April 25, Monday

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Gabi reports:

Cold rain in the morning.

The Tohoku shinkansen fast train is now running between Tokyo and Sendai again.
But during this first day, it had to stop frequently, because of problems with the electricity cables.

. . . . .

Last night we saw a special about the famous DASH Village
DASH村, which is within the 20 km limit of the Fukushima plant now. They had to abandon all the animals, later saved one dog, but the cows are trembling and dying in their boxes, when one farmer was allowed to go back and look at them. It was terrible.
(See also NHK bulletin below, now they are going to euthanize the animals in the area.)
. . . CLICK here for Photos: Dash Mura !

Tohoku charity a minefield for Japanese celebrities
One of the worst-kept secrets on television is the location of Dash Village, a remote farm that was built by the boy band Tokio in the late 1990s. It has since been maintained by the quintet as part of a running feature on their Sunday night Nihon TV variety show "Tetsuwan Dash," and in order to discourage the group's fans from dropping by and possibly spoiling the pristine tract of land, which is surrounded by thick forests, its whereabouts have never been revealed on the show itself. However, resourceful viewers have known for years that it is somewhere in the wilds of Fukushima Prefecture and have talked about it on the Internet.

Last week, the program named the location for the first time, since it happens to fall within the evacuation zone surrounding the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear reactor.

In one of the show's segments, Tokio leader Shigeru Joshima visited some people from the surrounding area who in the past have helped the group do things such as make pickles and dig wells. Some of them have had to leave their homes and are now living with relatives outside the evacuation zone.

Because Tokio have a stake in the region, their relationship to the disaster is more immediate than it is for other celebrities who are not from the Tohoku region but have lent their support for relief efforts. Joshima didn't take money or supplies to his friends in Fukushima. He merely dropped in to see how they were, and they told him their stories as they would to a neighbor. Nobody ventured to say when and where they would be able to return, or whether Tokio would ever reopen Dash Village.

Precisely due to the fact that it was on TV and Joshima is a famous person, the conversations were notable for their lack of euphemism and false hope. It was disarming, because as viewers we reflexively anticipate the celebrity-to-average-person interface to be coated with a veneer of courteous formality.
Ryotaro Sugi (Sugi Ryootaroo 杉良太郎)
Ishihara Gundan
Croquette (Kurokke)
source : Japan Times, May 1, 2011

Addition on June 11, 2011
Another special about DASH Village. They have brought together about 40 villagers, which had spread as far as Aizu Wakamatsu to live with their kin, and stayed over night in an onsen hotel for free. The women cooked the famous "tonjiru" hodgepodge with pork meat and lots of konyaku. All shed tears at the meeting and long for the day they can be back together.
The men sat in the huge hot bath, all together for a "naked encounter", with no frills and no pretentions. Many tears ...
It is heartbreaking to see these close-knit communities been torn apart by the thread of radioactivity in their home village.
Ganbare, Dash mura!

Addition on September 11, 2011
Some members, including the old Akio san, had been allowed to go to the village, wearing "space suits". They measured radiation in various parts, with varying results. Most radiation was found in the blown old leaves. The trees in the hot house had all withered, but the coffee tree and banana tree had some new sprouts.
Then they planted sunflowers in the hope to reduce the radiation in the soil.
A few weeks later they were back with their space suits, inspecting the sunflowers. But they had not grown much, and radiation was still much too high for anyone to live in the premises.


. . . . . at 6:06
Earthquake M 5.0, off the coast of Chiba

. . . . . at 18:00
Earthquake M 5.0, off the coast of Ibaraki


Bulletins from NHK Online

source : www3.nhk.or.jp

Monday, April 25, 2011 06:00
Street Performance held to aid quake-hit area

A street performance in Yokohama city, near Tokyo, called for support for the people affected by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.
The Noge Street Performance, held in the Noge district annually, was put on as a charity event this year and will donate part of the profit to people in the affected areas.
Performers received warm applause as they juggled batons and made kangaroos with thin balloons. Visitors bought t-shirts and towels and part of the proceeds will be donated to the disaster-stricken area.

