May 02, Monday

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The Japanese Society of Auckland
source : www.jsa.org.nz


Gabi reports:

A fine day dawns in my valley in the morning, later :

A strong wind, almost typhoon storm-like, is blowing in Tohoku, making it impossible for the volunteers and other helpers to work in the tsunami debris. Things are flying around and asbestos/dust is blowing in thick clouds.
In Sendai town, heavy equipment is falling from roofs, because the pins might have loosened during the many aftershocks and now the storm is adding its pressure.
Cooking outside is also forbidden today to avoid fires.

Here in Western Japan we have strong wind from the North, bringing the yellow sand, Asaian Dust, Peking Dust, Yellow Dust, from the Gobi desert. There are warnings out for visibility problems. The other side of my valley is hidden in a yellow veil. News tells us it is the strongest in Peking and other parts of China today.
(see comment below)

. WKD : Yellow sand  黄砂 (こうさ) koosa

yellow sandstorm -
volunteers stranded
in the debris  

A total of 25,536 people are dead or missing.
Sales of cars in Japan have plunged again in April.

. . . . .

Last night they reported about high levels of Cesium in sludge in a water treatment plant in Koriyama (Fukushima prefecture), that had been used to recycle and make concrete.

. . . . .

During lunchbreak we saw a speech of Barak Obama, telling the nation that Obama Bin Laden had been killed and his body was in possession of the US. Almost 10 years after the attack in New York!

Obama Speech Transcript
Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory -- hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.

And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.
Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort. We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.
source : www.huffingtonpost.com

. . . . .

The Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu Na from South Korea said she wants to donate her prize money from 2011 for the victims of the March 11th earthquake and tsunami in Japan.


Bulletins from NHK Online

source : www3.nhk.or.jp


Monday, May 02, 2011 05:45
Level now 3300 times limit at No. 2 reactor intake
The operator of the troubled Fukushima nuclear power plant says it has detected higher levels of radioactive materials in seawater samples from near the water intake at one of the reactors.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says it detected 130 becquerels of radioactive iodine-131 per cubic centimeter in samples collected near the water intake for the Number 2 reactor on Saturday. The figure is 3,300 times the national limit and 30 percent higher than the level detected on Friday.
It's the same site where iodine-131 at a level 7.5 million times the limit was detected on April 2nd. TEPCO says it detected radioactive cesium-134 at 120 times the limit and cesium-137 at 81 times the limit at the same place on Saturday. But the readings taken for these 2 substances were down for the third straight day.
There was a 90 percent drop in levels of iodine and cesium to the south of water intakes for reactors 1 through to 4.
The level of highly radioactive water in the sea rose to three to four times the level of the previous day along the coast 10 kilometers south of the power plant.
TEPCO says it's continuing to monitor the level, though there has not been a fresh leak of highly contaminated water.
Emergency safety measures for reprocessing units
Japan's nuclear safety agency has told two reprocessing units for spent nuclear fuel to take emergency safety measures in preparation for a possible suspension of external power.
If all power lines were knocked out at reprocessing units, cooling of the spent fuel would be interrupted and hydrogen would be produced.
The facilities are the Japan Atomic Energy Agency in Ibaraki Prefecture in eastern Japan, and a nuclear reprocessing plant in Rokkasho village in Aomori, northern Japan. The agency is calling on those units to prepare mobile generators and pump trucks, as well as equipment that can get rid of hydrogen.
After the accident at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Japan's nuclear safety agency told all nuclear power plants to prepare emergency safety measures to secure power sources.
The agency is asking the reprocessing facilities to present their safety measure plans as soon as possible. It says it will assess if their measures are appropriate by the end of May.

