February 2012 - from Feb 12 to 29

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February 2012 - Sun 12 to Wed 29

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source : www.jnto.go.jp


a special for
. February 11, Remember March 11, 2011 .


Sunday, February 12, 2012

- - - - - at 13:41
Earthquake M 5.0, off Sanriku coast

Oe leads rally against nuclear power plants

Temperature rising at No.2 reactor
The temperature at the No.2 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant keeps rising even after the injection of more cooling water on Saturday night.
The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, says a thermometer at the bottom of the reactor registered 78.3 degrees Celsius at 10 AM on Sunday.
The reading began to rise in late January to around 70 degrees. TEPCO pumped in more water to push down the temperature, but it rose again on Saturday night to 74.9 degrees.
The temperature continued to climb on Sunday morning to hit its highest level since last December, when the government and TEPCO declared all the reactors were at a state of cold shutdown, with their temperatures below 100 degrees.
TEPCO denied the possibility of nuclear criticality, saying 2 other thermometers at the bottom of the reactor show temperatures at around 35 degrees.
It adds that continuous nuclear fission would generate radioactive xenon, but gas samples collected from near the reactor found the element below the detection limit.
TEPCO is set to dump in boric acid to prevent any nuclear criticality later on Sunday and increase the volume of cooling water by 3 tons per hour.
Under new guidelines, the company must keep reactor temperatures at 80 degrees or below, given thermometers' margin of error of up to 20 degrees.

New quake measuring system developed

Japan's Meteorological Agency is using a new system on a trial basis that identifies a massive earthquake in a short time based on long-period ground motion.
The agency's system uses long-period tremors to determine whether a quake has a magnitude of 8 or higher within 3 minutes.
The system monitors long-period ground motion lasting from 100 to 500 seconds, which is specific to massive quakes.

Emperor to have heart bypass operation

Emperor Akihito is expected to have a heart operation next Saturday.
This will be the Emperor's first operation since he had his prostate removed 9 years ago, after cancer cells were detected.
Doctors used a contrast agent to check the Emperor's coronary arteries and the flow of blood in his heart in a detailed exam at the University of Tokyo Hospital on Saturday. ...


Monday, February 13, 2012

Fukushima No. 2 reactor temperature rises to 82 C
While the reading is a new high since the cold shutdown in December, Tepco says it has confirmed that sustained nuclear reactions are not taking place in the reactor.

One reading of Fukushima reactor exceeds 80 C
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says the No.2 reactor is in a state of cold shutdown. This is despite the fact one of its thermometers showed a temperature above 80 degrees Celsius on Sunday.
The reading of the thermometer at the bottom of the reactor began to rise late last month, prompting TEPCO to increase the injection of water into the reactor.
Although the reading temporarily declined, it started to rise again on Saturday and reached 82 degrees at 2:20 PM on Sunday.
The government and TEPCO declared in December that all the reactors were in a state of cold shutdown, with temperatures below 100 degrees. ... TEPCO says it will carefully monitor the reactor and will not rule out the possibility that its temperature might actually be rising.

TEPCO carefully monitoring No.2 reactor

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is carefully monitoring the No. 2 reactor one day after the reading of one of its thermometers topped the critical safety threshold of 80 degrees Celsius.
The reading of the thermometer at the bottom of the containment vessel shifted between 80 and 90 degrees even after plant workers increased the amount of water injected into the reactor to about 17 tons per hour.
As of 10 AM on Monday, the reading stood at 91.2 degrees.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company says the thermometer could be malfunctioning, as 2 other thermometers at the same height are showing temperatures of around 33 degrees.
It says 3 other thermometers about 1.5 meters below the others show that temperatures inside the reactor are falling.

Regulators OK Ohi reactor stress test results
Japan's nuclear safety agency has approved the results of stress tests on 2 reactors at a nuclear power plant in central Japan. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency made the evaluation in its report on the No.3 and No.4 reactors at the Ohi nuclear plant in Ohi Town, Fukui Prefecture after a panel of experts met on Wednesday.
The report says the tests on the reactors were conducted appropriately and measures for earthquakes and tsunami are in place at the plant.
Of Japan's 54 reactors, 51 are now offline. The report is the first to be compiled by the agency about stress tests on suspended reactors.
The agency is set to submit its report to Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission as early as Monday after briefing Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano.
The commission will consider the agency's report and the stress tests, taking opinions from experts into account. The government will make the final decision on whether to approve restarting the reactors. However, there is an obstacle to the resumption as it requires the consent of local governments hosting the reactors.
The governments of Fukui Prefecture and Ohi Town have not put priority on the stress tests and are urging the central government to create new safety standards based on the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant last March.

Safety agency: Restarting Ohi reactors is proper

Japan's nuclear safety agency has submitted a report on the results of stress tests on two nuclear power plant reactors, saying restarting them is appropriate.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency submitted its report on reactors No. 3 and 4 at the Ohi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture to the Nuclear Safety Commission on Monday. ...

Nuclear accident scenario kept under wraps
A document submitted to the government 2 weeks after the Fukushima nuclear accident suggested that the Tokyo metropolitan area might have to be evacuated. But the government failed to acknowledge the existence of the document until the end of last year.
The Atomic Energy Commission report was compiled at the request of Naoto Kan, who was Prime Minister at the time.
The commission's chief, Shunsuke Kondo, said the document explains possible contingencies following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident as well as preventive measures.
The report said massive amounts of radioactive materials could be dispersed from the plant if containment vessels were damaged or used fuel was exposed to the air if water injection failed.
It said under such a scenario, residents would have to be evacuated from an area within 170 kilometers of the plant and within 250 kilometers on a voluntary basis. This would include the Tokyo metropolitan area.
The report recommended that different methods should be used to cool down the reactors.
Kan told NHK last September that his government had made a simulation based on the worst-case scenario. But the report was not treated as an official document until it was discovered in the commission's office at the end of last year.
A Japanese civic group investigating the Fukushima nuclear accident is looking into the reasons why the document was not made public.

