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September 21, 2011
Fukushima nuclear plant on typhoon alert
. Typhoon 15, Roke .
It will hit Japan Main Island today.
It will pass right over, from Shizuoka to Hachinohe in Tohoku, maybe straight over Fukushima town.
Most of today's news of NHK is about the typhoon.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011 20:02 - NHK
A new plan set to reduce radiation emissions
The Japanese government and the operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant say they will install new devices to reduce the amount of radioactive substances released into the air.
The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, originally planned to achieve a cold shutdown, in which temperatures of the reactors reach below 100 degrees Celsius by January next year.
They now say that they will aim to reach that status within this year, as their work is making steady progress.
The government and TEPCO revealed the plan in their monthly review of the timetable for containing the nuclear crisis.
They will install new devices at the NO.1, No.2 and No.3 reactors to take contaminated gases out of the reactors using filters. They plan to start installing the devices next week.
TEPCO also plans to complete the construction of a giant polyester shield over the No.1 reactor by mid-October.
The operator also plans to improve its cooling systems so that the temperatures of all 3 reactors will drop below 100 degrees Celsius.
They say the amount of radioactive substances released from the plant was about 200-million becquerels per hour in the first half of September. They say that's about one-four millionths of the level of the initial stages of the accident in March.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 10:02
Expert urges checks of reactor interiors
An expert commenting on the accelerated plan to contain the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says the interior temperatures of the damaged reactors need to be checked.
Masanori Naitoh, director in charge of nuclear safety analysis at the Institute of Applied Energy, was speaking to NHK about the revised timetable for bringing the plant under control.
The Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company updated on Tuesday their preparations to achieve a cold shutdown by the end of this year instead of in January as originally planned. Cold shutdown means temperatures of the reactors are kept stable and below 100 degrees Celsius.
Naitoh said that TEPCO is now only measuring temperatures outside the reactors. But he said that it needs to be confirmed through simulation that temperatures inside have fallen below 100 degrees.
He said it also must be proven that there are no risks of a recurrence of nuclear reactions, even though such possibilities are low.
The government and TEPCO plan to start installing new devices at the No. 1, 2 and 3 reactors next week to extract contaminated gases and reduce the release of radioactive substances.
They will also improve reactor cooling systems so that the temperature of the No. 2 reactor, in addition to that of the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors, will drop below 100 degrees.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 11:38
TEPCO plans to cut workforce
Tokyo Electric Power Company will cut its workforce by about 10 percent in the face of ballooning costs over the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The utility needs to implement cost-cutting measures in order to be able to pay compensation to people affected by the accident.
On Tuesday, TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa told a government panel inspecting the firm's financial situation that it will cut 3,000 to 5,000 employees.
But Nishizawa explained that the downsizing will not take place until about 3 years from now because TEPCO needs staff to deal with compensation procedures.
The panel's head, Kazuhiko Shimokobe, expressed dissatisfaction with the measure, saying it's insufficient. The panel will compile a report on TEPCO's cost-cutting plans, which include the sale of assets, by sometime next week.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 23:57
TEPCO releases new images of Fukushima plant
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, has released new video footage of its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The video footage is 3 minutes and 40 seconds long and consists of various clips taken between late June and mid-September.
Footage shot at the No. 1 reactor showed work to cover the reactor building to reduce the release of radioactive substances. A panel of 20 square meters was being lifted with a crane. TEPCO says 8 of the 18 panels needed to cover the entire building had been installed as of Tuesday.
Footage taken at the No. 3 reactor showed workers manually adjusting the volume of water to be injected in order to cool the reactor. Earlier this month, TEPCO began boosting water injection to lower the temperature of the reactor to below 100 degrees Celsius.
The video also showed workers learning how to use dosimeters and how to put on full face masks at a training session.
The company said it is becoming more important to train workers as operations to bring the plant under control proceed. It added that it hopes the images will convey the atmosphere at the site.
TEPCO sets standard for compensating entrepreneurs
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has unveiled guidelines for compensating individuals and small and mid-sized businesses affected by the ongoing nuclear crisis.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company says the amount of compensation for farmers, fishermen, manufacturers and tourist businesses will be calculated in principle based on last year's sales or shipments.
Compensation for individuals and companies that had to suspend business due to evacuation is to be determined by subtracting material costs from last year's sales.
Profit loss due to radiation-related rumors is to be partially compensated.
Initial compensation is to cover a 6-month period starting on the day of the March disaster. Applications for subsequent compensation will have to be made every 3 months.
Tokyo Electric plans to start mailing application forms next week and begin payment by the end of October.
. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .
Cabinet approves 10% cap on budget requests for '12
The Cabinet approves a plan to cap budget requests for fiscal 2012 and keep total general account spending -- excluding debt-servicing costs -- to less than \71 trillion, while allocating about \700 billion for measures to boost economic growth.
Tepco mulling cuts in pensions, workforce
Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Toshio Nishizawa said Tuesday the utility is considering cutting corporate pension payments as well as its workforce as it faces ballooning compensation payments over the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
Provisional school starts classes for 740 students in disaster-hit Otsuchi
Iwate fisheries continue struggle to recover
Fukushima evacuees weigh risks of return
Cold shutdown date moved forward
Residential land prices affected by quake, down 20th year
. . . . . at 22:30
Earthquake M 5.3, Ibaraki North
September 22, 2011
Damage in many parts of Japan
The typhoon has left at least 10 people dead, 5 missing and more than 300 injured across Japan.
Typhoon Roke spares Fukushima plant
. Typhoon 15, Roke .
Thursday, September 22, 2011 11:11 - NHK
Radioactive iodine spread south of nuclear plant
A Japanese government survey shows that radioactive iodine emitted from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant spread not only northwestward but also to the south of the plant.
The science ministry sampled soil at 2,200 locations, mostly in Fukushima Prefecture, in June and July, and created a map indicating the extent of the radioactive contamination as of June 14th.
