Saturday, July 21, 2012

#Anti-Nuclear Japan: EdaNO! Protest in Omiya City, Saitama (Mr. Yukio Edano's Constituency)

Following the last week's success, they are at it again, protesting in Omiya City against the restart of Ooi Nuke Plant and against Mr. Edano himself, calling out loud, "EdaNO, YameRO! (Edano, resign!)" with accent on "NO" and "RO".

The crowd looks less than last week, but just as noisy and vigorous.

Come to think about it, Japan has come a long way. Now ordinary citizens are calling the sitting minister of one of the most powerful ministries in the Japanese government without "Mr.".

Live Video streaming by Ustream

I like these local events. There are no fences, there are no orange cones. People are shouting about all kinds of issues.

"No No EdaNO!"
"Genpatsu Iranai, Edano mo Iranai!" (We don't need nuke plants, we don't need Edano)
"Zo-zei Iranai!" (We don't need tax increase!)

and "Let's vote them out in election. Let's vote out Edano!"

I wonder if people in Goshi Hosono's constituency are doing any protest...

#Radioactive Disaster Debris: Kitakyushu City Educates Kids How Safe It Is to Burn the Debris

I haven't written about the disaster debris disposal for a long time, as it has dwindled into a non-issue in most part of Japan now that the amount of the debris in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures has turned out to be much, much less than what was predicted. EXCEPT in the cities whose mayors are more than ever determined to bring and burn the debris NO MATTER WHAT.

One such city is Tokyo under the 79-year-old governor Shintaro Ishihara. Another is Osaka City under the boy-wonder mayor Toru Hashimoto who would say and do anything to stay in the news.

Then there is Kitakyushu City, whose mayor Kenji Kitahashi has been on a relentless campaign to shove the debris on the residents. His latest antics: Educate elementary school children and junior high school pupils so that they will tell their parents how safe and wonderful it is to bring the disaster debris all the way to their city in Kyushu Island and burn it.

Some Kitakyushu City's parents were outraged when they found out about this education pamphlets. Here's a copy of the pamphlet for 4th to 6th graders in elementary schools, tweeted here:

The pamphlet is full of misleading information and half-truths.

What is "disaster debris disposal"?

More than one year has passed since the March 11, 2011 disaster but there are still large piles of debris in the disaster affected areas. [The picture shown is probably more than one year old.] People in the disaster-affected areas want the debris to be removed as soon as possible. [Not true. Iwate Prefecture officials are on record saying they are considering shipping the debris to Kitakyushu City because the city has asked for it; otherwise, they say, there is no problem disposing it in Iwate.] It is necessary for everyone to help in disposing the debris. Kitakyushu City has decided to help by accepting the flammable debris for the sake of people who are suffering in the disaster-affected areas.

In the middle segment titled "2. There is no effect on health or the environment even if the debris is burned" ("No immediate effect" perhaps? a la Mr. Yukio EdaNO):

We have been receiving the radiation, even if it is invisible, from the universe, soil, air, and food. This time, the city consulted with the experts and decided to accept the debris. The amount of radiation from the debris does not affect your health or environment.

And in fine print, as if to further impress the youngsters on the cleansing effect of burning the debris, it mentions numbers:

Air radiation levels before the debris test burning: Kokura Kita-ku 0.08 microsievert, Moji-ku 0.10 microsievert.
Air radiation levels after the debris test burning: 0.06 to 0.07 microsievert

Wow, burning the debris lowered the radiation levels! (Professor Hayakawa would be pleased.)

In the last segment titled "3. Let's prevent baseless rumors", it says:

What's worrisome in accepting the disaster debris is the baseless rumor against produce in Kitakyushu City, residents of Kitakyushu City, and against Kitakyushu City in general. In order to prevent the baseless rumor, Kitakyushu City is providing the correct facts. The safety of the debris and of the disposal process will be announced on the city's homepage and pamphlets. It is important to make a correct judgment, without distracted by the wrong information about the debris.

As residents of Kitakyushu City, let's learn more about the debris disposal, and let's pray that the towns and schools affected by the disaster will be back to normal as soon as possible.

And look at the cute little three boys. I could almost tell what they are saying. The middle boy is saying:

"But my parents say burning the debris is dangerous, because it's not just radioactive materials but also toxic industrial materials on the debris..."

The other two boys are telling the middle boy,

"Don't be absurd, that's called "baseless rumor"! We have to help those poor children up in Iwate who are suffering. We must tell our parents to shut up and do what the teachers and the mayor of the city say!"

Or it could be the other way around: The middle boy is telling the other two to calm down, and telling them there is no danger.

According to the togetter about Kitakyushu City's pamphlets, school principals were instructed by the mayor and the city's Board of Education to speak positively about accepting and burning the disaster debris in Kitakyushu City at the end-of-semester ceremony before the summer break (most likely it was on July 20). Here's one of the tweets in the togetter:


The other day, I heard that school principals were instructed by Mayor Kitahashi to repeatedly tell pupils from 4th graders on at the end-of-semester ceremony that "to accept the disaster debris is to do a good thing". Our child is in junior high school, so I wondered if they do that in junior high school also. Sure enough, [my daughter] said the principal talked about that in the ceremony today [July 20].

Mayor Kitahashi has his own website where he posts his reasoning for accepting the debris in English. If you care to read it, it is here.

Why doesn't the mayor come outright and say "I want the disaster debris for the money it brings to the city, and the business concessions it will bring to the city"?

By the way, asbestos and mercury have been detected in municipal incineration plants in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo that have been mixing the disaster debris from Onagawa City, Miyagi with the household garbage and burning the mixture. Hexavalent chromium and arsenic have also been detected in the disaster debris in the amount that exceeds the limit set by the regulations.

No matter. All is safe, and all to help "recovery" that is non-existent.

Disaster Recovery by "Embalming" the "Miracle Lone Pine" in Rikuzen Takata City, Iwate

The mayor of the city believes the tree is the symbol of hope for the residents for the future, and it has to be standing, dead or alive. 150 million yen or not.

Some residents wholeheartedly agree with the mayor, while others have doubts, particularly about the money supposedly needed to preserve the tree in the standing position. I am rather surprised that the tree gets "embalmed", instead of burned in a religious ceremony and sent to the "heaven" (wherever the pine tree heaven may be) - a traditional Japanese way.

NHK Morioka (Iwate) had the article for about several hours yesterday, now gone. This is part of the article that I copied while it was still at the local NHK website (7/21/2012):


The method of preservation has been decided for the "Miracle Lone Pine" in Rikuzen Takata City that survived the tsunami of March 11, 2011.


The tree will be cut down at the base, and the trunk will be cut into 5 parts. After they are treated with preservatives they will be pierced through with a metal rod. The tree thus preserved will stand in the original location. Rikuzen Takata Mayor Futoshi Toba disclosed the plan in the press conference on July 20.


According to the plan, the tree will be cut down at the base, and the trunk will be cut into 5 parts. After they are treated with preservatives they will be pierced through with a metal rod, and the base will be secured with bolts so that the tree can stand just like when the tree was alive.


The tree is scheduled to be cut down in the second half of August. [After being cut] the tree will be brought to Nagoya City and Kyoto City where the facilities to treat the wood are located. The core will be removed and the tree will be treated with preservatives. It is hoped that the tree will be standing by the end of February next year.


Rikuzen Takata City is asking for donations to cover the cost of preservation, about 150 million yen [US$1.9 million], but as of two days ago the amount collected was 3.5 million yen. The city will keep calling for support.


Mayor Toba says, "Because the tree, having survived the tsunami and standing, is giving hope to the residents, we have chosen this preservation method. The Lone Pine is our emotional support and our hope for future rebuilding of the city. We would like people all over the country to help us preserve the tree."

Mayor Toba, I was told by one of my twitter followers, lost his wife to the tsunami.

I would still say "Let it go, let the tree die a peaceful death" and find hope elsewhere.

On the other hand, it may be a clear sign that the "recovery", much publicized by the national government, doesn't exist, if the residents of one of the areas hardest-hit by the March 11 tsunami have to rely on a dead tree for hope and support.

