Friday, November 30, 2012

Ms. Kada's New Party (Japan's Future) Would Allow Nuke Plant Restarts As Long As They Are Deemed "Safe and Necessary" by the Government

(Update) She "clarified" her comments in the afternoon. According to Asahi, she said she had simply outlined the procedure for the restart in her morning comment.


From Asahi Shinbun (12/1/2012):


Mirai's President Kada would allow restart of nuclear power plants "if safety is secured"


President of Japan's Future Party (Nippon Mirai) and Governor of Shiga Prefecture Yukiko Kada said in a TV program in the morning of December 1 that the restart of nuclear power plants "would happen if the Nuclear Regulatory Agency ensures safety and if the government makes the decision that the restart is necessary", indicating she may allow the restart if these conditions are met.


Ms. Kada also said, "It sounds reasonable to restart [nuclear power plants] if there are safety standards, but we will not increase [nuclear] waste any more", emphasizing the necessity to control the total amount of spent nuclear fuel.

If we recall, Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant was inspected by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and deemed safe and secure. NISA was abolished and Nuclear Regulatory Agency has been created, but even the new agency cannot protect nuclear power plants from earthquakes and tsunamis. Besides, none of the deficiencies

I can almost guarantee that my tweet of this Asahi article will have very few retweets by my Japanese followers. No one wants to hear a bad piece of news that may damage their hopes and dreams of bright nuclear-free future of Japan.

Well, this is interesting. Just yesterday when I accessed Ms. Kada's party site, there was a manifesto with six major policies. Now that's gone. Instead, there is one sentence telling us her party will announce the manifesto on December 2. (Shame on me for not copying yesterday's page...)

Meanwhile, Mr. Taro Yamamoto, 38-year-old actor turned anti-nuclear activist who has been pressing for protecting children from radiation contamination, has decided to run for office, either as an independent or by forming his own party. He will hold a press conference at 5PM on December 1.

Japanese Politics: Less Than 3 Weeks to Voting, a New Party Is Capturing the Hearts of Anti-Nuclear Citizens

The Japanese love hopium, and no amount of radioactive cesium would change that.

What kind of hopium this time? Bright future for Japan of course.

What future? you may ask. Let's see...

「卒原発(脱原発)」 - graduate from nuclear power
「活女性、こども」 - happy women and children
「守暮らし」 - protect people's living
「脱増税」 - move away from tax increase
「脱官僚」 - move away from bureaucrats
「誇外交」 - proud foreign policy

What are they? They are the 6 key policies of the new party headed by the female governor of Shiga Prefecture (pictured below, right) which have been rapidly joined by just about every minor political parties except for Japan Communist Party, Social Democratic Party, and New Japan.

If you read Japanese, you see that they use a peculiar way of creating the word. It's almost like the word order for Chinese. I don't even know how to pronounce the second, third, and sixth policies. (Boy do I smell a PR agency...)

Even Mr. Ozawa's party, People's Living First Party, have quickly dissolved itself and eagerly joined Ms. Yukiko Kada's new party, named "日本未来の党" (Japan's Future Party; my translation not their official English name).

Japan's Future Party. For the future where everyone will be able to have hope. (So says the card Ms. Kada is holding in the photo above.)

With less than 3 weeks to the election, politicians have been scrambling to get organized and get some traction with the voters. Almost all of them were caught off guard by Prime Minister Noda's declaration on November 14 that he would dissolve the Lower House and call the election on December 16, one-year anniversary of his declaration of "cold shutdown state".

I don't know anything about Ms. Kada, other than she was a scholar and university researcher before she became the governor of Shiga Prefecture in western Japan (Kansai region). In the news earlier this year, she made a minor news headline when she said she had had no choice but to say yes to the restart of Ooi Nuclear Power Plant because of the pressure from local businesses in Shiga Prefecture who were afraid of potential damage from the rolling blackout.

When I first saw her photo, I thought she was the mayor of Yokohama City who couldn't pass up a bargain of cheap domestic beef after March 11, 2011 and kept feeding school children with her bargain meat. That's not a very good association, but that's what I thought on seeing the photo.

Anti-nuclear people, particularly women, are excited. Now there is an anti-nuclear, "third" party! instead of the boy-wonder's party (the boy-wonder did suddenly declare he was for moving away from nuclear power). And it's headed by a woman! Future, the bright future!

So they dream on, gazing into distance expectantly (just like Panasonic's homepage photo), while ignoring things like:

  • Highly contaminated dirt on the roadside in Kanto and Tohoku;

  • Food contaminated with radioactive cesium sold all over Japan;

  • Refugees from the nuclear accident still living in an abandoned high school building more than 20 months after the accident;

  • Fukushima I Nuke Plant workers continue to get exposed to high radiation, with low pay and no benefit and no free cancer checkups;

  • Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident is not "over"; and politically

  • Ms. Kada has been an ally of the boy-wonder mayor of Osaka City;

  • Her party's deputy president will be Tetsunari Iida, who was an advisor to the boy-wonder and who ran for the governorship in Yamaguchi and utterly failed.

