December 2011

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December 2011

- Niko Shodou -


. 「きらり!えん旅」 NHK Kirari Entabi .
- NHK Supporting Tohoku -

. . . . .

NHK WORLD will broadcast a series of special programs titled
'Documenting the Japan 3/11 Disaster'
from December 23rd to 31st.

Since March 11, the day of the earthquake and tsunami, NHK has been producing many programs on the disaster and its continuing after effects.
NHK WORLD will provide six documentaries to investigate the cause of the disaster, explore measures to survive one in the future, and portray the efforts and struggles of people trying to reconstruct their lives. Episodes will include a one-minute introduction at the beginning to further engage overseas viewers.
source : www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld

. in retrospect 2011 .


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Containment vessels held: simulation test
The wrecked Fukushima No. 1 plant narrowly avoided a worst-case nuclear scenario as melted nuclear fuel from reactors 1, 2 and 3 was probably contained within the units' primary containment vessels, a Tepco computer simulation suggests.

Disregard Tepco order, boss told plant workers
The outgoing head of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant instructed workers to disregard Tepco's order to stop injecting seawater into the crippled No. 1 reactor soon after the crisis erupted in March, government sources say.

Fukushima seeks govt aid for rice inspections
Fukushima Prefecture has asked for government assistance to carry out emergency checks of rice for radioactive materials.
The prefecture's Vice Governor Yusaku Matsumoto visited Senior Agriculture Vice-Minister Nobutaka Tsutsui on Thursday to ask for the help.
Fukushima decided to check crops of 24,000, or more than one third, of its rice farmers a few days after rice recently harvested in the prefecture was found to be contaminated by radioactive cesium above the state limit.
The prefecture asked the government to lease devices to measure radiation, dispatch personnel to expedite inspections, and shoulder the cost of the checks.
Tsutsui said the government will do all it can to offer necessary support.


Friday, December 2, 2011

First radiation limit set for school meals
The government instructs the boards of education of 17 eastern and northeastern prefectures to set the upper limit on radioactive substance exposure for food and drink served in school meals at 40 becquerels per kilogram.

TEPCO injects nitrogen into pressure vessels
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has started injecting nitrogen, an inert gas, into the pressure vessels of the crippled reactors to prevent another hydrogen explosion.
In late October, Tokyo Electric Power Company began extracting gases from the containment vessel of the No.2 reactor to remove radioactive substances. During the work, TEPCO found hydrogen accumulating in parts of the reactor at a density of up to 2.9 percent.
TEPCO started pumping nitrogen into the pressure vessels of the No.1, 2, 3 reactors on Thursday to lessen the concentration of hydrogen.
The density of hydrogen accumulating in the containment and pressure vessels is thought to be below 4 percent, the level where an explosion could occur.
TEPCO says the nitrogen injection will push out hydrogen and reduce its concentration.
Keeping hydrogen density low is an indispensible condition in the second step of the process decided upon by the government and TEPCO to resolve the nuclear accident. They are aiming to achieve a state of cold shutdown for the reactors by the end of the year.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency plans to assess how well TEPCO can manage hydrogen levels.

TEPCO: Cooling stoppage info was not shared
A miscommunication between workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant could have delayed a response to the accident on March 11th.
The operator says the plant's chief did not know for several hours that the only backup cooling system for the Number 1 reactor was manually shut down on the day of the earthquake and tsunami.
NHK has obtained Tokyo Electric Power Company's interim report on the accident to be released on Friday.
The report says workers in the reactor's control room stopped an emergency cooling system shortly after 6 PM. It says the plant chief, Masao Yoshida, and others in the facility's office building were unaware of the manual shut-down.
TEPCO says it was not until around midnight that the plant chief noticed the system was not working. A rise in the radiation levels at the reactor building alerted him to the possibility of damaged fuel rods.
The emergency system uses steam to cool down a reactor when there is no electricity supply. It was the only workable cooling system at the reactor after the plant lost its major power sources.
The report says the misunderstanding occurred because a malfunctioning gauge failed to show that the water level had dropped, exposing the fuel rods.
TEPCO estimates that damage to the exposed fuel rods occurred about 4 hours after the quake. It says this generated large amounts of hydrogen that caused the first explosion at the plant on the following day.

Expert urges more disclosure from TEPCO
Professor Hisashi Ninokata of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, who is analyzing the accident, says the report explains more clearly how it progressed and puts forward measures to prevent similar incidents.
But he says the in-house probe by the utility had its limitations, as the report has no mention of why workers stopped the emergency cooling system at the No.1 reactor, an act that eventually led some fuel rods to meltdown.
He says officials in charge of the probe may have feared that providing details could force someone in the company to take responsibility.
He urges TEPCO to disclose more about the chain of command and communications at the plant, saying that such information is necessary to learn lessons from the accident and regain public trust in nuclear power.

TEPCO issues interim report on Fukushima accident

The Tokyo Electric Power Company has released an interim report on its in-house probe into the nuclear disaster at the firm's Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
But the report issued on Friday fails to clarify how or why a huge amount of radioactive materials leaked outside the facility. . . .

Proposal made for new "nuclear safety agency"
A panel of experts has proposed creating a third-party watchdog to monitor the performance of Japan's new nuclear safety agency to be launched next April.
The panel said in its report on Friday that the existing system is inadequate as it involves 2 different bodies both checking nuclear safety.
It said the system has come to function in name only, and failed to prevent the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The 2 regulatory bodies are the industry ministry's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and the Nuclear Safety Commission of the Cabinet Office.
The panel proposed uniting the 2 bodies under the new nuclear safety agency. It also proposed creating a third-party commission to monitor and advise on the agency's regulatory performance.
The panel also called for a new legal framework to ensure the latest knowledge and technologies are duly reflected in nuclear plants and utilities.
The panel's chief said the new agency should be supervised by the third-party body of experts who can point out any shortcomings.
The new nuclear regulator is due to operate as an outside body of the Environment Ministry and not the industry ministry, which is in a position to promote nuclear power.
The government is to submit a bill to create the agency early next year.

Kawauchi Village mayor reports on Chernobyl visit
The mayor of a village near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has called on villagers to do their part to recover from radioactive contamination.
Mayor Yuko Endo of Kawauchi Village was speaking on Friday at a meeting to report on his recent visit to areas of former Soviet republics that were heavily contaminated in the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident.
Endo said that children in the areas affected by the Chernobyl accident are measuring radiation levels in food and that villagers are working on farms using a contamination map produced by the local administration.
The mayor said people he met had advised that residents of the affected areas should do whatever they can for themselves, no matter how seemingly trivial.
Endo called on the villagers to voluntarily do what they can, so they can return home as early as possible. ...


Saturday, December 3, 2011

. . . . . at 5.55
Earthquake M 5.2 South Chiba
Felt as 1 from Miyagi to Shizuoka.

Tepco study shows water for spent fuel was critically low

Saga reactor halt leaves nine still on

Exposure didn't sicken plant boss: doc

TEPCO pays $1.14 bil in compensation to farmers
Tokyo Electric Power Company said it has completed paying about 80 percent of the 1.4 billion dollars in compensation requested by farmers.
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says on Friday that the latest installment of compensation totaled about 502 million dollars, which was paid to agricultural group. The company so far has paid 1.1 billion dollars in compensation.
The company plans to make another payment by the end of this year to the farming and livestock industries which requested by November 15th.
Agricultural groups from 17 prefectures demanded 1.4 billion dollars in damages from TEPCO over losses incurred from the decline in the price of their products.
TEPCO said that of the remaining 287 million dollars, 96 million is likely to be paid by the year-end.
The company said requests concerning farm products excluded from government compensation guidelines could take more time for processing but that it wants to accelerate the procedure.
(One wonders how long JA keeps the money before distributing anything.)

Reactors nearing cold shutdown
Japan may announce this month that reactors at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have reached a state of cold shutdown.
The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the plant say the phase could be achieved on December 16th at the earliest. Before that, nuclear experts must first assess mid-term safety measures proposed by the utility.
The government will then divide evacuation areas around the plant into 3 zones based on radiation levels, and come up with support measures for each district.
For an area with high radiation levels where residents are unlikely to return soon, the government will consider buying land from owners.
In a zone where evacuation orders are expected to continue for a set period of time, the government will implement decontamination efforts and repair roads.
For an area with relatively-low radiation levels, focus will be on helping factories resume operation and setting up medical facilities. Decontamination and infrastructure projects will also be carried out.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tepco: Staff at nuclear plant felt helpless

Tepco releases an interim report detailing the sense of desperation and helplessness workers at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant felt in the immediate aftermath of the March 11 disasters.