Australia Did It Too: Flying Women's Basketball Team to London Olympics in Economy, While Men's Team Flew in Business Class

So Japan is not so singular in the world. That's good to know. But Australia is about to change that long-time custom without any condition attached like the Japanese Soccer Federation whose head insisted that the team win the gold medal in order to fly home in the business class.

From The Sydney Morning Herald (7/21/2012):

Backflip on Opals travel

BASKETBALL Australia is set to rewrite an inequitable travel policy that saw the male members of the Olympic team fly to London in business class while the female team travelled in premium economy.

Under mounting pressure after the Herald revealed the Opals were given economy tickets to London while the Boomers flew business class, the national sports federation, which has a new chairwoman in the former premier Kristina Keneally, admitted its poor policy. Ms Keneally, who will begin in her new role on August 4, gave a scathing assessment of the travel policy.

''In this day and age, there's just no excuse for men's and women's sporting teams to be treated differently when they both compete at the same world-class level,'' she said.

(H/T John Noah)

Friday, July 20, 2012

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Subcontractor in Namie-machi Told Its Workers to Use Lead Casing Over their Dosimeters to Protect Radiation "Allowance"

Mr. Tomohiko Suzuki, journalist who went to work at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant last year to report how it really was in the plant, said the workers use a variety of ways to lower (i.e. fake) the radiation exposure as measured by their dosimeters. One of the ways is to simply hand the dosimeter to a person who is not entering the high-radiation areas; another way is to flip the dosimeter in the pocket so that it won't measure radiation as much.

Here's a new one, decidedly more effective. A subcontractor in Namie-machi, Fukushima who contracts work from one of the 1st-tier TEPCO subcontractors supposedly told its workers to cover their dosimeters with lead plates when working at the plant last year.

Asahi Shinbun reveals in the article below (7/21/2012) that the paper obtained the recording of the company's executive telling workers to do so:

線量計に鉛板、東電下請けが指示 原発作業で被曝偽装

Lead plate on dosimeter, a TEPCO subcontractor instructed the workers to fake radiation exposure at the plant


It has been revealed that a senior executive of a subcontractor instructed its workers to cover their dosimeters with lead plates several millimeters thick for the work ordered by TEPCO for the restoration of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant last December. It was done to disguise the radiation exposure levels of the workers, whose upper limit is set by the regulations. More than one worker has admitted to Asahi Shinbun that they worked with the lead cover over their dosimeters. The senior executive denies that he ever instructed the workers and that the lead cover was used.


Asahi Shinbun has obtained the recording that shows a senior executive (age 54) of the subcontractor "Build Up", which is a medium-sized construction company in Fukushima Prefecture. The exchange between the executive and the workers took place at night on December 2 last year, at a ryokan [Japanese-style hotel, inn] in Iwaki City in Fukushima where the workers were staying. One of the workers recorded the exchange with his cellphone.


On the previous day, the executive had told the team of 10 workers to cover their pocket-sized dosimeter "APD" with lead cover. 3 workers had refused. So on the night of December 2 a talk was held between the company [the executive] and the 3 workers. The executive denies what's in the recording, but more than one worker who were at the scene confirms the facts.

Asahi's subscriber-only section has the actual transcript of the conversation that took place between the executive and the workers. Two additional articles (also subscriber-only) give the detailed background that led to this request. Reading them, I just feel sorry for the executive and the workers.

The company was contracted to put insulation around the pipes near Reactors 1, 2, 3 and 4 that carry contaminated water from the turbine buildings, so that the pipes wouldn't rupture or leak from the freeze.

From the transcript of the recording (Asahi articles here and here, subscription-only; you can subscribe for free and read up to three articles per day):

わかりやすいように説明すると、年間50ミリシーベルトまでいいですよっていうのは、原発やってる人はみんな知ってるんだわな。で、これは、50ミリシーベルトっていうのは各個人の線量。で、俺らみたいな年間通して原発で働く人は、50ミリっていうのは50ミリだから。いっぱい線量浴びちゃうと、年間なんてもたないわけよ、はっきり言って。3カ月、4カ月でなくなっちゃうのよ、50ミリなんて。 だから、自分で自分の線量を守んないと、1年間原発で生活していけないのよ。原発の仕事でぎねがったら、もうその場でどっかで働くかっていうわけにはいかねえんだから。俺ら何十年もやってっから、原発ばっかり。だから、自分の線量を守るためにどうするっていうごどでやってるわけ

To explain it to you simply, everyone working for a nuke plant knows it is OK to be exposed up to 50 millisieverts per year. This 50 millisieverts limit is for each person. Then, for people like us, who work at the nuke plant all year round, 50 millisieverts is 50 millisieverts, and if we're exposed to too much radiation it won't last a year, frankly. [50 millisieverts] is up in 3, 4 months. So, unless we protect our own radiation exposure limit we cannot work at the plant and earn our living for one year. If we can't work at the plant, we don't have any other work. We've been working at the nuke plant for decades. Only at the nuke plant. So the thing is how we protect our radiation exposure [allowance].

線量がなくなったら生活していけねえんだ。わかる? 50ミリがどんどん目減りしていくわけだから

If this radiation [allowance] is depleted, we can't earn our living. Do you understand? 50 millisieverts will just decrease.


I'm fully aware that we shouldn't be doing this. I'm not forcing anyone who doesn't want to do it.


When one of the workers said "I think it is almost a crime", the senior executive countered:

 「私、無理押しした? 自分のために納得してやってもらえるんだったらやってください、ということなの。俺は自分の線量を守りたいからやるよ」

Have I forced you to do it? All I'm saying is if you understand the situation and willingly do it for yourself, then please do it. I will do it because I want to protect my radiation [allowance].


If we don't shield [the radiation] with lead, we will lose our radiation [allowance] and there will be no more work.

It looks these three workers had never worked at any nuclear power plant until they started working for this contractor. The senior executive at one point told them:

だから、よそでやれる人はいいよ。別にそんなことしなくったって。でしょ? ちょこっと来てやって。あと原発の仕事なんかする必要ねえと思ってる人、ね? だけど、俺らは年間通してずっとやってる。1年、2年、3年と継続してやってるわけだから、ドンドン累積されっちゃうと、原発の仕事できなくなっちゃうよ。

As I said, people who can work outside nuclear plants are OK. Don't need to do it, right? Those people who come to work for a short time and no need to work at a nuke plant afterwards. But we've been working all year round. One year, two years, three years, we work continuously [at the nuke plant]. If radiation exposure accumulates we cannot work at the nuke plant.

Some Japanese bloggers are accusing the subcontractor and this executive for forcing the workers to fake the radiation exposure (even if it was technically a non-enforceable "request").

According to NHK News who reported on the same topic, specifically naming the company (which is highly unusual for NHK):


The executive allegedly explained to the president of the company that when he went to survey the location before the work, he was surprised at the alarm of his survey meter sounding off, indicating the rapidly rising radiation levels, that he wanted to make the radiation exposure levels look lower, and that 9 workers used lead covers once.

NHK also says the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor is investigating the company.

Two levels removed, TEPCO sits pretty with plausible deniability. TEPCO doesn't force any subcontractors to fake the radiation levels. The subcontractors themselves do, each deciding what is best for the company in order to secure the work for the workers and to get the job done.

No one investigates TEPCO. No one will, as it is now practically owned by the national government.

The nuclear power plants in Japan have been supported by the companies like this Namie-machi subcontractor. Without them, there would have been no nuclear power plant, anywhere in Japan. And now, without them, there will soon be no skilled workers at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. And who is going to decommission all the other nuclear power plants in Japan? Decommissioning the plants cannot happen all at the same time.

PM NOda declared the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident "over" in December last year, soon after these workers insulated the pipes around Reactors 1 through 4, wearing dosimeters covered with lead plates. And his government goes after this subcontractor. What a joke.