Water pipes to be made quake-resistant
The Japanese government says it will help local communities go ahead with making tap water-infrastructure quake resistant in the Pacific coast areas.
The health ministry plans to subsidize up to half the cost to local governments for the improvement work.
In providing such help, the ministry will give priority to the areas with the greatest risk of getting powerful earthquakes of 6-minus on the Japanese scale of zero to 7.
The ministry says only one-third of the water pipes in Japan are earthquake resistant as of March last year due to tight funds.
After the March 11th earthquake, 2.3 million households in 19 prefectures were left without municipal water, some for more than five months. But in areas with earthquake-resistant pipes, the water supply remained unaffected.
The ministry says it wants the improvement work to be carried out as soon as possible.

Japan economy shrinks 1st time in 2 years
Japan's economy in 2011 shrank for the first time in 2 years, as the March quake and tsunami knocked it off a recovery path.
The Cabinet Office says the nation's Gross Domestic Product fell 0.6 percent in the October-December period from the previous quarter in real terms. That translates to an annual drop of 2.3 percent.

Hokkaido nuke plant holds accident drill

A disaster preparedness drill has been held at the Tomari nuclear power plant in Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido.
The drill, held by Hokkaido's prefectural government on Monday, assumed a major nuclear accident with a possible leak of radioactive substances. About 1,000 officials from Hokkaido and 4 towns and villages around the nuclear plant took part.
The participants examined how they would collect information and measure radiation in the wake of an accident. The drill was conducted at an emergency response facility, or off-site center. ...

Government approves additional funds for TEPCO
Japan's industry minister has warned Tokyo Electric Power Company, operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, that it must accept state control in order to get a capital injection.
Yukio Edano told TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa on Monday that the company will not receive public money unless the government gets adequate voting rights in return. He said the government will not otherwise accept the business revival plan the utility is to submit by the end of March. TEPCO needs a large amount of financial aid to cover compensation payments to victims of the nuclear disaster at the plant and for alternative thermal power generation in place of nuclear energy.
Nishizawa said TEPCO will bear the government's requirement in mind in working out its revival plan.
The president told reporters after the meeting that his company will discuss details of a capital injection request with a government-backed organization for the victims.
Providing that it acquires the voting rights, the government has decided to give the utility nearly 9-billion dollars in additional financial aid to be used for compensation payments. The money is separate from the proposed capital injection fund for TEPCO.

TEPCO:broken thermometer may show high temperature

Tokyo Electric Power Company says a malfunctioning thermometer at the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is likely to blame for the high temperature reading in one of the reactors.
The reading of one of the thermometers at the bottom of the No. 2 reactor began to rise late last month. On Sunday the temperature exceeded the critical safety threshold of 80 degrees. On Monday the reading rose to 94.9 degree Celsius at noon.
The utility firm says it thinks the thermometer is broken since the readings of 2 other thermometers set at the same height dropped to about 33 degrees.
The company says an inspection showed that a cable inside the thermometer is probably cut, resulting in a false reading.
Monday, February 13, 2012 21:17


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

. . . . . at 12:38
Earthquake M 5.5, off Ibaraki

. . . . . at 15:27
Earthquake M 6.2, off Ibaraki
Felt as 1 from Aomori to Shizuoka


. Sendai - Valentine Chololates KIZUNA 絆 .

Reactor 2 heat spike reading said faulty

A thermocouple device in the pressure vessel of reactor 2 at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 power plant reads over 285 degrees but Tepco dismisses the reading, claiming the device is faulty.

Oi reactor stress tests approved by NISA

TEPCO:broken thermometer may show high temperature
Tokyo Electric Power Company says a malfunctioning thermometer at the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is likely to blame for the high temperature reading in one of the reactors.
The reading of one of the thermometers at the bottom of the No. 2 reactor began to rise late last month. On Sunday the temperature exceeded the critical safety threshold of 80 degrees. On Monday the reading rose to 94.9 degree Celsius at noon. The utility firm says it thinks the thermometer is broken since the readings of 2 other thermometers set at the same height dropped to about 33 degrees.
The company says an inspection showed that a cable inside the thermometer is probably cut, resulting in a false reading.

Search begins for children missing in tsunami
A search for missing victims of last year's devastating tsunami has begun on a river in Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, by draining part of the stream.
The search near Okawa elementary school came for the first time since the March disaster, at the strong request of the parents of children whose whereabouts are still unknown. On Tuesday, machines that can float and work in water entered the drained river near the school and removed debris from the riverbed.
The river had been dammed 1.3 kilometers upstream and the water inside pumped out before the work. 70 of 108 pupils at the school were killed in the disaster, with 4 still listed as missing.
The search for the 4 children and more than 40 other missing people will run about 10 days.
Many of the young victims were evacuating the school ground when the tsunami hit on March 11th last year.

Geothermal power plants may be allowed in parks

A panel of Japan's Environment Ministry has come up with a basic plan to conditionally allow geothermal power generation in national parks.
Japan is thought to have the world's 3rd-largest geothermal resources thanks to its many regions of volcanic activity. But development of the resources is lagging, as 80 percent is in national parks where such development is restricted.
The plan compiled on Tuesday says a 1974 government directive restricting development in national parks should be abolished.
The plan includes a proposal that construction of wells to draw underground steam should be allowed if slanting pipes are inserted outside the parks, if such work does not affect scenery.
Based on the recommendations, the ministry plans to decide next month on a new policy on geothermal power development.

TEPCO: No.2 reactor thermometer likely broken

The operator of the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima suspects a thermometer that has been showing rising temperatures in one of the reactors is malfunctioning.
The thermometer at the bottom of the Number 2 reactor showed a reading of 251.2 degrees Celsius as of 11 AM on Tuesday, while the 2 other thermometers showed temperatures of around 31 degrees.
On Monday afternoon, the thermometer in question showed a reading of more than 200 degrees.
Earlier on Monday, Tokyo Electric Power Company passed an electrical current through the thermometer and found that resistance was about 1.7 times the normal level.
TEPCO says this happens when a wire is broken. ...

