and his colleagues tested tissue from 15 young Pacific bluefin tuna caught by recreational fisherman off the coast of San Diego in August 2011, about five months after an earthquake and a tsunami severely damaged the Fukushima reactors, triggering the largest known accidental release of radioactivity into the ocean.

For weeks after the accident, levels of radioactivity were up to 10,000 times normal in the coastal waters off eastern Japan, where the bluefin tuna spend their early life before migrating across the ocean.

In the young bluefin tuna that reached California, the researchers found slightly elevated levels of cesium-137 and cesium-134, two primary products of nuclear fission that tend to concentrate in muscle tissue. The amount of cesium 137 was five times as much as the background level, leftover from nuclear weapons testing decades ago. Prior to the Fukushima accident, cesium-134, which has a half-life of about two years, was undetectable in seawater or marine life.

Overall, the levels were just enough to raise the naturally occurring radioactivity of the fish by about 3%, the scientists said.

"We found that absolutely every one of them had comparable concentrations of cesium-134 and cesium-137," said marine biologist Nicholas Fisher at Stony Brook University in New York state, who was part of the study group. "It is crystal-clear data."

For comparison, the researchers also tested tissue from yellowfin tuna caught at the same time last August and tissue preserved from bluefin tuna caught in 2008, three years before the nuclear accident. Yellowfin tuna typically spend their entire lives in the sea off the coast of California.

In both the yellowfin and the tissue of the 2008 bluefin, the scientists didn't find any cesium-134 and detected only the expected background levels of cesium-137.

Write to Robert Lee Hotz at

TEPCO to Do Endoscopy of Reactor 1 Containment Vessel at #Fukushima, in Late August

After the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization (JNES) published its analysis that the water level inside the Containment Vessel of Reactor 1 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant may be only 40 centimeters deep, TEPCO announced the plan to probe inside the Containment Vessel with the endoscope, just as they did for Reactor 2.

According to Jiji Tsushin, TEPCO plans to visually inspect the inside (by two endoscopic cameras), take temperature and radiation measurements, and collect the water samples near where the fuel debris (corium) is supposed to be on the floor of the Containment Vessel.

The fuel debris (corium) in the Reactor 1 is considered to have dropped to the concrete floor of the Containment Vessel and eaten into the concrete, as having been disclosed during the workshop organized by the NISA in November last year. TEPCO's estimate is about 65 centimeters into the concrete, and the Institute of Applied Energy's estimate is about 2 meters.

From Jiji Tsushin (part; 5/28/2012):


Toward decommissioning Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, the plan has been agreed upon to probe the interior of the Reactor 1 Containment Vessel using the industrial endoscope and collect the sample of highly contaminated water near the fuel debris for analysis. The work will be carried out sometime between late August and mid September.



The probe of the Containment Vessel interior was done on Reactor 2 in January and March this year, which revealed the water level to be only 60 centimeters from the floor of the Containment Vessel.


In Reactor 1, TEPCO will insert the camera and radiation survey meter through one of the spare penetrations for the pipes, and collect the contaminated water and analyze in order to estimate the condition of the melted fuel. After the probe, a thermocouple will be left inside the Containment Vessel [in the water] to continuously measure the temperature of the water.

The details of the Reactor 1 CV probe are in one of the reference materials (Japanese-only; pages 18 to 25) for the May 28, 2012 meeting of the Working Group for Medium to Long Term Planning. TEPCO will have to build a mock-up first to train the workers. (I'll post some of the pages here later.)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

#Fukushima Accident Investigation: It's Naoto Kan's Turn to Take the Witness Stand in the Diet Commission

For all Naoto Kan fans, here's the link at Nico Nico Video (you need an account if you don't have one):

At IWJ's USTREAM Channel:

(Watching the testimony at Nico Nico)

He's now blaming Haruki Madarame.

Why was he in the meeting with the opposition leaders to begin with on March 11, 2011 when the situation deteriorated rapidly in Fukushima I Nuke Plant?

Just like Yukio Edano, Kan is busy painting himself as "victim" who was left out of the info loop.

About TEPCO "withdrawal" - Kaieda came in the morning of March 15, 2011.


It was the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency who declined help from the US, one of the commissioners just said.

Radioautograph of Japanese Cypress Leaves from Iitate-mura, Fukushima

Dr. Satoshi Mori of Tokyo University has a radioautograph of Japanese cypress leaves that he took from Iitate-mura in Fukushima Prefecture last year in his blog. He says he cannot help feeling pity for the tree:

From Dr. Mori's blog (5/24/2012):


This picture of Japanese cypress cultivated in Komiya District of Iitate-murawas was taken in the fall of last year. I also took the leaves and female cones at the height I was able to reach.

