June 26, Sunday

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. Aka-beko, the Red Cow from Aizu, Fukushima .
あかべこ Akabeko

a red cow
wiggles her head -
understanding humans


Gabi reports:

Huge Typhoon Nr. 5 is rolling over Korea, Western Japan also gets some strong gusts and rain today.

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Okada: Kan may resign during Diet session
. The Political Situation .  INFO .


Bulletins from NHK Online
source : www3.nhk.or.jp

Sunday, June 26, 2011 02:50
TEPCO ready to inject nitrogen into No.2 reactor
Tokyo Electric Power Company is ready to inject nitrogen into the containment vessel of the Number 2 reactor at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to prevent hydrogen blasts.
The company says it will monitor radiation levels around the compound more closely as the nitrogen may force out tiny amounts of gas containing radioactive substances.
Work is underway at the damaged nuclear plant to decontaminate water and inject it back into the reactor for cooling.
But if the reactors are cooled to a stable level, less moisture will be produced, raising the ratio of hydrogen in the air.
Hydrogen can cause an explosion when it reacts with oxygen.
TEPCO has been pumping nitrogen into the No.1 reactor since April and has completed preparations to do the same at the No. 2 reactor.
The utility assessed the possible effects of nitrogen injection into the No.2 reactor, and submitted its report to the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency on Friday.
It plans to start the injection as soon as it obtains the consent of the agency.

Sunday, June 26, 2011 09:13
Gov't task force to draw reconstruction roadmap
The Japanese government will on Monday convene the first meeting of its task force for the reconstruction of areas devastated by the March 11th disaster.
The task force will be headed by Ryu Matsumoto, the minister in charge of the reconstruction, and will include the heads of local task forces from the disaster-hit Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.
The group will develop proposals to enact policies announced by a government panel of advisors on Saturday.
The panel called for measures aimed at minimizing damage from future natural disasters, including developing higher ground for habitation.
It also recommended the creation of a zone to revitalize local fishing industries and a conference to address the reconstruction of high-radiation areas.
The panel also called for the promotion of renewable energies.

Sunday, June 26, 2011 09:13
Lady Gaga headlines Japan charity gig
Lady Gaga headlined a charity concert in Japan on Saturday to benefit people hit by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.
The event, at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba prefecture, near Tokyo, was organized by MTV and drew around 6,000 fans.
The megastar opened the event attached to a giant spider's web. She then wriggled free from the web, apparently to symbolize overcoming a difficult situation.
About 20 music groups took part in the show, including top Japanese group EXILE, and South Korean pop group Shojojidai.
The money raised by the event will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross.

Sunday, June 26, 2011 13:01
Boric acid being added to No.3 reactor fuel pool
Tokyo Electric Power Company has begun adding boric acid to the spent fuel storage pool of the No.3 reactor at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to prevent fuel racks from being corroded by alkaline water.
The company started the operation on Sunday morning. About 90 tons of water containing boric acid will be poured into the pool through Monday.
Concrete debris from the March hydrogen explosion of the reactor building has been detected in the fuel pool.
Last month, TEPCO found that the water in the pool had turned strongly alkaline, with its PH level reaching 11.2. The leaching of calcium hydrate from the debris is believed to be the cause. TEPCO says the condition may accelerate corrosion of aluminum racks holding spent fuel rods and may cause the rods to topple in the worst case, which could lead to re-criticality.
At the same time, TEPCO is preparing to install a circulatory cooling system at the fuel pool that will go into operation in early July.

Sunday, June 26, 2011 13:39
Gov't explains nuclear plant safety measures
The Japanese government held a meeting in Saga Prefecture, western Japan, on Sunday to explain to local residents about safety measures being taken to resume the operation of a nuclear power plant in the area.
The meeting in Saga City was the first of its kind since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Seven residents chosen by the government, including a housewife and a senior official of the local chamber of commerce, attended the meeting at a cable TV station. The 90-minute meeting was broadcast live on cable TV and the Internet. At Kyushu Electric Power Company's Genkai nuclear plant, regular inspection of 2 reactors has been completed. But the Saga governor is maintaining a cautious stance about restarting them.
At the meeting, officials of the industry ministry explained the safety measures taken at the Fukushima Daiichi plant and Genkai plant.
One resident asked about the possibility of hydrogen explosions at the Genkai plant. Another demanded an explanation for restarting the reactors even when the accident at Fukushima has not been cleared up.
The ministry officials replied that safety of the plant has been ensured.
More than 50 people demonstrated outside the venue, criticizing the small number of participants and the way the meeting was held.
(I watched this on TV. This was quite astonishing, only seven people allowed in and the experts kept dousing them in spacial vocabulary ... not very helpful.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011 15:20
Temporary bridge completed in Kesennuma City
A temporary bridge replacing one washed away by the March 11th tsunami has been completed in Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture.
The 180-meter Koizumi-Ohashi bridge -- part of a national highway linking coastal regions of Miyagi and Iwate prefectures -- was completely destroyed in the disaster.
At a ceremony held before the new bridge opened at 9 AM on Sunday, children handed flowers to people involved in the construction work.
Steel plates were placed on top of steel pickets to build the bridge right next to the old one. The new bridge is 182 meters long and 10 meters wide.
With its completion, people no longer have to take a detour.
A woman who sends her children to a nearby elementary school says her children can now get there more quickly.
A land ministry official says he expects the completion of the temporary bridge to accelerate restoration and reconstruction work in the region.