Govt and TEPCO play tug-of-war over voting rights
Difficult negotiations between the Japanese government and the operator of the tsunami-hit nuclear plant over voting rights of the company will soon begin in earnest.
Tokyo Electric Power Company wants the government to have less say over the funds it provides the firm.
Industry minister Yukio Edano told TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa on Monday the government would not accept the company's business revival plan unless it gets adequate voting rights. The plan includes an injection of public funds to boost the firm's finances.
Some government officials think it should have majority voting rights over the company if it is to receive public funds. ...


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Governor: Why no arrests over crisis?
Saitama Gov. Kiyoshi Ueda wants to see Tokyo Electric Power Co. held criminally responsible for the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
At a regular news conference, he sharply criticized the utility and questioned why nobody in Tepco has been arrested.

Documentary on Fukushima town is screened at Berlin film festival

Hirano to review 3/11 response

Fukushima farming hard row to hoe !!!

Store debuts Zambia bamboo bikes
F.I.G bike's Harajuku branch earlier this month began selling the unique Zambikes, produced by social venture firm Zambikes established by Americans and local people in Lusaka in 2006, according to Takaya Fukuda, sales department manager at the bicycle shop.

N-safety panel apologizes for defective standards

The head of the government's nuclear safety commission says government guidelines for nuclear safety need to be reviewed.
Haruki Madarame made the remark on Wednesday in response to questions at the Independent Investigation Commission of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident, a panel established in the Diet.
Madarame said he has to admit that the government guidelines for nuclear safety are defective in many ways.
He apologized for insufficient wording in the guidelines for taking measures against the danger of a tsunami and for inappropriate wording stipulating that it is not necessary to prepare for long-time power loss.
Madarame also spoke about the handling of data from a system to predict the spread of radioactive substances. He said it is a misunderstanding to argue that more swift evacuation would have been possible if the data had been made public more quickly. But he said the data should have been disclosed at an earlier stage of the accident.
The Industrial Safety Agency's former chairman Nobuaki Terasaka was also present at the meeting to answer questions.
Terasaka said he feels sorry that the government task force on the nuclear disaster did not make minutes of its meetings. Terasaka was the secretary general of the task force in the wake of the nuclear disaster.
He added that work is underway to reproduce records of the meetings based on summaries of memorandums that are available.

Shiga governor to open political training school
The governor of Shiga Prefecture in western Japan has announced she will open a school to train political candidates. The move comes amid growing changes to politics at the local level in Japan.
Governor Yukiko Kada says her school will be named "Mirai Seiji Juku," or "Political School for the Future." She hopes to train as many politicians as possible to share responsibility for the future.
Kada says the school will be open to anyone who wants to study politics, and that she hopes many women and young people will attend. ...

N-safety panel apologizes for defective standards
The head of the government's nuclear safety commission says government guidelines for nuclear safety need to be reviewed.
Haruki Madarame made the remark on Wednesday in response to questions at the Independent Investigation Commission of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident, a panel established in the Diet.
Madarame said he has to admit that the government guidelines for nuclear safety are defective in many ways.
He apologized for insufficient wording in the guidelines for taking measures against the danger of a tsunami and for inappropriate wording stipulating that it is not necessary to prepare for long-time power loss.
Madarame also spoke about the handling of data from a system to predict the spread of radioactive substances. He said it is a misunderstanding to argue that more swift evacuation would have been possible if the data had been made public more quickly. But he said the data should have been disclosed at an earlier stage of the accident.
The Industrial Safety Agency's former chairman Nobuaki Terasaka was also present at the meeting to answer questions.
Terasaka said he feels sorry that the government task force on the nuclear disaster did not make minutes of its meetings. Terasaka was the secretary general of the task force in the wake of the nuclear disaster.
He added that work is underway to reproduce records of the meetings based on summaries of memorandums that are available.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nuclear safety boss faults agency, utilities
The Nuclear Safety Commission chief apologizes for mistakes and safety shortcomings that surfaced amid the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns, blaming them on bureaucrats and utilities.
Haruki Madarame and Nobuaki Terasaka, former head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

'Long-period' quake warning urged
Experts reviewing the impact of "long-period ground motion" on tall structures call for the creation of a new, enhanced warning system.

Governors slam Tepco's price hikes
The governors of Tokyo and nine other prefectures submitted a petition Wednesday calling Tepco's planned electricity rate hikes "extremely regrettable" and urged the utility to first accelerate efforts to restructure and rationalize its operations.

Hamaoka locals evasive on no-nuke future

A new phase in reconstruction
The Reconstruction Agency was established Feb. 10, 11 months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami devastated the Pacific coastal areas of the Tohoku region. Political confusion has delayed the establishment of the agency that will serve as a command center for reconstruction from the disasters and the subsequent Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Nuclear evacuation drill held in Ehime Prefecture
Evacuation drills for a serious accident at a nuclear power plant were held in Ehime and Shimane prefectures, both in western Japan.
The evacuation zones around nuclear plants were expanded from 10 kilometers to 30 kilometers after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant last March.
The drill in Ehime was based on a scenario of a reactor cooling system failure at the Ikata nuclear power plant after a huge earthquake. Temblors have raised fears of radioactive substances leaking from the plant.
About 10,000 people -- the largest ever -- took part in the evacuation drill, which made use of full-size buses and helicopters. In addition, Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels were mobilized for the first time. ...
A 65-year-old man said he expects panic if there really were an accident, and doubts whether things would go so smoothly.

TEPCO reports reactor thermometer problem to govt
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has attributed abnormally high temperature readings at one of the facility's reactors to a malfunctioning thermometer.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, reported the analysis of the problem at the Number 2 reactor to the government's nuclear safety agency on Thursday.
The thermometer at the reactor has been showing much higher readings than 2 others.
The utility said it's highly unlikely that temperatures could rise so high unless at least 60 percent of the melted nuclear fuel in the reactor were concentrated near the thermometer. ...