Monday, April 25, 2011 06:00
Heat exchanger for No1 reactor considered

The Tokyo Electric Power Company is thinking about setting up a heat exchanger to hasten the full-scale recovery of the cooling system at the Number 1 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
TEPCO says 70 percent of the fuel is apparently damaged and 6 tons of water per hour is being injected into the reactor.
In order to cool it under more stable conditions, TEPCO wants the water level in the containment vessel to reach the height of the fuel rods
At present, the water level is estimated to be about 6 meters from the bottom of the containment vessel.
Two plans have been considered to cool the vessel, one uses sea water, the other air.
To avoid the risk of further damage from possible aftershocks TEPCO is favoring the water system.
It says the pipes which connect the containment vessel and the heat exchanger must be quake protected. In addition, radioactive substances must be removed before pouring contaminated water into the heat exchanger.
These tasks should be done inside the nuclear reactor building but as the level of radioactivity is too high for human entry, many problems remain before the heat exchanger can be set up.

Monday, April 25, 2011 06:00 (Politics)
Kan facing difficult political situation

Prime Minster Naoto Kan faces a difficult political landscape as his ruling Democratic Party suffered setbacks in nationwide local elections on Sunday.
Many members of the Democratic Party blame him for losing ground in the elections. In the Lower House by-election in the Number 6 electoral district in Aichi Prefecture the Democratic Party could not even field a candidate.
Some members of the party say that Kan's poor handling of the recovery from the March 11th earthquake and tsunami contributed to the defeat.
On Sunday evening, former leader of the Democratic Party Ichiro Ozawa criticized Kan for his handling of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Opposition parties say that the defeat demonstrates the anger the Japanese people feel toward Kan.
The head of the largest opposition Liberal Democratic Party, Sadakazu Tanigaki, said on Sunday evening that the defeat shows that voters have doubts about Kan's dealing with the earthquake and tsunami twin disasters.
An NHK correspondent says that Kan will attempt to compile a reconstruction plan and a second supplementary budget but he faces a tough road due to his loss of influence and resistance from opposition parties, who have been encouraged by the election results.
. . . later . . .
Kan: DPJ's defeat not linked to disaster measures
Prime Minister Naoto Kan says his governing Democratic Party's setbacks in Sunday's nationwide local elections are not linked to his handling of the March 11 disasters and the nuclear crisis.
Speaking in an Upper House committee meeting on Monday, Kan said he is taking the election results seriously.
But he denied allegations that public dissatisfaction with his administration's handling of the disaster led to the defeat. He said the government has been doing all it can.
The Prime Minister also said the government is facing the difficult task of financing reconstruction efforts while at the same time restoring the nation's financial health.
He said he will address the matter when the Diet discusses a second supplementary budget for this fiscal year.
Kan also said it is necessary to start discussions on why the accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant could not be prevented.
He said he is considering revising the country's nuclear energy policy, including separating the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency from the industry ministry and reviewing the state of the Nuclear Safety Commission.

Monday, April 25, 2011 07:43
More seawater damage on farmland found

More farmland in the city of Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan was found to have been damaged by seawater.
Most of the farmland along the sea coast in Sendai was submerged in seawater when the tsunami hit the area on March 11th.
About 78 percent of the 2,300 hectares of farmland cannot be planted this year because the salt level is too high.
The city and a local agricultural cooperative tested the salt level in the remaining 22 percent, about 500 hectares, to see if rice saplings could be planted this season.
They found that about 60 hectares of soil in which the damage was thought to be slight actually had too a high salt level to plant.
Seawater is believed to have come upstream along the irrigation canal into the farmland when the tsunami hit.
The agricultural cooperative plans to water the farmland to remove the salt before planting rice in late May, at the earliest.
The planting would be about one month later than usual and the impact of the natural disaster on farming in Japan continues to grow.

Monday, April 25, 2011 09:45
Park use limited in Fukushima

The prefectural government of Fukushima has for the first time placed a limit on the use of 5 public parks in the prefecture to one hour a day due to high levels of radiation.
Last week, the central government set a safety limit of 3.8 microsieverts per hour for outdoor activities in schools as troubles continue at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Fukushima Prefecture surveyed radiation at 13 parks, and found that levels at 5 of them met or exceeded the safety limit.
Use of these parks is now restricted to one hour a day.
The prefectural government is urging visitors to avoid putting sand or dirt in their mouths and to wash their hands and gargle after visiting the parks.

