Saturday, February 8, 2014

(OT) (UPDATED) 27-Centimeter Deep Snow in Tokyo on Gubernatorial Election Day

(UPDATE-4) As soon as voting ended at 8PM, February 9, 2014, "Mr. Yoichi Masuzoe has secured victory" splashed across major news outlets. The sleaze won.

(UPDATE-3) As of 4PM, the voting rate remains well below the previous election, at 24.54%, 11% lower than the previous election, according to Yomiuri Shinbun.

(UPDATE-2) NHK reports that the absentee votes were also 7% less than the last time.

(UPDATE) As of noon on February 9, 2014, the voting rate is 7.86% (men 9.03%, women 6.73%), according to the official Tokyo Metropolitan Election Commission. The same time in the last gubernatorial election, the voting rate was 17.62%.


That's the heaviest snowfall for Tokyo in 20 years, says Asahi Shinbun (2/9/2014).

So much so that someone took out his pair of ski to coast on slushy snow in central Ginza (photo taken by Nikken Shinbun's photographer):

I hear that there is a strict set of rules in Japan's Public Election Law regarding the Internet-based campaign which was hastily complied in 2012. For example, you cannot use the candidate's name (supposedly full name) you support in your tweet on the election day to urge your followers to vote for him.

The turnout will probably be low, benefiting the candidate backed by LDP/Komei/labor union, despite his money scandal (250 million yen, as opposed to ex-Governor Inose's puny 50 million), domestic violence allegations from several of his many wives and girlfriends, non-payment of child alimony to one of his children out of wedlock, lies about taking care of his aging mother, etc., etc., and the latest scandal of bribing the voters in Tokyo with 2020 Tokyo Olympic badges (not for sale).

If he wins, I have a sense that there may be another Tokyo gubernatorial election in the not-to-distant future. Possibly in less than one year.

As for me, I liked many of the policies (120 of them in fact) by this young entrepreneur candidate, including the one about abolishing the minimum wage:

and I would have voted for the former prime minister wearing the green down jacket below, for his strong, fact-based conviction that Tokyo should move beyond nuclear as one of the largest consumers of electricity in Japan, in order to grow and prosper (but he's not the one who's running):

Friday, February 7, 2014

(OT) Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow...

From photos posted on Twitter in Japan on February 8, 2014:

Yokohama, Kanagawa (by @Tomynyo)

Akihabara, Tokyo, gubernatorial candidate Toshio Tamogami:

Shibuya, Tokyo, gubernatorial candidate Kazuma Ieiri (left, with a young man from Niigata, says Ieiri):

Ginza, Tokyo, gubernatorial candidate Morihiro Hosokawa and former PM Junichiro Koizumi (one in green down jacket):

Somewhere in Japan, S/M "Snowman" (by @kakikukekocham)

(OT) NHK Commissioner Says Emperor is "Living God" for the Japanese to Worship and Die For, and Abe Administration OK with Her Personal Opinions

NHK, a (forced) "public-supported" television/radio in Japan, has mostly toed the line of whoever at the top of the political hierarchy in Japan. Still, I thought it was over the top when the new chairman of the NHK Commission expressed his personal conviction and belief in a very public way (press conference and testimony in the National Diet) that Japan didn't commit war crimes, that any military anywhere in the world has had so-called "comfort women" (not again...).

Then I was flabbergasted when I heard about another recently appointed Commissioner who adores the Emperor of Japan as "living god" to whom the Japanese should sacrifice their very lives to preserve "the state of things where the Emperor is the ethical, spiritual, political center uniting people" (that is what 国体 kokutai is, as used in Japan before and during the World War II), and who praises a ultra-right wing yakuza who shot himself in the Asahi Shinbun building in 1993 after praying to the Emperor.

(Time Magazine has an article summarizing the way it is now at NHK under the Abe administration.)

Who's this Commissioner? Ms. Michiko Hasegawa, 67-year-old professor emeritus at Saitama University. She is a Tokyo University graduate (elite), an outspoken proponent of the way we were, so to speak, when women stayed home while their men earned the living, when the government started the war in the name of the Emperor and people went to war to kill and get killed. Ms. Hasegawa was born in March 1946, about 7 months after the imperial Japan surrendered unconditionally.