Officials were able to obtain data for iodine 131 at only 400 locations, because of its short half-life of 8 days.
The latest map shows that iodine 131 spread northwest of the plant, just like cesium 137 as indicated on an earlier map. But the substance was also confirmed south of the plant at relatively high levels.
The researchers found that accumulation levels of iodine 131 were higher than those of cesium 137 in coastal areas south of the plant.
Ministry officials say clouds that moved southward over the plant apparently caught large amounts of iodine 131 that were emitted at the time.
Iodine 131 could cause thyroid cancer through internal exposure. The ministry is therefore trying to determine at what levels the substance spread immediately after the accident at the plant in March.
Thursday, September 22, 2011 14:22
Business leader asks for nuclear plant resumption
A business group leader in the Kansai region has asked the government to quickly resume operations at suspended nuclear power plants as a way to resolve continued power shortages in Japan.
The head of the Kansai Economic Federation, Shosuke Mori, made the request when he met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura in Tokyo on Thursday.
Mori said electricity supply is projected to become tighter during the winter, causing more companies to shift production overseas and to cut workforce. He said Japanese industries will face even more difficulties if this situation continues.
Fujimura said he is aware of the severity of power shortages in the Kansai region.
He said the government plans to reopen nuclear plants one by one, after conducting thorough safety inspections and gaining the understanding of local communities.
Since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, many nuclear reactors in Japan remain shutdown after undergoing regular inspections.
Thursday, September 22, 2011 22:20
Noda vows to raise nuke safety to highest level
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has promised that Japan will raise the safety of its nuclear power plants to the highest level in the world.
Noda made the remark on Thursday in a speech to a UN high-level meeting on nuclear safety in New York.
Noda began by expressing deep gratitude for the encouragement and support extended by many countries around the world for victims of the earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan in March.
On the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, Noda said that the situation is steadily being put under control. He said recent estimates of radioactive releases from the damaged plant are about one 4-millionth of that recorded just after the accident. He said efforts are underway to achieve cold shutdown of the reactors by the end of this year, instead of in January as originally planned.
The prime minister stressed that the government is determined to objectively identify the cause of the accident, and disclose its findings to the world.
Noda said Japan will raise the safety of its reactors to the world's highest level. He laid out plans to tighten regulations and establish a new nuclear safety agency in April next year.
Noda promised Japanese support for countries seeking ways to use nuclear power generation to secure energy and combat global warming.
Noda also said his government will work harder to develop and promote renewable energy and draw up a mid-term energy strategy by next summer.
. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .
Noda eyes spring reactor restarts to avoid power shortfall
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda says he intends to reactivate some of the country's idled nuclear reactors as early as next spring in a bid to avert a massive power shortage that could deal a potentially fatal blow to the economy.
Nuke plant workers due free cancer exam
Energy imports snuff out export recovery
September 23, 2011
National Holiday in Japan - Autumn Equinox Day
. WKD : Autumn equinox (aki higan) .
..... at 17:15
Earthquake M 5.1, off Ibaraki
. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .
Current nuclear debate to set nation's course for decades
The Fukushima disaster has sparked an unprecedented nationwide debate driven by one fundamental question:
Is it better to continue relying on nuclear power or time to embrace renewable energies?
Tepco to start issuing forms for full redress
Maehara speaks out for continued export of nuclear reactors
September 24, 2011
A splendid sunrise over a sea of clouds in my valley - aaah, it is autumn!
Mt. Fuji gets first snow of the season !
And in Hokkaido we saw snow on the red leaves of the mountain forests - beautiful!
Saturday, September 24, 2011 09:09 - NHK
TV journalists discuss coverage of Japan disaster
TV journalists from Japan, South Korea, and China have discussed how television covered the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11th.
Six TV journalists from the 3 countries had a 3-hour discussion at a symposium in the Japanese city of Sapporo on Friday. About 150 people were in the audience.
An NHK news presenter said he still wonders whether TV broadcasters could have saved more lives during the disaster. He said broadcasters need to keep making programs about the survivors and should consider how best to use the Internet when reporting disasters.
A news presenter from Japanese commercial broadcaster TBS said some reporters on the ground weren't sure whether they should carry on reporting or start helping to rescue people.
A TV producer from South Korea said South Korean coverage of the disaster was dramatic and emotional whereas Japanese coverage was very calm.
Saturday, September 24, 2011 22:54
Only 35% of tsunami-hit fishermen resume operation
A survey shows only one out of 3 fishermen in disaster-stricken areas in northeastern and eastern Japan has resumed operations.
The agriculture and fishery ministry surveyed fishermen in 6 prefectures, from Hokkaido to Chiba, along the Pacific Ocean in July.
An average of 35 percent of the respondents in the 6 prefectures said they have resumed fishing.
Of those in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures that were hit hardest by the March 11th tsunami, fewer than 20 percent said they have.
The fishermen cited lack of fishing boats and gear as well as damaged port facilities which have made it difficult to land their catches.
The ministry also surveyed farmers in 8 disaster-hit prefectures.
Only 34 percent of farmers in Miyagi Prefecture where more than 15,000 hectares of farmland were submerged by tsunami said they have resumed farming.
In contrast, 83 percent of those in the other 7 prefecture said they have resumed farming.
Saturday, September 24, 2011 10:05
Noda expresses resolve for rebuilding Japan at UN
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has expressed his resolve to rebuild and revive Japan from the devastating earthquake and tsunami at the UN General Assembly.
Noda addressed the annual UN meeting in New York on Friday.
The prime minister said this year has been far from ordinary for Japan. He stated that nearly 20,000 people were left dead or missing by the March disaster, and almost 40,000 people are still forced to live away from their homes.
Noda expressed gratitude for support extended by the international community, saying the Japanese will never forget the ties they felt with people from around the world.
