August 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

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Scooping little Goldfish

This summer, because of saving electricity and the general mood, there are less summer festivals with fireworks and most festivals close down at 6 in the evening, before it gets dark.

So there are less people frequenting the sites, buying less food and less toys than usual.

One of the attractions for children at a summer festival is the scooping up of goldfish (金魚すくい). With a small net made of paper children try to scoop the small fish into a bowl to take home. It takes a lot of skill to do that. When the net breaks, the game is over.

This year, the goldfish breeders are left with their huge tanks still full of the little fish, sales down about half.
What to do with all these glittering animals?
They will most probably be sold as feed for larger fish ... down the food chain.

. Goldfish as kigo 金魚 .


August 20, 2011

A rainfront is hanging over Japan, finding its way to the south. We have sudden coldness (more than 15 degrees centigrade dropping) north of the rainfront, and still "summer" south of it.
My own valley was shrouded in cold mist this morning - feeling like autumn.

Saturday, August 20, 2011 08:51 - NHK
Quake-hit students enjoy holiday in Vladivostok
Japanese students from areas hit hard by the March 11th disaster have arrived in Vladivostok in Russia's Far East, where they're spending part of their summer vacation.
The 33 junior and senior high school students from Iwate and Miyagi prefectures arrived in the region on Friday at the invitation of Russian first lady Svetlana Medvedeva. ...

Saturday, August 20, 2011 14:46
New office to address radioactive contamination
Japan's minister in charge of nuclear crisis has said that the government will establish a task force next week to address radioactive contamination in areas around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Goshi Hosono made the comment at a meeting with Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato on Saturday.
Hosono added that the central government will set up a team in Fukushima to facilitate radioactive decontamination work.
Hosono said the government will allocate budgets to deal with the ongoing nuclear disaster as it bears heavy responsibility for the accident at the Fukushima plant.
Hosono said removal of radioactive substances is becoming the most important issue.

. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .

Fukushima beef shipment ban stands
The shipment ban on Fukushima Prefecture beef will continue as more meat turns up contaminated with excessive radioactive cesium.

Nuclear policy scaled back
A new five-year science and technology program cleared by the Cabinet reflects government backpedaling on atomic power by excluding past references next-generation nuclear technologies.

Kids deliver 80,000 no-nukes signatures

M6.8 quake jolts Tohoku (yesterday)

Businesses look to cash in on winter power shortage


August 21, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011 01:59
New system improves Fukushima decontamination
Tokyo Electric Power Company says it has succeeded in increasing the capacity of a water decontamination system at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant by 1.5 times.
The utility began to use a Japanese-made system on Thursday along with a French-made system to remove radioactive substances from water. The water is then being injected back into the reactors to cool them.
TEPCO decided to introduce the new system as the existing decontamination system was plagued with problems, and the foreign-made components repeatedly clogged up.
The firm tested the performance of the new equipment for 2 days by running the contaminated water through it after the water had gone through the existing device.
Full-fledged operation of the new system alone began on Friday night.
TEPCO says the decontamination level using both systems has been increased by 1.5 times to 70 tons per hour from the original 45 tons.
The system's operating rate has been only 69 percent of full capacity, far below the initial target of 90 percent.
The firm hopes the new addition will boost the capacity and help achieve stable circulatory cooling of the reactors.

Sunday, August 21, 2011 08:58 - NHK
TEPCO: No1 reactor temperature down
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says all thermometers at the troubled No.1 reactor has registered temperatures lower than 100 degrees Celsius.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, said on Saturday that all 19 thermometers at the No.1 reactor showed readings below 100 degrees as of 11 PM on Friday. It added the stable condition was unchanged 12 hours later.
As part of its effort to bring the plant under control, TEPCO has been working to achieve cold shutdown of reactors No.1, 2 and 3. The reactors' temperatures should continuously remain below 100 degrees.
TEPCO says its efforts to cool down the reactors are beginning to bear fruit.
But in order to actually achieve cold shutdown, the utility firm has to accomplish other goals, one being able to maintain stable conditions even if an emergency occurs.
TEPCO also said the 2 other reactors remained higher than the 100-degree benchmark, as of 11 AM on Saturday.
The 3 reactors were in operation when the March earthquake and tsunami struck the plant.