New "Hero" for Friday Protesters in Tokyo: Former PM Yukio Hatoyama

also known as "space alien" among his critics for his off-the-wall remarks in the past. True to this moniker, Mr. Hatoyama said he would go inside the PM's Official Residence and tell the prime minister to listen to the protesters, and he actually did (PM NOda was not there). Good for him on that.

According to the Jiji article below, Prime Minister NOda was as far away possible from Tokyo on Friday. He was in Fukuoka Prefecture in Kyushu. Noda has apparently been complaining to his guards that he cannot freely go out for a drink on Friday evening because of the protest.

From Jiji Tsushin (7/20/2012):


Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama of Democratic Party of Japan participated in the protest against the restart of nuclear power plants in front of the Prime Minister's Official Residence in the evening of July 20. Holding the microphone, Mr. Hatoyama said, "We have to respect a new trend in democracy that you are creating. We should stop the restart."


Mr. Hatoyama then declared, "I will go inside the Official Residence right now and tell them how you feel." He then walked inside the Official Residence, and asked Chief Cabinet Secretary Shu Fujimura that Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda set up an occasion to hear what the protesters have to say. Mr. Fujimura answered "I will tell the prime minister." Of Mr. Hatoyama's request, PM Noda said to the press in Yanagawa City in Fukuoka Prefecture where he was visiting, "I want to listen to various opinions."


Asked why he participated in the protest, Mr. Hatohama explained to the press, "It is necessary to feel the new wave of democracy first hand." However, his party was not enthusiastic about his participation. "Should he be participating in the protest as the former head of the party and former prime minister?" (Koriki Jojima, chairman of DPJ diet policy committee).

By the way, Hatoyama, who voted against the sales tax hike and got his DPJ membership suspended for a few months, is a member of the group of politicians who wants to build nuclear power plants deep underground so that the plants could be easily buried should serious accidents happen.

Yasumi Iwakami did the interview with Mr. Hatoyama on July 18 and it was netcasted on IWJ's USTREAM. People have been tweeting "Oh he sounded so reasonable! Totally different from how the media has been portraying him!"

I didn't think much of him when he was the prime minister, and don't think much of him after he resigned. But I haven't seen the video yet. If you understand Japanese, you can still view it for free at IWJ, here

Whether it is Hatoyama, or Kamei, or other politicians at the protest (including Yasuo Tanaka giving out white balloons), the need to hold up the "higher authority" must be in the national genes.

I came across this tweet by one of the organizers while browsing tweets to find information on Hatoyama's appearance on the Friday protest:


Those people who criticize the way we do things at Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes simply ignore the fact that by doing it our way we've been able to gather so many people to participate. If they want to deny that fact, why don't they organize something on their own on Friday and gather more people?

"Success" seems to have gotten better (or worse) of him.

"Tens of Thousands" on the Streets All Across Spain to Protest Against Government Austerity Programs

I suppose the phase "tens of thousands" must be the global standard that the media has to follow whenever they have to report a very large demonstration. (If it is just a large demonstration, the phrase is "thousands".)

What good does the government's austerity programs do? Well it will squeeze out enough money to pay to the bankers outside Spain.

From AFP (7/20/2012):

Police fire rubber bullets after huge Madrid protest

Spanish police fired rubber bullets and charged protestors in central Madrid early Friday at the end of a huge demonstration against economic crisis measures.

The protest was one of over 80 demonstrations called by unions across the county against civil servant pay cuts and tax hikes which drew tens of thousands of people, including police and firefighters wearing their helmets.

"Hands up, this is a robbery!" protesters bellowed as they marched through the streets of the Spanish capital.

At the end of the peaceful protest dozens of protestors lingered at the Puerta del Sol, a large square in the heart of Madrid where the demonstration wound up late on Thursday.

Some threw bottles at police and set up barriers made up of plastic bins and cardboard boxes in the middle of side streets leading to the square and set them on fire, sending plumes of thick smoke into the air.

Riot police then charged some of the protestors, striking them with batons when they tried to reach the heavily-guarded parliament building.

The approach of the riot police sent protestors running through the streets of the Spanish capital as tourists sitting on outdoor patios looked on.

A police official told AFP that officers arrested seven people while six people were injured.

The protests held Thursday were the latest and biggest in an almost daily series of demonstrations that erupted last week when Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced measures to save 65 billion euros ($80 billion) and slash the public deficit.

Among the steps is a cut to the Christmas bonus paid to civil servants, equivalent to a seven-percent reduction in annual pay. This came on top of a pay cut in 2010, which was followed by a salary freeze.

"There's nothing we can do but take to the street. We have lost between 10 and 15 percent of our pay in the past four years," said Sara Alvera, 51, a worker in the justice sector, demonstrating in Madrid.

"These measures won't help end the crisis."

(Full article at the link).

At least these people still have jobs. Spain's unemployment rate is over 24%, hitting young people disproportionately. The unemployment rate for people aged 16 to 24 in Spain is 51.5%, about twice as much as the overall average (which has always been the case in Europe, except Germany).

Thursday, July 19, 2012

It's Friday, and Protest Is On, Rain or Shine, at PM Official Residence in Tokyo (7/20/2012)

Also at a host of other locations, I'm sure. Tokyo is raining.

Same place, same time:

  • Areas around PM Official Residence and government ministries in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo
  • 6PM to 8PM

Yasumi Iwakami's IWJ USTREAM channels:

Ch1—Yasumi Iwakami, in front of the National Diet Building
Ch3—21:30- Aerial video (if it's raining, from the car)
Ch4—at the Diet Press Club building
Ch5—at PM Official Residence, front line
Ch6—at "Family Area"
Ch7—around Ministry of Finance
Ch8—at Ministry of Economy, Annex [That's where NISA is.]

From the organizer (Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes)'s website,

- Please kindly refrain from carrying banners, flags, placards of particular political organizations or political themes that have nothing to do with anti nuclear or beyond nuclear theme.
- As it is crowded in the areas, if you are going to distribute flyers or collect signatures please do so after 8PM, after the protest is over.
- This protest in front of Prime Minister's Official Residence is a non-violent, direct action. Please understand that spirit, and participate accordingly.
- We ask you to please follow the instructions from the organizers.
- About speeches, please cooperate in the following manner:
1. Please limit your speech to 1 minute.
2. Please refrain from making a speech on a theme that has nothing to do with anti nuclear/beyond nuclear.
3. Please refrain from making a speech that will advertise a particular organization. Please make a speech as an individual.
4. Please note that if we, as organizers, think the speech doesn't fit in with our intention, we may ask you to stop.

1.一人あたり 「1分以内」 でお願いします。

As I posted before, one such speech that didn't fit in with the organizers' intention was a speech about radiation exposure for the young policemen who were sent to high radiation areas in Fukushima Prefecture with little protection.

Olympic Bound: Japan’s World Cup Women Fly Economy; Men Relax in Business

I'm aghast. Japan's women's team won the World Cup Soccer in 2011, and all they got for that was a bump up from the economy class to the economy "premium" class, while the men's team was in the business class, on the same plane.

How that for the insult?

And the reason? The Japan Football Association says "Well, it's been always like this..." The country of Japan is a place for routines, no matter what. All through last year, people went through annual routines - children digging up bamboo shoots in the dirt, planted rice seedlings in the mud with bare feet, people having outdoor parties under the cherry blossoms, having school children clean out the swimming pools before the swimming season, on and on. So what the women's soccer team won the World Cup? They've always flown economy, why change now?

From Wall Street Journal (7/19/2012; emphasis is mine):

Sexist Soccer? Japan’s World Cup Women Fly Economy; Men Relax in Business

A whole nation celebrated when the Japanese women’s soccer squad won the World Cup last year. But hopes that the surprise victory would change attitudes toward women playing the beautiful game in Japan appear to have been premature.

World champions they may be, but when it comes to the pecking order against their male counterparts, Japan’s female football players are relegated to backseat status — literally.

The Japanese women, considered strong contenders for Olympic gold in London, had to squeeze into economy seats on a 12-hour flight to Europe this week, while members of the less successful men’s soccer team, enjoyed the plush amenities of business class further up the cabin.