On the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Noda said steady progress is being made to contain the accident. He said the affected areas face many challenges, but that he will put priority on recovery and reconstruction work to revive Japan as soon as possible.
. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .
Noda tells U.N. end to nuke crisis in sight
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda tells the United Nations that the Fukushima nuclear crisis will be brought under control in the not-too-distant future.
Tohoku Shinkansen Line back to normal
Bullet trains on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line returned Friday to their normal schedules for the first time since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Despite headwinds, solar energy making progress, advocates say
Amore mio, Aomori
With reconstruction underway and tourism returning to northern Japan, Aomori Prefecture is once again a viable tourist destination. You can ride the Hayabusa (not the space probe, but the bullet train) and probe northern Japan. As the new bullet train pierces the northernmost reaches of Honshu, to me, it looks like a giant hurtling thermometer.
September 25, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011 09:05 - NHK
Safety limit radioactive cesium in Fukushima rice
Radioactive cesium measuring just at the government-set safety limit has been detected in rice samples collected in an area in northeastern Fukushima Prefecture.
Officials say 500 becquerels per kilogram of cesium was found in a test on pre-harvest rice from Nihonmatsu City on Friday. The figure is the highest in such tests carried out for rice across the country.
Since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March, the central government has required that a 2-stage test for radiation be conducted before and after harvest.
Pre-harvest tests are currently being carried out in nine prefectures in Tohoku and Kanto regions.
Following the discovery of the high level radioactive cesium, the prefectural government has increased the number of places being tested within the city from 38 to about 300.
On Saturday, the Nihonmatsu City government held an emergency meeting with officials from the prefectural government.
As some farmers have already started to harvest their crop before the results became available, it was decided that they would store their crop ahead of the post-harvest tests.
Sunday, September 25, 2011 09:05
Gov't panel proposes tsunami evacuation plan
A Japanese government panel of experts has agreed to develop a community plan where people can escape from tsunami waves within 5 minutes after an earthquake occurs.
Panel members who specialize in disaster prevention held a meeting on Saturday, to discuss the report they are expected to compile later this month.
The members said that major earthquakes predicted to occur off the Pacific coast of central and western Japan, could trigger huge tsunami waves that are likely to hit some areas within 5 minutes.
The panel decided to incorporate a proposal into the final report that would designate tall buildings as emergency shelter and evacuation routes. This would allow residents to escape from the danger of surging waves within 5 minutes.
The panel also agreed that the principle means of evacuation from a tsunami is on foot. However, elderly people and those who live far away from higher ground are permitted to evacuate by car.
The final report is expected to include ways to safely evacuate depending on local conditions and to provide drivers with some advice on evacuation routes when they get or renew their driver's license.
Professor Yoshiaki Kawata of Kansai University, who chairs the panel, says that some buildings should serve as emergency shelters in a community where there is no higher ground nearby. This would allow people to walk to safety within 5 minutes.
Sunday, September 25, 2011 09:05
Toyota plans to build production base in Tohoku
The chairman of Toyota Motor, Fujio Cho, has unveiled a plan to build a new base for the development and production of small cars in the disaster-stricken Tohoku region of northeastern Japan.
On Saturday, Cho addressed a meeting of officials from Toyota's affiliates and business partners in the region. The chairman said that he wants to make the Tohoku region, Toyota's third production base in Japan next to those in the Chubu and Kyushu regions. Cho also said Toyota wants to establish a production system for compact cars that is efficient enough to counter the effects of a strong yen.
Cho expressed hope that if people in Tohoku use their diligence and patience to produce vehicles, it would help Toyota defeat formidable rivals around the world.
Toyota also plans to construct its first engine plant in the region in Taiwa Town, Miyagi Prefecture, and to manufacture hybrid compact cars at a plant of its subsidiary in Iwate Prefecture.
Sunday, September 25, 2011 14:46
Saury auction held on Sunday in Hokkaido
A rare Sunday auction of saury (sanma サンマ）was held at a port in Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido.
About 3,600 tons of saury was landed at Hanasaki port on Saturday and Sunday. The amount was a record high as fishing boats diverted from ports in northeastern Japan that were damaged by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.
Fish dealers held 8 auctions on Saturday, but 890 tons of the fish was left without being landed or auctioned due to the shortage of trucks.
One fisherman said he is grateful that he was able to land fish on Sunday, adding that he hopes huge catches will continue.
A local cooperative says it expects fishing boats to continue landing their catch at the port.
Sunday, September 25, 2011 22:52
Govt to financially support geothermal generation
Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry says it will support companies that invest in geothermal power generation projects.
Geothermal generation uses high-temperature steam produced by underground water heated by volcanic activity.
The ministry predicts that geothermal generation will be a key source of renewable energy in Japan, which has many volcanoes.
A semi-governmental body will offer grants or investment money to firms looking for suitable sites.
Companies need to raise huge amounts of money for the initial stages of these projects. Drilling a well for underground steam is said to cost 5 to 10 billion yen, or 65 million to 130 million dollars.
The ministry also plans to guarantee firms' debt to help them obtain loans for the projects from financial institutions.
It will allocate the necessary amount for the plan in the next fiscal year's draft budget.
. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .
March quake linked to active seabed fault
The Great East Japan Earthquake may have been caused by a 400-km seabed fault off the Pacific coast that is also menacing Hokkaido, a new study says.
Five-minute evacuation for tsunami eyed
An expert panel under the Central Disaster Prevention Council decided Saturday to propose that the government make it a target when creating residential areas that people be able to evacuate to a safe place within five minutes of an earthquake triggering a tsunami.
(We saw a feature about Kamakura, trying to get off the beach . . . quite impossible for tourists who do not know the location, it seemed.)