Five million people - how to evacuate Tokyo

Scientists study cesium-tainted soil in Fukushima
A team of scientists has conducted a study in Fukushima Prefecture after higher-than-permissible levels of radioactive cesium were detected in locally grown rice.
The team from the agriculture department of the University of Tokyo arrived in Date City on Saturday. So far, rice from farms in 4 surrounding districts has been found to contain levels of cesium above the government's safety limit.
The team interviewed farmers to find out about the irrigation systems and the lay of the land around rice paddies. It also collected straw samples from the paddies and surface and sub-surface soil samples.
The samples will be tested to find out where the concentration of cesium is highest.
The team will also conduct an experiment, using the soil samples to grow rice.
The head of the team, Professor Sho Shiozawa says he will try and clarify how rice absorbs cesium. He said he hopes his research will help contribute to cleaning the land ahead of next year's rice-planting.

SDF units to begin decontamination in Fukushima
Japan's Self-Defense Force units will begin work this week to decontaminate municipal offices around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Teams from the Ground SDF in Fukushima Prefecture will use water jets to clean walls and floors of government buildings, and remove radioactive sludge from ditches.
The teams are also expected to scrape surface soil and prune trees at any spots around the buildings where they find high radiation levels.
The operation will cover the offices of Naraha, Tomioka, Namie and Iitate all of which are designated evacuation areas with high radiation levels.
The GSDF plans to complet the decontamination work by around December 20th.
The 4 offices are expected to then serve as headquarters for full-fledged decontamination that the central government plans to launch next year.

Relief supplies given in Kesennuma
The authorities in Kesennuma City, northeastern Japan, have given out winter clothes and other household goods to people affected by the March disaster who are living outside public shelters.
The goods were given to people in 1,487 households on Sunday.
This was the first time that relief supplies were given to people who live in private apartments and houses.
At a public health center, one of the 3 distribution points set up for the day, people received bedding supplies, disposable heating pads, and other goods.
They also packed coats and sweaters donated by people around Japan into their bags.
A woman in her 60s said she found the goods useful as she lacked winter clothing. She added that there is a huge difference in the treatment given to people living in shelters and those who aren't.

Decontamination project shown to media
Reporters have been shown a model project to remove radioactive materials discharged from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in the evacuation zone around the facility.
Workers commissioned by the central government have spent the past week cleaning 4.5 hectares of land around the Okuma town hall. Before they started the task, they had been monitoring the radiation levels of the area since November 18th.
The workers used high-pressure water sprays to wash radioactive substances off the roof of the town hall. They also collected dead leaves and moss, which are believed to contain high concentrations of these materials.
They tested different water temperatures and lengths of shifts to find the most efficient process for removing the substances.
The used water was stored in tanks to conduct tests for recycling, as the local sewage system has not been restored yet.
The project succeeded in reducing radiation levels from about 20 microsieverts per hour to 6 microsieverts.
Masakazu Shima of the Cabinet Office nuclear crisis taskforce said he wants to sincerely apologize for the delay in starting the decontamination work. He said he wants to continue various experiments to find solutions for cases where radiation levels remain high. He added that he hopes the decontamination can help all the evacuees to return home as soon as possible.
The government will conduct similar projects in 11 cities and municipalities and begin a full-fledged operation early next year.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Nuclear cleanup effort under way in Okuma
A cleanup project aimed at decontaminating hot areas around the Fukushima nuclear plant with power sprayers is shown off in the deserted town of Okuma.

Strontium-tainted water leak suspected
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says about 45 tons of strontium-tainted water may have leaked out of a water treatment device, with a portion of it spilling out of the facility.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says the water may contain high levels of radioactive strontium. Strontium causes internal radiation exposure.
The company is trying to determine whether the water reached the sea.
The utility said at about 11:30 am on Sunday a water leak was spotted in a device to remove salt from contaminated water from which radioactive material had already been removed.
It said the leak was stopped after the device was turned off, but at least 45 tons of water containing radioactive materials may have leaked out, with some portion possibly reaching a ditch outside the facility.
The level of radioactive cesium had been reduced to 45 becquerels per cubic centimeter after the treatment. But the water is believed to have contained 130,000 becquerels per cubic centimeter of radioactive strontium.
The ditch connects to the sea about 600 meters away. The power company is piling up sand bags in the ditch to prevent the water from flowing to the sea.
The water is used to cool down the reactors in the power plant and the utility says the leak does not pose any problems for the process.

Tohoku reconstruction bonds to be issued
The Japanese government will begin selling special bonds on Monday to raise funds to rebuild areas hit by the earthquake and tsunami on March 11th.
The bond issuance follows the passage in late November of the 3rd supplementary budget for the current fiscal year.
The bonds will be guaranteed by the government and sold by financial institutions across the country. ...

Guides seek TEPCO compensation for fallen revenue
A group of Japanese tour guides is demanding compensation from the Tokyo Electric Power Company. They say the Fukushima nuclear accident caused a sharp drop in the number of foreign tourists.
The fifteen tour guides from Tokyo and elsewhere have taken their case to the state-run dispute settlement center to ask for arbitration with the TEPCO. All of guides have an official license to offer tours in foreign languages.
The power company says it will compensate for cancellation of tours made by the end of May. This is based on guidelines provided by the state supervisory panel.
The licensed guides on Monday demanded over 360 thousand dollars in damages.
They are claiming the number of their foreign clients has not returned to usual levels even after June.
One claimant offering guided tours in French says his income has shrunk to nearly zero and he has used up all his savings. He's asking the utility to understand the difficulties the guides are facing.
TEPCO says it will examine the demand and consider how to solve their predicament.

Fukushima compiles radiation cleanup policy
Fukushima Prefecture has compiled a policy paper on how to clean radioactive materials farmland and forests, which occupy about 80 percent of the prefecture. Fukushima hosts the damaged nuclear power plant.
The prefectural government says the policy aims to ensure that eventually no radioactive cesium will be detected in any farm produce from the prefecture.
The policy says that to reach this goal, radiation-absorbing agents will be sprayed onto farmland, and the topsoil scraped off.
In orchards, tree bark will be removed and the trees then cleansed with water jet cleaners. The policy aims to cap annual radiation doses in forests at one millisievert.
The policy also says the government will try to reduce radioactivity in forests near residential areas by about half in two years. Fallen leaves will be removed on a regular basis from areas up to 20 meters inside the forests' perimeters.
Based on the policy, Fukushima Prefecture plans to help individual communities draw up their own decontamination plans.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fukushima plant springs new water leak
Some 45 tons of highly radioactive water leak from desalination equipment at the flooded Fukushima power plant and it is unclear if any made it to the sea.

Tepco starts new round of nuke claims

Village selling 'thank-you' noodles

The Fukko brand of buckwheat noodles is pronounced the same way as "fukko," which means restoration, but the kanji mean "luck" and "happiness." This is to show gratitude to those who supported the village's recovery from the quake, which struck March 12.
福幸そば fukko soba
About 20 percent of the rice paddies in the village were cracked by the quake, which prevented rice from being grown this year.
The farmers grew buckwheat instead to keep their fields cultivated and harvested the grain in October.

Comic anthologies offer visions of hope after 3/11

Artists and writers in Japan and around the world offer graphic accounts of March 11 for fundraising books
"Spirit of Hope," Tim Pilcher

Video shows tsunami gushing from manhole

New video footage illustrating the force of Japan's March tsunami shows seawater spewing from a manhole in a coastal area.
The scene was shot in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, one of the worst-hit areas. A local resident took the footage from the rooftop of a building when the first tsunami wave struck the city center on March 11th.
The video shows water spouting from a flooded intersection, reaching as high as the second floor of a house.
City officials say they believe tsunami waves gushed into a sewer system, blowing off a manhole cover. They say a similar phenomenon likely affected at least 10 manholes in coastal areas of the city.
Torrential downpours are also known to blow off manhole covers as water floods sewage pipes and pressure rises. Two people died in the past after falling into flooded manholes that had lost their covers.
A new type of manhole designed to withstand high pressure has already been introduced in some places.