Sunday, August 21, 2011 11:15 - NHK
Disaster-hit areas promote tourism
In a bid to revive tourism in areas hit by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami, Japanese municipalities are taking part in a travel fair in Thailand.
The Thai International Travel Fair, which is being held from Thursday to Sunday in the capital, Bangkok, is one of the largest travel events in Southeast Asia.
11 Japanese municipalities and private companies that operate theme parks opened booths.
At the booth set up by Sendai City, northeastern Japan, city officials explain to visitors the rebuilding efforts of disaster-hit areas, as well as tourist destinations where the impact of the disaster is relatively small.
The head of Japan's Tourism Agency, Hiroshi Mizohata, visited the fair on Saturday and called for more visits to Japan.
After the March disaster and nuclear accident, most of the group tours by Thai people to Japan were cancelled.
But the Japan National Tourism Organization says the number of Thai tourists to the country in July recovered to 86 percent of the level a year ago.
(BTW, the governor of Okayama and the mayor are off to Taiwan, to promote Okayama as a tourist destination.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011 16:44
Evacuation orders to remain in effect
The government has decided to have Prime Minister Naoto Kan explain to municipalities near the Fukushima Daiichi plant that exclusion orders in some areas will remain in effect due to high levels of radiation.
The government had planned to consider lifting exclusion orders within 20 kilometers from the plant after cold shutdown of the reactors has been achieved.
However, it has decided to keep off-limits the areas where it is not safe for people to return home for a long time.
Areas subject to the measure are those quite close to the plant and where radiation levels remain very high.
The government will arrange for Kan to explain to affected municipalities that exclusion orders will likely remain in effect for a long time and about how the government will support the former residents.
The government's nuclear accident task force indicated on August 9 that some areas are likely to be too contaminated for people to return home for a long time.
It plans to work with local municipalities to decide on long-term measures and plans for reconstruction.

. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .

Cesium detected in a Miyagi boar
Radioactive cesium more than four times the safety limit has been detected in the meat of a wild boar killed in Kakuda, Miyagi Prefecture, officials said.
It is the first time radioactive contamination exceeding the limit has been found in a wild animal or bird in the prefecture, the officials said Friday.
They said they will ask residents not to eat meat from wild animals or birds.
. . . . . and
Hot spots mapped
The government has urged people living in areas around the plant, where annual exposure is likely to exceed 20 millisieverts, to evacuate.

Test on to coax cesium in paddy soil up to surface

Three firms planning massive solar power complex in Aichi
Mitsui Chemicals Inc., Toshiba Corp. and Mitsui & Co.

Tougher fuel-efficiency rule planned


August 22, 2011

. . . . . at 17:36
Earthquake M 4.6, off Ibaraki

. . . . . at 20:23
Earthquake M 6.0, off Ibaraki

Monday, August 22, 2011 06:28 - NHK
74% of Japan's nuclear plants to halt this month
Tokyo Electric Power Company plans to shut down a reactor in Niigata Prefecture, central Japan, for a regular inspection this month. This means 74% of Japan's nuclear reactors will be out of service.
If TEPCO shuts down the No. 7 reactor of the Kashiwazaki-kariwa nuclear power plant, 40 out of 54 nuclear reactors in Japan will be inactive.
11 reactors are scheduled to finish their regular checkups this month. But it is not likely utility operators will be able to restart the reactors immediately.
The utilities must first conduct stress tests and get approvals from local communities to restart.
Another 14 reactors will be down for regular checks by next spring.
If no reactor is allowed to resume operations after regular checks, then all 54 nuclear reactors in Japan will be out of service in the spring.