But what appalled me was not NHK Chairman nor Commissioner Hasegawa. Instead of at least cautioning the Commissioners for their views that are not widely shared by the population, Chief Cabinet Secretary of the Abe Administration said he had no comments on the private views of the Commissioners of the public broadcaster under effective control of the government.

From J-Cast News (2/5/2014), comments from Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga during the Diet session on NHK Commissioner Hasegawa:


"I wasn't aware of the particular remarks (of Ms. Hasegawa that are being reported), but she is one of the most prominent philosophers and critics who represent Japan. She is thoroughly versed in cultures. That's why our government submitted her name [as a candidate for NHK Commissioner] to the National Diet, and it was approved with the votes from some opposition parties. Nothing more, nothing less."


"I'll withhold my comment as the government official on every single word and deed of the Commissioners."

I guess Mr. Suga and his boss Prime Minister Abe have no right to comment anyway. Both of them gave three "banzai" to the bewildered and clearly annoyed emperor and empress on April 28 "Restoration of Sovereignty Day" last year. I wonder how the government celebrates that day.

And all this while NHK pressures commentators who appear on their programs not to talk about nuclear power, particularly about anti-nuclear movement after the Fukushima nuclear accident, during the Tokyo gubernatorial election campaign, which is ending on February 8.

Private broadcasters are no better, with Asahi TV blurring the faces of former prime ministers (Hosokawa and Koizumi) as they spoke to an enormous crowd in Tokyo in their campaigning for the governorship (for Hosokawa) and switching right back to the LDP/Komei candidate, showing full face.

Both the national government and national media have also been busy repeating again and again that the Tokyo governor race is not so much about anti-nuclear (or beyond-nuclear) but much more about jobs, Olympics, welfare, your (small) lives. In fact, nuclear issues shouldn't be in the gubernatorial race anyway, they say, because Tokyo does not have nuclear power plants. Supporters of Mr. Kenji Utsunomiya, left-leaning attorney who is anti-nuclear and backed by Social Democrats and Communist Party, take advantage of this government/media characterization to attack the anti-nuclear former PM duo instead of attacking the other two right-leaning candidates (Masuzoe, Tamogami).

It is snowing heavily in Tokyo on Saturday February 8. If this snow deters many voters on February 9, Mr. Yoichi Masuzoe, backed by LDP/Komei and particularly by Prime Minister Abe, will probably win handily, thanks to organized votes from Komei Party and labor unions who support Masuzoe this time instead of their usual support for left/liberal candidates.

And thanks to NHK and the rest of the media, and fragmented anti-nuclear people.

#Fukushima I NPP: TEPCO Admits Error 7 Months Later, Says All-Beta from Observation Hole Along Embankment Was 10 Million Bq/L, Not 900K Bq/L

(UPDATE) It may not just be about groundwater samples along the embankment. All the high-density all-beta/strontium analyses done at Fukushima I NPP, including the analyses of all-beta/strontium in the RO (reverse osmosis) waste water, may be wrong. Or TEPCO says they "cannot deny the possibility that the analyses were wrong." (from a tweet by @jaikoman who tweets just about every single TEPCO and NRA press conference)

Jiji Tsushin just reported the same thing. The information is from the press conference on February 7, 2014.

For more information about the RO waste water leak of August 2013, go to this link.


Of that, strontium-90 alone turned out to be 5 million Bq/L. The reason (excuse)? Wrong measurement method used. Or something to that extent that even people who know a lot about nuclide analysis are scratching their heads trying to figure out how that happened.

Yomiuri Shinbun has the best summary of the situation (2/7/2014):


On February 6, TEPCO announced that 5 million Bq/Liter of radioactive strontium was detected from the groundwater sample taken on June 5 last year from one of the observation wells on the embankment of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant [the embankment is located between the turbine buildings and the plant harbor].


The density is 160,000 times that of the legal limit for release into the ocean, and it is about 1,000 times that of the highest density in the groundwater that had been measured so far (5,100 Bq/L). TEPCO didn't disclose the result of measurement of strontium alone, as the company believed there was a possibility that the result of measurement was wrong.


As to this particular sample, TEPCO had announced on July last year that the sample had contained 900,000 Bq/L of all-beta including strontium. On February 6, TEPCO explained that they had "underestimated all of the results of high-density all-beta, which [in fact] exceeded the upper limit of measurement." This particular sample may contain about 10 million Bq/L of all-beta, according to TEPCO. The company recently switched to a different method of analysis that uses diluted samples when the density of radioactive materials is high.