Monday, April 25, 2011 11:13
Government to set up a disaster study panel

The Japanese government is setting up a panel to revise its existing basic disaster preparedness policy.
The government plans to reflect the lessons learned from the March 11th earthquake and tsunami in its future disaster preparedness measures.
The panel will begin to analyze the mechanism of the latest massive earthquake and tsunami starting from this month. It will also review methods of predicting damage.
The panel will propose how to prepare for massive earthquakes and tsunami and what to do in the event of earthquakes and tsunami of unprecedented size.
Following the proposals, the government plans to revise its basic disaster preparedness policy by the autumn.
It will also draw up plans on how to deal with possible "Tokai," "Tonankai" and "Nankai" earthquakes. The names represent the 3 massive earthquakes that could hit central Japan's Pacific coast simultaneously or consecutively.
The government already has measures against tsunami including warning systems and hazard maps. It has also predicted damage expected to be caused by massive earthquakes that may hit the Tokai region or the Tokyo Metropolitan area in near future.
Five years ago, it predicted damage in the event of earthquakes and tsunami near the Japan Trench in the Pacific Ocean where the latest calamities originated. But it did not expect that the damages would be as extensive as those incurred in March.

Monday, April 25, 2011 12:04
Monitoring rising temperatures

The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is carefully monitoring the situation at the Number 4 spent fuel pool, where the water temperature is rising despite increased injections of cooling water.
TEPCO, says it will inject 210 tons of water into the pool on Monday, after finding on Sunday evening that the temperature in the pool had risen to 81 degrees Celsius.
The utility firm had earlier limited the amount of water being injected into the pool to 70 tons a day, saying the weight of the water could weaken the reactor building, which was already damaged in last month's hydrogen explosion.
On Friday, TEPCO found that the pool's temperature had reached 91 degrees, so it began injecting 2 to 3 times the amount of water.
TEPCO says the pool's water temperature dropped to 66 degrees on Saturday after water was injected, but started to rise again, to 81 degrees.
The operator says the water level in the pool was 2.5 meters lower than normal after 165 tons of water were injected on Sunday. It is carefully monitoring the water level and temperature to avoid further troubles.
The Number 4 spent fuel pool stores 1,535 fuel rods, the most at the nuclear complex.
Fukushima Daiichi: rewire to avoid blackout
Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are scheduled to rewire the power supply later on Monday. This is to prevent a blackout and ensure that cooling of the reactors will continue even if the plant is hit by another strong quake or tsunami.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says it will rewire and connect the power supply for 4 reactors. The power grid for No.1 and 2 will be connected to the grid for 5 and 6.
When the massive earthquake and tsunami hit on March 11th, the external electrical supply was cut off at Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants.
At the Daiichi plant, all 13 emergency diesel generators for the facility's 6 reactors were also disabled by the tsunami.
The aftershock on April 11th again temporarily severed the external power supply. The injection of water to cool the No.1, 2, and 3 reactors stopped for about 50 minutes.
TEPCO plans to rewire the 3 grid power lines coming into the plant so that if any one of the external power sources is cut off, others can be used to continue to cool the reactors.
During the rewiring, the power supply to No.1 and 2 reactors will be cut off for about 4 hours. Temporary diesel generators will be used to continue injecting water.
The injection of nitrogen into the containment vessel of the No. 1 reactor will be suspended for about 4 hours. But TEPCO says the suspension will not pose any problems.

Monday, April 25, 2011 14:02
Abandoned farm animals

Fukushima Prefecture has launched an operation to euthanize some of the animals left in the 20-kilometer no-entry zone around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Six Fukushima officials, including veterinarians, entered the area on Monday, the first day of the mission.
The no-go zone has more than 370 livestock farms containing 4,000 cattle, 30,000 pigs, 630,000 chickens and 100 horses. But many of these animals have died or are facing starvation since their owners evacuated, and some remain outdoors.
The prefecture plans to euthanize the weakened animals, return those grazing outside to barns, and disinfect the carcasses of the dead ones.
The prefecture says it will not kill any animals unless their owners agree, as there is no current law stipulating what should be done in such a situation.
It will conduct the work through the end of May, while discussing with the central government ways to compensate the animals' owners.
A veterinarian taking part in the mission said the work will begin with medical examinations of the animals in the area.