Meiji to replace cesium-tainted powdered milk

Major Japanese food company Meiji says it will replace about 400,000 cans of powdered milk for free, after samples of the product were found to contain radioactive cesium.
Meiji says 30.8 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram was found in powdered milk produced from March 14th to the 20th. The level is below the government safety limit of 200 becquerels per kilogram, but Meiji decided to replace all of the powdered milk it produced during the period.
The product was tested after consumers questioned its safety last month.
Meiji says all of its powdered skim milk used as a base for other powdered milk products was made before the March 11th disaster.
Some of it was made in Hokkaido in northern Japan, but a large part was imported from Australia and other areas of Oceania, and processed at a plant in Saitama Prefecture, near Tokyo, after March 11th.
Meiji says it has yet to determine the cause of the contamination, but that it may have resulted from exposure to radioactive cesium from the Fukushima Daiichi plant when the processing facility was ventilated to dry the product.

Test to see safety of mountainside nuclear plants
Japanese engineers have carried out an experiment to check the safety of nuclear power plants located near mountain slopes.
The government-backed Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization has been testing the safety of the country's nuclear power plants, which are often built on narrow parts of coastal land carved from surrounding mountains.
In Tuesday's experiment at a research facility in Miki city, Hyogo Prefecture, engineers created a 3.8-meter-high slope using about 200 tons of rock and soil.
They then artificially made the slope shake on the same wave length as the 2007 earthquake off Niigata Prefecture, central Japan.
The organization says 9 nuclear plants, or more than half of all nuclear plants across Japan, are located near such mountain slopes.
It plans to draw up safety assessment guidelines for such slopes based on data from the experiment.
Organization official Katsumi Ebisawa says the experiment was a success in that they were able to obtain data needed to calculate possible damage and to analyze how much shaking triggers a landslide.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

TEPCO admits strontium leaked into Pacific Ocean
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant said on Tuesday that about 150 liters of water containing radioactive strontium has been discharged into the sea. The leak occurred even though the operator took preventive measures after similar incidents in April and May.
Tokyo Electric Power Company discovered on Sunday that massive amounts of radioactive water had leaked from desalination equipment. The company detected beta-ray emitting radioactive substances, including strontium, from a gutter near the building that houses the device. The gutter drains into the Pacific Ocean.
The utility estimates that 26 billion becquerels of strontium and other radioactive substances were leaked. It added that the impact would be negligible even if marine products from the area were eaten every day as the substance will be diluted in the sea water. It has apologized to local residents and people across the country.
After the leaks in April and May, the company closed the underground tunnels near the ocean and installed sensors in the purifiers. But no measures were taken at the facility where the latest leak occurred.
TEPCO plans to find the cause of the leak and take preventive steps as soon as possible, while receiving advice from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

Lower House approves civil nuclear agreements
The Lower House of Japan's Diet has approved civil nuclear cooperation agreements with Jordan, Russia, Vietnam and South Korea.
The accords won majority support from the ruling Democrats and main opposition Liberal Democrats at a plenary session on Tuesday, and were sent to the Upper House for final Diet endorsement. The opposition New Komei, Communist and other parties opposed the deals. ...

Meiji to step up radiation monitoring
Japanese food company Meiji says it will step up radiation monitoring of its products and release data online.

The company came up with new measures following the detection of radioactive cesium in its baby formula.
Meiji said on Tuesday that up to 30.8 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram was found in powdered milk. The company produced the milk at a plant in Kasukabe, near Tokyo, immediately after the March nuclear accident in Fukushima.
The level is below the government safety limit of 200 becquerels per kilogram, but Meiji decided to replace free of charge all 400,000 cans of powdered milk shipped in September.
Meiji says the contamination may have resulted from exposure to radioactive cesium from the Fukushima nuclear plant when the processing facility was ventilated to dry the product.
The food company says that from now on, it will check samples of its products daily instead of the current about once a month, and will upload the results to its website.
The company also plans to monitor aerial radiation levels in the plant's compound and stop production when readings are high.

Fisheries trainees to help track floating debris

Japanese fishery high school students training at sea are to help track millions of tons of debris drifting the Pacific Ocean since the March 11th tsunami.
Japan's Environment Ministry plans to conduct simulations and analyze satellite photos to see which Pacific Rim countries could be affected by the up to 3 million tons of debris from Japan's northeastern coast. ...

Radioactive ash returned from Akita
Akita Prefecture in northern Japan has begun to return radioactive ash from the incineration of garbage to the prefecture the ash was sent from. The ash had been brought to Akita from 10 municipalities in 6 prefectures located near Tokyo.
Because of the opposition of residents living near the garbage incineration plants, the prefecture has decided to return the radioactive ash to the municipalities of origin. On Wednesday, about 18 tons of ash was sent from Akita to Saitama Prefecture.
In July, radioactive substances above the government's safety limit were detected in ash brought to Akita from two cities in Chiba Prefecture, raising concerns among residents near the incinerators.
There has been no place to store a total of 245 tons of ash with radiation levels below the government's safety limit. Akita Prefecture has begun to return the radioactive ash to the 10 municipalities of origin.
On Wednesday, about 18 tons of ash below the government's safety limit arrived in containers at a railway terminal in Saitama Prefecture, from Akita. The ash had been brought to 2 municipalities in Akita from Kazo City in Saitama.
Kazo City says it is still without a site to dispose of the returned ash. It plans to keep it at its 2 garbage incineration facilities until it decides where to dispose of it.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cesium-laced baby formula sparks concern, but risk low
Mothers with young children and the overall dairy industry are quick to voice their fears after the news that cesium-tainted baby formula was sold in markets.

Tepco eyes selling thermal plants to raise cash
Tepco may sell some of its thermal power plants and shelve plans to build new ones to cover the massive compensation payments arising from the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Kansai Electric reactor shut down at Mihama

The operator of the Mihama nuclear power plant in western Japan says it has shut down one of 3 reactors because of an ongoing leak of radioactive water within the reactor.
Kansai Electric Power Company says work began on Wednesday night to manually shut down the number-2 reactor at Mihama in Fukui Prefecture. It was completed as of 4 AM on Thursday.
The utility says radioactive water has been leaking from a valve in the pressure vessel into the collection tank since early November. It says there is a risk that the water will exceed the processing capacity of the tank. ...
The suspension means that 46 of the country's 54 reactors, or 85 percent of them, are currently out of operation.

TEPCO plans to release radioactive water into sea

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it is considering releasing low-level radioactive water into the nearby sea. The Japanese fishery industry strongly opposes the plan.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, says that it is currently decontaminating radioactive water amassed in the basement of the reactor buildings at Fukushima Daiichi and then recycling it as coolant for the reactors. The surplus water is being stored in tanks at the site of the plant.
TEPCO says that the tanks, which have a capacity of 160-thousand tons of water, will be full up by March next year, because, in a separate development, groundwater of a maximum 500 tons per day is pouring into the basement of the buildings.
TEPCO says it plans to further reduce the level of radioactivity of the decontaminated water in Fukushima Daiichi to below the level at which government standards allow it to be discharged into the sea. The utility says it will consider releasing the water into the Pacific Ocean.
Chairman of a national association of fisheries cooperatives, Ikuhiro Hattori, met TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa in Tokyo on Thursday and protested the plan. Hattori said consumers will stop buying fish after a discharge of radioactive water, even at levels below the government level.
In April, TEPCO was criticized by the domestic fishery industry and foreign countries for releasing about 10,000 tons of low-level radioactive water from the Fukushima plant into the sea.

Farmers plan Japan's largest hydroponic facility
Farmers in a coastal area hit by the tsunami in March will build Japan's largest facility for growing vegetables without soil.
During the disaster, one third of farmland or about 1800 hectares was ruined by seawater in Sendai region. A hydroponic facility using liquid nutrients and water will replace the salty soil.
Farmers and agriculture corporations in Sendai plan to set up a new company to build the facility. They say it will be larger than 20 hectares ...


Friday, December 9, 2011

Tepco may be nationalized to stay afloat
A plan is in the works to effectively nationalize Tepco to prevent the beleaguered utility from going bankrupt and to ensure that it covers massive compensation payments related to the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Increasing treated water becomes another headache
Rising amounts of water which has low-levels of radioactivity is starting to be a burden for the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
The utility was considering releasing the water into the sea but it postponed the decision due to strong protests from the fishery industry.
The liquid builds up as the Fukushima Daiichi plant decontaminates and reuses water to cool the reactor.
Despite the reuse, the volume of treated water is expanding. Underground water has also penetrated into the facilities' basements, contaminating it.
The utility says storage tanks that have capacity of 160,000 tons will be full by March.
Tokyo Electric is planning to discharge the treated water into the sea after decontaminating it further to the level below the government limit.
But it failed to include the plan in its 3-year schedule of plant management that was submitted Thursday to the government nuclear safety agency.
This was because of strong opposition from a national association of fisheries cooperatives that fears consumers will stop buying fish.
The utility says it will listen to various opinions but must decide soon.