Monday, August 22, 2011 06:28 (amazing)
Traces of old tsunamis discovered in Tohoku
A Japanese professor has discovered traces of old tsunamis in the area of the March disaster. He suspects major earthquakes rocked the region every 1,000 years, based on his findings.
Professor Kazuomi Hirakawa 平川一臣 of Hokkaido University studied geological layers along the Sanriku coast, which runs between Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.
He found that 5 layers on the coast of Miyagi Prefecture consist of a massive amount of rounded stones, which are believed to have been carried there by tsunamis.
The layers are situated above a 5,400 year old volcanic ash layer and were likely to have been gradually formed up until the present.
He also discovered 6 layers of the same kind in Iwate Prefecture, and believes the latest one was created by a tsunami caused by an earthquake 115 years ago.
Traces of a huge tsunamis caused by what is known in Japan as the Jogan Earthquake, which struck over 1,000 years ago, have been found inland in Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures.
Based on these finings, Hirakawa believes tsunamis of a magnitude of the same level as the March earthquake have happened once every 1,000 years.
Hirakawa says that as a scientist studying old tsunamis, he regrets that he couldn't live up to his responsibility before the disaster.
He is expected to submit a report on his findings to the government's Earthquake Research Committee.

Monday, August 22, 2011 06:28
Neighbor calls helped escape from tsunami
A survey showed many people who had evacuated immediately after the March 11th earthquake, left because of the actions of their families or neighbors.
Japan's Cabinet Office asked 870 survivors in the disaster-hit Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures how they escaped from the tsunami.
Asked whether they evacuated immediately after the earthquake, 57% answered they fled right after the earthquake, while 43% said not immediately, or didn't evacuate at all.
Then the survey asked what triggered their departure.
48% said they were afraid of tsunami, 20% said family member or neighbors called, and 15% said they followed their neighbors.
Yoshiaki Kawata, the leader of the government's research team which is drawing up plans against disasters, says it is important for people to yell in order to clearly show others that they are evacuating. He explains the action will apparently cause others to join the evacuation.

Monday, August 22, 2011 18:04
TEPCO plant in Niigata to close for checks
Tokyo Electric Power Company has begun taking steps to shut down a nuclear reactor in Niigata prefecture, on the Japan Sea coast, for regular inspections.
With the shutdown of the No. 7 reactor at the Kashiwazaki-kariwa nuclear power plant early Tuesday, 74 percent of Japan's nuclear reactors will be out of service.
The company started taking steps to gradually halt power generation at the No. 7 reactor on Monday afternoon. Power is to be halted before dawn on Tuesday.
The reactor is scheduled to be suspended for regular checkups for about 3 months.
Operation of the No. 1 reactor at the Kashiwazaki-kariya plant was stopped on August 6th.
With the shutdown of the No. 7 reactor, only 2 nuclear reactors out of 17 operated by TEPCO will be in service. This means 40 out of 54 nuclear reactors in Japan will be inactive.
TEPCO says it will make up for the power loss by generating thermal and hydropower. At the same time, the utility is calling on consumers to continue saving energy.
Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida stated earlier that a decision to restart the reactors within the prefecture will be made only after results of the investigation into the Fukushima plant nuclear accident are presented.

. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .

Hot cow count in Fukushima rises to 12

Bureaucrats blame Kan for sapping their initiative


August 23, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 09:11 - NHK
Another reactor is taken offline in Japan
Another nuclear reactor has gone offline for regular inspections in Japan. Three-quarters of the country's reactors are now out of service, putting a strain on power supplies.
Tokyo Electric Power Company halted operations of the No.7 reactor at the Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture early Tuesday. The regular checkup normally lasts about 3 months.
TEPCO operates 17 reactors, including those at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant. But only 2 are now in operation. Across Japan, 40 reactors are out of service, or three-quarters of the total.
TEPCO says it can keep power output unchanged by installing additional gas turbines at thermal power plants.
The governor of Niigata has said he won't even consider allowing TEPCO's idle reactors to start up until an investigation into the Fukushima nuclear accident has been concluded.
The central government has meanwhile ordered utilities to carry out rigorous safety tests on all halted reactors, in response to the Fukushima accident.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 10:25 - NHK
Radiation concern prompts review of school routes
Fukushima City says it will ask 80 percent of the city's elementary and junior high schools to review students' commuting routes due to higher than benchmark radiation levels.
The city is located about 60 kilometers from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In July, all its 72 elementary and junior high schools measured radiation levels 50 centimeters above the surface of roads used daily by their students.
City authorities say 59 of the schools, or 80 percent, detected one microsievert of radiation per hour or higher. 9 school routes measured 3 microsieverts per hour or more, with the highest reading topping 8 microsieverts.
One microsievert is the benchmark the government uses to determine whether top soil at school playgrounds should be removed with state subsidies.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 10:25
Japan lowers Fukushima contamination estimate
Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission has revised downward the estimated amount of radioactive substances released from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The commission now judges that 570-thousand terabecquerels of radioactive iodine 131 and cesium 137, about 10 percent less than its earlier estimate, leaked from the plant between March 12th and April 5th.
The commission put the total at 630-thousand terabecquerels in April.
The new figure was obtained by analyzing freshly released data on radiation levels measured at monitoring posts and amounts of radioactive materials in the air.
The commission also believes that leakage of radioactive substances peaked from 1 PM to 5 PM in the afternoon of March 15th when explosions occurred at reactors No. 2 and No. 4.
The timing is not much different than the commission's initial estimate, but the new figures revise downward the amount of radioactive substances released during the period by 60 percent.
The Japan Atomic Energy Agency is expressing confidence in its new estimates, saying they are not largely different from earlier ones and are nearly consistent with changes in radiation measurements.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 11:10
New case of cattle fed radioactive hay confirmed
Fukushima in northern Japan says cattle shipped from a farm in the prefecture were highly likely to have been fed hay contaminated with radioactive cesium.
The prefecture reported the results of its investigation to the national government on Monday in connection with new reports of contaminated beef found at a food processor.
It launched its investigation on Friday, just after beef from 12 head of cattle shipped from a farmer in April was found to contain radioactive cesium at twice the government safety standard.
In response, the national government immediately put off lifting a ban on shipments of beef and cattle from the prefecture.
Fukushima says the farmer told it that he had kept imported hay in his cattle barn with no side walls before he evacuated in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
It says the farmer fed his cattle the hay a week later when a very high level of atmospheric radiation was still detected. The prefecture concluded that the hay had been contaminated with atmospheric radioactive cesium.
Fukushima plans to ask the government to lift the shipment ban as soon as possible, saying the government did so for cattle fed contaminated rice straw from other prefectures last week.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 11:10 - NHK
Aerial radiation survey planned in 22 prefectures
Japan's science ministry is conducting an extensive aerial survey to see how radiation has spread from the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The ministry plans to measure gamma ray radiation at altitudes of 150 to 300 meters and recalibrate the readings to estimate levels of radioactive substances closer to the ground.
The survey will start by October in 22 prefectures ranging from Aomori in the northeast to Aichi in central Japan.
Among the 22, Fukushima and 3 other prefectures have already finished the survey. Three others have begun or are due to begin the operation in August. The remaining 15, including Tokyo, will follow suit in September.
The science ministry has acquired additional equipment to enable it to work quickly, as winter snow could hamper accurate monitoring. All the prefectures are due to complete the survey by the end of the year.

. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .

Kan to spell out no-go zone reality

Prime Minister Kan plans to visit Fukushima Prefecture this weekend to tell residents that some areas around its radiation-leaking power plant will be uninhabitable for a long time.

Fukushima hunts for cesium-resistant rice
A research agency in Fukushima Prefecture is testing 110 varieties of rice for strains that absorb less radioactive cesium from soil than Japanese rice.

Green Party leader prods nuke power foes

Geological evidence of six big tsunami found on Miyagi coast

Slow aid distribution frustrating survivors
Japan's worst natural disaster on record spurred a $3.7 billion outpouring of donations. But five months later, survivors living in temporary housing are still waiting for aid.
Half of the funds donated by groups including the Red Cross have yet to be disbursed amid a backlog of data processing and wrangling over how to distribute the money.