これに関しては、一部をすでにWINEPブログで報告しておいた。(2011/12/18 : スギとヒノキの今年の雌果種子へのCs-137の転流を確認した:これからは、あらゆる植生の奇形化が予想される)

I've already reported part of the study [of this cypress] in this blog. (


Today, I want to show you the radiation measurements of parts of the cypress tree and the radioautograph of the leaves.

female cones



In the simplified measurement [using NaI scintillation survey meter], the seeds were found with about 10,000 Bq/kg of cesium-137, as you see in the Table below. Cesium-134 must be about 70% of this amount, so the total cesium would be at least 17,000 Bq/kg. It is about one-seventh of the radioactivity of the leaves. When the female fruits are attached to the leaf-stems (rachis) the seeds remain inside the fruits, and there should be no external radiation exposure from radioactive dusts. So, I assume almost all the radioactivity in the seeds was translocated from the leaves and tree barks that were contaminated with radioactive cesium.

表1 ヒノキの成分の放射能
ヒノキ Japanese Cypress
Cs-137 (Bq/kg)
種子 seeds
雌果の殻 female cone shells
葉 leaves
葉の軸 rachis

それにしても写真4のように葉を押し葉にしてラジオオートグラフを撮ってみて、我ながら、葉や葉の軸にまんべんなく放射能でまぶされているヒノキに、同情を禁じ得なかった。 この被爆イメージは数値情報だけでは決してわからない。

Still, as I pressed the leaves and took the radioautograph, I couldn't help feeling pity for the Japanese cypress that was doused everywhere on the leaves and rachis with radioactivity. This image of irradiation may speak more volumes than the mere numerical information.


These seeds would have popped out of the female fruits, landed on the ground, and damaging the chromosomes of their embryo buds from internal radiation exposure and the external radiation exposure from the environment (several microsieverts/hour) they would have entered the germinating period and started cell division.


Any biology researcher would think about inhibition of germination due to chromosome disorders, or malformation even if they germinate. If it were animals, they would be the equivalent of miscarriage, stillbirth, malformation, weak constitution due to immune depression. I've already reported on the numerous cases of malformed branches and leaves in Chernobyl.

写真5 BASで撮影したラジオオートグラフ。全身が放射性降下物(フォールアウト)でまんべんなくまぶされて被爆していることがわかる。 

The radioautograph shows the leaves uniformly sprinkled with radioactive fallout and irradiated.

I asked Dr. Mori about specific example of chromosome disorders. He said there are many types of chromosome disorders, including the following:

  • Normal structures (roots, stems, leaves) may not form because cell division is interrupted and cells become callused.

  • Chloroplast may not form in the leaves, and the plant cannot do photosynthesis (no carbon dioxide assimilation); or mitochondria is not formed, and the plant cannot breathe (no oxygen absorption). In either case, the plant will die.

  • Even if the plant survives, it cannot leave offspring if there is a formation disorder of pollens or ova.

TEPCO to Attempt Removing 2 New Fuel Assemblies from Reactor 4 SFP at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

The original plan of the "roadmap" was to build a protective structure over the reactor building first, and then start removing the fuel assemblies in December 2013.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (5/27/2012):


TEPCO has decided to remove part of the new fuel assemblies stored in the Spent Fuel Pool of Reactor 4 at Fukushima I Nucleaer Power Plant in July.


It will be the first removal of nuclear fuel since the start of the accident.


There are 1535 fuel assemblies stored in the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool, including 204 new fuel assemblies. The plan was to build a "cover" structure for the building equipped with a crane [to remove the fuel assemblies], and start removing the fuel assemblies in December 2013.


The new fuel has no problem of heat from the fission products and are easier to handle than the spent fuel. TEPCO has decided to remove a few new fuel assemblies and inspect the condition.

The worker who tweets from Fuku-I says TEPCO will take out 2 assemblies. Since they have never been used, they can be lifted in the air, he says.

Even so, it doesn't seem to me to be a critical, essential task to be done at the plant right now. It seems like an unnecessary, risky endeavor.

What is instructive is some of the tweets in response to the worker's tweet. "Oh is there anything left in the Reactor 4 SFP?" or "The fuel assemblies still keeping the shape?" TEPCO's videos of the Reactor 4 SFP (here and here, for example) means nothing to them and many others, though they seem to believe the worker.