Ex-Fukushima plant chief has esophageal cancer
Tokyo Electric Power Company says the former head of the disaster-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. The company quotes his doctor as saying it is very unlikely that his disease was caused by radiation exposure.
Masao Yoshida had led the efforts to stabilize the plant after the severe accident triggered by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. The company relieved him from his post of plant chief on Thursday last week, one week after he was admitted to hospital.
On Monday last week, the firm announced his hospitalization but did not reveal his disease or how much radiation he had been exposed to while he was in charge of the operation to bring the plant under control. The company cited the 56-year-old former plant chief's need for privacy.
On Friday, Tokyo Electric announced that it had obtained Yoshida's consent to disclose that he has esophageal cancer.
It said he had been exposed to accumulated radiation doses of about 70 millisieverts. The upper limit for plant workers during any emergency is 100 millisieverts.
Quoting experts' views, the utility said it takes at least 5 years for people to develop this type of cancer and the chances are slim that Yoshida's disease is linked to his exposure to radioactive fallout from the nuclear accident.
Yoshida reportedly visited the Fukushima plant on Friday to explain his illness to the workers there.
(and if you smoke and have a lot of stress, cancer develops too!)

Fukushima residents' radiation exposure revealed
Health checkups show that some Fukushima residents were exposed to 15 millisieverts of radiation in the first 4 months after the nuclear disaster.
The government has set a target of one millisievert per year as a safe exposure level.
Fukushima Prefecture has been testing all 2 million residents following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March. The authorities announced the estimated external exposure levels of about 1,700 people living in 3 municipalities, including Namie Town and Iitate Village.
These areas were designated as evacuation zones after the accident.
The results show residents, excluding those working at the Daiichi plant, were exposed to a maximum of 15 millisieverts of radiation during the first 4 months after the accident. About 10 people were exposed to more than 10 millisieverts.
This is the first time such figures have been made public.
Radiation levels of over 1,100 people, or two-thirds of the residents in the 3 municipalities, were less than the annual permissible limit of one millisievert.
98 percent of those tested are estimated to have been exposed to less than 5 millisieverts.
Some residents working at the nuclear plant have been exposed to more than 30 millisieverts.

"Speaking dosimeter" debuts
A speaking radiation detector has been developed to help visually-impaired people avoid radioactive contamination.
A prototype of the "speaking dosimeter" was shown to the public in Fukushima City on Friday.
The device was jointly developed by an association for the visually-impaired in Fukushima Prefecture and a local company.
Push a button on the 12-by-5-centimeter device, and a woman's voice announces the amount of airborne radiation per hour. . . . .

Gov't to regularly check baby items for radiation

Japan's health ministry has decided to conduct quarterly checks of radiation levels of products intended for infants.
The ministry made the decision on Friday after radioactive cesium was detected in powdered milk processed by leading food company Meiji soon after the Fukushima nuclear accident.
Meiji said the level was below the government safety limit of 200 becquerels per kilogram, but decided to replace for free some 400,000 cans possibly containing radioactive cesium.
The ministry says the checks will cover baby food and formula chosen randomly from store shelves.
The ministry has already tested 63 kinds of baby food and 25 kinds of formula, but did not find cesium in any of them.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Snow in my valley and most parts of Japan -
the first real cold spell!

. . . . . at 4:43
Earthquake M 5.7 Hokkaido, Sea of Okhotsk

Tepco mulls 10% rate hike tied to '13 Niigata reactor restart
Tepco, which has allegedly been overcharging consumers for possibly a decade, wants to "temporarily" raise power rates 10 percent next fall and restart its Niigata reactors in spring 2013.

Yen 2.3 billion for Tohoku diverted to whale hunt


Sunday, December 11, 2011

. December 11, Remember March 11 .
until December 15


Friday, December 16, 2011

IAEA not told of enriched nuclear waste

Japan failed to tell the International Atomic Energy Agency about surprise amounts of enriched plutonium and uranium it found in nuclear waste over the past year.

Seismologists set off dynamite to probe volcano

Man-made quake triggered to check Sakurajima magma
Japanese seismologists have triggered an artificial earthquake using dynamite in an experiment to help predict major eruptions at Mount Sakurajima, an active volcano in southwestern Japan. ... The experiment was conducted on early Thursday morning when far fewer cars were on the road causing vibrations.

TEPCO won't release treated water to sea for now
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has decided for the time being not to release decontaminated water into the ocean.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO is decontaminating radioactive water amassed in the basements of the reactor buildings and then recycling it as coolant for the reactors.
But it is having difficulty dealing with the decontaminated water. Amounts are exceeding the initial estimates and underground water is also flowing into the basements. Currently, the firm is storing the treated water in tanks on the plant's premises.
TEPCO said on December 8th that it was considering discharging the treated water into the sea after further decontaminating it. However, it has postponed its decision after facing a protest from a national association of fisheries cooperatives. TEPCO disclosed its position in a 3-year management plan for its nuclear plants presented to the industry ministry's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency on Thursday.
The firm says it will not release water into the sea until it implements 3 measures: blocking underground water from entering the basements, improving and stably operating decontaminating equipment, and increasing the number of storage tanks.
TEPCO says it will not release water into the ocean without approval from relevant government offices, including the fisheries ministry.
A TEPCO senior official says his firm will explain its efforts in detail to relevant organizations after taking the 3 steps. He says TEPCO will also properly brief the national fisheries association and local fishermen on its plan.

Noda to declare cold shutdown of reactors
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will declare on Friday that the crippled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are in a state of cold shutdown.
The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company are working to bring the Fukushima plant under control according to a timetable they created. In October, they set the target of achieving the second phase of the timeframe within the year.
The government says the requirements have been met and it can declare the second phase is complete.
It says temperatures at the bottoms of reactor pressure vessels and the inside of the containment vessels basically stay under 100 degrees Celsius.
It also says the amounts of radioactive substances emitted from the plant have been curbed to the extent that radiation levels at the periphery of the plant remain below one millisievert per year.
At a nuclear disaster task force meeting scheduled for Friday, all Cabinet ministers will recognize that the second phase has been completed. Afterward, Prime Minister Noda plans to officially state that the damaged reactors are in a state of cold shutdown.
Now that the reactors are stable, the government plans to fully review the no-go zones and evacuation advisory areas set up after the nuclear accident.
Those evacuation areas still have locations where radiation levels are so high that residents will not be able to return home for an extended period.
Nuclear crisis minister Goshi Hosono plans to visit disaster-hit areas over this weekend to discuss with municipal leaders how to handle the evacuation zones.

Govt team sets radiation exposure limits
A government working group has proposed a radiation exposure limit of 10 millisieverts per year or less for areas contaminated by the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, to be achieved within 2 years.
The working group compiled a report on health effects of relatively low levels of radioactive contamination on Thursday. It is comprised of experts in radiology and other fields.
The report says there is no proof of a clear increase in health risks at the level of 20 millisieverts per year, the mark set by the government for evacuation.
The report proposes a target of 10 millisieverts per year for decontaminating evacuation zones within 2 years.
It says the target should be lowered to 5 millisieverts or less in the next stage and to one millisievert in the long run.
The International Commission on Radiological Protection recommends one millisievert per year as the long-term annual limit for ordinary people.
The task force also urges continued decontamination efforts and control on food safety in areas with radioactive contamination levels below 20 millisieverts.
It also urges radioactivity levels in the air be lowered below one microsievert per hour before reopening schools in evacuation zones. It also calls for continued monitoring of children for internal radiation exposure.

Govt orders revised tsunami projections
Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission has asked power companies to come up with new measures protecting nuclear plants from large tsunami.
The commission on Friday agreed to revise existing government guidelines, which do not specify how utilities should respond to possible tsunami. At present, each utility adopts measures based on its own projections.
The new guidelines call on power companies to make new predictions based on records of past tsunami in Japan and abroad. The utilities are being asked to consider geographic similarities between nuclear plant sites and areas affected by tsunami.
The guidelines warn that tsunami higher than projections could occur. They urge plant operators to safeguard key facilities from floodwaters and prepare backup equipment to minimize the risk of radiation exposure to nearby residents.
The call for revisions comes after the March disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was hit by a tsunami more than double the operator's projection.
While the new guidelines ask utilities to prepare for higher-than-expected tsunami, the government has no established method to evaluate whether countermeasures are effective.
The commission intends to ask experts to devise evaluation methods.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Officials: Cold shutdown has been achieved
The government and Tepco announce the three crippled reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant are in cold shutdown, a potentially key milestone in ending the nuclear crisis, but many skeptics dismiss the declaration as political grandstanding and say they remain concerned.