Sunday, June 26, 2011 16:45
Company profits hit by disaster
Private economic institutes say company profits in the first half of the current fiscal year will likely fall by more than 20 percent from the same period last year in the aftermath of the March 11th disaster.
Nomura Securities Financial and Economic Research Center forecasts that the ordinary profits of 353 publicly-traded companies will fall by 25 percent between April and September from the same period last year.
Daiwa Capital Markets Financial Research Center says the ordinary profits of 200 major listed companies are expected to decrease by 26 percent.
The 2 institutes say the reasons for the decline include a decrease in output in the automotive and electronics sectors as well as depressed personal consumption following the disaster.
They say much of the lost profits will be made up in the second half, between October 2011 and March 2012, as production is expected to pick up thanks to strong demand in emerging economies.
However, the institutes say a prolongation of the power shortages and the significant economic slowdown in the United States will be issues of concern.


Voices from around

. Daily Radiation Levels .  

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Japan Times :

Tax increase urged to pay for rebuilding
The government's reconstruction panel submits a report to Prime Minister Kan mapping out the measures needed to recover from the March 11 disasters, and suggests taxes should be hiked to fund them.

Tohoku city allows death registrations
The tsunami-battered city of Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, begins accepting death registrations for people who vanished on March 11.

More than 14,000 disaster survivors had mental care

Eastern Japan edgy as power demand soars

Irradiated food poses moral dilemmas
Mail-order food-delivery companies and cooperatives have long been among the leading campaigners for — and custodians of — food safety in Japan.
... The harsh reality is, however, that no food distributors have been able to provide food from these regions labeled "radiation-free." In fact, even the most environmentally conscious, anti-nuclear-power food providers have had no option but to go along with the government-stipulated safety limits, set at the end of March, of 2,000 becquerels/kg of iodine-131 for vegetables and fish, and 500 becquerels/kg of cesium-134 and cesium-137 combined for vegetables, meat, fish and eggs — levels that a wide variety of domestic produce now no longer exceeds. Prior to March 11, there were no such government standards for domestic produce.

Experts urge great caution over radiation risks
In order to address public concerns over post 3/11 food safety, the government should be more forthcoming in the monitoring and disclosure of data regarding radiation contamination of soil, Akira Sugenoya, mayor of Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture, told this reporter recently.
... However, he added that infants, children up to the age of 14 and pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid eating food contaminated with even the small doses of radiation. In fact he said that adults should leave safer food for these more at-risk segments of the population even if it means they will eat contaminated food themselves.
... "So many people in Japan are now saying that they can't trust their own government."


More than 400 people attended a special service to pay last respects to the beautiful East Pagoda. It will now be shrouded, taken apart and rebuild in atempt to save it from decaying. Most of the wood still dates from the 8th century.
. Temple Yakushi-Ji Nara

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UNESCO adds Hiraizumi to World Heritage list
UNESCO has added the Hiraizumi district in northeastern Japan to its list of World Heritage sites.
UNESCO's World Heritage Committee made the decision at Saturday's session of its annual meeting in Paris that Hiraizumi. The Hiraizumi site includes Chuson-ji Temple in Iwate Prefecture and ruins in the surrounding area.
The Japanese government had proposed the cultural assets of Hiraizumi as world heritage, saying that the unique Buddhist art has universal value.
Last month, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which advises UNESCO, recommended that Hiraizumi be included on the heritage list on condition that some ruins are excluded.
Hiraizumi has become Japan' 16th World Heritage site and 12th Cultural Heritage site.
source : NHK world news

People see this as a boost to the regional tourism and hope for good business from now on.

. Hiraizumi Fujiwara Matsuri
平泉藤原祭 Hiraizumi Festial



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