Monday, May 02, 2011 06:47
TEPCO to install device to reduce radioactivity
The operator of the troubled Fukushima nuclear power plant has decided its workers will enter the Number 1 reactor building to carry out work.
Monday will see the start of preparatory work to install a device that can reduce radioactivity by filtering the air in the building.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says the density of air contamination in the building will be reduced by 95 percent. The firm says its workers will install the device in the reactor building within a few days.
It will be the first time its workers enter the building since the hydrogen explosion on March 12th.
TEPCO increased the amount of water injected into the Number 1 reactor on a trial basis for two days starting on Wednesday. It wanted to examine the feasibility of its plan to cool the fuel rods by filling the containment vessel with water to their height in the pressure vessel.
But because TEPCO could not determine the water level in the containment vessel, there's a need for new measures including installation of a water gauge.
TEPCO says filling the containment vessel with water won't be enough to steadily cool down the reactor. The company is considering installing a heat exchanger that cools the water inside the reactor, though checking pipes would also be needed.

Monday, May 02, 2011 12:56
Work underway to filter air in reactor bldg
Workers have begun a plan to enter a building at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to install equipment that will help to cool down the reactor.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the plant, said on Monday that workers are preparing to install devices that will reduce the amount of radioactive materials inside the No.1 reactor building.
The equipment is designed to filter out 95 percent of the radioactive substances in the air coming through the ducts, when operated for 24 hours.
Four of the devices will be installed outside the reactor building door.
Workers will need a safe environment to install equipment to steadily cool the reactor. A water gauge will help TEPCO to determine the feasibility of its plan to cool the reactor's fuel rods by covering them with water.
Eight workers are set to enter the No.1 reactor building as early as Thursday. They will be the first to do so since a hydrogen explosion occurred one day after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.

Monday, May 02, 2011 19:34
Belated release of radiation forecast data
The Japanese government is about to begin releasing data projecting the spread of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that it initially withheld for fear of causing panic.
The data in question is in a computer system called SPEEDI that predicts the spread of radioactive substances based on actual radiation measurements at various locations and weather conditions.
A joint task force of the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company says about 5,000 undisclosed bits of data will be released from Tuesday.
The information will be carried on the websites of the science ministry, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, and the Nuclear Safety Commission.
The secretary-general of the joint task force and prime the minister's advisor, Goshi Hosono, apologized for the delay in releasing the data.
Hosono said the task force withheld the information because some data were based on overly rigorous assumptions and feared it may trigger panic.
But he said the task force now believes that panic can be avoided if it offers proper explanations on the projections. He also promised to promptly release all such data in the future.
Hosono said the task force will carry out a monthly check of how TEPCO is proceeding with its plan to bring the nuclear crisis under control.
The utility firm announced a recovery roadmap on April 17th that calls for stabilizing the situation in 6 to 9 months.

Monday, May 02, 2011 20:15
Shareholders call for nuclear plant closures
Some of the shareholders of a Japanese electric power company say they want the utility to close its nuclear power plants.
On Monday, a group of 232 individual stockholders of Tohoku Electric Power Company submitted the documents needed for their proposal to scrap its nuclear power plants.
The proposal is expected to be put to a vote in an annual shareholders' meeting at the end of next month.
Tohoku Electric Power has 2 nuclear power plants in Japan's northeastern region, one in Higashidori Village in Aomori Prefecture and another in Onagawa Town in Miyagi Prefecture.
The group is also calling for the company to end its investment in spent nuclear fuel reprocessing businesses, including a reprocessing plant at Rokkasho Village in Aomori Prefecture.
The group representative, Hironori Shinohara, noted the moves by power companies to introduce additional safety measures following the nuclear emergency involving Tokyo Electric Power Company. But he said accidents never happen under the same scenarios, and stressed the importance of shutting down the nuclear plants.
An official of Tohoku Electric Power said the company takes the disaster facing TEPCO extremely seriously. The official said Tohoku Electric will examine the proposal and submit it to the shareholders' meeting along with comments from board members.

Monday, May 02, 2011 22:06
Govt to screen contaminated debris

The Environment Ministry has ordered municipalities near the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to wait before removing radiation-tainted debris from the March 11th quake and tsunami.
The ministry will start monitoring radiation levels in debris next week to determine proper disposal methods for contaminated materials.
Vice Minister Hideki Minamikawa 南川秀樹 told reporters that his ministry wants to quickly carry out the checks to allow local authorities who clear radiation screenings to remove the debris as soon as possible.
Municipalities subject to the order are those in the no-entry zone within 20 kilometers of the plant and some designated areas beyond the 20-kilometer radius.
Other municipalities in the eastern and central parts of the Fukushima Prefecture were asked to keep the debris in temporary storage facilities.
Municipalities located far from the plant are allowed to remove debris as usual.