“It should have been the other way around,” team captain Homare Sawa, the belle of Japanese soccer, told reporters after arriving in Paris. “Even just in terms of age, we are senior,” joked FIFA’s women’s soccer player of the year.

The Japan Football Association lies behind the class separation. While the Japan Olympic Committee gives all Olympic-bound athletes economy class tickets, it is up to the respective associations of each sport to upgrade athletes’ seats as necessary, a JOC spokesman said.

Economy seats to Europe cost as much as ¥160,000 a pop, or about $2,000, but that is considerably less than the ¥400,000 or so a business class seat on a Japan Airlines flight from Tokyo to Paris cost as of Thursday.

To be fair, the Japanese women did get a bump of sorts. They were upgraded to economy premium, which offers 20% extra leg room.

The JFA was not immediately available for comment. But the association has previously said the ticket class distinction has been this way for a long time. The men have been flying business since the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, a couple of years after the men’s league went professional, while the women have remained in coach.


The president of the JFA said on Wednesday that for him to consider upgrading the women to business class on the return flight, the women would have to win gold. The men, who are not tipped for a medal, will be there regardless.

(Full article at the link)

I wonder how the men's team felt. I hope they were uncomfortable, but "hope" is a dirty word these days.

Photos and Videos of Workers Removing Two Unused Fuel Assemblies from Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant, 7/18,19/2012

TEPCO released still photographs of the July 18 and 19 operations to remove two new (unused) fuel assemblies from the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool.

The company also released 4 short videos of the July 19 operation. They look like videos taken from someone's mobile phone (i.e. bad). TEPCO had to blur the names on the backs of the workers to hide their identities, making poor-quality videos even worse. From the still photographs, the operations on July 18 and 19 were identical.

In the photographs, you can see that the workers on the platform were from Hitachi. They are seen hosing down and wiping off a tall, black fuel assembly as the assembly is being pulled out by the crane. The assembly looks clean and intact.

From TEPCO's Photos and Videos Library, 7/19/2012, photographs from the 7/19/2012 operation (click to enlarge; there are more photos at the link):

I'll upload the videos later.

Sweden's Ringhals Nuclear Power Plant Reactor 2 Shut Down 9 Hours After the Restart, Cause Unknown

From Reuters (7/19/2012):

Sweden's Ringhals-2 nuclear reactor fails after restart

OSLO, July 19 | Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:45am EDT

(Reuters) - Sweden's Ringhals-2 nuclear reactor was shut down on Thursday morning, less than nine hours after being restarted, due to a technical glitch, the Nordic power exchange said in a market message.

The 865-megawatt (MW) pressurized water reactor's trip was caused by an elevated high-steam generator level after it was restarted at 1930 GMT on Wednesday, it added.

The reactor was previously shut a month ago due to oil leakage from a transformer, and was expected to be back in full operation after maintenance by Thursday evening.

Ringhals-2 is one of the four reactors at the plant south of Gothenburg, 70 percent owned by Swedish state energy group Vattenfall and 30 percent held by German E.ON .

Nuclear generators supply 40 percent of Sweden's power needs.

(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; editing by Keiron Henderson)

I wonder whose steam generator is used.

UK's Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station in Automatic Shutdown, Cause Unknown

From UBAlert (7/19/2012):

Sizewell B nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast has had its second automatic shutdown in four months. Owner EDF Energy said electricity production had ceased at 17:11 BST on Wednesday and it was investigating the cause of the stoppage. A spokesman said: "The reactor was safely shut down, with the plant responding as expected and at no time was anyone's safety at risk." The plant had an 11-day automatic stoppage in March. EDF said it was not predicting when the plant would begin generating again. The company said the March shutdown had been the first automatic one in three years and was for an electrical fault in the non-nuclear side of the plant. There was a controlled stoppage in May to fix a lubrication problem. EDF Energy said Sizewell B produced enough electricity for two million homes, or about 3% the UK's electricity needs.

Is this kind of "automatic shutdown" with cause unknown a common event occurring at nuclear power plants all over the world, but people and the media (like Reuters) have started to pay more attention because of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident?

(H/T anon reader)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Unusual Event" at Limerick Nuclear Power Plant in Pennsylvania, US, Unit 1 Reactor Manually Scrammed

The Limerick Generating Station is operated by Exelon.

From Excelon's press release on 7/18/2012, announcing that the Unit 1 has been taken offline:

Limerick Operators Take Unit 1 Offline

Operators at Limerick Generating Station took Unit 1 offline this morning following an electrical disturbance on the non-nuclear side of the plant.

POTTSTOWN – Operators at Limerick Generating Station took Unit 1 offline this morning following an electrical disturbance on the non-nuclear side of the plant.

Unit 1 will remain offline until repairs, inspections and testing can be completed. Limerick Unit 2 continues to operate at full power.

As a result of the electrical disturbance, an Unusual Event was declared at 8:39 a.m. and terminated at 9:46 a.m. in keeping with NRC procedures. An Unusual Event is the lowest of four Nuclear Regulatory Commission emergency classifications.

Exelon Generation notified all appropriate federal, state and local government officials of the event. There is no threat to the health and safety of the public associated with this event.

Limerick Generating Station is located approximately 21 miles northwest of Philadelphia. With both units at full power, the site can produce enough carbon-free electricity for 2 million homes

An excellent example of not saying anything like "where exactly" and "what exactly".

According to reports, a transformer blew up in the turbine building. Here's from The Times Herald (7/18/2012):

‘Unusual event’ reported at Limerick power plant

(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) LIMERICK — The Nuclear Regulating Commission said it is closely monitoring events at the Limerick Generating Station after a manual scram around 8:15 a.m. shut down the reactor at the nuclear power plant.

According to NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan, an electrical fault was reported in a transformer in a turbine building that spurred the scram and that the transformer is not a main transformer.

The event was listed as an “unusual event” around 8:39 a.m., the lowest of the event ratings, Sheehan said. No one was injured in the incident and no outside help was requested, Sheehan said.

Sheehan said the transformers have been known to fail from time to time and that the reactor was safely shut down.

Sheehan said there are no complications at the power plant at this time and there is no danger to the public from the incident.


LIMERICK — An “unusual event” was reported Wednesday morning in Unit 1 of the Limerick Nuclear Generating Station.

According to Frank Custer, communications director with Montgomery County, the county received an email from Exelon, parent company of the nuclear power plant, stating that an explosion had occurred causing the “unusual event,” in Unit 1 but the event did not pose any threat to the public.

Custer said the notice reported the “unusual event” had been terminated.
A call placed to the Limerick Generating Station’s media relations spokesperson was not picked up or returned as of 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Tokyo Shinbun: "Nuclear - Energy for Destroyed Future", Says Futaba-machi Resident After 25 Years

Tokyo Shinbun has an article (7/18/2012) about a 36-year-old man from Futaba-machi, Fukushima who evacuated the town after the nuclear accident and now lives in Aichi Prefecture with his wife and a small son. Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is located in Futaba-machi and neighboring Okuma-machi.

When Yuji Onuma was a 6th grader in Futaba-machi in 1987, he came up with the winning slogan selected and proudly displayed at the town's entrance across the road:

"Nuclear - Energy for Bright Future"
原子力 明るい未来の エネルギー

Onuma and his wife returned home temporarily on July 15. The reporter from Tokyo Shinbun accompanied them. At the sign, Onuma made a correction to the slogan that he created 25 years ago by holding up his handmade sign that says "Destruction" (破滅), hiding the word "Bright" (明るい) and turning the sign into:

"Nuclear - Energy for Destroyed Future"
原子力 破滅未来の エネルギー

From Tokyo Shinbun (7/18/2012):


"Nuclear, Energy for Bright Future". It is a slogan displayed on the entrance to the main street in Futaba-machi, Fukushima Prefecture. 25 years ago, Yuji Onuma (age 36) came up with the slogan when he was a 6th grader. It was selected in the town-wide contest. After spending a year and 4 months as an evacuee and having convinced that "going beyond nuclear" is the way to go, he "corrected" his slogan on July 15 when he returned home temporarily.