GSDF Fukushima city hall cleanups near end

Kansai Electric halts reactor for regular checks

The operator of a Japanese nuclear power plant has shut down another reactor for regular inspections. The suspension means that 87 percent of all nuclear reactors in Japan are now offline.
Kansai Electric Power Company halted the No.2 reactor at the Ohinuclear plant for a 4-month safety check on Friday. The plant, located in Fukui Prefecture, supplies electricity to western Japan. Seven reactors remain in operation in Japan, but all of them are to be suspended for maintenance by spring 2012.
Reactors cannot be restarted until operators submit the results of so-called "stress tests," which were introduced after the Fukushima nuclear accident.
But the restarts are unlikely to happen soon because the government needs time to screen the results of the checks. Many communities hosting the plants are also expected to withhold approval for restarting reactors because of safety concerns.

Hosono visits Fukushima Daiichi plant
Nuclear crisis minister Goshi Hosono has thanked 150 workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant for their efforts during the 9 months since the accident.
Hosono visited the plant on Saturday, following the government's announcement that the reactors had been brought to a state of cold shutdown. ...


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hollow excuses from Tepco
Tokyo Electric Power Co. in early December made public an interim report by a study panel that it had appointed itself on the disaster that occurred at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The report details the unfolding of the disaster from the loss of all electric power sources to the meltdowns of the cores of three reactors.

New bell installed in hope of reconstruction
A new hanging bell has been installed in front of the central train station in disaster-hit Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture, in hope of reconstruction.

A foundry in Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture, which is a well-known production district for bronze ware, made the bell at the request of a civic group in Kamaishi City.
"The Bell of Reconstruction of Kamaishi" arrived in the city on Friday. It was hung on Saturday from a monument which depicts hands at prayer.
The words "repose of souls", "remembrance", "reconstruction", and "hope" were engraved in calligraphy on the 79-centimeter high, 110-kilogram bronze bell to show feeling for the victims and the affected areas.
A soft, clear sound reverberated as the bell was struck as a trial.
Naoko Fukunari, who is a member of the civic group that requested the bell to be made, said the soft sound is exactly as she had imagined.
She said she wants everyone to strike the bell in a display of his or her feelings about reconstruction.
The bell will be open to the public on New Year's Eve, and available for anyone to strike.


Monday, December 19, 2011

N.Korea: Kim Jong Il is dead
North Korea's Central Broadcasting Station says the country's leader, Kim Jong Il, died on Saturday.
The station reported his death on Monday. He was 69.

That was a surprise news on NHK at lunchtime.
The rest of the news if full about North Korea.
Kim Jong Un profile

Kim Jong Un is the late Kim Jong Il's third son and his designated successor. He is believed to be in his 20s. ...

Nuke plants face stricter regulations
Nine months after the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, Japan is ready to tighten laws and regulations to force atomic power plants to comply with the latest safety requirements.

Lawmaker attitudes, Tohoku both in dire need of transformation


90% of Japan's reactors to be out of service
Nearly 90 percent of Japan's nuclear reactors are expected to be offline soon.
This will happen when the No. 4 reactor at the Genkai nuclear power plant, the only operating reactor of the Kyushu Electric Power Company, is halted for a regular inspection later this month.
The Kansai Electric Power Company has halted 10 of its 11 reactors.
With the planned shutdown of the Genkai No. 4 reactor, 48 of Japan's 54 reactors will not be generating power.
Some of the idle reactors are now undergoing stress tests, a prerequisite for deciding whether to resume operation.
Others are waiting on a decision by the industry ministry's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency which is reviewing test results.
All nuclear reactors in Japan which are currently operating are scheduled to undergo regular inspection by next spring, at the latest.
If the present stalemate continues, the country could see all 54 nuclear reactors shut down.

Contaminated water found in plant's tunnel
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says a large quantity of contaminated water was found in a tunnel below a building storing highly radioactive water. The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, is investigating how about 230 tons of water flowed into the tunnel.
TEPCO says a worker found the pool of water on Sunday. The water reportedly was about 50 centimeters to 3 meters deep throughout the 54-meter long tunnel.
The utility says the level of radiation at the surface of the water is 3 millisieverts per hour. It is just a fraction of the level of the highly radioactive water stored in the waste processing facility above.
TEPCO suspects that the radioactive water of the facility may have flowed into the tunnel and was diluted by groundwater. The utility says the tunnel is not connected to the sea.
The discovery raises questions about TEPCO's inspection and management capabilities because the firm failed to notice the water in the tunnel after the waste processing facility was completed in April.

Fukushima governor displeased at govt's decision
The governor of Fukushima Prefecture has expressed displeasure at the central government's declaration of a cold shutdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Yuhei Sato met 3 Cabinet members in Fukushima City on Sunday.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda declared on Friday that the crisis is now contained as all the reactors have successfully been brought to a state of cold shutdown.
Sato said Noda should have come to Fukushima to explain the government's decision.
He said the prefecture's residents doubt if the prime minister fully understands the situation.
Nuclear Crisis Minister Goshi Hosono said the prime minister made the announcement because the government believes that additional evacuations will no longer be necessary. ...

Kansai Electric Power calls for power saving
Kansai Electric Power Company has begun contacting households and firms in its service area in western Japan asking that they reduce power consumption by more than 10 percent from last winter.
The utility halted the No.2 reactor at the Ohi nuclear plant on Friday for safety checks. 10 of the company's 11 nuclear reactors are now offline.
On Monday, officials of the utility and the central government handed out flyers at an underground shopping mall in Osaka.
The company is asking users to reduce power consumption by more than 10 percent from 9 AM to 9 PM on weekdays from Monday through March 23rd.
Nearly 90 percent of the country's nuclear reactors are going offline this winter.

Teachers take disaster-response training program
Public school teachers in Japan are taking part in a 4-day course to help them better prepare for and respond to natural disasters.
About 120 teachers and administrators in northern and eastern Japan gathered on Monday at a training center in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture. ...

IAEA offers help in decontaminating Fukushima
The International Atomic Energy Agency has offered to help Japan decontaminate areas near the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and dispose of melted nuclear fuel rods.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano made the offer on Monday when he met with Japan's nuclear crisis minister Goshi Hosono in Tokyo.
Hosono briefed Amano about Japan's announcement last week that the reactors were now in a state of cold shutdown. Hosono said he believes that the situation inside the power plant is under control.
But, Hosono said decommissioning the reactors would take another 3 to 4 decades, and damage outside the power plant remains serious. He asked the UN nuclear watchdog for assistance, saying Japan still faces many challenges. Amano said the IAEA welcomes Japan achieving its target ahead of schedule. He added the agency will help Japan in handling the decontamination work and the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and melted fuel rods at the power plant.
He also said countries around the world are hoping to learn from what Japan is going through.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

. . . . . at 15:26
Earthquake M 5, off Iwate coast

Kim's death puts region on alert
All eyes turn nervously toward North Korea after state media announce the death of the country's enigmatic leader, Kim Jong Il, at the age of 69.

Fukushima probe to avoid assessing quake damage

Govt to designate nuclear clean-up areas
The Japanese government will pay for the decontamination of more than 100 municipalities in eastern Japan.
But the large scale plan is causing worries among some industries.
The Environment Ministry says it has decided to clean up 102 municipalities in 8 prefectures with a radiation level above one millisievert per year.
In Oshu City, Iwate Prefecture, cattle farmers say they are worried that consumers will avoid all beef produced in the designated areas.
Aizuwakamatsu City in Fukushima Prefecture is still debating whether to agree to the designation by the government. There is concern that the tourism industry will be hurt if the city is labeled as contaminated. Residents of areas with lower radiation readings say it is unfair that they cannot receive fund for decontamination work.

Year-end sweeping begins at historic sites
Year-end cleaning got under way at Japan's historic monuments on Tuesday, in an annual ritual ahead of the New Year.
In Kyoto, about 800 Buddhist priests and followers gathered to sweep at Nishi-Honganji temple. ...