Summer energy savings - Setsuden
Students' skills help to forge a new Tohoku
Top architects lend their expertise to rebuilding
Relief and Recovery by Architects for Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami
September 25, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011 05:26 - NHK
Burying of radioactive household waste challenging
Japan's environment ministry says that the disposal of radioactive ashes from household garbage is not going well in Tokyo and surrounding areas, partly due to residents' objections.
Following the nuclear accident in Fukushima, waste facilities in the Tohoku, Kanto and Koshin-etsu regions showed that ashes in garbage from private homes contained radioactive cesium.
The ministry has set guidelines for disposing of the ashes. They say that if the level is 8,000 becquerels per kilogram or lower, the ashes can be buried. For ashes with cesium levels between 8,000 and 100,000 becquerels, the ministry says they must be deposited in cement and put in concrete vessels.
The ministry recently surveyed waste incineration facilities in the regions to see how the ash disposal is proceeding.
Of 410 facilities where cesium levels of ashes were 8,000 becquerels or lower, 22 sites mainly in the Tokyo Metropolitan area have been storing the ashes. They say they cannot bury the ashes due to residents' objections.
The survey also found ashes which had over 8,000 becquerels of cesium had not been buried at 42 facilities. They said that disposal was difficult.
The ministry plans to send officials to municipalities' meetings to explain to residents the safety of waste disposal. It also plans to demonstrate more specific ways of disposing of the highly contaminated ashes.
Monday, September 26, 2011 05:26
Hydrogen check ordered at No.2, 3 reactors
Japan's nuclear safety agency has instructed the operator of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to check if hydrogen is building up in its No.2 and 3 reactors.
This is after the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, recently detected hydrogen in a pipe leading to the containment vessel of No.1 reactor. A hydrogen explosion occurred at the No.1 reactor on March 12th, after the March 11th quake and tsunami.
The government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency on Sunday instructed TEPCO to check pipes in the No.2 and No.3 reactors. The No.3 reactor suffered hydrogen explosion on March 14th and No. 2 reactor had a hydrogen explosion on March 15th.
The utility says it will measure the levels of hydrogen at the No.1 reactor before injecting nitrogen and taking other measures to prevent another explosion.
The firm is expected to take similar measures if hydrogen is detected at the No.2 and No.3 reactors as well.
City assembly calls on shutdown of Hamaoka plant
Monday, September 26, 2011 15:28
Fukushima evacuation advisory to be lifted
The government will lift an evacuation advisory for 5 municipalities in Fukushima outside the 20-kilometer no-entry zone around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Senior Vice Minister of Economy Trade and Industry Tadahiro Matsushita on Monday met with Mayor Yuko Endo of Kawauchi Village, one of the municipalities, and said the advisory would be lifted by around Friday.
The municipalities are located in a ring between 20 and 30 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Residents of the areas have been advised to evacuate or remain indoors in the event of an emergency. About 29,000, or half of them, have evacuated.
The advisory covers the entire town of Hirono and parts of Naraha, the village of Kawauchi and the cities of Tamura and Minamisoma.
Mayor Endo said government support is essential to realizing the village's plan to allow all evacuees to return by March.
Matsushita assured Endo that he will take steps to lift the evacuation advisory.
The 5 municipalities had earlier submitted to the government plans to decontaminate the areas and restore lifelines to meet conditions for lifting the advisory.
Monday, September 26, 2011 16:47
Japan to freeze fast-breeder reactor project
Japan is likely to freeze a research and development project related to putting a fast-breeder nuclear reactor into practical use.
The education, science and technology ministry plans to request more than 20 billion yen, or about 260 million dollars, in its 2012 budget to maintain and manage the troubled prototype fast-breeder Monju reactor. This is roughly the same amount budgeted for the project as in the current fiscal year.
But the ministry is planning to ask for only 20 to 30 percent of the 10 billion yen, or about 130 million dollars, allocated in the current fiscal year for research and development on the project.
This is due to uncertainty over Japan's future nuclear policy in the wake of the accident in Fukushima.
Fast-breeder reactors run on recycled spent fuel as the core of a nuclear fuel-recycling program. Japan has been conducting research to put such a reactor to practical use by 2050. Test runs are now under way at the Monju experimental reactor in Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture.
Following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the government has been reviewing its basic energy plan, making its future nuclear policy unclear.
The ministry says it has concluded that it cannot proceed with the project when it is unclear which way the government's energy policy will go.
. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .
Sendai Airport back in business
Towns doubt plan to lift hot zone advisory
Time favors Tepco rebound
September 27, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 10:39 NHK
Fukushima City to decontaminate all houses
Fukushima City, about 60 kilometers from the crippled Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, plans to remove radioactive materials from all private houses in the city.
The plan was decided after high levels of radiation were detected in some areas of the city. The amounts were close to a level that would prompt authorities to recommend evacuation of nearby residents.
Some people concerned about possible health risks to their children have already moved out of the city.
The plan aimed at substantially lowering radiation levels in the air for the next 2 years includes decontamination of all 110,000 households in the city.
Of those, highly contaminated houses where children of high school age or younger live will be given extra thorough cleaning.
Under the plan, professional cleaners commissioned by the city will scrub radioactive substances from roofs and ditches of the houses, and remove concrete, which radioactive material tends to adhere to. They will also decontaminate roofs and ditches of other nearby houses, but residents will be required to remove surface soil and weed gardens by themselves.
The city says it will recruit volunteers from around the nation, if necessary, and send them to households that need manpower. The city also plans to decontaminate parks and community halls.
But it has yet to be determined how the contaminated soil and other materials will be disposed of.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 11:45
Alcoholic products to be tested for radiation
Japan's tax officials have decided to check alcoholic beverages produced near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant for radiation to ensure their safety.
The National Tax Agency says testing will be conducted starting next month on all kinds of alcoholic drinks, including sake, wine, and beer, produced at breweries and factories located within 150 kilometers of the plant.
Brewing facilities outside the radius will also be randomly tested.