Toll waiver for trucks cut due to abuse


Restart of Tomari reactor


August 24, 2011

Another day with rain and coldness.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 07:04 - NHK
TEPCO to directly pour water to No.3 reactor fuel
Tokyo Electric Power Company will try a new process to cool down the No.3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant by injecting water directly onto the facility's fuel starting on Friday.
The utility has been pouring 7 tons of water from outside the No.3 reactor every hour.
But this process has been producing a massive amount of high-level radioactive water.
TEPCO said on Monday that injecting cooling water through pipes situated above the fuel would be a more efficient operation.
The utility hopes this new process will reduce the amount of radioactive water produced.
The operator says it will check the effectiveness of the new system by monitoring the temperature levels.

Tokyo Tower lit up with human-generated power
. Setsuden - saving energy .

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 07:05
Govt compiles Fukushima decontamination plan
The Japanese government has compiled a basic plan to decontaminate areas in Fukushima Prefecture, contaminated with radioactivity by the accident at a nuclear plant in the prefecture.
The government said on Tuesday that it plans to cut the contamination levels in residential areas in the prefecture by almost half over the next 2 years.
The plan will include concrete methods for carrying out decontamination.
Under the plan, the decontamination of houses will be achieved by measures including the cleaning of drainpipes from the roof to the ground, and the pruning and weeding of gardens.
It also says that houses in areas contaminated with high levels of radiation require the high-pressure washing of roofs and the elimination of surface soil in gardens.
The plan also states that joints in asphalt roads must be rinsed, and mud in roadside ditches removed.
Branches of trees on the street must be trimmed and dead leaves disposed of.
The government is due to decide on the plan on Friday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 08:53
More Japanese buy quake insurance program
The number of new earthquake insurance contracts in Japan increased by 6.8 percent from the March-to-May period compared to the same period last year. Japan was hit by a major earthquake in March.
The Non-Life Insurance Rating Organization of Japan said on Monday that insurance firms gained more than 2.51 million new earthquake contracts during the period. The organization is formed by 38 non-life insurance companies.
The increase is apparent in the 3 prefectures hit hardest by the March 11th earthquake. Fukushima Prefecture saw a 49.6 percent increase, while Iwate a 26.4 percent and Miyagi a 22.3 percent.
The insurance organization says it believes that more people are becoming increasingly conscious of the damage caused by earthquakes and tsunamis after the March 11th disaster. It also says that the number of new contracts is likely to continue to rise for the time being.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 10:22
Moody's cuts Japan's debt rating
US credit agency Moody's Investors Service has downgraded Japan's debt by one notch, on concerns over the country's worsening fiscal situation.
Moody's cut Japan's government bond rating on Wednesday to "Double A 3" from "Double A 2".
The new rating ranks Japanese debt at the same level as that of countries like China and Chile.
The agency says it made the downgrade because the effects of the March disaster and resulting power shortages are slowing Japan's economic growth.
It added that the country has failed to hammer out viable plans for reforming its social security and tax system. ...

. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .

Biden praises survivors' resolve
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden praises the resolve of the Japanese people in their efforts to recover from the tsunami.

Trio contest post of mayor killed on 3/11
Three candidates entered a delayed mayoral race in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, on Tuesday to fill the vacancy left by the death of Koki Kato in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Shipments of beef cattle from Miyagi are resumed

Utilities told to check data further
The nuclear regulatory agency has ordered utilities to further review data on the quake-resistance of their nuclear reactors after Kansai Electric Power Co. found errors in such data in its 2009 report.

Tohoku kids need school aid: report
"In restoring and rebuilding disaster areas, generous support is needed to ensure equal opportunity in education and academic standards," the paper, released Tuesday, says.



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1 comment:

  1. The recent 5.8 earthquake that hit outside Washington, D.C. perhaps created more psychological than physical damage.
    ..... For example, the quake knocked out the off-site electrical power at two nuclear power plants in North Ana. Of the four back-up emergency generators, one of them failed. This is actually quite disturbing, because the North Ana plant was apparently only designed to handle a 6.2 earthquake.
    ... Also, if the earthquake had been centered around New York rather than Washington, D.C., it might have caused much more damage.