Friday, February 17, 2012

Reconstruction plan of Iwate
source : www.pref.iwate.jp - PDF file

Rare Tohoku debris disposal test starts
A city in Shizuoka Prefecture begins incinerating Iwate tsunami debris on a trial basis, aiming to become only the second municipality outside Tohoku to help dispose of disaster rubble.

Panel OKs lower cesium limit for food !!!
A government panel approves a proposal for far stricter limits on radioactive cesium in food products, paving the way for the health ministry to enforce new limits.

Shimane, Ikata nuclear plants hold crisis drill

U.S. clashed over IAEA inspections in 1960s: papers

Tickets on sale for disaster relief lottery worth record YEN500 million in total

Tokyo grain bourse may close as trading volumes plunge

Tokyo announces plan for 2020 Summer Olympics

The city of Tokyo is bidding for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The city has outlined a plan to host the Games with a vision for Japan's recovery from last year's earthquake and tsunami.
The city's Games bidding committee submitted its application to the International Olympic Committee on Monday. It announced the hosting plan at a news conference on Thursday.
According to the plan, Tokyo's vision for the Games is to boost reconstruction from the March 11th disaster that struck eastern Japan. It says Tokyo aims to show the world that sports can encourage those struggling with hardship.
The plan includes using Japan's National Stadium as a main site for the Games. The stadium was used for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and is to be renovated.
Tokyo aims to organize a compact event, with most other venues for events within 8 kilometers of the stadium.
As a symbol of recovery, preliminary soccer matches would take place in disaster-hit Miyagi Prefecture.
Under Tokyo's plan, the Olympics would be held for 17 days from July 24th to August 9th.
Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara chairs the city's bid committee for the Olympics. He said the plan is even better than the one it presented for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Japan's top gymnast and world champion Kohei Uchimura said he hopes the world sporting event will help Japan rebuild itself. He added that he will do his best in this summer's London Olympics to help Japan win the right to host the 2020 Games.
Tokyo and 4 other cities are in the running to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics after Rome gave up on its bid. The 4 cities are Azerbaijan's capital of Baku, Qatar's capital Doha, the Turkish city of Istanbul, and Spain's capital Madrid.
The IOC plans to review all the bids in May and choose the winner at its general assembly in September, 2013.

March tsunami traveled at 25km/h in Sendai
Japanese scientists say the tsunami triggered by the March 11th earthquake last year was traveling as fast as an elite-level marathon runner when it hit the Sendai Plain in northeastern Japan.
The speed means it was almost impossible for people to escape the tsunami if they started running after seeing it.
Associate Professor Shunichi Koshimura and his group at the Tohoku University Disaster Control Research Center analyzed aerial footage of the tsunami filmed by NHK around the mouth of the Natori River about an hour after the powerful quake.
Their calculations found the wave traveling at 25 kilometers per hour across an open field about 1 kilometer from the coast in Sendai City.
The tsunami also traveled at 8 kilometers per hour in an area 2 kilometers from the coast in Natori City.
It kept moving twice as fast as the average human walking speed even after losing momentum to soil and various obstacles.

Yokosuka groups object to disaster debris burial
Residents in Yokosuka, near Tokyo, are objecting to a plan to bury incinerated disaster debris from eastern Japan at a site in their neighborhood.
Representatives of 10 community groups delivered a letter to the local governor on Friday, seeking a retraction of the disposal plan.
The community groups are concerned that wreckage from the disaster zone could be contaminated with radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear accident.
They say the governor decided to accept the debris without consulting residents, and that the disposal site lacks equipment to safely store contaminated ash. ...

March 2011 disaster digital archives in the making
Almost a year on from the catastrophic earthquake that hit northeastern Japan, a wide range of organizations is building digital archives to preserve memories of the events of March 11th for future generations.
Among them, Tohoku University is collecting photos and video of damage caused by the quake and tsunami, as well as documenting the subsequent reconstruction, mainly in the northern prefecture of Miyagi.
The university is based in Sendai, which was hit hard by the disasters. It aims to hand down its archives in cooperation with other universities and private firms. The collection can be seen at www.dcrc.tohoku.ac.jp/archive

Major internet search engine operators Yahoo and Google are also preparing their own archives through a joint effort to collect photos and video. They say a total of about 50,000 items have been contributed by users of their sites so far.
Yahoo's collection is at http://archive.shinsai.yahoo.co.jp while
Google's is at www.miraikioku.com
Elsewhere, the National Diet Library is preparing to release a collection of post-disaster materials from the websites of various municipalities. Many people regularly referred to local-government sites in the wake of the disasters.
Some municipalities are digitizing their materials and the minutes of various meetings made after the disasters for future examination.
Experts note that digital archive operators need to sort out issues like the copyright of collected materials and the standardization of formats for the various types of data gathered by a variety of organizations.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

U.S. kids make drawings to cheer Tohoku counterparts

Foreign visitors off for 11th month

Nagoya aid for tsunami-hit city starts to pay off
A shiitake grower farmer in disaster-hit Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, is working to cultivate a sales channel in the Chubu region, while a Nagoya-based civil engineering company launches an office near the Tohoku city.

Learning a foreign language: blood, sweat and beers


Sunday, February 19, 2012

- - - - - at 14:54
Earthquake M 5.1 - Northern Ibaraki

Plum festival opens at Mito's Kairakuen garden
An annual Plum Festival has opened at the Kairaku-en garden north of Tokyo.
Kairaku-en in Mito City, Ibaraki prefecture, is known as one of the 3 most beautiful gardens in Japan. The 130,000-square-meter garden has some 3,000 plum trees of about 100 varieties.
Garden officials say because of the colder than usual weather this winter, only about 50 trees have come into bloom.
On Saturday, visitors could be seen strolling among the trees, and photographing the ones with blossoms.
Last year's earthquake damaged some of the garden's slopes. It also cracked the clay walls in an old summer house of a feudal lord on the grounds. Restoration work was completed earlier this month.
Park officials say they expect the best time to see the blossoms in full bloom will likely be around mid-March.