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New nuke agency to have 500 staff, Yen50 billion budget: Hosono

Radiation impact on Fukushima kids to be monitored
The Japanese government will monitor the impact of radiation exposure on children born to mothers in Fukushima Prefecture.
The Environment Ministry said on Tuesday that the monitoring program will cover 25,000 children.
The program will look for any links between the radiation exposure of the mothers and congenital abnormalities, asthma, allergies or other diseases of their children.
The checks will continue until the children reach the age of 13.
The ministry decided to carry out the monitoring amid rising public concern about radioactive contamination from the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Fukushima Prefecture is already checking the health of all its residents and their radiation exposure.

Higher power rates, public funds mulled for TEPCO

The Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company are considering plans to raise electricity rates and inject public funds into the utility.
TEPCO is facing financial difficulties amid uncertainty over the resumption of its nuclear reactors and increasing fuel costs for thermal power plants.
The utility will ask the government to approve an increase in electricity rates starting sometime in fiscal 2012.
The government is also considering a plan to inject about one trillion yen of public money, or nearly 13 billion dollars, into the company through a government-backed fund. Such a move would essentially place the utility under state control.
The government and TEPCO say the measures are designed to guarantee the payment of compensation related the nuclear accident at the company's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The moves will also allow the utility to continue work to decommission the crippled reactors.
A change to TEPCO's management and the further streamlining of the utility's operations are also under consideration. The government and the utility are working to compile a comprehensive new business plan by the end of March.
The plan may face opposition from within the company due to a possible increase of government involvement in management.

Japan posts trade deficit for 2 months in row

Japan posted a trade deficit in November for a 2nd month in a row.
The Finance Ministry released the preliminary report on Wednesday. It says the trade balance posted a deficit of about 8.8 billion dollars. That's the largest negative balance on record for the month of November. ...

Japan credit agency downgrades Japanese govt bonds

A leading Japanese credit rating agency has downgraded Japanese government bonds for the first time. ...

Higher power rates, public funds mulled for TEPCO
The Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company are considering plans to raise electricity rates and inject public funds into the utility.
TEPCO is facing financial difficulties amid uncertainty over the resumption of its nuclear reactors and increasing fuel costs for thermal power plants.
The utility will ask the government to approve an increase in electricity rates starting sometime in fiscal 2012.
The government is also considering a plan to inject about one trillion yen of public money, or nearly 13 billion dollars, into the company through a government-backed fund. Such a move would essentially place the utility under state control.
The government and TEPCO say the measures are designed to guarantee the payment of compensation related the nuclear accident at the company's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The moves will also allow the utility to continue work to decommission the crippled reactors.
A change to TEPCO's management and the further streamlining of the utility's operations are also under consideration.
The government and the utility are working to compile a comprehensive new business plan by the end of March.
The plan may face opposition from within the company due to a possible increase of government involvement in management.

Construction of largest-output reactors postponed
Japan Atomic Power Company has decided to postpone construction of 2 new reactors at the Tsuruga nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan citing delays in safety screening procedures.
The government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency had been reviewing quake safety plans for the plant's No.3 and No.4 reactors before the start of their construction, slated for March of next year.
The 2 reactors would be the largest Japan, with an output of 1.538 million kilowatts each. ...


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Zoo in Kumamoto marks winter solstice
Animals at a zoo in Kumamoto City, southwestern Japan, spent winter solstice on Thursday in a traditionally Japanese way -- eating fruits and vegetables.
Zoo workers put about 160 yuzu citrus fruit in the pool of a 14-year-old female hippopotamus. The hippo, nicknamed Momoko, moved around the pool and opened her mouth wide to eat her favorite fruit. ...

Health ministry seeking stricter food-cesium rules
The health ministry is proposing much stricter regulations on radioactive cesium in food that would lower the current limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram to 100.

Fukushima fuel removal deadline set at 10 years
Tepco revamps its start times for extracting the nuclear fuel at the stricken Fukushima plant to two years for the spent fuel rods and 10 years for the melted cores.

Tons of tree bark pose new radiation hazard

Cooling system stopped without director's consent
A panel investigating the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says operators halted one of the reactors' emergency cooling systems without informing the plant director.
This suspension on March 13th allowed reactor No.3 to heat up for nearly 7 hours before it finally melted down causing a hydrogen explosion the following day.
The government panel says the operators stopped the cooling system in the early hours of March 13th. They tried to use fire pumps instead because they were afraid the system's batteries might lose power.
But the panel says the operators could not pump water into the reactor since there was no power to open the reactor's valves. Without it, they were unable to reduce the inside pressure and pump water in. By the time the operators gave up on the pumps and tried to switch to the cooling system again, it wouldn't restart. They finally managed to pump water into the reactor 7 hours later using car batteries to open the valves.
The panel says the director was only informed about the suspension more than one hour after it occurred.
Meanwhile, the panel says similar suspensions were made at the reactor No.1 without reporting to the director. The director believed the cooling system was still in operation.
In an interim report to be released on Monday, the panel will point out that a lack of communications between the on-site operators and the headquarters helped cause a delay in dealing with the accident.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Emperor Akihito turned 78 on Friday.
He released a statement, instead of holding a news conference, to express his feelings.
The Emperor was discharged from a hospital just last month after being admitted for a mild bronchial pneumonia.
The Emperor said he feels sorry for those who lost family members and people close to them in the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.

Delivery of 951 School Cones to Kamaishi
On the 5th of December, we delivered 951 filled school cones to 9 elementary schools in Kamaishi. Kamaishi is in Iwate, which is one of the poorest regions in Japan and approximately 500 km North of Japan.
source : schoolconesforjapan.blogspot

Sato calls for wider nuke-crisis payments


Saturday, December 24, 2011

. Ganbaranba がんばらんば .
Help for Tohoku !
Vincent Marx and "Free Hugs"


Government evacuation order to come under fire
A government panel probing the Fukushima disaster is expected to state that the nuclear evacuation order issued after the crisis began was irrational.

Snowstorm continues in northern Japan
Japanese weather forecasters are warning of gales and heavy snow in the north of the country.
A snowstorm is forecast to continue through Sunday. Hokkaido will have winds of up to 72 kilometers per hour. The Hokuriku and Chugoku regions will have winds of up to 65 kilometers per hour.
(BTW, we got the wind storm now, but no snow yet!)

東京スカイツリー / Tokyo Sky Tree lit up for holidays

People in Tokyo are braving the cold to see holiday illuminations on the world's tallest tower, the 634-meter Tokyo Sky Tree.
The tower is illuminated using 720 LEDs. It was lit up on Friday and will be lit up again on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

A lot of snow in the forecast for tonight !


Sunday, December 25, 2011

3/11 tsunami killed 35% of students 'saved' by parents

More than a third of the students aged 15 and under who died or went missing in the March 11 quake and tsunami lost their lives after being picked up from school by their parents, according to a Kyodo News survey.

Lady Gaga to perform NHK's New Year's Eve concert
The popular American singer and performer, Lady Gaga, has announced that she will perform live from New York on Japan's premier New Year's Eve television gala.

She helped raise donations for the disaster-hit areas by designing a "We Pray for Japan" bracelet. ...


Monday, December 26, 2011

10 cm of snow in my valley, the rest of Japan got even more!
And quite a few earthquakes of M 3 to M 4.4 along the coast.

Genkai reactor shuts down for regular checkup
The operator of the Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture says it has shut down its only operating reactor for a regular inspection.
Kyushu Electric Power Company says at around 4:30 PM on Sunday, it began work to curb nuclear fission in reactor number 4. The reactor came to a halt shortly after 1:00 AM on Monday for a nearly 4-month inspection.
The utility says all of its 6 reactors in Kyushu, southwestern Japan, are now out of operation. ....
... But there is still no indication if those reactors can be restarted because of growing criticism from local governments and residents.
Of the country's 54 reactors, 48 reactors, or nearly 90 percent, have now been shut down.

Govt loans help firms to secure energy resources
Japanese companies are winning the rights for overseas natural energy projects by using a government loan plan designed to help firms benefit from the strong yen.
... More companies are expected to take out the loans to buy natural energy resources overseas.

Heavy snow continues on the Japan Sea coast
A cold air mass is bringing heavy snow to the Japan Sea coast and over wide areas.
Over the past 24 hours, about 50 centimeters of snow has fallen in mountainous areas from the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido to western Japan. ...