Taxation bureaus in 6 major cities including Tokyo and the National Research Institute of Brewing will check water samples used for alcoholic products.
If they find radioactive cesium or iodine above the government-set safety limit in any of the samples they will ask local authorities to issue a shipment ban or take other measures, as necessary.
The National Tax Agency says it will post the test results on its website.
Rice and wheat, the main ingredients for alcoholic beverages, have already been tested for radiation.
The agency hopes the additional testing will put consumers at ease.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 13:37
Anti-nuclear experts join energy panel
Japan's industry ministry has decided to add experts who favor reducing the nation's reliance on nuclear power to a panel tasked with crafting a new energy policy.
Industry minister Yukio Edano revealed the decision on Tuesday.
The new panel is to hold its first meeting on October 3rd. It will review Japan's mid- to long-term energy policy, which had been focused on increasing nuclear power until the March 11th disaster.
Compared to previous panels, the new panel includes more experts who have been critical of the government's energy policies, such as NPO leaders Tetsunari Iida and Hideyuki Ban.
There will be no representatives from the energy industry, such as power companies.
The panel is to meet once or twice a month and detail a new energy program by around next summer.
Industry minister Edano said that the panel members were chosen so that a balanced debate could be held. He added the meetings will be posted on the Internet and he hopes they will be as open as possible.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 14:24
Japan's schools to have quake warning systems
Japan's education ministry plans to install earthquake early warning systems at all of the nation's public schools to enable a speedy response to strong tremors.
Education Minister Masaharu Nakagawa told reporters on Tuesday that his ministry will request 7.5 billion yen, or about 100 million dollars, in the fiscal 2012 budget to introduce earthquake early warning systems.
He said the ministry will also examine specifically how such systems might work in local communities where the schools are located.
Systems under consideration by the ministry include one in which schools receive quake warnings via the Internet and another in which dedicated lines are used to warn students through their schools' public address systems.
It says its plan will cover about 52,000 kindergartens, elementary schools, junior and senior high schools and schools for the handicapped.
The Meteorological Agency already runs its Earthquake Early Warning service through TV and radio broadcasts as well as via mobile phones.
But TV and radio broadcasts are usually unavailable at schools, and it is said this is why some schools in areas hit by the March 11th tsunami and earthquake failed to respond quickly.
Yokohama, Frankfurt become partner cities
to commemorate the 150th year of exchange between Japan and Germany.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 19:41
Govt resumes review of Japan's nuclear policy
Japan's Atomic Energy Commission has resumed discussions on revising the country's nuclear policy.
Work to revise the policy started last December, but was suspended after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March.
Following the disaster, the commission added members who are experts on safety and take a tough stance on nuclear power.
On Tuesday, commission head Shunsuke Kondo apologized for the accident. He said it left him unsure what the panel should do, but that he decided the panel must resume work to fulfill its duty.
Some commission members called for shutting down all of Japan's nuclear plants and promoting alternate energy sources. Others said it's too early to determine long-term nuclear policy, as the Fukushima Daiichi plant remains out of control.
Members advocating nuclear power noted that resource-poor Japan must aim for a realistic energy policy.
The policy on nuclear power use, research and development was drawn up in 1956 and has been revised about every 5 years. It was last revised 6 years ago. The policy calls for promotion of nuclear power despite accidents at nuclear facilities and scandals such as cover-ups of trouble, and for at least 30 percent reliance on nuclear power after 2030.
The commission is to draw up a new policy outline over the next year.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 19:54
Rice harvested from tsunami-hit paddy
A farmer in Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, has harvested rice from a paddy that was inundated by the March tsunami.
Hiroshi Ouchi began the harvest at his farm in the city of Ishinomaki on Tuesday. Part of Ouchi's land is still covered with seawater, debris and sludge due to the disaster.
Before planting his rice, Ouchi dug up soil of his paddy 9 times and watered it to remove salt. His plants mostly grew well, though some were damaged by a tropical storm last week.
He said that just after the disaster, he thought he would never grow rice again. He said he's very pleased to be able to harvest after overcoming difficulties.
More than 1,800 hectares, or 18 percent, of the city's paddies were damaged by seawater in the tsunami. Rice cannot be planted in around half of the fields because of high salt density, but has been grown on the remaining land after desalting work.
In neighboring Iwate Prefecture, tests for radioactive contamination of rice ended on Tuesday. No radioactive materials were detected, allowing for rice shipments from all parts of the prefecture.
The prefecture has voluntarily refrained from shipping rice for about one month.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 19:54
Emperor and Empress visit plant helping sufferers
Japan's Emperor and Empress have thanked an industrial machinery maker for providing work space to another maker affected by the Fukushima nuclear accident.
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited the maker's factory in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, on Tuesday.
A Fukushima-based motor manufacturer with business ties with the factory has resumed production at the Chiba factory, after being forced to leave its own plant due to the nuclear accident.
The Emperor and Empress gave words of encouragement to each worker.
The Imperial couple then talked with senior officials of the Chiba-based maker, thanking them and encouraging them to continue the support.
The Emperor and Empress have visited the 3 northeastern prefectures hardest-hit by the March 11th disaster. They have also visited evacuees from the affected areas sheltering in Tokyo.
The Imperial Household Agency says Tuesday's visit reflected the couple's intention to encourage and thank those supporting victims of the disaster.
. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .
Monju R&D budget to be slashed by ministry
Funding for research related to the troubled Monju fast-breeder reactor in Fukui Prefecture will be cut 70 to 80 percent next year, the government says..
City calls for keeping Hamaoka plant closed
Legislators in a city less than 10 km from the Hamaoka nuclear power plant call for its permanent closure over widespread earthquake fears.