After the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, he left town with his pregnant wife Serina (age 37). They now live in Anjo City in Aichi Prefecture. Futaba-machi called for a nuclear slogan in a public contest in 1987. Onuma's slogan expressing belief in the nuclear power plant building the future for the town, won. A sign made of steel was built with the grant money for municipalities with power generation facilities near Onuma's home, which was about 4 kilometers from Fukushima I Nuke Plant. He was proud.


After graduating from college and worked elsewhere, he returned home at the age of 29. While working for a real estate company he built an all-electric apartment near the sign, and rented to TEPCO employees. He never doubted the "safety myth" that the town would prosper with the nuclear power plant.


After the accident, the town was designated as no-entry zone, and all residents evacuated. Onuma was tormented by the fact that a normal life was taken away from the town, and was distressed every time the slogan was shown on TV. He blamed himself and regretted. But he thought he had the right to speak about the reality of [having] the nuclear power plant. He wanted to show to his one-year-old son that he was now anti-[or "beyond-"] nuclear.


When he and his wife temporarily returned home on July 15, I accompanied them. Onuma, in the protective clothes, first waved a red card at the slogan, and shouted "Out!". Then, he held aloft a piece of drawing paper that he had brought in front of the sign. On the paper were two characters "破滅" (Destruction), which covered "明るい" (Bright) [on the sign], creating a new slogan: "Nuclear - Energy for Destroyed Future". Correction on the 26th year.

 大沼さんは「原発事故で故郷を奪われることが二度とあってはならない。日本に原発はいらない」と話した。 (野呂法夫、写真も)

Onuma said, "A nuclear plant accident forcing people to leave their hometown, that should never happen again. There is no need for nuclear power plants in Japan." (Report and photograph by Norio Noro)

Stanford University Researchers: "#Fukushima Radiation May Cause 1,300 Cancer Deaths Around the World"

"The best estimates of cancer cases resulting from the Fukushima disaster is 180, and range from 24 to 2,500", according to the Bloomberg News article below.

(180 cases?)

Further, the article says:

The most likely number of cancer deaths is 130 and estimated to range from 15 to 1,300, the authors said, adding that the ranges reflect uncertainties about emissions and the methods the researchers used to calculate their impact.

(130 deaths?? Worldwide?)

The paper by the Stanford researchers further says 2 to 12 cases of cancer may happen among the plant workers.

From Bloomberg News (7/17/2012; part, emphasis is mine):

Fukushima Radiation May Cause 1,300 Cancer Deaths, Study Finds

By Jason Gale - Jul 17, 2012 3:15 PM PT

Radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant may cause as many as 1,300 cancer deaths globally, according to a study that showed fallout from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (9501) crippled reactors may be deadlier than predicted.

The March 2011 nuclear disaster may cause as many as 2,500 cases of cancer, mostly in Japan, Stanford University scientists said. They incorporated emission estimates into 3-D global atmospheric modeling to predict the effects of radiation exposure, which was detected as far away as the U.S. and Europe.

Cancer cases may have been at least 10 times greater if the radiation hadn’t mostly fallen in the sea, said Mark Z. Jacobson, co-author of the first detailed analysis of the event’s global health effects. Identical emissions from a hypothetical accident at California’s Diablo Canyon Power Plant would be 25 percent deadlier because of differing weather patterns, according to the study published yesterday in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.

“There was a lot of luck involved,” said Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, in a telephone interview. “The effects vary significantly with the meteorological conditions and the only reason this wasn’t a lot worse was because 81 percent of all the emissions were deposited over the ocean.”

The failure of backup power at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, located 135 miles (220 kilometers) north of Tokyo, caused the worst atomic accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Radiation fallout forced the evacuation of about 160,000 people surrounding the plant. It also left about 132 square kilometers as a no-go zone, some of it uninhabitable for decades. Prolonged exposure to radiation in the air, ground and food can damage DNA, causing leukemia and other cancers.

The best estimates of cancer cases resulting from the Fukushima disaster is 180, and range from 24 to 2,500, yesterday’s study said.

The most likely number of cancer deaths is 130 and estimated to range from 15 to 1,300, the authors said, adding that the ranges reflect uncertainties about emissions and the methods the researchers used to calculate their impact.

“They have demonstrated there are no significant public health effects” from radiation exposure, said Evan Douple, associate chief of research at the Hiroshima Radiation Effects Research Foundation. “Their best estimate of 130 cancer deaths in Japan would be lost in the background wash of the hundreds of thousands of cancer deaths that would be occurring in the million or so people in the population exposed.”

The biggest health effects were psychological, said Douple, whose team is studying the impact from Fukushima. Stress from the earthquake, tsunami and meltdown may cause a range of health effects, including cancer, he said.

(Full article at the link.)

Excellent. Bloomberg even quotes in the last two paragraphs above the researcher at the institution whose antecedent is the infamous Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission.

Only 130 deaths worldwide (though mostly from Japan) from 3 core melts and 900,000 terabecquerels of radioactive materials (iodine equivalent).

The abstract from Energy & Environmental Science also says that radiation exposure to workers at the plant may result in 2 to 12 cases of cancer:

This study quantifies worldwide health effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident on 11 March 2011. Effects are quantified with a 3-D global atmospheric model driven by emission estimates and evaluated against daily worldwide Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) measurements and observed deposition rates. Inhalation exposure, ground-level external exposure, and atmospheric external exposure pathways of radioactive iodine-131, cesium-137, and cesium-134 released from Fukushima are accounted for using a linear no-threshold (LNT) model of human exposure. Exposure due to ingestion of contaminated food and water is estimated by extrapolation. We estimate an additional 130 (15–1100) cancer-related mortalities and 180 (24–1800) cancer-related morbidities incorporating uncertainties associated with the exposure–dose and dose–response models used in the study. We also discuss the LNT model's uncertainty at low doses. Sensitivities to emission rates, gas to particulate I-131 partitioning, and the mandatory evacuation radius around the plant are also explored, and may increase upper bound mortalities and morbidities in the ranges above to 1300 and 2500, respectively. Radiation exposure to workers at the plant is projected to result in 2 to 12 morbidities. An additional [similar]600 mortalities have been reported due to non-radiological causes such as mandatory evacuations. Lastly, a hypothetical accident at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in California, USA with identical emissions to Fukushima was studied to analyze the influence of location and seasonality on the impact of a nuclear accident. This hypothetical accident may cause [similar]25% more mortalities than Fukushima despite California having one fourth the local population density due to differing meteorological conditions.

*Definition of "morbidity": The rate of incidence of a disease.

One of the researchers, Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson, is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, California. I can see that he may be good at radioactive materials dispersion modeling. But at putting the numbers on cancer cases and deaths?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Just In: TEPCO Has Removed One Fuel Assembly from Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

Headline only at Kyodo News (2012/07/18 12:13):


TEPCO removed one unused fuel assembly from the Spent Fuel Pool at Reactor 4 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, as a test.

Aerial photo at NHK, with workers in white suits. It almost looks like a religious ceremony of some sort.

Kyodo (7/18/2012):

Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan Invites TEPCO's New President Hirose and General Manager Matsumoto for Press Conference on July 19, 1:30PM

I hope there will be a foreign reporter who is also a reader of this blog, and he/she will ask TEPCO's new president why TEPCO is still banning independent journalist Ryuichi Kino from the regular press conferences because he transmitted TEPCO's shareholders meeting via audio using his smartphone on June 27, 2012.

Independent journalists attending TEPCO's regular press conferences have started asking why TEPCO has singled out Kino and banned him from the press conference, while ignoring (or pretending it doesn't know about) major TV stations broadcasting the video taken at the same shareholders' meeting. I have even seen a reporter from a major newspaper asking the question. According to TEPCO, both video and audio recording of their shareholders' meeting is prohibited (by them, not by any law or regulation).

For more about Kino's plight, see my post from July 6, 2012.