Kyushu Electric calls for saving energy
Japan's government and Kyushu Electric Power Company have begun asking households and firms in the southwestern region to cut their energy use by at least 5 percent from a year ago.
Monday's request came hours after Kyushu Electric shut down its only operating nuclear reactor for a regular inspection. All 6 of the utility's reactors in Kyushu are now offline.
Kyushu Electric's president, Toshio Manabe, told reporters that power supplies may be tight if a cold spell hits the region. He called for customers' understanding and cooperation.
The austerity period runs from 8 AM to 9 PM on weekdays from December 26th to February 3rd, excluding the New Year holidays.

Haneda Airport evacuation plan
Japan's transport ministry has drawn up an evacuation plan for Haneda Airport in Tokyo to prepare for a major tsunami.
The plan aims to have travelers and workers evacuate from the international airport in Tokyo Bay to safer places within 10 minutes after a tsunami warning is issued. ...

Panel compiles interim report on nuclear accident
A panel looking into the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has severely criticized both the operator and the government for mishandling the accident.
The government panel released an interim report on Monday. Its investigations were based on interviews with about 450 people, including workers at the Tokyo Electric Power Company and government officials.
The report says that the utility itself predicted in 2008 that a tsunami larger than 10 meters high could hit the plant but that it failed to take preventive measures.
The report says that after the plant lost all its electricity following the March 11th earthquake and tsunami, workers mishandled the emergency cooling system at No 1 and 3 reactors.
The report says if fire trucks had been dispatched earlier to pump water into the reactors, there would have been less damage to the fuel rods, and smaller amounts of radioactive substances released into the air.
The report also describes the government's handling of the crisis as problematic.
It says lack of communication within the Prime Minister's Office in Tokyo prevented the government from making use of the so-called SPEEDI system that predicts the spread of radioactive substances.
Data from SPEEDI wasn't used when the government issued evacuation orders to residents living near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
The report says the evacuation orders were not precise and failed to promptly reach the municipalities involved.
The panel intends to question Cabinet ministers and others to further learn how the government handled the crisis before it compiles a final report by next summer.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

. . . . . at 18:50
Earthquake M 5.4 Torishima, Izu islands 鳥島近海

State, Tepco slammed for crisis response
Poor communication and information gathering on the government's part and a lack of training at complacent Tepco prevented the Fukushima crisis from being quickly contained, a disaster panel reports.

New plants to clean Fukushima debris

. Junior lawmakers threaten to quit DPJ .

TEPCO to conduct endoscopy of Fukushima reactors
Tokyo Electric Power Company says it will use an industrial endoscope to study the inside of a damaged reactor at the Fukushima Nuclear power plant.
The utility says the 10-meter long and 8-millimeter wide device will be deployed from next month to measure temperatures and observe other conditions inside the containment vessel at the No.2 reactor.
The government announced on December 16th that all the reactors have been brought under control. But there is not much information on the inside of the containment vessels in the reactors.
The endoscopy will provide the first opportunity to see the inside of a containment vessel of one of the 3 reactors since nuclear fuel melted down in March.
At the bottom of the containment vessels, parts of the nuclear fuel are believed to be piled up after melting through the wall of the pressure vessels.
The firm will start drilling a hole in the northwest wall of the containment vessel at the No. 2 reactor next month so that the high-level radiation proof endoscope can be inserted through it.
TEPCO said it wants to study the extent to which existing technologies can be used for the decommissioning of the reactors before it develops new ones.

TEPCO asks for $9-bil. more for compensation
The operator of the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is seeking nearly 9 billion dollars in additional government funds to help it compensate people affected by the March disaster.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says it needs more funding because a government panel has ruled that people who evacuated voluntarily should also be compensated.
The power firm says it also needs to pay compensation to households which will not be able to return home even after next April.
The government plans to study the request and the firm's cost-cutting efforts before it decides how much it will assist to finance the payments.
The utility is already set to receive 11.5 billion dollars in public funds from the Nuclear Damage Compensation Facilitation Corporation.
As of now, TEPCO has paid out more than 3 billion dollars in compensation to people who have evacuated. However, the firm is under criticism for its slow payouts.

Govt panel says M9.0 quake possible

A Japanese government panel says a huge earthquake of magnitude 9.0 could strike central to western Japan in future.
The panel of experts studying massive quakes and tsunami predicted near the Nankai Trough in the Pacific Ocean released its interim report on Tuesday. The study group was set up following the magnitude 9.0 quake that hit northeastern Japan on March 11th.
The report says that if major quakes occur simultaneously along the trough, their focus zone will span over 750 kilometers. The total area would be about 110,000 square kilometers, or 1.8 times larger than earlier predictions.
The panel says the quake's magnitude would be up to 9.0, compared to the previous estimate of 8.7. This would make the quake's energy nearly 3 times greater than earlier predictions.
The panel also says tsunami could rise from the seabed near the Nankai Trough. The observation is based on a report that the March 11th tsunami was magnified near the Nippon trench, where bedrock slides.
The panel plans to publicize its estimates of the earthquake's intensities and the sizes of tsunami early next year. And it plans to begin work on predicting damage by autumn.
Considering the new estimates, the central and local governments are likely to revise their anti-quake and tsunami measures.

High radiation detected in male cedar flowers
Extremely high radiation levels of more than 250,000 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium have been detected in male flowers of cedar trees in the no-entry zone near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Japan's forestry agency collected male cedar flowers at 87 locations in Fukushima Prefecture from late November to early December to measure the levels of radioactive cesium.
The agency detected 253,000 becquerels of the radioactive substance per kilogram in the flowers collected at Omaru in the town of Namie, 11.3 kilometers from the plant. 29 locations saw levels exceed 10,000 becquerels.
The maximum amount of cedar pollen measured in the air when in season by the environment ministry was 2,207 grains per cubic meter.
The forestry agency says if people breathe this concentration for 4 months they would be exposed to 0.553 microsieverts of radiation.
The agency reports this is not a great health hazard as it is only about 10 times what a person would be exposed to from normal background radiation in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward.

Fukushima tells TEPCO no more nuclear plants

The Fukushima governor has told the president of Tokyo Electric Power Company that the prefecture will request that all nuclear plants in Fukushima be decommissioned.
Governor Yuhei Sato met with TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa in Fukushima on Tuesday. It was their first meeting since Nishizawa assumed the president's post in June.
Nishizawa said he visited the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Monday and instructed staff to ensure safety by keeping the reactors stable and preventing further release of radioactive substances.
He added that TEPCO is expediting its compensation payments.
Governor Sato explained the prefecture's intention to request all nuclear plants in Fukushima be shut down.
He said Fukushima hopes to build a society which doesn't rely on nuclear power. He added that many children have been forced to evacuate their homes and urged Nishizawa to think deeply about the current hardship of the Fukushima people.
Nishizawa had no comment on the decommissioning issue.

Govt panel says M9.0 quake possible
A Japanese government panel says a huge earthquake of magnitude 9.0 could strike central to western Japan in future.
The panel of experts studying massive quakes and tsunami predicted near the Nankai Trough in the Pacific Ocean released its interim report on Tuesday. The study group was set up following the magnitude 9.0 quake that hit northeastern Japan on March 11th.
The report says that if major quakes occur simultaneously along the trough, their focus zone will span over 750 kilometers. The total area would be about 110,000 square kilometers, or 1.8 times larger than earlier predictions.
The panel says the quake's magnitude would be up to 9.0, compared to the previous estimate of 8.7. This would make the quake's energy nearly 3 times greater than earlier predictions.
The panel also says tsunami could rise from the seabed near the Nankai Trough. The observation is based on a report that the March 11th tsunami was magnified near the Nippon trench, where bedrock slides.
The panel plans to publicize its estimates of the earthquake's intensities and the sizes of tsunami early next year. And it plans to begin work on predicting damage by autumn.
Considering the new estimates, the central and local governments are likely to revise their anti-quake and tsunami measures.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

. Earthquake prediction .
Masashi Hayakawa 早川正士

Tepco is told to weigh temporary state control

Evacuation zones to undergo major changes in spring

Govt requests sites for waste soil storage
The government has officially requested permission to temporarily store radioactive waste soil in 8 municipalities around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Environment Minister Goshi Hosono on Wednesday met governor Yuhei Sato of Fukushima Prefecture and the mayors of 8 districts of Futaba County.
Hosono said Futaba County was chosen because areas exposed to over 100 millisieverts of radiation per year are concentrated there. He said this makes ordinary decontamination methods impractical.
Hosono said the government will buy up or borrow land on long-term leases to build temporary storage sites.
After the meeting, Governor Sato said it will be very painful for the people of Futaba County to accept the government request. He said the government should adopt great courtesy in explaining its plan to the relevant municipalities and residents.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

JTA ticket giveaway scrapped

The Japan Tourism Agency's plan to offer 10,000 free round-trip tickets to foreign bloggers is scuttled after the Finance Ministry rejects its Yen 1.18 billion funding request.