Reality? What is that? Reality-based world is so passe and boring, too many details, too much information!

I am disappointed that Mr. Ozawa throws his party behind the dreamy future with this new party without first addressing any of the problems caused by the nuclear accident (and to an equal degree, by the earthquake and tsunami), particularly when it was Mr. Ozawa who had declared that stopping radioactive materials coming out of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and ending the nuclear accident was the first and foremost priority for Japan as a nation, and until that was done, there would be no future for Japan.

Well, he caved, it seems. Ms. Kada says Mr. Ozawa will have no official role in her new party.

Dream on, Japan, as that seems to be about the only thing you can handle.


I'm reading the details of the six core policies of Japan's Future Party, and I don't think I like the details which include:

  • Create the Japanese version of NSC (National Security Council) against terrorism;

  • Actively promote free-trade associations;

  • Delegate local control of the national government to [unelected] supra-regional political unions [like the one in Kansai]

  • 312,000 yen per year subsidy per child [and where does that money come from?]

Their energy policy is nothing but what Mr. Iida has been promoting.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 3: Radiation Level Gone Up Since November Last Year, to 4.78 Sieverts/Hr Near NE Equipment Hatch

TEPCO sent in Packbot and Quince 2 on November 27 to check the soundness of the PVC Gas Management System duct which runs above the guide rails for the equipment hatch in the northeast corner of the Reactor 3 building.

For the work that lasted for one hour and 40 minutes, Packbot received 650 millisieverts, and Quince 2 received 185 millisieverts. Their human coworkers who operated them received maximum 0.52 millisieverts, according to TEPCO's press release on November 28, 2012.

It's the same location where Packbot was sent in twice, in November last year, first to clean the guide rail of the equipment hatch on the northeast corner of the Containment Vessel, then to check up on its cleanup job (radiation levels went up).

It is also the same equipment hatch that TEPCO finally admitted had been open, probably since March 2011.

In 12 months, the radiation level at one location near the surface of the guide rail has gone from 1.3 sieverts/hour to 4.78 sieverts/hour. At 40 centimeters off the floor along the guide rail, the radiation levels now exceed 1 sievert/hour.

From TEPCO's Photos and Videos Library (Japanese), 11/28/2012:

So, that means TEPCO used the human workers to install this duct in the environment of extremely high radiation to guide the air from inside the Containment Vessel and feed it to the system that removes radioactive materials, while the equipment hatch there was and is open, leaking radioactive water.

And the company and the national government who owns it refuse to give free annual cancer checkups for 96.3% of workers.

But not to worry. Anti-nuclear citizens on Twitter are dancing a happy dance with the creation of a new party called "Japan's Future Party", promising fairy tales including "graduating from nuclear power".

Reality is too bleak.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

#Radioactive Japan with No Money Part 2: Government/TEPCO to Cover Annual Cancer Screening Costs of Only 3.7% of #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Workers

That's 904 workers out of 24,118 who have worked at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant since March 2011, up to September this year.

It's still over 5-fold increase, though. Originally when Prime Minister Noda declared a "cold shutdown state" to the ridicule of the world on December 16, 2011, only 167 workers who had exceeded the cumulative radiation of 100 millisieverts one day prior were to be fully covered by the national government for annual cancer screening for life, but no one else.

In August this year, TEPCO (at that time already effectively nationalized) was kind enough to lower the limit to 50 millisieverts, but the exposure should have been sustained by December 16, 2011 to qualify for the free checkups.

How much does a cancer screening test cost? About 50,000 yen (US$610). 45.2 million yen (about US$549,000) per year for 904 people, instead of 1.2 billion yen (US$15 million) per year for 24,118 people.

The Japanese government is paying 22 trillion yen (US$268 billion), or about a quarter of the annual budget, in interest payments for its enormous debt. "We owe it to ourselves", say the Japanese citizens, analysts, politicians alike.

I guess they don't feel they owe it to the subcon workers at Fukushima I Nuke Plant.

From Asahi Shinbun (11/22/2012; part):


(Report by Miki Aoki) It has been revealed that only 904 workers, or 3.7% of the 24,118 workers who have worked at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant since the start of the accident up to September this year will be able to receive free cancer screening tests from the national government and TEPCO. It is because the national government and TEPCO will allow free cancer tests only to workers who had already received more than 50 millisieverts of radiation by the December [16] declaration by the Noda administration that the accident was over. TEPCO says the workers who are worried can still talk to the company by calling 03-3597-0741 to speak with [TEPCO's] attorney.


Even after the declaration that the nuclear accident is over, the work at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is carried out in a high radiation environment. For example, 24 workers exceeded cumulative radiation exposure of 50 millisieverts just this September. However, except for 2 TEPCO employees who are exempt [from the government/TEPCO rule], 22 workers won't be eligible for free cancer screening tests.


Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare set up the system last October which designated the workers at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant as "workers engaged in emergency work" and allowed them to receive annual cancer screening tests for free for life if their cumulative radiation level exceeded 100 millisieverts.