Emperor's heart operation ends successfully
Japanese doctors have successfully completed a heart bypass operation on Emperor Akihito.
The emperor is now in an intensive care unit where he is being closely monitored by doctors.

Nuke crisis caused by Japan, not quake: Kan
Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan admits Japan was woefully unprepared for last year's nuclear disaster, acknowledges the response by the state and Tepco was deeply flawed, and says the crisis laid bare massive vulnerabilities in the nuclear industry.

AKB48 thanks China for 3/11 aid with Beijing concert

Media ratchets up fear of another major earthquake

From Aboriginal land to Japan's nuclear reactors

Tsunami debris to drift back from US West Coast
A US research institute says some of the debris created by a massive tsunami that hit Japan last March will likely wash ashore on Hawaii after drifting close to the US West Coast.
About 3 million tons of debris, including wrecked buildings and fishing boats, are confirmed to be floating on the Pacific.
Research is under way by a Kyoto University-led group of scientists and a US research institute to foresee where and when the debris would drift ashore. Japan will send a team of scientists and environment ministry officials to Hawaii later this month.
A US study shows that the tsunami debris will pass through waters north of Hawaii this year, and approach the US West Coast next year. ...

Japan's agricultural and fishery exports drop
Japan's exports of agricultural and fishery products in 2011 fell by about 8 percent from the figure for the previous year in the aftermath of the nuclear accident in Fukushima last March.
The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry says exports of farm, forestry and fishery products and processed food stood at about 5.7 billion dollars.
The drop is largely attributed to the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi plant caused by the March 11th disaster. 47 countries and territories imposed restrictions on food imports from Japan, including a request for radiation test certificates.

Tsunami debris to drift back from US West Coast
A US research institute says some of the debris created by a massive tsunami that hit Japan last March will likely wash ashore on Hawaii after drifting close to the US West Coast.
About 3 million tons of debris, including wrecked buildings and fishing boats, are confirmed to be floating on the Pacific.
A US study shows that the tsunami debris will pass through waters north of Hawaii this year, and approach the US West Coast next year.
The direction of drift of most of the debris will then shift toward Hawaii in 2014 and some will likely wash ashore on Hawaii. ...


Monday, February 20, 2012

Emperor to be released from ICU on Monday
Japan's Emperor Akihito is in stable condition after undergoing heart bypass surgery, and is expected to return to a hospital room from ICU on Monday.
The Emperor successfully underwent surgery at the University of Tokyo Hospital on Saturday after he had been diagnosed with angina.

Last KEPCO nuclear reactor to be shutdown Monday
The last nuclear reactor operated by Kansai Electric Power Company is to be shut down later on Monday for regular inspections.
KEPCO says it will begin shutting down the No. 3 reactor at Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui, central Japan, late on Monday afternoon. The work is scheduled to be completed early Tuesday morning.
With this shutdown, only 2 of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors will remain online, but they too will be shut down by late April.
As all of KEPCO's 11 reactors will be offline starting Tuesday, the utility has called on households and firms in the region to reduce their use of power by 10 percent from the year before. The measure will remain in place until March 23rd. ...

Media allowed access to Fukushima Daiichi plant

Tokyo Electric Power Company has given members of the media access to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant for the first time since the government declared 2 months ago that reactors had been stabilized.
The utility gave reporters a bus tour of the facility on Monday. The visit coincides with inspections by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency that began on February 6th.
The bus passed by reactor cooling systems and spent fuel pools where 43 incidents of water leaks have occurred since January. Workers have swathed pumps on trucks with sheets and wrapped pipes with insulation materials to prevent leaks.
Reporters were allowed to get off the bus on a hill near the No.4 reactor and see first-hand its building, which was damaged by a hydrogen blast last March. ...

New robots on their way to Fukushima nuclear plant

Two Japanese-made robots will be used to examine the inside of reactors at the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima.
A group of researchers at Chiba Institute of Technology developed the remote-controlled robots named Quince Number 2 and Number 3.
On Monday, a truck carrying the pair left for Fukushima from the school's campus in Narashino, Chiba Prefecture. ...

40% of residents' exposure tops annual limit
More than 40 percent of the people surveyed in 3 municipalities near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were exposed to radioactivity levels above the annual safety limit in the 4 months after the disaster.
Fukushima Prefecture released on Monday the results of its survey of external radioactive exposure among some 9,750 residents of 2 towns and a village after the accident last March. This number excluded people working in places with high radioactivity, such as a nuclear plant.
Participants were asked about their behavior over a 4-month period immediately following the nuclear accident in order to estimate their external exposure.
Forty-two percent of the respondents are estimated to have received more than one millisievert --- the annual limit for the general public --- in the 4 months following the disaster.
Estimated exposure exceeded 10 millisieverts for 71 people. The highest dose was 23 millisieverts for an adult woman.
Among young people under the age of 20 at the time of the accident, the highest exposure was 18.1 millisieverts over 4 months.
The prefecture is conducting the survey on all its 2 million residents.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Enrollment fall amid nuclear crisis puts German school in financial bind

Following a sharp drop in enrollment amid the nuclear crisis, the century-old German School of Tokyo Yokohama is seeking aid from Berlin to overcome financial difficulties.

Debris disposal test gives low cesium level

Residents of three towns received as much as 23 millisieverts of radiation
in the four months after the meltdowns : residents of Namie, Kawamata and Iitate

Last nuclear reactor in western Japan shuts down
The last nuclear reactor in western Japan has shut down for regular inspections.
Kansai Electric Power Company, the operator, said it completed the shut down procedures for the No. 3 reactor at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture about 3:50 AM on Tuesday.
Now, only 2 of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors are running. But those two in the central prefecture of Niigata and in the northern prefecture of Hokkaido will be shut down by late April.