. . . . . . . . . .

Monday, May 02, 2011 06:47
Matsumoto: Japan's African aid on track
Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto 松本剛明 says Japan's commitment to aiding Africa's development will remain unchanged after the March 11th disaster.
The statement came at a ministerial meeting of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD, that began in Senegal's capital, Dakar, on Sunday. ...

Monday, May 02, 2011 14:59
Cool Biz begins one month earlier at Tokyo govt
Some Tokyo Metropolitan government staff wore light clothing to work on Monday, as the annual energy-saving campaign has begun a month earlier than usual.
The start of the Cool Biz campaign was moved up by one month as power shortages are expected this summer.
Tokyo government officials began the first workday of May without neckties and in short-sleeved shirts.
Posters at the entrance to the building ask Tokyo residents and workers to wear light clothing to reduce their use of air conditioning.
The Tokyo government says it will set air conditioners at 28 degrees Celsius during the summer, and the rule will be strictly observed.
It says the campaign will continue until the end of October, one month later than usual.

Monday, May 02, 2011 15:39
Japan's average monthly salary drops in April

The average monthly salary of Japanese corporate workers, including overtime pay, dropped slightly in March from a year ago. This reflects the impact of the earlier quake and tsunami.
... The result showed that the average worker was being paid about 3,400 dollars per month. That's down by zero-point-four percent from the same month last year, posting the first drop in 13 months.
The result also showed that an average employee worked 145.4 hours last month, down by one-point-six percent from a year ago. Overtime work, in particular, fell by 2 percent from a year ago. That's the first year-on year decrease in 15 months.

Monday, May 02, 2011 16:51
Diet enacts 1st extra budget for disaster relief
Japan's Diet has passed a 4 trillion yen, or about 49 billion dollar, extra budget to finance the reconstruction of areas devastated by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.
The Upper House unanimously approved on Monday the first supplementary budget for fiscal 2011. The Lower House passed the spending package on Saturday.
The budget includes about 14.7 billion dollars for public works projects to rebuild roads, ports and farming infrastructure.
About 4.3 billion dollars is allocated for the removal and disposal of debris, and 4.4 billion dollars will be used to build temporary houses.
The scale of the emergency budget is far bigger than the roughly 12-billion dollar package passed immediately after the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995.
The government will now draw up basic relief measures to be implemented by August, such as speeding up of housing construction.
It will then start working on a 2nd extra budget for full-fledged reconstruction spending.

Monday, May 02, 2011 17:26
Miyagi fishermen paid to remove debris in ports
Fishermen in one of the areas hardest hit by the March 11th disaster have begun clearing debris in seaports in the first step toward restoring their battered industry.
About 50 people gathered at the fishing port of Hajikami, Kesennuma City 波路, in Miyagi Prefecture on Monday. Many of them had lost their fishing boats to tsunami while the aquafarms of others were destroyed.
They spent the day removing rubble from wharves as strong winds prevented them from lifting wreckage from the harbor.
The fishermen are being paid about 12,000 yen or about 150 dollars per day. One of them said, even if the amount is small, he appreciates it as he doubts fishing will resume for several years.
The man's oyster and seaweed farm was washed away by tsunami.
The powerful waves destroyed port and fishing industry facilities in the 3 northeastern prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, with 90 percent of about 29,000 fishing vessels washed away or damaged.
Fishing cooperatives in Miyagi began the debris clearing work after the central government guaranteed that the fishermen would be paid for joining in the clearance.

Monday, May 02, 2011 18:17
Tokyo shares recover 10,000-mark
Tokyo share prices rose on Monday, with the benchmark Nikkei average recovering the 10,000-mark for the first time in about one-and-a-half-months since the March 11th disaster.
On the Tokyo Stock Exchange, stock prices expanded their rise in the afternoon on news that shares rose on overseas markets last week and the announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed.