The cost (about 50,000 yen [US$610]) would be borne by the employers, and if the workers quit, the national government would pay the cost.


However, when the Noda administration declared the end of the nuclear accident on December 16 last year, Ministry of Health decided that the emergency work was now basically over and limited the number of workers eligible for the free annual cancer checkups to 167 who had already exceeded 100 millisieverts as of December 15, 2011, one day prior to the declaration.


This August, TEPCO announced the remedial measures whereby 663 workers who had exceeded 50 millisieverts by the time of the declaration would be added to the workers who could receive free checkups. In addition, some TEPCO employees who carry out particular work will receive free checkups even if they exceed 50 millisieverts after the declaration, and there are 74 such employees so far.


At Fukushima I Nuke Plant, in September alone, 27 workers were exposed to 10 to 20 millisieverts of radiation, which is very high, as evidenced by the 20 millisieverts per year standard used by the companies that work in nuclear power plants. There are workers at Fukushima I Nuke plant who say all workers should be included in the program [of free annual cancer screening tests]. If this health management problem is underestimated, workers may start avoiding the work at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, causing the delay in decommissioning which is estimated to last for more than 40 years.

40 years. That's why some right-wing politicians (including the vice governor of Tokyo) have been talking about reinstating the draft and send young people to work at the plant, willing or not.

As you see, the declaration in December last year that the cold shutdown "state" was achieved and the nuclear accident was over was made so that the national government would not need to spend extraordinary amount of money on the workers at the plant and to the residents in Fukushima who were displaced by the nuclear accident. Instead, the government have been generously giving money to general contractors doing the "decontamination" and transporting disaster debris full of asbestos and heavy metals as well as radioactive materials to be burned and buried in faraway places like Osaka and Kitakyushu.

LDP politicians, already planning for their administration (or at least how to spend more taxpayers' money once they get there, which they have no doubt about), wants to have a supplementary budget to the tune of 5 trillion yen or more right after the election. You can bet none of the money is going to Fukushima I Nuke Plant workers.

Monday, November 26, 2012

United Nations Wants to Control the Internet, It's "Like Handing a Stradivarius to a Gorilla" Says WSJ

In addition to the UN-operated drones, we may get the UN-managed Internet. Good luck, people.

From Wall Street Journal's Gordon Crovitz (11/25/2012):

Who runs the Internet? For now, the answer remains no one, or at least no government, which explains the Web's success as a new technology. But as of next week, unless the U.S. gets serious, the answer could be the United Nations.

Many of the U.N.'s 193 member states oppose the open, uncontrolled nature of the Internet. Its interconnected global networks ignore national boundaries, making it hard for governments to censor or tax. And so, to send the freewheeling digital world back to the state control of the analog era, China, Russia, Iran and Arab countries are trying to hijack a U.N. agency that has nothing to do with the Internet.

For more than a year, these countries have lobbied an agency called the International Telecommunications Union to take over the rules and workings of the Internet. Created in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union, the ITU last drafted a treaty on communications in 1988, before the commercial Internet, when telecommunications meant voice telephone calls via national telephone monopolies.

Next week the ITU holds a negotiating conference in Dubai, and past months have brought many leaks of proposals for a new treaty. U.S. congressional resolutions and much of the commentary, including in this column, have focused on proposals by authoritarian governments to censor the Internet. Just as objectionable are proposals that ignore how the Internet works, threatening its smooth and open operations.

Having the Internet rewired by bureaucrats would be like handing a Stradivarius to a gorilla. The Internet is made up of 40,000 networks that interconnect among 425,000 global routes, cheaply and efficiently delivering messages and other digital content among more than two billion people around the world, with some 500,000 new users a day.


Google has started an online petition for a "free and open Internet" saying: "Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future." The State Department's top delegate to the Dubai conference, Terry Kramer, has pledged that the U.S. won't let the ITU expand its authority to the Internet. But he hedged his warning in a recent presentation in Washington: "We don't want to come across like we're preaching to others."

To the contrary, the top job for the U.S. delegation at the ITU conference is to preach the virtues of the open Internet as forcefully as possible. Billions of online users are counting on America to make sure that their Internet is never handed over to authoritarian governments or to the U.N.

(Full article at the link)

Dont want to come across like we're preaching to others?? It looks Mr. Kramer would rather fit in with the UN crowd. The US has had no problem spreading so-called democracy at gun-point (or by drone bombing) in many places in the world, increasingly so under the current regime. But it shies away from making the point in a peaceful manner. Interesting.

Mr. Crovitz says dictatorial governments like China, Russia, Iran and Arab countries want to control and censor the net. President Obama signed the executive order in July this year "to empower certain governmental agencies with control over telecommunications and the Web during natural disasters and security emergencies" (CNET). I have a feeling that China, Russia, Iran and Arab countries are thinking about the same thing anyway, "natural disasters and security emergencies".

"Proposals for the new ITU treaty run to more than 200 pages", according to the article. I wonder who wrote it.

Here's the link to Google's Take Action page.