Nuclear Safety Commission to review stress tests
Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission says the first stage of the stress test is not sufficient to asses the safety of nuclear power reactors.
A team of 11 people, including commission members and outside experts, will examine the first-stage test results of the 2 reactors at the Ohi nuclear plant in western Japan on Tuesday.
Commission Chairman Haruki Madarame said on Monday that the initial round only checks the equipment that are essential for maintaining safety in times of natural disasters. ...

Experts criticize Nuclear Safety Agency
Japan's nuclear safety agency has been criticized by its own panel of experts for rushing to approve stress tests for halted nuclear reactors.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency last week gave its first nod of approval for the test results on 2 reactors at the Ohi nuclear plant in western Japan.
The agency reached the conclusion after cutting off debate by the panel of experts days earlier.
At the panel's meeting on Monday, Professor Emeritus Hiromitsu Ino of the University of Tokyo said discussions hadn't been exhausted, and he feels deceived.
Masashi Goto, a lecturer at the Shibaura Institute of Technology, said the panel's job is to fully review plant safety to prevent another nuclear accident.
Goto said he cannot understand why the agency was rushing to reach a conclusion.
An agency official pointed out that the experts' panel had met 8 times since last November. He said the agency thought conditions were met to endorse the results at the Ohi nuclear plant.
Having a stress test approved is a key step for restarting the country's nuclear reactors. Most of them were halted for regular inspections after the March 11th disaster.

Survey: 95% of disaster debris not yet disposed of

The Japanese Environment Ministry says 95 percent of debris from last year's disaster in northeastern Japan has yet to be disposed of more than 11 months on.
The March 11 quake and tsunami created more than 22 million tons of debris on the coasts of hardest-hit Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures alone.
The ministry said on Tuesday that just over one million tons, or 5 percent, of debris has been either incinerated or buried. 72 percent is still stored at temporary sites.
The ministry says many of the incinerators planned for disaster-stricken municipalities have yet to enter operation. It cites the difficulty in finding sites for new incinerators.
The ministry also says disposal in other areas of Japan, expected to shoulder 4 million tons of debris, has hardly begun.
Environment Minister Goshi Hosono told reporters the ministry's goal of completing disposal by the end of March, 2014 is unrealistic.
He asked municipalities outside the disaster-affected region to help, noting that delays are greatly hampering reconstruction.

Radiation monitoring system launched at schools
Japan's government has begun monitoring radiation levels at schools, parks and other sites frequently visited by children in disaster-hit Fukushima Prefecture.
The Education Ministry on Tuesday launched the system for showing data from 2,700 monitoring sites on its website.
The ministry introduced the system in response to residents' worries about radioactivity levels that have risen since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant last March.
Website users can choose a place on a map and check the latest radiation levels there. Choosing Fukushima City brings up a list of 368 monitoring sites and their radiation levels.
The system also offers average radiation levels in 10 minutes, and graphs showing changes in radiation at chosen sites.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Just 5% of Tohoku disaster debris disposed of

Only 5 percent of the debris generated by the devastating earthquake and tsunami last March has been incinerated or otherwise disposed of, and Environment Minister Goshi Hosono calls for local governments nationwide to help with the massive cleanup.

Takahama reactor offline; two still on
Kansai Electric Power suspends reactor 3 at its Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture for scheduled maintenance and inspections, leaving only two out of the nation's 54 commercial reactors still online.

Reactor stress tests alone not enough


North Tokyo Bay Big One could top the scale: study

'Thank You' visitor campaign starts

Seabed near nuke plant to be covered with cement
Tokyo Electric Power Company will begin cementing the seabed near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to prevent radioactive materials from spreading at sea.
On Wednesday, the utility plans to start pouring cement and clay over a 70,000-square meter area near the water intakes of the plant's 6 reactors. The seabed is about 6 meters deep.
The company says a 60-centimeter layer on the seabed will prevent the spread of contaminated mud and sand for about 50 years.
Extremely high levels of radioactive cesium have been detected in the area. The cesium mainly came from melted nuclear fuel rods from 3 of the reactors and contaminated water that leaked into the sea.
There is growing concern that ships will scatter the contaminated sand when work begins to retrieve the fuel rods in several years' time.
Tokyo Electric will start full-scale application of the cement in late February and hopes to complete the task in 4 months.

Int'l conference on natural disasters planned
Japan will host a ministerial level meeting on natural disasters in July to share lessons from the great earthquake and tsunami last year.
The government will hold the 2-day international conference in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture with cooperation from the United Nations and World Bank.
Other disaster-hit prefectures of Fukushima and Iwate will be hosting some of the conference sessions. ...

US nuke regulator releases March 11 transcripts
Newly released transcripts of the US nuclear regulator show it contemplated an evacuation advisory for US citizens near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant soon after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. The regulator's thinking was based on a worst-case scenario of meltdowns at all 3 operating reactors after they sustained heavy damage in the disaster.
On Tuesday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission released more than 3,000 pages of transcripts, covering in-house conferences over 10 days from March 11th last year, when the massive quake hit northeastern Japan.
The documents show a senior member calling for evacuating people within a radius of 50 miles, or about 80 kilometers, from the plant about 2 days after the disaster on March 12th US eastern time.
Cesium had been detected within the plant compound, apparently leading the official to believe the cores of the reactors could be partially damaged.
On March 16th US eastern time, Chairman Gregory Jaczko pointed out the Number 1, 2 and 3 reactors may all melt down in the worst case.
Executive director for operations Bill Borchardt said the United States would issue an evacuation advisory for people within a radius of 50 miles if a similar case occurred in the country.
The US ultimately issued an evacuation advisory for its citizens on March 16th.
The Japanese government issued an evacuation notice for those within a radius of 20 kilometers and also urged those in areas between 20 to 30 kilometers to stay indoors.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Transcripts sketch out NRC's 3/11 confusion

Transcripts of phone conversations immediately after the March disasters, released by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, reveal the early sense of urgency and confusion about the crisis unfolding at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Cesium found 640 km off Fukushima in June
Radioactivity from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster has been detected as far away as 643 km offshore in the Pacific Ocean.