From the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan's Event Calendar, a rather dramatic announcement of the event:

P/C Naomi Hirose, President of TEPCO

Event Type :
Summary :
PRESS CONFERENCE Naomi Hirose, President, Tokyo Electric Power Co., Inc.(TEPCO) Junichi Matsumoto, General Manager, Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Division (Corporate Communications)
Language :
The speech and Q & A will be in English and Japanese with English interpretation
Description :
Naomi Hirose,
President, Tokyo Electric Power Co., Inc.(TEPCO)
Juichi Matsumoto, General Manager,
Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Devision (Corporate Communications)

13:30-14:45 Thursday, July 19, 2012
(The speech and Q & A will be in English and Japanese with English interpretation)

Who would want Naomi Hirose’s job? The newly elected president of battered utility Tokyo Electric Power Co. takes over a company that is technically bankrupt, disgraced and despised by many people around the world. Recovering from the Fukushima nuclear disaster will consume the company for years to come as it struggles with the enormously complicated task of decommissioning the stricken Daiichi plant, pay out billions in compensation and somehow rehabilitate its tattered reputation.

True to form for a company that has often seemed Teflon-coated with its own brand of confidence, Tepco has come out fighting. Hirose has announced that his top mission is restarting the Kashiwazaki Kariwa, the world's largest nuclear power complex. The Niigata plant has already been rocked by a serious accident. Five years ago an earthquake struck almost underneath the seven-reactor, 8200-megawatt behemoth. Many would like it to stay permanently offline along with Japan's other mothballed reactors. However Hirose believes the restart is vital to the revival of his company, and Japan.

That only scratches the surface of Tepco's battles. The company has received a reported 1 trillion yen in bailout money from the state, effectively nationalizing it. Will that money ever be paid back, and can Tepco decouple itself from state control? Can it deal with the bitter criticism of its compensation process and end the suffering of the estimated 200,000+ people forced to evacuate from Fukushima? And amidst all that, how will it sell a 10-percent rate hike to the Japanese public?

The man with this giant burden on his shoulders is a former managing director of the firm. He spent years in sales before working his way to the top. His loyalty to the utility is not in doubt. "I personally like Tepco," he said after his appointment in May. "It is unbearable for me to abandon the company as it is." But many observers believe he is already living on borrowed time – one called him a "sacrificial lamb." Come along and hear him discuss the future of the utility.

Please reserve in advance, 3211-3161 or on the website (still & TV cameras inclusive). Reservations and cancellations are not complete without confirmation.

Who will want Hirose's job? Probably many people. I don't think the president that Hirose replaced wanted to go; he had just been installed at the top after Shimizu departed at the last year's shareholders' meeting. The company is effectively backstopped by the national government. Why worry? Living on borrowed time? So? A cushy amakudari job will wait for him.

#Radioactive Japan: 16-Year-Old Boy Was Working at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant in May Last Year

TEPCO says the company found out about it only this month, this year.

But what's more disturbing is what Jiji Tsushin reports in the article below: that the job application was submitted by the boy's relative. The article doesn't say what relationship this relative has to the boy.

From Jiji Tsushin (7/17/2012):


16-year-old boy worked at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, against Labor Standards Law, says TEPCO


TEPCO disclosed on July 17 that a 16-year-old boy had worked from the end of May to early July last year at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. It is against the Labor Standards Law to employ people under the age of 18 to work [this is not exactly correct; more later in the post], and it is the second such case at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant since the accident.


According to TEPCO, when the boy's relative applied for the boy to work for a subcontractor of Kajima, the relative falsified the age as 18.


At the plant, the boy was engaged in dismantling the vehicles damaged by the tsunami. He worked for 6 days, and the radiation exposure was 0.45 millisievert, including both internal and external exposures. The falsification was discovered this month when TEPCO [or Kajima?] asked for the [copy of the] boy's health insurance card from the relative in order to cancel worker registration [at the plant].

In Japan, health insurance is mandatory, and the health insurance card is often used as a form of ID.

Under Japan's Labor Standards Law, companies can employ people under the age of 18, provided that:

  1. The company have the applicant submit his/her census-register certificate to verify the age;

  2. The applicant himself/herself enter into labor contract, not the relative(s) on behalf of the applicant;

  3. The applicant's relative(s) cannot receive wages on behalf of the applicant;

  4. The applicant won't be made to work overtime.

The mandatory school education in Japan ends at junior high school. Upon graduation, most students are 16 years of age, and eligible to work. So, the violation in this case may be that:

  1. The relative falsified the age of the applicant so that no age verification would be required (the hiring subcontractor may have colluded in this);

  2. The relative may have entered into the labor contract on behalf of the applicant, which is against the law;

  3. The relative may have received the wages, which is against the law;

  4. The applicant may have worked overtime at the plant, which is against the law.

There is no information about the boy's family's situation, but it must have been dire if the family had to rely on the boy working at Fukushima I Nuke Plant under false papers.

Monday, July 16, 2012

(Humor) PM Noda as "I'm a Real Wild One..."

Someone's masterpiece in one of the July 16 demonstrations in Tokyo after the 170,000-strong gathering in Yoyogi Park in Tokyo that even NHK reported (from @RinkoWaters):

I'm a real wild one...
See how I restarted Ooi without surveying the faults...
There is no vent...
Don't tell anyone that thermal power was shut down, worth 3 nuclear reactors...

TEPCO's Space-Age Decon Tool Can Visualize Nuclide, Direction and Intensity of Radiation

Finally there's something sort of "high-tech" about the whole "decontamination" business which has boasted screw drivers, brooms and blue tarp as effective decon tools outside Fukushima I Nuke Plant, and vacuuming and strip-painting inside the plant compound. One of the "high-tech" items is GPS used to map the contaminated areas (see my previous post), and the other is a Compton camera developed by Japan's space agency.

TEPCO has been doing the GPS survey assisting the government research institutions OUTSIDE the plant to identify the radiation contamination. Examples of the survey were announced at the press conference on June 15, 2012.

Browsing through the press handout on June 15 titled "Developing Technology on Monitoring Radioactive Materials and Decontamination", I found a very interesting picture taken by a "super-wide angle Compton Camera" developed by JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency).

According to TEPCO's explanation (page 5 of the handout),

The utilization of the Compton camera experimentally produced by JAXA for decontamination is currently under consideration (JAEA and TEPCO). A “super-wide angle Compton camera” allows to visualize radioactive materials such as cesium-134 and cesium-137 by identifying the nuclide, direction and intensity of radioactive materials excluding the air dose rate of the environment (See below).

It is a bit unnerving to "see" the radiation.

From JAXA's English website, the press release on March 29, 2012:

Visualization of Radioactive Substances
with JAXA's 'Ultra-wide-angle Compton Camera'

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has constructed a prototype of a new device called the "Ultra-wide-angle Compton Camera," which can visualize radioactive substances that emit gamma rays. The camera was developed by applying technology for a gamma-ray observation sensor that will be installed in the next generation X-ray astronomy satellite "ASTRO-H."

This device combines the power of a wide-angle vision covering almost 180 degrees, and a nuclide whose unique feature is identification of gamma-rays, in order to visualize the distribution of Cesium 137 (Cs-137) and 134 (Cs-134) in any plot of ground or a house lot. Hence it can be utilized to obtain images of radioactive substances accumulated on rooftops and other raised locations that are difficult to survey using conventional investigation methods by human beings with a survey meter.

On February 11, JAXA, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) conducted a demonstration of dosimetry and imaging using the Ultra-wide-angle Compton Camera in Kusano district, Iidate Village, Fukushima Prefecture, an area which is designated as a planned evacuation zone. We were able to successfully capture high precision images of radioactive Cesium distribution with a much wider view as compared to that of a conventional gamma-ray camera.

JAXA and JAEA, in cooperation with TEPCO, will carry out further studies of possible practical uses of the Ultra-wide-angle Compton Camera for decontamination of radioactive substances and other related operations. 


Reference link:

New York Times: "Thousands Gather in Tokyo to Protest Nuclear Restart" (Browser Headline)

Uh... thousands?

(Battle between the editors at New York Times?)