Geothermal trove lies mostly untapped despite energy crisis
- setsuden -
Kirin revives beer plant in Sendai
September 28, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 00:56 - NHK
Panel: TEPCO unprepared for Fukushima accident
A government panel says Tokyo Electric Power Company was unprepared for the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and failed to take steps to minimize the damage.
The panel investigating the accident held its third meeting on Tuesday. It met behind closed doors, saying that allowing media access would negatively affect its interviews with the plant's staff.
Panel leader Yotaro Hatamura told reporters after the meeting that they are looking into whether Tokyo Electric was ready to protect the plant from tsunami and other severe accidents.
Hatamura said the company could have taken more effective steps after the March 11th tsunami if it had come up with ways to minimize the damage.
He added that the panel will further investigate why the utility was unable to contain the damage from the accident.
The panel is scheduled to release an interim report on its probe at the end of the year.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 22:16
TEPCO starts compensation payment procedure
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, has started sending out documents to compensate companies and self-employed people affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.
TEPCO on Tuesday sent out claim forms and explanatory booklets to 7,000 self-employed people and firms.
The utility is to pay those who have been forced to suspend business the estimated total of last year's sales, with raw material costs deducted.
Compensation will also be paid to tourist businesses that have suffered losses from rumors of the risk of radiation.
The period of the payment is limited to the first 6 months from the March accident. TEPCO plans to start paying by the end of next month.
In the past procedures to make temporary compensation to individuals, TEPCO received complaints that there were too many documents and hard to understand. The utility then reduced the amount of documents by selecting the necessary ones for each claimant.
TEPCO says it intended to send the documents to farmers as soon as possible, but due to a delay in making booklets they will be sent next month.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 09:09
Village warns residents over TEPCO redress claims
A village in Fukushima Prefecture is warning residents to be wary of signing a compensation document from Tokyo Electric Power Company for damage caused by the nuclear plant accident.
The document says that residents must renounce their right to file objections after they have received payments.
Iitate Village, located near the nuclear plant, is criticizing TEPCO for asking applicants to sign the document before the damage can be fully assessed.
Many residents have evacuated the area because of high levels of radioactivity released from the plant.
Village officials say it doesn't make sense for TEPCO to ask for signatures now.
A written warning will be distributed to all its 2,500 households.
The warning states that additional requests for redress will probably not be accepted.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 20:23
3 Fukushima reactors cooled below 100 degrees
The temperature of another troubled reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has fallen below 100 degrees Celsius for the first time since the nuclear disaster in March.
Tokyo Electric Power Company or TEPCO says the temperature in the lower area of the Number 2 reactor stood at 99.4 degrees at 5 PM on Wednesday.
Temperatures at the Number 1 and 3 reactors have been maintained below 100 degrees Celsius since August.
The utility says its cooling efforts have achieved results although it is too early to say that it has attained a state of cold shutdown for all 3 troubled reactors.
Cold shutdown is a state where temperatures below 100 Celsius are sustained and the situation remains stable.
The utility now says it is important to ensure a reliable cooling system to achieve cold shutdown.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 19:14
Panel finalizes proposals for tsunami evacuation
A Japanese government panel has proposed improved measures to evacuate people from tsunami and to build communities resistant to earthquakes and tsunami.
These and other proposals were contained in a final report submitted on Wednesday to Disaster Management Minister Tatsuo Hirano. He is in charge of reconstruction following the March 11th tsunami and earthquake.
The panel of experts was set up following the disaster in eastern Japan.
Its report features 3 sets of proposals to minimize damage from the worst possible tsunami.
It calls for improved early warnings to allow smooth evacuation. It suggests the use of mobile phone text messages and other means of communication to ensure that information is conveyed quickly.
The report also calls for efforts to make communities more resistant to earthquakes and tsunami. It proposes that shelters, evacuation routes and breakwaters should be improved so that residents can reach safety in about 5 minutes. The panel adds efforts should be made to build houses, welfare facilities and hospitals in areas with a low risk of tsunami damage.
The panel also focuses on the need for increased awareness of tsunami in general and urges upgrades in education and drills to prepare for disasters.
The report will serve as a foundation for the government to review the basic national plan for disaster control this year. It will also reexamine measures to deal with expected massive earthquakes.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 19:06
Diet to set up panel on Fukushima accident
Japan's governing and opposition parties have agreed to set up an investigative panel on the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The opposition Liberal Democratic Party, the New Komeito Party and the Sunrise Party of Japan submitted to the Lower House a bill to launch the panel of experts.
The 3 parties plus the Communist Party and the main governing Democratic Party agreed on Wednesday to set up a 10-member body in the Diet with the authority to summon witnesses and to demand the submission of documents.
The bill to set up the panel will come to a vote at the plenary session of the Lower House on Thursday and is expected to be enacted during the current session.
. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .
Tepco redress estimated to top Yen 4 trillion
The government panel tasked with overseeing Tepco's financial standing has estimated the utility could face more than Yen4 trillion in compensation costs related to the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
Evacuation advisory outside 20-km zone to end Friday
Wind power quest faces stability, regulatory hurdles
Kepco needs Yen 130 billion for thermal
Peak power needs down 29% this year - setsuden
Backing off from the nuke phaseout
September 29, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011 08:06 - NHK
Density of hydrogen at No.1 reactor over 60%
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says that high densities of hydrogen have built up in pipes connected to the No. 1 reactor.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says that an explosion is unlikely as there is no oxygen in the pipes, but that it will begin work to drain the gas starting on Thursday.
TEPCO began measuring the density of the gas on Wednesday after finding it accumulating in pipes connected to the reactor's containment vessel late last week.
It found that the density of hydrogen was high, at between 61 to 63 percent.
TEPCO says the hydrogen is likely the remains of gas that caused explosions at the plant in March, following the quake and tsunami disaster.
The utility has also promised to check the density of hydrogen in pipes in the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors, in line with instructions from Japan's nuclear safety agency.