Monday, April 25, 2011 16:52
Rewiring starts at Fukushima Daiichi

Tokyo Electric Power Company is rewiring the power grid at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to secure the electricity supply in case of another strong quake.
The plant's 6 reactors are now connected in pairs to external power sources. TEPCO began connecting the cables for the No.1 and No.2 reactors with the grid for the No.5 and No.6 reactors on Monday.
This is to ensure that if any one of the 3 outside sources is cut off, the others can be used to cool the reactors.
During the work, external power to the No.1 and No.2 reactors will be suspended for about 4 hours. Instead, diesel generators will power the injection of water to cool the reactors.
The plant operator says external power to the No.5 reactor will also halt for about 2 hours, but that there will be no problem. Operation at the reactor has been safely stopped.
Injection of nitrogen into the container of the No.1 reactor to prevent another hydrogen explosion has also been halted. But TEPCO says this will not pose any issues.
TEPCO decided to rewire the power grids after all 13 of the emergency generators were disabled when a tsunami hit the plant on March 11th. The blackout has led to 4 of the 6 reactors overheating.

Monday, April 25, 2011 17:09
8 domestic carmakers March output more than halved

Domestic production for Japan's 8 major carmakers in March plunged to about half the amount from a year ago, due to damage from the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.
The 8 carmakers announced on Monday that their combined production total last month was 387,000 units, down 57.5 percent from the year before.
The slump follows suspended operations at many key component manufacturers that are based in the hard-hit areas of the northeast.
Toyota said its production fell 62.7 percent, and Honda 62.9 percent.
Nissan's production marked a decrease of 52.4 percent, and Mazda 53.6 percent.
Last fiscal year, the domestic output of the 8 carmakers increased 0.4 percent from 2009 levels, due to brisk sales as a result of the government subsidy program for eco-friendly cars.
During that time, worldwide production was up 16 percent, with 6 of the 8 companies renewing their year-on-year records after demand grew in emerging economies, including China.
After the disaster, all the companies partially resumed their domestic production using parts from stockpiles or alternative sources. The carmakers say they do not know when supplies will be normalized.

Monday, April 25, 2011 17:30
Panel to study better ways to check radiation

A health ministry panel is studying more effective ways to measure radiation levels in tap water to ensure its safety.
The panel held a meeting on Monday to discuss how to improve radiation checks.
Radioactive iodine higher than the safety limits was found in drinking water in some parts of Tokyo and surrounding areas in late March following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
A radiation expert told the panel that radioactive materials released from the power plant are brought to wide areas by the wind, fall onto the ground or rivers with rain and contaminate water sources.
The expert said winds from the direction of the power plant and rain had been observed shortly before the radiation levels in tap water peaked.
The expert said it is necessary to analyze wind direction and rainfall more thoroughly in order to establish better ways to monitor radiation levels.
The panel plans to wrap up its discussions in June at the earliest.


Voices from around

. The Daily Reading List .  

. Daily Radiation Levels .  

. . . . .

From the Japan Times

Hot debris hampers reactor repairs

Beijing, Seoul to maintain limits on food imports

Chernobyl can provide lessons for Japan, Russian activist says

Sendai's key Fujisaki store reopens for biz



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  1. Anonymous4/26/2011

    We provide a basic guide in many languages on
    what to do when you have to evacuate because of an earthquake.
    We hope this guide will be useful for foreign people living in Japan and who are suffering from the 3.11 earthquake


  2. Anonymous4/26/2011

    here in Japan
    the tsunami
    in my nightmare / Gabi

    Konichiwa, Gabi.
    In my previous employment, I was a VIP Tour Guide @ Universal Studios in Orlando Florida, USA. I spent parts or whole days with people of many countires and cultures form all over the world.
    The Japanese people are definitely among the nicest I've ever met. Whe disasters happen, I always worry about how some of those I've met might be doing as I do not have continued contact with most of them. Japan has a strong spirit and will recover.
    As J. said, I too wish the best for you and yours.