New York Times joined LA Times and others to report on the July 16 protest in Yoyogi Park in Tokyo against nuclear power generation. When I searched for the article, this title popped up as the NY Times article:

Thousands Gather in Tokyo to Protest Nuclear Restart -

and that's what is displayed on the top bar of my internet browser.

The article itself is now titled:

Tokyo Rally Is Biggest Yet To Oppose Nuclear Plan

The caption of the photograph full of labor union flags says:
Tens of thousands of antinuclear protesters gathered on Monday in central Tokyo in the largest rally since last year's Fukushima disaster.

The article by Ms. Hiroko Tabuchi starts:

In Japan’s largest antinuclear rally since the disaster at Fukushima, tens of thousands of protesters gathered at a park in central Tokyo on Monday to urge the government to halt its restarting of the nation’s reactors.

and goes on to mention:

Organizers said 170,000 people filled a Tokyo square to sing songs, beat drums and cheer on a series of high-profile speakers who called for more Japanese to make their voices heard.

The entire article from New York Times (7/16/2012):

Tokyo Rally Is Biggest Yet To Oppose Nuclear Plan

Published: July 16, 2012

TOKYO — In Japan’s largest antinuclear rally since the disaster at Fukushima, tens of thousands of protesters gathered at a park in central Tokyo on Monday to urge the government to halt its restarting of the nation’s reactors.

Organizers said 170,000 people filled a Tokyo square to sing songs, beat drums and cheer on a series of high-profile speakers who called for more Japanese to make their voices heard. The police put the number at 75,000, still making it the biggest gathering of antinuclear protesters since the Fukushima accident last year.

“To stay silent in the wake of Fukushima is inhuman,” the Oscar-winning musician Ryuichi Sakamoto told the crowd, which braved soaring temperatures to gather at Yoyogi Park.

Polls suggest that public opinion is still divided over the future of nuclear power in Japan. But a unilateral decision last month by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to start putting the country’s reactors back into use has angered many Japanese and galvanized the antinuclear camp.

Antinuclear protests have gained momentum especially here in the capital, where tens of thousands of protesters now gather every week to shout slogans in front of Mr. Noda’s official residence.

After the rally, protesters marched through some of the city’s busiest shopping districts, prompting curious looks from passers-by but largely maintaining a strict discipline that has come to characterize the antinuclear rallies in recent weeks.

“It doesn’t matter, for now, if people hear us or not,” said Ayuko Higashi, an illustrator from Kamakura, southwest of Tokyo, who said this was her third antinuclear rally. “It’s just a big step forward to start raising our voices.”

Rally organizers have gone to great lengths to project a friendly image in a generally conformist country where protesters of any kind are seen by many as fringe agitators at best and terrorists at worst. This perception is left over from mass protests in the 1960s and ’70s against a security treaty with the United States, during which rioters armed with pipes and makeshift gasoline bombs clashed with the police.

At the weekly protests in front of the prime minister’s office, organizers cordon off family-only zones to urge parents with children to participate. They also ask protesters to cooperate with the local police and to go home at 8 p.m. on the dot.

Organizers have also started issuing pamphlets with advice on what to bring (drinks and hand wipes on sticky days), advice for shy or first-time participants (no need to say anything) and guidance on what to do if fellow demonstrators start getting out of hand (politely ask them to calm down).

An unlikely leader of the antinuclear movement is a fuzzy fictional character called Monju-kun, who has amassed a following on social networking sites like Twitter for his child-friendly jabs against the government’s energy policy.

Monju-kun made a brief appearance at the protest Monday with a colorful stuffed costume. “The government is restarting our nuclear reactors, and that makes me sad,” he said to squeals from fans — many of them families with small children — waving Monju-kun posters.

“If we’re not careful, we could have another nuclear accident, like a fire,” said Rion Nakajima, 5, who was clutching a balloon emblazoned with a smiling Monju-kun.

“We decided to participate because we want the Japanese government to realize that any mistake it makes now will have serious repercussions for future generations,” said Rion’s mother, Kazuki.

Nuclear power supplied nearly a third of Japan’s electricity before the Fukushima accident, but almost all reactors are now offline for checks or maintenance. Japanese leaders pledged last year not to restart any nuclear plant without local approval. But they apparently did not foresee the level of resistance that has since developed, and they have begun to push for plant reopenings, citing economic and security reasons. Last month, Mr. Noda approved the restarting of a reactor in western Japan. Others are expected to be put back into use in the coming months.

Recent polls have shown that public opinion remains divided between those who argue that Japan should abandon nuclear power and those who warn of a crippling energy shortage. A majority favor more stringent checks of reactors.

It is unclear whether the antinuclear protests can become a political force. There is still no significant Green Party in Japan, and the two largest parties say the country, for now, needs its reactors.

Mr. Noda, who initially raised the ire of protesters by calling their rallies “loud noise,” said last week that he was fully aware of public opinion both for and against nuclear power.

Lithuania to Hold a Referendum on Nuclear Power Plant to Be Build by Hitachi-GE

From Reuters (7/16/2012; emphasis added):

Lithuania to hold a consultative vote on nuclear plant

(Reuters) - Lithuania will hold a non-binding referendum on the centre-right government's planned new nuclear power plant on the same day as a parliamentary election, in a move that could boost support for the opposition and derail the project with a big vote against.

Parliament's decision on Monday to hold the vote puts energy issues at the centre of the election, with the opposition and government split on how to reduce country's energy dependence on its former Soviet master, Russia.

Polls have showed public support for nuclear energy in Lithuania wane following the Fukushima disaster in 2011 in Japan, with opinion now roughly divided.

The government has proposed building the Visaginas plant on the site of the Ignalina plant in eastern Lithuania that was shut in 2009.

But the main opposition party in the current parliament, the Social Democrat Party, said the government should focus on renewable resources and renovating houses to save energy and rather than on a costly nuclear power plant project.

"We should stop dreaming about nuclear power, benefits of which we might see or might not see in only 30 years," Birute Vesaite, deputy chair of the party, told parliament.

Centre-left parties such as the Social Democrats lead the opinion polls before the parliamentary election.

Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, who opposed the referendum, said it was causing doubts about commitments made by his coalition government.

Parliament last month voted, with a narrrow margin, in favor of giving the government a go-ahead to work towards a final construction deal with U.S.-Japanese alliance Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy for the 1,350 MW ABWR reactor.

In 2011, Lithuania imported 65 percent of its electricity, mostly from Russia, making it the European Union member most dependent on power imports.

Lawmakers voted 62-39 to hold the referendum on Oct. 14, the parliament press office said. Eighteen abstained.

(Reporting via Oslo Newsroom; Editing by Alison Williams)

July 16 Protest in Yoyogi Park "Largest Anti Nuclear Protest Ever in Tokyo", Reports NHK

What a surprise. I'm just shocked, SHOCKED! that NHK reported!

(Sarcasm off)

NHK reported on the July 16 protest in Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, for a change. It must be near impossible to ignore, because NHK is located right around the corner from the park.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police apparently told NHK that 75,000 people participated.

From NHK (7/16/2012; part):


Largest-Ever Anti-Nuclear Event in Tokyo


As Reactor 3 at KEPCO's Ooi Nuclear Power Plant is in full operation and other nuclear plants in the country may be getting ready to resume operation, an anti-nuclear event was held in Tokyo which attracted the largest crowd ever. The participants demanded the reactor at Ooi Nuclear Power Plant be stopped and that nuclear reactors be decommissioned.


The July 16 gathering was organized by people including Nobel Prize winning author Kenzaburo Ooe and Satoshi Kamata, journalist and author, to let the government hear their voice of protest.


Citizens' groups, labor unions, and people who had learned of the event via Twitter [and other net media] gathered in Yoyogi Park in Tokyo. The number of participants was 170,000 according to the organizers, and 75,000 according to the Police. It was the largest crowd ever gathered in Tokyo for anti nuclear protest.

French Nuclear Waste Management Agency Invents "Hard Disk" That Will Last 1 Million Years

The disk is made of sapphire, with information engraved in platinum. Materials more appropriate for Tiffany's than nuclear waste management.