Psychological ailments rise in quake-hit areas

Unprepared for what happened
A third-party panel set up by the government to investigate the accidents at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant issued Monday an interim report based on interviews with 456 people.

Fukushima plant's backup generator failed in 1991
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant failed to take preventive measures after a backup generator was inundated by a leaking pipe 20 years ago.
Former employees of the Tokyo Electric Power Company told NHK that the problem occurred in October 1991.
They said water leaked from a pipe and entered the basement of the Number 1 reactor's turbine building. This caused the failure of one of the two backup generators.
A former engineer at the Fukushima plant said he told his superiors that tsunami could damage the emergency generators in the basement, as the turbine buildings are close to the sea.
TEPCO installed doors to block water leaks in the rooms hosting the backup generators, but did not move them above ground to avoid tsunami damage.
The plant's reactor cooling system failed when the emergency generators in the basement were inundated by the March 11th tsunami. All power sources were lost.
Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission says it will revise the safety guidelines for designing nuclear plants and require the installation of additional power sources.


Friday, December 30 2011

DNA used to ID 2,383 in Tohoku
DNA analysis has been used to identify 2,383 quake and tsunami victims so far in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.

Actor takes on tsunami survivor role

"Why? Why am I the only one left?" actor Yuki Matsuzaki cries as he plays the sole survivor of a family caught up in the events of March 11 on a stage in Los Angeles.

Fishery catch badly affected by March disaster
The fishery catch through October in 3 Japanese prefectures affected by the March disaster was down 70 percent from the same period last year.
A survey compiled information from the 7 months between April and October. It was conducted by the Japan Fisheries Information Service Center, and commissioned by the government's Fisheries Agency.
The 3 prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima are close to one of the world's largest fishing grounds in the Pacific Ocean. But fishing ports in these prefectures were badly damaged by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.
The total catch landed by 8 major ports during the surveyed period was a little over 64,000 tons, down 70 percent from a year ago.
The catch in Iwate Prefecture was 50 percent of the same period last year.
The figures for Miyagi and Fukushima were 23 and 13 percent respectively.
Miyagi was hit hardest by the tsunami.
Fishermen in Fukushima Prefecture have voluntarily stopped fishing in waters nearby due to the nuclear power plant accident.

Disaster debris still remain in Tohoku
The Japanese government is struggling to remove millions of tons of debris from the country's northeast, more than 9 months after the March earthquake and tsunami.
The goal is to completely transfer 22 million tons of waste from disaster areas to temporary storage sites by the end of next March.
But environment ministry spokespeople say about 7 million tons, or one-third of the total debris, still needs to be hauled away.
They say the main reason for the delay is the time it takes to demolish damaged buildings. The government needs to get the approval of building owners and implement measures to prevent asbestos from scattering when it destroys the structures.
Spokespeople also say the ministry needs to build facilities with incinerators to burn up the debris that has been collected.
That work is progressing slowly because local governments are facing difficulties preparing the land where these facilities would be built.

Fish markets hold last auction of the year
Fish markets in northeastern Japan, devastated by the March earthquake and tsunami, held their last auctions of the year on Friday.
Fish hauled up early in the morning were auctioned at the Ofunato fish market in Iwate Prefecture.
The Ofunato market was shut down for 2 months after the disaster, as piers sank about 80 centimeters and offices were flooded. Refrigeration systems were also damaged.
The quantity of fish handled at the market this year was about half that of last year. The total value of Pacific saury -- the market's main product -- unloaded at the market remained at about 70 percent of last year.
In Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, people gathered at the last morning market of 2011 to buy ingredients for traditional New Year dishes.
Since the disaster, the market has been held at a facility about 2 kilometers inland from Kesennuma port as tsunamis washed away the former market. Although the number of shops is smaller than usual, about 30 shops opened o Friday to sell fresh tuna, vegetables, and traditional ornaments for the New Year.
A female customer said it will be a lonely New Year because of the disaster, but that she hopes next year's zodiac sign of dragon will bring good luck.
At Hachinohe port, Aomori Prefecture, similar auctions were also held. The port was severely damaged, but the amount of fish unloaded there recovered to last year's levels, due to reconstruction efforts.


Saturday, December 31 2011

Rice-pounding event to cheer Fukushima evacuees

People displaced by Japan's March disaster and ensuing nuclear crisis have enjoyed a year-end tradition in Fukushima Prefecture.
Volunteers held a rice-pounding event on Friday at a temporary housing complex in the city of Nihonmatsu. About 560 evacuees from Namie live there. Their town is located near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Evacuees and volunteers pounded glutinous rice using wooden mortars and mallets to the beating of drums and songs. They later enjoyed freshly made mochi cakes with sweet bean paste or in soup.
A woman from Namie said she was thankful for the gathering because it gave her the opportunity to talk with others. She said she spends much of her time indoors.
A volunteer leader said her group organized the event to cheer up the people of Namie, who still do not know when they will be able to return to their homes.

Preparations for New Year well under way

People in Japan are gearing up for New Year festivities.
A shrine in the rice-growing town of Takanezawa, in Tochigi Prefecture, central Japan, dedicated a 3-layer jumbo rice cake on Friday, in thanks for the passing year's bounty.
The round cake measures 90 centimeters high and weighs 500 kilograms. A forklift carried the lower 2 layers to the hall of worship, while 12 female shrine attendants put the third layer in place.
A citrus fruit measuring 20 centimeters in diameter crowned the traditional New Year decoration. ...

20% of disaster-hit farmland restored by spring
Japan's agriculture ministry says only 20 percent of the farmland devastated by the March 11th tsunami could be restored before the planting season next spring.
Some 20,500 hectares of rice paddies and fields in the northeastern prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima were damaged by sludge and salt carried in by the tsunami.
The ministry says that, by the spring of next year, removal of sludge and salt would be finished for about 4,300 hectares, or 20 percent of the damaged farmland.
The ministry plans to complete restoration of all farmland in the disaster-hit areas in about 3 more years, except for that in the no-entry zone around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
NHK's correspondent says in order to boost agriculture in these areas, the government needs to promote large-scale farming along with the restoration of farmland.
He says even before the disaster, farmers in the tsunami-hit areas were facing labor shortages and having to take steps to cope with future trade liberalization.
Large-scale farming, through forming groups and other methods, is believed to be the key to enhance profitability and international competitiveness.


. . Bulletins from NHK WORLD . .
. . Japan Times - JT . .

November 2011

Click for Tsunami images.


Haiku in English - Tsunami Special

Selected by Isamu Hashimoto

Following the devastating earthquake and tsunami off northeastern Japan on March 11, we received many haiku condolences and heart-warming words from haijin around the world. We thank you for these and are determined to resume our happy daily lives soon, just as people did after World War II, taking to heart the high-spirited slogan
"makete tamaru ka": We will never be defeated.

Earthquake in Japan-
its shock wave surrounded
the whole world

Vasile Moldovan (Bucharest, Romania)

source : mdn.mainichi.jp

赤馬まつり. 吉良の赤馬牧場
. Red Horse Festival for Tohoku .
The Kira Akauma Ranch launched a charity festival in May 2011.


Special Exhibition about the rising dragon and the sun
. Azuchi Castle Archaeological Museum .


Arbeitskreis Wiederaufbau Tohoku

Zusammen mit der Präfektur Iwate und der dortigen Präfektur-Universität planen wir im Sommer 2012 (und folgende) auf dem Campus in Miyako ein Symposium mit deutschen und japanischen Experten (aus Wissenschaft, Wirtschaft und den betroffenen Gemeinden) mit angeschlossenem Sommerworkshop für deutsche und japanische Studenten.

Geplante Schwerpunkte

- Wiederherstellung der Infrastruktur
- Ökologische Stadtplanung
- Erneuerbare Energieversorgung
- Entwicklung neuer Wirtschaftskonzepte
- Aufarbeitung der Traumata

source : sanrikufukkou.wordpress.com


. Join in a Linked Verse 2011 .


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