Monday, May 02, 2011 18:17
Missing town official in tsunami confirmed dead

A woman who saved many lives on March 11th as tsunami swept through a seaside town in northeastern Japan has been confirmed dead.
Miki Endo was a municipal official responsible for crisis management in the town of Minamisanriku. When the quake and tsunami hit, she remained at her post and used the community broadcast system to urge residents to quickly move to higher ground.


Voices from around

. Daily Radiation Levels .  

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Japan Times :

Japan firms ignore foreign media at own peril: expert

Japanese companies need to improve their communication with the foreign media when attempting to expand their presence in overseas markets, says a Tokyo-based expert in corporate public relations.

The overseas media coverage of Japan's nuclear crisis — sometimes criticized here as exaggerated or sensational — partly reflects the failure of the Japanese to release enough relevant information in English, according to Jochen Legewie, president of CNC Japan K.K.

Worker found overexposed to radiation

Temporary housing for all vowed by O-Bon in August

Diet and disaster
Both houses of the Diet held extensive deliberations on the March 11 earthquake and tsunami last week. Some lawmakers mixed questions related to measures for coping with the aftermath of the disasters with either an attack on Prime Minister Naoto Kan's performance or a call for him to resign. ...


Shingen Daruma bokin collection
七転八起『だるま募金』 信玄だるま

source : omyama.exblog.jp



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    Ties bind Japan nuke sector, regulators

    TOKYO – Nearly 10 years after Japan's top utility first assured the government that its Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant was safe from any tsunami, regulators were just getting around to checking out the claim. The move was too little, too late.

    But even if there had been scrutiny years before the fury of an earthquake-powered wave swamped the six atomic reactors at Fukushima on March 11, it is almost certain the government wouldn't have challenged the unrealistic analysis that Tokyo Electric Power Co. had submitted in 2001. An Associated Press review of Japan's approach to nuclear plant safety shows how closely intertwined relationships between government regulators and industry have allowed a culture of complacency to prevail.

    Regulators simply didn't see it as their role to pick apart the utility's raw data and computer modeling to judge for themselves whether the plant was sufficiently protected from tsunami. The policy amounted to this: Trust plant operator TEPCO — and don't worry about verifying its math or its logic.

    This kind of willful ignorance was not unique within a sympathetic bureaucracy at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The agency has multiple functions — some that can easily be viewed as having conflicting goals. The ministry is charged with touting the benefits of nuclear energy, selling Japanese technology to other countries — and regulating domestic nuclear plant safety.

    Until January, it was led by a former engineer in the nuclear plant design section at Hitachi Ltd.
    Both regulator and regulated share an interest in promoting nuclear as a greenhouse gas-free energy source that reduces the island nation's heavy reliance on imported fossil fuels.

    Regulator and regulated also share people.


  2. Al-Qaeda founder and leader Osama Bin Laden has been killed by US forces, President Barack Obama has said.

    The al-Qaeda leader was killed in a ground operation based on US intelligence, the first lead for which emerged last August.

    Mr Obama said after "a firefight" US forces took possession of his body.

    Bin Laden was accused of being behind a number of atrocities, including the attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001.

    He was top of the US "most wanted" list.

    Crowds gathered outside the White House in Washington DC, chanting "USA, USA" after the news emerged.


  3. Anonymous5/02/2011

    Yellow sand spreading over Japan

    Japan's Meteorological Agency says seasonal yellow sand is being observed from western to eastern Japan on Monday.

    Fine sand from China's desert regions is being carried by westerly winds, and reached Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo on Monday.

    Visibility was reduced to about 5 kilometers at one point in the cities of Fukuoka and Tottori in western Japan.

    Yellow sand is also expected on Tuesday, with visibility below 10 kilometers over a wide area and 5 kilometers in some places. The agency is advising caution for drivers and says laundry should not be dried outdoors.