So this is the lowdown of the case of strontium more abundant than all-beta, all thanks to the faulty measurement by TEPCO.

Browsing through the documents released by TEPCO, the particular observation hole was No.1-2, which is no longer used as the result of waterglass injection into the soil in the embankment. It is close to where the extremely contaminated water from Reactor 2 turbine building had been found leaking in April 2011 (via the underground electrical trenches).

From TEPCO's document for the press (2/6/2014; English label is by me), the location of No.1-2 observation hole:

TEPCO inserted the newly disclosed 5 million Bq/L for strontium-90 but the number for all-beta remains uncorrected, at 900,000 Bq/L (which TEPCO now says 10 million Bq/L instead):

10,000,000 Bq/L of all-beta, or 10,000 Bq/cubic centimeter of all-beta. That's the same order of magnitude of all-beta in the water that gets contaminated after circulating through the reactors (see my September 2013 post), but the levels of cesium-134 and cesium-137 in this sample water is too low for this water to be the contaminated water that is currently circulating the reactors.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

#Fukushima I NPP Groundwater Bypass Plan: TEPCO/METI Prepare for Release of "Uncontaminated" Groundwater into Ocean

The word "uncontaminated" in the title above is in quotation marks, because there may be radionuclides left in the groundwater to be released, particularly tritium, even though it is the water drawn from the wells placed on the west side of the reactor buildings - i.e. before the groundwater enters the reactor buildings and gets contaminated.

From Jiji Tsushin (2/3/2014), after the regular press conference by TEPCO:


Fukushima I NPP targets set for releasing groundwater into the ocean, tritium less than 1500 Bq/L


On February 3, TEPCO announced the operating targets for densities of radioactive materials in groundwater to be relased into the ocean. The groundwater is drawn before it enters the reactor buildings and gets contaminated. The targets for cesium-134 and cesium-137 will be less than 1 Bq/L each, all-beta less than 5 Bq/L, and tritium less than 1,500 Bq/L.


The groundwater release is part of the plan to reduce contaminated water. The densities of radioactive materials are less than 1/4 of the legal limits for release into the ocean. TEPCO will talk with the local fishermen to obtain their understanding of [consent to] the release.


If the densities are above the operating targets, the release will be suspended and the water will be purified before the release resumes. For beta nuclides, TEPCO plans to purify until the density is less than 1 Bq/L, lower than the operating target.

And here's METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry)'s effort in persuading the fishermen.

From Kyodo News (2/3/2014):

地下水バイパス稼働に理解求める 経産副大臣、全漁連に

Vice Minister of Economy asks National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations for understanding of the start of groundwater bypass


Vice Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Kazuyoshi Akaba asked National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations for understanding of the start of groundwater bypass, which is part of dealing with the contaminated water at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The groundwater bypass will draw groundwater and release the water into the ocean.


[Vice Minister Akaba said] METI will apply the operating standards that are stricter than the existing standards in radioactive material density in the groundwater that will be drawn, in order to mitigate concerns from fishermen.


The groundwater that leaks into the reactor building is one of the causes for increase in contaminated water. According to the groundwater bypass scheme, the water will be drawn before it gets contaminated. However, concerns for baseless rumors remain strong particularly among fishermen, which has prevented the scheme from being implemented.

I wonder how TEPCO is going to "purify" the water to less than 1Bq/L. My guess is dilution, particularly if it is tritium which cannot be effectively removed on a large scale.

But it probably doesn't matter, as one day later Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry says METI has already obtained "a certain level of understanding" from the fisheries co-op.

From Jiji Tsushin (2/4/2014):


Minister of Economy Motegi says a certain level of understanding from the fisheries co-op in dealing with the groundwater at Fukushima I NPP


In the press conference after the cabinet meeting on February 4, 2014, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi said [the ministry] has obtained "a certain level of understanding as to the necessity" of the groundwater bypass plan from the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Association in dealing with the contaminated water at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Vice Minister Kazuyoshi Akaba had met with Hiroshi Kishi, Chairman of the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Association on February 3 to explain the outline of the plan and ask for understanding.

So the National Federation of Fisheries C-op Association will bear down on the Fukushima Federation of Fisheries Co-op Association, who will then bear down on the local Fisheries Co-ops in cities like Iwaki. The local Co-Ops will bear down on individual fishermen, who will probably need little persuasion, as they are eager to resume fishing.