Fearing radiation, Naha cuts Aomori snow fete

Wooden school building undergoes fire test
A 3-story wooden school building was burnt to the ground in a fire-resistance test on Wednesday. The test was conducted as part of planned revisions to a law prohibiting the construction of 3-story wooden school buildings.
The National Institute for Land and Infrastructure Management held the test at its compound in Tsukuba City, north of Tokyo.
The building was 15 meters high, 16 meters long, and 50 meters wide. It was built at a cost of 300 million yen, or about 4 million dollars, by academic and industrial researchers. ...
The test was based on a scenario in which a fire started on the first floor. Flames engulfed the structure after one hour, but the building's thicker pillars and beams still stood. The entire structure collapsed after 2 hours. ...

Transport ministry to develop tsunami lifeboat
Japan's transport ministry will develop lifeboats that allow evacuees to live at sea for several days after a tsunami.
The head of the ministry's Shikoku bureau told reporters on Wednesday that the lifeboats' design will be based on those that are mandatory for large ships.
The craft will be able to accommodate 20 to 50 people, have food stored on board, and be equipped with toilets.
They'll be installed at elementary schools, kindergartens and senior citizens' homes, so that children and the elderly who cannot evacuate fast enough can survive a tsunami.
Officials aim to make the lifeboats strong enough to withstand the impact of floating debris.
They plan to finalize the boats' design and functions over the coming months.

Foreign registrants in Japan down for third year
The number of foreigners registered in Japan has dropped for the third straight year.
The Justice Ministry says there were 2.07 million foreign registrants in Japan as of the end of last year, down 2.6 percent from a year ago.
Foreign registrants in Japan peaked at more than 2.2 million in 2008, but have since been in decline due to Japan's economic slump.
The drops are significant in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which were hardest hit by last year's earthquake and tsunami. Iwate and Fukushima saw a drop of 15 percent each, with Miyagi at 13 percent.
Ministry officials blame last year's decline on the exodus of foreigners from Japan after the quake, tsunami, and nuclear plant accident in Fukushima.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Rice-cake lifting contest in Kyoto
Contestants competed to lift and hold giant rice cakes for as long as they could at a Buddhist temple in Kyoto on Thursday.
71 people took part in the traditional event, aimed at fostering good health, at Daigoji Temple.

Festival of the Five Powerful Deities:
. WKD : Godairiki-San 五大力さん.

Antiterror backup plans mulled for nuke security talks

Tohoku teen feels guilt of being lone survivor

Guitars made from tsunami-felled tree
Guitars made of wood from a pine tree felled by the tsunami last March will feature in a musical depicting people striving to rebuild from the disaster.
The guitars were presented to the director of the musical at the studio of guitar maker Kenji Koike in Gifu Prefecture, central Japan, on Friday.
The pine used to make the instruments was brought from Miyagi, one of the prefectures hardest hit by the earthquake and tsunami.
One guitar has been made to produce a powerful sound to match its design, which features the waves of the tsunami and a symbolic lone pine tree that survived the disaster.
Another one generates softer tones to go with its images of cherry blossoms and a fully laden fishing boat, symbolizing the reconstruction.
Koike says the difficult part was to dry the wood, as it had been soaked in seawater.
The guitars will be played at the musical, to be held on March 18th in Tokyo.

Fukui governor rejects restart of idle reactors
The governor of Fukui Prefecture has said he will not allow its nuclear reactors to restart without stricter government safety standards.
Issei Nishikawa was reiterating his view at a regular prefectural assembly session that began on Friday.
Nishikawa said the government must correct its inconsistent response to the Fukushima nuclear accident, clarify its views about why nuclear plants are needed and should be restarted, and seek public understanding.
On Tuesday, a nuclear reactor in Fukui was shut down for regular inspections, leaving only 2 of Japan's 54 reactors running. ...

Govt asks for party support for debris disposal

Japan's environment minister has asked political parties to help break a deadlock over disposal of debris from the March 11th earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.
Goshi Hosono asked executives of governing and opposition parties on Friday to have their members persuade local governments and residents to accept the debris.
Hosono told Mikio Shimoji, the secretary general of the junior coalition partner People's New Party, that the debris is hampering reconstruction efforts. ...

Foreign nuclear experts discuss Fukushima
Foreign nuclear experts are discussing the Fukushima nuclear accident at a conference in Tokyo.
The Japanese government panel investigating the disaster is sponsoring the 2-day conference as part of efforts to verify what happened.
The panel invited 5 experts from abroad, including the head of the French Safety Authority, Andre-Claude Lacoste, and Richard Meserve, a former chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ...

Domestic output of Japan's carmakers up 19%
Japan's major carmakers are catching up on lost production caused by local and overseas disasters. January figures show a rise in domestic output by nearly 19 percent from a year earlier.
Total production of 8 major firms climbed for the fourth straight month to almost 800,000 units, a rise of 18.8 percent. ...


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fast-breeder said realistic no more
An expert panel reviewing Japan's nuclear fuel cycle policy has concluded that technological challenges make the completion of a fast-breeder reactor in the next 20 to 30 years unrealistic.

Tokyo Bay to get tsunami upgrade
A land ministry panel hammers out a basic infrastructure plan to brace Tokyo for a huge tsunami projected to strike on a 1,000-year cycle, including more rigorous evacuation steps and reinforcement of structures.

Divorcee raising orphaned nephew

(a heartwarming story)

Multilingual ex-professor pours all his energy into translation, writing
Charles De Wolf
To be released on March 10 to mark the one-year anniversary the following day of the Great East Japan Earthquake, "Tomo" features works written in English by writers — both Japanese and non-Japanese somehow connected with Japan — and proceeds from the anthology will be used to assist educational needs for young victims of the quake and tsunami.