Thursday, September 29, 2011 08:04
Facilites to store irradiated soil to be built
The environment ministry says it will build facilities to temporarily store irradiated soil in Tokyo and 7 prefectures in eastern and northern Japan.
Vice environment minister Hideki Minamikawa told reporters about the plan in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture, on Wednesday.
Local governments have been trying to remove radioactive materials since the crisis began at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. But they are struggling to find places to store mud and sludge generated by the decontamination.
Minamikawa said the storage facilities are needed to make progress in removing radioactive substances.
He said local governments other than Fukushima should have their own storage places.
According to the plan, the facilities will be built in Tokyo and 4 other prefectures in Kanto and 3 prefectures in the Tohoku region.
The ministry says it will soon explain the plan to each local government.
Thursday, September 29, 2011 08:05
Japan to postpone test to restart Monju reactor
The Japanese government is postponing a test-run of an experimental fast-breeder nuclear reactor due to uncertainty over the future of the country's nuclear energy policy.
The Monju fast-breeder reactor uses plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel to generate power. It is seen as a prototype for Japan's next-generation nuclear power plant.
The government aimed to conduct a test to raise the reactor's output to 40 percent of its capacity by the end of next March.
However, in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan's Atomic Energy Commission has begun reviewing the country's long term energy policy.
A new policy outline will be compiled over the next 12 months.
Science and technology ministry officials on Friday will meet officials from Tsuruga City and Fukui Prefecture, which host the fast-breeder reactor, to explain the state's decision not to test-run Monju for the time being.
Monju has been suspended for more than 2 years due to a technical problem. The trouble occurred only 3 months after it resumed operation following a 14-year shutdown caused by a leakage of sodium coolant in 1995.
Thursday, September 29, 2011 12:33
Autumn salmon fishing begins in disaster-hit area
Fishermen in Japan's northeastern city of Miyako have opened the salmon fishing season despite extensive damage suffered in the March 11th disaster.
Miyako boasts the largest salmon haul in Honshu, the biggest of Japan's 4 main islands.
But this year's autumn catch is so far around half the usual, partly because tsunami debris remaining on the seabed is limiting the area where fishermen can set up nets. Higher-than-usual water temperatures are also to blame.
On Thursday, around 400 salmon were unloaded at the port. Fishermen sorted the salmon from other fish and put them in cases for shipment.
In the auctions, female fish sold for 6 to 8 dollars per kilogram, about the same as an average year.
A local fish market official said many of the boats and nets were damaged by the disaster, but he hopes to see Miyako's salmon industry revive as quickly as possible.
The autumn salmon fishing will reach its peak in November.
Thursday, September 29, 2011 12:33
Panel says no need for TEPCO to up utility rates
A government panel evaluating Tokyo Electric Power Company's finances is expected to present a report stating that it does not need to raise utility fees for the rest of this fiscal year that ends in March.
The advisory panel has been investigating the financial situation of the utility to oversee paying compensation to victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The panel is due to submit the report to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda early next month.
Sources close to the panel say that it estimates that compensation payouts will total 47 billion dollars by the end of this fiscal year. And it notes 10 billion dollars would be added for every year efforts to contain the accident continue.
The focus of the panel's investigation was on the possible need to raise electricity rates.
The panel made calculations based on 9 scenarios. They included cases where operations resume at a nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, and those where they did not.
The panel says in the event of no reactors being restarted, the utility would slip into the red at the end of fiscal 2012 if it does not raise utility bills.
The panel is expected to emphasize that regardless of the resumption of nuclear reactors, TEPCO can stay solvent until the end of March without resorting to rate hikes.
The report is expected to ask the company to implement cost-cutting measures if it seeks to raise utility fees.
Thursday, September 29, 2011 15:09
Lower House passes bill to set up Fukushima panel
Japan's Lower House of the Diet has passed a bill setting up an investigative panel on the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The Lower House unanimously passed the bill on Thursday.
Under the bill, a 10-member body of experts will be established in the Diet, independently from the government. The panel will have the authority to summon witnesses and to demand the submission of documents to clarify the cause of the Fukushima accident.
The body is to submit a report to the Diet after six months.
The legislation also calls for setting up a council made up of members of the lower and upper houses of the Diet. The council will pick the members of the investigative panel.
The bill is expected to be enacted at the Upper House on Friday.
Thursday, September 29, 2011 16:33
$130,000 cash meant for Tohoku left in city hall
About 130,000 dollars in cash was left at the municipal office in Sakado City, Saitama Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, with a note asking that the money be used for people in the Tohoku region, hit by the March earthquake and tsunami.
City authorities say a plastic shopping bag containing 10 bundles of one million yen was found inside a restroom on the first floor last Thursday.
The anonymous donor says in the note that he lives alone and that he wants the people of Tohoku to use the money.
After consulting with police, city authorities decided not to report the money as a lost article but to donate it to the disaster-affected people through the Japanese Red Cross Society. The city will hold the money for about 3 months in case the person who left it comes forward.
A city official said the discovery of such a large amount of cash was surprising but moving, and that the city wants to respect the donor's wishes.
Thursday, September 29, 2011 17:54
Troubled reactors all cool below 100 degrees
The temperature of reactor Number 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains below 100 degrees Celsius, leaving the mercury below the 100-mark at all 3 troubled reactors.
The reading in the lower area of the reactor was 99.4 degrees at 5 PM Wednesday, falling below 100 degrees for the first time since the March nuclear crisis.
The temperature in the same area stood at 99.7 degrees at 11 AM Thursday, after rising slightly above 100 degrees between Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.
Tokyo Electric Power Company or TEPCO stepped up cooling efforts to control the Number 2 reactor, where temperatures remained at the mid-110 degree mark until earlier this month.
Temperatures at the Number 1 and 3 reactors have been maintained below 100 degrees since August, after the mercury shot up to nearly 400 degrees in late March at reactor Number 1.