TEPCO/METI plan to release groundwater seems to be back on track, as if the ground contamination in the very area where the wells were dug for the groundwater drawing had never happened in August 2013.

Right near where the wells are, there are huge tanks, mostly riveted together and meant to last for no more than 5 years, that contain highly radioactive (mostly beta nuclides, not gamma) waste water after reverse osmosis (desalination) treatment. Several of the tanks in the area were found to have leaked this waste water although no one knows exactly how much waste water leaked or how it leaked, and the leak may be slowly finding its way towards the wells. The elevated levels of tritium have already been measured, although they are well below the operating target of 1500 Bq/L.

Locations of the wells for drawing groundwater for the groundwater bypass scheme, and the sample water analysis (from TEPCO, 1/30/2014): the highest contamination of tritium recorded was 1,000 Bq/L from No.12 well on 12/24/2013.

Latest measurement of contamination levels in the H4 tank area, located southeast of the wells (from TEPCO, 2/6/2014):

For more on the "RO Waste Water Leak of August 2013", click here.

Nuclear Regulation Authority is yet to approve the operating targets, so all is not yet clear for TEPCO/METI. It is muddled as ever as to who is in charge of regulating TEPCO on the Fukushima I NPP accident cleanup efforts. It is supposed to be NRA, but it is increasingly tied up with the evaluation of nuclear power plants under the new guidelines in preparation for the restart. It looks METI is there (as it has always been there) to give the plant operators like TEPCO a way out, a bypass around the regulators.

Monday, February 3, 2014

(OT) Strange Logic of Some "Beyond Nuclear" Supporters on Tokyo Gubernatorial Election

I have to say these must be the same people who participated in the fluffy "beyond nuclear" demonstrations (more like entertainment festivals) in Tokyo starting in the early summer of 2011, as the Fukushima I NPP nuclear accident was very, very far from being "stabilized" and reports of high levels of radiation contamination in sewer sludge and ashes from garbage incineration were beginning to pour in.

What strange logic? When some supporters of the anti-nuclear candidates start to say things like:

If the combined votes for Mr. Utsunomiya (liberal attorney) and Mr. Hosokawa (former prime minister) exceed the votes for Mr. Masuzoe (TV personality and former Minister of Health, backed by LDP/Komei), we will win!

it seems to me tantamount to either delusion or concession of defeat.

If the combined votes for the two exceed those for Masuzoe, that means it will be Masuzoe who will win, not their candidates. They must mean a "symbolic" win, not the real one.

Meanwhile, 10 or so influential "intellectuals" (文化人) - novelists, journalists - who are mostly in support of Mr. Hosokawa held a press conference yesterday urging the two anti-nuclear candidates to somehow "join efforts" to beat Mr. Masuzoe.

At this point in the election, I don't think there is any legal way for either candidates to drop out, or collaborate with the promise of a prominent position in the administration after the election.

Younger supporters of Mr. Utsunomiya have been rather busy dissing Mr. Hosokawa and Mr. Koizumi in the past few days, often bringing up the money "scandal" of Mr. Hosokawa from 20 years ago which even the very person who had instigated the "scandal" admits it was all made up.

Another "smear" point by Mr. Utsunomiya's supporters is that people in Tokyo don't care about nuclear power. All they care about is "welfare and healthcare", they say, citing the opinion polls. Their candidate does address those issues in details, they say.

What's missing in those details is how he would pay for them, but that's apparently of no concern to the supporters.

The winner of the election looks clear to me for now, unless the turnout is much, much bigger than the normal election. Even then, splitting the votes between the two supposedly anti-nuclear candidates will likely to result in the win for the LDP/Komei backed (i.e. backed by huge organized votes) candidate.

(OT) US Stock Market Welcomes New Fed Chief Janet Yellen with Thunderous...Thud

Dow -326, Nasdaq -106, S&P500 -40.

10-year Treasury is up, gold is up, crude is down.

Tokyo Gubernatorial Candidate and Former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa: "Polar Bears, Seals Dying Because of #Fukushima..."

He also says there was an explosion at the end of December in Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant that proves there was a meltdown, citing Russian news.

I wonder whether anyone is advising Mr. Hosokawa on the Fukushima I NPP nuclear accident at all (or Mr. Hosokawa's news source is just 2ch when it comes to the nuclear accident).