    Monday, May 02, 2011 12:02 +0900 (JST)

  4. Tepco Must End ‘Whack-a-Mole,' Protect Reactors From Storms
    April 21 (Bloomberg)

    Tokyo Electric Power Co. must speed up plans to cover reactors at its crippled nuclear plant and drain tainted water to prevent more radiation leaks as Japan's typhoon season approaches, engineering professors said.

    In 2004, eight cyclones passed over or skirted Japan's Tohoku region, where the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power station is spewing radiation after an earthquake and tsunami on March 11. The earliest was in May that year, according to Japan's weather agency data. The eyes of two storms passed within 300 kilometers (180 miles) of Tohoku last year, the data show.

    Last month's disaster wrecked the plant's cooling systems, triggering the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986. The roofs of three buildings were damaged in blasts as water inside reactor cores and spent-fuel ponds boiled away. The utility known as Tepco plans to install temporary covers within nine months, and concrete ceilings over the “medium term.”
    Typhoon Melor smashed into Japan west of Tokyo in October 2009, leaving five people dead. The storm weakened as its eye passed over land to the west of the Fukushima station, where it dumped more than 30 millimeters (1.2 inches) of rain per hour in the early hours of Oct. 8, 2009, according to the JMA.
    Reactor buildings weakened by explosions may suffer further damage if a typhoon hits them, while strong winds and rain could scatter radioactive materials and water, said Hironobu Unesaki, a nuclear engineering professor at Kyoto University.
    “Heavy rain may cause radioactive materials to soak further into the ground and enter the water table," Unesaki said. ‘‘This could affect drinking water.''


  5. Anonymous5/02/2011

    "Think only about what is holy. Empty your mind."
    -- Archie Fire Lame Deer, LAKOTA

    If we let our minds wander, we will come up with a lot of junk; maybe bad thoughts about a brother or sister, maybe angry thoughts, maybe self-pity thoughts. Our minds are not the boss.

    We can instruct our mind to think about whatever we want to think about. We cannot stop thinking, but we can choose what to think about. The Elders say we move towards what we think about.
    That's why they say,
    "Think about what is holy,
    think about the Grandfathers,
    think about culture,
    think about values, think about ceremonies,
    and think about good."

    White Bison, inc.

  6. Anonymous5/03/2011

    Protesters urge rethink of child radiation limit
    (Japan Times article)

    Four antinuclear groups demanded Monday that the government withdraw its decision to set the annual radiation limit at 20 millisieverts for schoolchildren in Fukushima Prefecture, saying the standard poses a health risk.

    The four groups — Friends of the Earth Japan, Green Action, Fukuro no Kai, and Mihama no Kai — said during meetings with government officials in Tokyo that 20 millisieverts is the upper ceiling of a safety standard set in 2007 by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.

    The groups said a safer standard should be adopted for schoolchildren.

    In 2007, the ICRP recommended the maximum exposure limit be set at a range between 1 and 20 milliserverts per year in the wake of an atomic crisis.

    In an emergency, the ICRP recommends the maximum exposure limit be set between 20 to 100 millisieverts.

    " I want the government to take measurements which protect children, the treasures of our country", said Sachiko Sato, one of the activists, at an open Q&A session held with officials from the Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry.

    The education ministry announced on April 19 that the annual limit for radiation exposure is 20 millisieverts for children in primary and junior high school. The limit was also approved by Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

    According to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, however, the government has just set the exposure limit at 3.8 microsieverts per hour for children using a school playground. This means that if a child stayed outside on the playground for 8 hours a day for an entire year, the child's exposure could theoretically exceeed 20 millisieverts — a scenario that is unlikely, Edano said at a news conference Saturday.

    But Fukushima residents are skeptical.

    One resident who did not wish to be identified said the limit is too high.

    "The government should take back the radiation limit of 20 millisieverts. I want to bring back Fukushima that is safe for children," the man said.


  7. Anonymous5/03/2011

    Anger is the most futile emotion one can experience.
    It is totally negative and feeds on one's irrational,
    vindictive, and punitive nature.
    It accomplishes nothing
    but a wider rift between persons, a growing
    dissatisfaction with self,
    and empty feeling
    where loving understanding ought to be.

    Louise Doud