TEPCO says it's too early to say if it has attained a state of cold shutdown, meaning that temperatures at all 3 reactors are kept stable and below 100 degrees.
The utility says it's now vital to ensure a reliable cooling system to achieve cold shutdown.
. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .
Tepco managers face demand to step down
The independent panel overseeing Tepco's cost-cutting efforts plans to demand that top-level executives resign over the Fukushima fiasco.
Reactor temperatures said near cold shutdown
Tepco reports that the bottom of all three crippled reactors at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant are now below 100 degrees.
Radioactive soil can fill 23 Tokyo Domes
. . . . . at 19:05
Earthquake M 5.6, off Fukushima
Felt as a strong 5 in Iwaki and Fukushima Hamadoori region. No tsunami.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says the quake has not interfered with its attempts to stabilize three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, crippled since the nuclear crisis began in March.
The utility adds that no changes have been observed in data on radiation levels measured at monitoring posts near the crippled plant. (NHK world news)
Fukushima temblor reaches upper 5
September 30, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011 12:18 - NHK
Auditors to recommend improved tsunami monitoring
Japan's Board of Audit will ask the Meteorological Agency to improve its tsunami-monitoring system, after huge waves disabled some of the equipment in the March disaster.
The agency had installed devices to measure the height of major tsunami at 78 piers across the country. But the equipment in 5 places was swept away together with the piers on March 11th.
The board inspected 15 of the monitoring devices after the disaster. It found that the Meteorological Agency had set up 9 of them without checking the quake resistance of the piers and other facilities where they were installed.
The board will ask the agency to take steps to ensure that the equipment will continue to function after major quakes and tsunami. The steps would include checking the quake resistance of the sites.
The agency says the current guidelines for installing monitoring devices only specify that there is no risk of subsidence at the locations.
Agency officials say they began checking the quake resistance of tsunami-monitoring facilities in August.
Friday, September 30, 2011 13:04
Police introducing radiation-proof vehicles
Japan's National Police Agency will introduce radiation-proof vehicles as part of stepped-up counter-terrorism measures at nuclear power plants.
The agency says the new vehicles will be installed at 9 police headquarters in the country. The vehicles are shielded with lead, which blocks radiation.
The vehicles will enable police officers to protect themselves from radiation when apprehending terrorists and rescuing the injured in cases of terror attacks or accidents at nuclear plants.
In the wake of the September 11th attacks in the United States in 2001, Japanese police have been guarding some of the country's nuclear plants and related facilities. Armed officers and bullet-proof vehicles are on duty around the clock.
Agency officials say they are stepping up counter-terrorism measures in the belief that the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has increased the likelihood of nuclear facilities being targeted.
Friday, September 30, 2011 15:04
Nihonmatsu City launches decontamination section
A city office in Fukushima Prefecture has launched a section dedicated exclusively to monitoring and removing radiation discharged from the disaster-stricken nuclear plant. Nihonmatsu City launched the 6-member section on Friday.
The city is about 50 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Relatively high levels of radiation have been detected in parts of the city.
One township recently found radioactive cesium in pre-harvest rice at levels as high as the government's safety limit.
The new section is to measure levels of radioactive substances in soil, well water and crops, and draw up a decontamination plan for the city.
Friday, September 30, 2011 15:04
Local reactions to lifting of advisory
Local residents remain concerned despite the central government's announcement that it will lift an evacuation advisory in Fukushima Prefecture.
Mayor Motohoshi Yamada of Hirono Town, one of the 5 municipalities included in the evacuation advisory, said on Friday the central government appears to be promoting reconstruction plans unilaterally.
He said the central government should first provide local municipalities with guidelines for measuring radiation and carrying out decontamination. He added that he will request financial assistance from the central government, as it won't be possible to decontaminate the town without state assistance.
A resident of Minamisoma City, which is partly included in the evacuation advisory, said she doesn't feel relieved because the decontamination work has made little progress. The 57-year-old woman said she hopes the city's radiation levels will decline noticeably through the decontamination efforts.
A 61-year-old taxi driver in Minamisoma said business has been bad as many people have left the city. He said he hopes the lifting of the evacuation advisory will encourage residents to return to their homes.
A 36-year-old shop clerk said he doubts that firms will return to the city even after the evacuation advisory is lifted. He said he wants the central government and the operator of the nuclear plant to assume responsibility for decontaminating the city.
Friday, September 30, 2011 18:11
Edano reveals accusations of faked e-mails
Japan's industry minister has revealed the existence of accusations that the operator of the Genkai nuclear power plant used improper tactics to sway public opinion on resuming the operation of idle reactors at the facility.
Yukio Edano was speaking to reporters on Friday about email sent in support of such a resumption during a meeting sponsored by the industry ministry in June and broadcast live on local cable TV. He said the accusations were also sent by e-mail to the event.
The plant's operator, the Kyushu Electric Power Company, attempted to win local approval for a resumption by instructing employees of the firm and its affiliates to send the e-mail during the event.
Edano told reporters that the industry ministry official in charge of the meeting was busy aggregating e-mail and opinions and failed to examine comments in detail.
He indicated that the ministry's handling of the matter was improper, saying the official should have read the comments one by one.
. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .
Eight prefectures eyed for radioactive dumps
The Environment Ministry reveals a controversial plan to store soil tainted by radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant in eight prefectures.
Tokyo plans to store, burn debris from disaster zone
To help disaster-hit areas rebuild, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government offers to store about 500,000 tons of debris from Iwate and Miyagi prefectures for three years.
Monju trial run reset for next fiscal year
A plan to put the experimental Monju fast-breeder reactor through a trial run is delayed in light of last year's fuel-loading accident and the Fukushima crisis.
Tepco overestimated costs by Yen 618 billion over 10 years
. . Bulletins from NHK WORLD
. . Japan Times
This concludes my regular updates.
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