Mr. Hosokawa on a net-based TV on January 22, 2014 (about 18 minutes into the video):

「数日前に私は見たんですけども、ロシアの国防軍が出した極秘資料というものが出てきてね。 それを見たんですが、福島でこないだ暮れに、12月31日だったかな、爆発があったという小さな記事が出ましたね。 その数日前から実は水蒸気が上がっていて『何かおかしい』という話があったのを私も確かに覚えているんですけども。 あれは完全にメルトダウンを起こしているということを、いろいろ分析をしていて。 (ロシアが。)それでアメリカはヨウ素を15000袋だっかな、既に2月の始めに配るという手筈を始めたということとかですね、それから、いま北極海とかいろんなところでシロクマ、アザラシ、その他の生物の大量死が続出していると、これはまさにその福島の影響であるということとか。いろんなものが出てきているわけです。これはまあ凄い話だと思いましたね。」

"I saw it a couple of days ago, but there was this confidential document issued by Russian National Defense Force. I saw it in there that in Fukushima [I NPP], on December 31 I believe, there was an explosion. I certainly remember, too, that "something was wrong" as the steam had been rising for several days prior. So the (Russian) analysis was that it suffered a complete meltdown. And so the United States arranged for 15,000 bags of potassium iodide to be distributed in early February. Also, polar bears, seals and other animals are dying in large numbers in the Arctic Ocean and other places and it is precisely due to the Fukushima accident. Many pieces of information like these. I thought they were terrible stories.

"Terrible stories" (凄い話) could also be translated as "terrific/fantastic stories". It was fantastic to watch the interviewers simply take what Hosokawa said as if they were incontrovertible "facts".

But in the reality-based world, steam has been seen rising on and off from Reactor 3 at least since July last year; it had probably been there ever since the March 14, 2011 hydrogen explosion that destroyed the operating floor and severely damaged the floors below but became visible only after enough debris had been removed. (See my post on 12/29/2013.)

As to the "explosion" on December 31, 2013, even the ex-ambassador to Switzerland who has been raising numerous alarms about the Fukushima accident, real or imagined, confirms it was just an earthquake (actually two earthquakes, he says) in Ibaraki Prefecture that day.

The "confidential Russian document" that the Ambassador links also has a mention of "radioactive snow" in several states in the US. That is so 2011/2012 winter in Japan, when people freaked out measuring naturally occurring short-life radionuclides in the snow (and rain, for that matter) - bithmus-214 and lead-214 - by using personal survey meters to get only the radiation levels or misreading the peaks of bithmus-214 for cesium-134/137 and lead-214 for iodine-131.

And "meltdown"? Mr. Hosokawa must know that meltdown (core melt) already happened in March 2011 in Reactor 1, Reactor 2 and Reactor 3.

I have no idea where Mr. Hosokawa came up with "15,000 bags" of potassium iodide pills, but it must be the "news" that the US Department of Health and Human Services solicited a bid for 1.4 million potassium iodide pills in December 2013. But the order is most likely part of the on-going program of stocking potassium iodide in preparation for nuclear emergencies. (This is an archive page of HSS announcing 1.7 million doses of liquid potassium iodide in 2005.)

As to the polar bears and seals and a host of other living things (including fish, starfish, etc.), they had been dying of mysterious diseases way before the Fukushima I NPP accident. In 2012, CNN reported that the cause of death of seal pups on the east coast of the US was "a new strain of avian flu" that jumped species. The most recent "scare" story was this one quoting the abstract of a paper presented by University of Alaska researchers, in which the researchers say they tested to see if cesium-134 and cesium-137 were present in the tissue samples. For some unknown reason, in Japan this morphed into "cesium-134 was detected, and therefore the seals were dying of Fukushima radiation!"

If Mr. Hosokawa's anti-nuclear stance is based on the fantastic stories (凄い話) like these, no wonder LDP and the Abe administration are comfortable letting the anti-nuclear ("beyond nuclear") issue be emphasized by the Hosokawa camp in the Tokyo gubernatorial race.

Quote a contrast to Mr. Junichiro Koizumi, who talks numbers and detailed facts about nuclear power and why he is against it now. Alas, he's not running for the governorship.

No matter. The Japanese media, from the NHK (increasingly government mouthpiece) on down, completely ignores the Hosokawa-Koizumi team anyway. The election is on Sunday, February 9, 2014.