The first thing I thought about when I read the headline of the Science article was, "In what language?" That's what the inventor is thinking about, according to the article.

After all, archeologists still can't read "Linear A" or letters on tablets found in Mohenjo-daro, and they are only several thousand years old...

From Science (7/12/2012; emphasis added):

A Million-Year Hard Disk
by Daniel Clery on 12 July 2012, 12:15 PM

DUBLIN—It seems these days that no data storage medium lasts long before becoming obsolete—does anyone remember Sony's Memory Stick? So have pity for the builders of nuclear waste repositories, who are trying to preserve records of what they've buried and where, not for a few years but for tens of thousands of years.

Today, Patrick Charton of the French nuclear waste management agency ANDRA presented one possible solution to the problem: a sapphire disk inside which information is engraved using platinum. The prototype shown costs €25,000 to make, but Charton says it will survive for a million years. The aim, Charton told the Euroscience Open Forum here, is to provide "information for future archaeologists." But, he concedes: "We have no idea what language to write it in."

Most countries with nuclear power stations agree that the solution for dealing with long-lived nuclear waste is to store it deep inside the earth, about 500 meters below the surface. Finland, France, and Sweden are the furthest advanced in the complicated process of finding a geologically suitable site, persuading local communities to accept it, and getting regulatory approval. Sweden's waste management company, SKB, for example, spent 30 years finding the right site and is now waiting for the government's green light to begin excavation. It plans to start loading in waste a decade from now, and will be filling its underground pits for up to 50 years.

While the designers of such repositories say they are confident that the waste will be safely incarcerated, the most uncontrollable factor is future archaeologists or others with a penchant for digging. Archaeologist Cornelius Holtorf of Linnaeus University in Sweden showed meeting participants an early attempt at warning future generations: a roughly 1-meter-wide stone block with the words "Caution - Do Not Dig" written in English with some smaller text explaining that there is nuclear waste below. But who knows what language its discoverers will understand in thousands or hundreds of thousands of years—or even if they will be human beings? Holtorf points out that a much earlier attempt to warn off future excavations, the Egyptian pyramids, were looted within a generation. "The future will be radically different from today," says archaeologist Anders Högberg, who is also from Linnaeus University. "We have no idea how humans will think."

In 2010, ANDRA began a project to address these issues, says Charton. It brings together specialists from as wide a selection of fields as possible, including materials scientists, archivists, archaeologists, anthropologists, linguists, and even artists—"to see if they have some answers to our questions." The initial goal is to identify all the approaches possible; in 2014 or 2015, the group hopes to narrow down the possibilities.

The sapphire disk is one product of that effort. It's made from two thin disks, about 20 centimeters across, of industrial sapphire. On one side, text or images are etched in platinum—Charton says a single disk can store 40,000 miniaturized pages—and then the two disks are molecularly fused together. All a future archaeologist would need to read them is a microscope. The disks have been immersed in acid to test their durability and to simulate ageing. Charton says they hope to demonstrate a lifetime of 10 million years.

Researchers have some time to work on the problem because the repositories will probably not be filled and sealed up until the end of this century. "Each country has its own ideas, but we need to get a common approach," says SKB's Erik Setzman. "We technical people can't solve this problem ourselves. We need help from other parts of society."

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Some Citizens Got Wiser on July 13 Protest at PM Official Residence in Tokyo, on Bikes and Cars to Take Advantage of Roads Cleared by the Police

From OurPlanetTV (7/14/2012):

I tweeted some of the suggestions from the readers of this blog about the protest, including using cars going round the Prime Minister's Official Residence. From the reaction from my Japanese followers, it simply didn't occurred to them. But it did occur to some people who took part on their bikes and cars, as you see in the video above.

"July 16 Goodbye Nuclear Protest" in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo

(UPDATE) The organizer says 170,000 people have gathered in the park.

This is Channel 2 Main Stage:

Streaming by Ustream

Anti- (or beyond-, if you like) nuclear celebrities are giving speeches with high-sounding words, how nuclear power has been pressed on the poor regions, talking about happiness of mankind without nuclear power, etc., etc. Now, some comedienne from Osaka with mohawk hair is shouting into the microphone.

And all I can think about while listening to these people is that old mother and her daughter in the no-entry zone in Fukushima, without water, without gas, whom (ex-journalist) Takashi Uesugi visited.


The organizer, "Sayonara Nuke", hopes to attract 100,000 people.

If I remember right, it was somewhat like this last year - several months after the March 11 nuclear accident, several organizations started to stage anti-nuclear ("beyond nuclear" 脱原発, as they phrase it) gatherings and marches. I was rather disinterested in those events, with celebrities giving emotive speeches and ordinary citizens participate and chant "Beyond nuclear".

I couldn't care less last year as I was more interested in and worried about the radiation contamination of the environment and food. I remember often wondering why these people looked content "protesting" against nuclear power in the most generalized term after one of the worst nuclear accidents in history had happened in their own country with very tangible damage, particularly in Fukushima and southern Tohoku and northern Kanto.

Well the big gathering is back in Tokyo, in Yoyogi Park. It's just started, and you can view it on IWJ's 9 USTREAM channels:


The channels I've checked says "Recorded Live". I don't know what's the deal is, but I hope it will start netcasting live soon.

This year, I am less disinterested because of totally citizen-based demonstrations that have been cropping up all over Japan.

Here's Channel 3, at the Second Stage. Some kind of funny act by a chubby man dressed as a devil, when I saw it:

Live stream by Ustream

Radiation Levels Inside #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Compound Exceed 300 Microsieverts/Hr in Some Locations

TEPCO did the survey of the air radiation levels within the plant compound on May 9, 2012, using the GPS system for the first time. Unbelievable as it is, that's what the company says in the June 2012 report for the Working Group for the Decommissioning of Reactors 1 through 4 at Fukushima I Nuke Plant. The report is only available in Japanese, and it sometimes contains information that is not reported to the media in the regular press conferences.

The following map is on the page 66 of the report, in a section that discusses the various methods of decontamination of the plant compound.

(Ex-Journalist) Takashi Uesugi Goes Inside #Fukushima No-Entry Zone, Measures 106.87 Microsieverts/Hr Near Fukushima I Nuke Plant

Takashi Uesugi, who says he is an ex-journalist and now a "hyper golf creator" (whatever that means), went inside the no-entry zone in Fukushima (I believe it was in May or June) with his dosimeters to ostensibly visit his favorite golf course in Fukushima.

Mr. Uesugi, former New York Times reporter, created the bilingual (Japanese/English) video below, which is on his website, as a teaser for the longer, full version to be released later.

In the early days of the Fukushima nuclear accident, he was more active, accusing the government and TEPCO for withholding the information about the accident, particularly about the "meltdown" of the reactors.

On his visit to his favorite golf course, Uesugi also dropped by near Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. His dosimeter showed 106.87 microsieverts/hour.

What's astonishing to me about the video than the radiation level (yes it is high) is that Uesugi visited a family who continues to live inside the no-entry zone because of the very old mother who is bed-ridden. The daughter, herself in her 60s or 70s, says even the doctors tell them it was a good choice to remain there, because her mother wouldn't have made it in the temporary shelter. But there is no water, no gas, no propane delivery, nothing. How do these people survive? Why should they suffer like this? Because of the arbitrary circle that the inept government marked on the map in March last year. But the daughter is reassuring the mother, "This is your house, you don't need to go anywhere."

Many who saw this video are crying "TEPCO lies!" on Twitter because one of the monitoring posts at the plant on July 12 was only 9.3 microsieverts/hour, nowhere near 106 microsieverts/hour that Uesugi measured.

That is an unjust accusation, though. TEPCO says on its webpage that summarizes the monitoring post data that the company did the thorough decontamination from February to April this year around the the monitoring posts MP2 through 8 in order to reduce the background radiation levels to better monitor the radiation fluctuations. The radiation level near the Main Building has been extremely stable around 220 microsieverts/hour.

(H/T Helios)