For the possible locations of the new fuel bundles in the Reactor 4 SFP, see my 4/25/2012 post (look for the darkest colored assemblies).

Yukio Edano Blamed Everyone Else for Fukushima Accident Response, Portrayed Himself as Not Knowing Much

in his testimony in front of the Diet Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima nuclear accident on Sunday, which was netcast live by the Commission and also by Nico Nico (which was far better without the annoying commercials).

According to the mainstream newspapers, Mr. Edano "apologized" during the testimony on May 27.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (5/27/2012):


"Not enough" information disclosure, Mr. Edano apologized in the Diet Commission on the accident


The National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, headed by Chairman Kiyoshi Kuroda, called Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Edano as a witness for the public hearing on May 27. Mr. Edano was the Chief Cabinet Secretary when the nuclear accident happened.


As the then-spokesman in charge of disseminating information from the government, Mr. Edano said, "As the government, we could not collect enough information, and could not form expectations and assumptions based on the information. That is what should be reflected upon", admitting that collection and dissemination of the information by the government was inadequate, and he apologized.


As to the confusion in the government response [to the accident], Mr. Edano said, "(Information dissemination) is done on an individual basis, on experience and intuition", pointing out that the lack of coherent, systematic public relation structure itself was the problem. He also said, "There were more than a few occasions when what I intended and what was disseminated differed."


In the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant accident, the government instructed the residents within the 3-kilometer radius from the plant to evacuate on the night of March 11, 2011. On the morning of March 12, the evacuation zone was expanded to 10-kilometer radius, and in the evening it was further expanded to 20-kilometer radius, causing distrust among the residents.

Apology was not what I came away getting from Mr. Edano. He didn't know, he didn't remember, and it was always someone else's problem. Here's my personal note as I watched the testimony (not the verbatim words of his):

About setting the initial evacuation zone at 3-kilometer radius, and then to 20-kilometer radius after the Reactor 1 explosion on March 12, 2011:

Edano said he didn't know why it was set at 3-kilometer radius. He said he didn't remember why it was set at 20 kilometers, didn't remember who suggested it. He also said he didn't know the evacuation zone designation couldn't be lifted unless the situation improved.

About Reactor 1 vent:

It turned out that the Fukushima plant had been trying to vent but having difficulties. TEPCO headquarters was no use. So we issued a legal order to vent. (What would that do?)

About then-Prime Minister Kan's visit to the plant on March 12, 2011:

He said it was Kan himself who wanted to go, even if he might be in the way of the work at the plant. He advised Kan that there would be political ramifications, but Kan thought getting the first-hand information was more important.

About TEPCO's withdrawal from Fuku-I:

Edano didn't seem to recall what exactly was said. He kept talking something but that was not really about the subject.

About the duration of evacuation:

No one, including him, knew that the evacuation would be lengthy. ("Beyond expectation" is another of his famous remarks.)


Edano said he didn't know about the system (hard to believe, as the system is always used in the nuclear emergency drills conducted every year) until March 15 or 16. He said the Ministry of Education officials told him that they couldn't do the simulation because there was no data on the actual amount of radioactive materials being dispersed from the source (Fuku-I). (So? The Ministry was doing the calculation using an emission unit method.) He said he instructed the Ministry to do their best to calculate from what observed data available. "The Ministry of Education is the one who has to sweat", he said, meaning it was the Ministry of Education who should be working hard (till they sweat) and coming up with the simulation and recommendation, not him or the government.

About "No immediate effect on health" refrain of his:

Asked by one of the commissioners who is an evacuee from Fukushima because of the nuclear accident why Edano kept saying "There is no immediate effect on health", Edano snapped at her and said "You should review the transcripts of my press conferences." Edano said it was regrettable that his words were taken to mean what he didn't intended. Later he said the information should have been more detailed, but essentially blamed the recipients of his message for misunderstanding.

About his "core melt" reference in the press conference on March 13, 2011:

Edano said he wasn't aware of the NISA mentioning the possibility of the core melt the previous day (March 12, 2011). (Huh?)

Mr. Edano portrayed himself as if he was an outsider just doing his job of public relations as the Chief Cabinet Secretary, without knowing in details what was going on. Most Japanese (and probably the British) know what the Chief Cabinet Secretary is. He is decidedly not a mere mouthpiece of the administration. It is a ministerial position wielding power and influence.

But Mr. Edano got away with it in the testimony. No hard questions.