TEPCO to use underwater robot for repair work
Tokyo Electric, or TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it is considering using an underwater robot to probe and repair the damaged reactor containment vessels.
The plan was unveiled at a meeting in Tokyo to discuss ways to dismantle the reactors at the plant on Friday. Nuclear experts and officials from the robot maker attended.
The utility firm and the manufacturer say they are planning to deploy the remotely controlled robot on the underground level of the reactor buildings, as it is flooded with contaminated water.
They say this is a step toward repairing the containment vessels of No.1 to No.3 reactors so that the melted nuclear fuel can be removed.
In the meeting, another proposal was also made to use a 10-meter-long rod with a camera on the tip to examine the interior of the containment vessels.
A roadmap for decommissioning the reactors, set by the government and TEPCO, says the removal of the nuclear fuel should start within 10 years. Technological development appears to hold the key to the project's success.

First PM 2.5 contamination checks
Japan's Environment Ministry has revealed the results of its first survey of atmospheric contamination by ultra-small particles which cause respiratory and circulatory diseases. A majority of the tested locations failed to meet the standard for safe air.
"PM2.5" or "Particulate Matter 2.5" is an air pollutant that can be found in exhaust fumes and factory smoke. They are tiny particles or droplets in the air that measure less than 2.5 microns in width. Three years ago, the Environment Ministry established new criterion for the fine particles. ...

Death at Fukushima plant ruled from overwork
Japanese labor authorities have ruled that a man's death at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was due to his having to carry out demanding work while wearing stress-creating protective gear.
It is the first time the labor ministry has recognized such a case connected to cleanup work at the plant.
The authorities have granted compensation to the family of 60-year-old plumber Nobukatsu Oosumi from Shizuoka Prefecture.

Edano: Energy costs could rise

Japan's Economy minister says electricity prices could rise if Japan doesn't crank up its nuclear power plants again.
Now, only 2 of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors are running. But those two will be shut down for regular inspections by late April.
Economy minister Yukio Edano says thermal energy could nudge up electricity bills, because of its fuel costs. ...

No-fly zone over Fukushima plant scaled back
Japan's transport ministry has scaled back the no-fly zone over the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as radioactivity over the site has dropped to a safe level.
Aircraft are barred from flying within a 3-kilometer radius of the plant from midnight on Friday. The prior restricted zone had a radius of 20 kilometers.
Earlier this month, the transport and science ministries jointly surveyed radiation levels within the 20-kilometer no-fly zone.

The survey found that the levels had dropped to 12 microsieverts per hour or below, at the minimum safe flight altitude of 150 meters. ...


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tokyo asks Chubu Electric to help power City Hall

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has asked Nagoya-based Chubu Electric Power Co. to supply City Hall with electricity.

Skepticism grows over scientists quake forecasts
Two University of Tokyo seismologists made headlines after forecasting a major quake would strike Tokyo in the next four years, but other scientists say such predictions shouldn't be attempted in the first place as they are almost always wrong.

Radiation still high around Fukushima No. 1

Overseas experts urge Japan to create 'safety culture' in nuke power industry

Flaws found in plant's first post-March 11 inspection

Danger zones
... While the seismic aftershocks of last year's quake have now mostly subsided, the reverberations in coastal communities and local governments around the country are continuing unabated. The goal, as one government official put it, is to remove sōteigai (anything that is beyond the realm of assumption) surrounding tsunamis — in other words, to avoid any repetition of what happened in Tohoku last year,
when a sōteigai tsunami killed more than 15,000 people.

Foreign nuclear experts advise on Fukushima
Foreign experts have told a Japanese government panel that its final report on the Fukushima nuclear accident should include lessons learned and proposals for ensuring safety.
Five foreign nuclear experts gave their opinions at the conclusion of the 2-day conference in Tokyo on Saturday. The meeting was sponsored by a Japanese panel of experts in various fields, charged with investigating the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant last March.
The head of the French nuclear safety authority, Andre-Claude Lacoste, said the final report should be more than a list of facts and include lessons and proposals. ...

Decontamination info center opens in Fukushima
The Environment Ministry and Fukushima Prefecture have begun to provide people concerned about radiation with information on how to clean up contaminated property.
Officials at an information center which opened last month in Fukushima City began to assist local residents on Saturday.
They offer information about decontamination steps and giving advice on how to do the work. ...

Volunteers trim cherry trees in quake-hit city

Volunteers have trimmed cherry trees in the northeastern city of Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture. The city was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami last March.
About one-third of the cherry trees on the banks of the Ookawa River in the city were washed away by the tsunami one year ago. But the trees that survived the disaster managed to bloom last year.
This year, the surviving trees put out buds. On Sunday, about 30 members of an association to preserve the rows of cherry trees in the city and volunteers pruned dead twigs in the hope of full blooming.
In the March 11th disaster, some people managed to survive by grabbing hold of branches of the cherry trees.
A flower festival will be held on April 22nd for the first time in 2 years to express gratitude to the cherry trees and condolences for those who died in the disaster.

NHK shows first aerial footage of Fukushima plant
An NHK helicopter has flown near the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant for the first time since the accident occurred last March. The flight took place after the no-fly zone over the plant was reduced to a 3-kilometer radius.
NHK shot footage around 4 kilometers from the plant at an altitude of some 700 meters on Sunday.
The land ministry decided to scale back the no-fly zone from the 20-kilometer radius as it calculated that aerial radioactive readings around the plant had dropped to a safe level. The 3-kilometer radius took effect on Saturday.
The aerial observation confirmed that the No. 3 reactor building has an exposed steel structure distorted by a hydrogen explosion.
The yellow lid on the nuclear containment vessel was visible in the No. 4 reactor building in which a hydrogen explosion ripped out its walls. A person in a yellow work suit was seen walking on the 5th-story of the building.
At a port used by the plant, some 10 workers wearing white protective suits were on a crane vessel working to cover the seabed with cement to block radioactive substances from spreading offshore.
Water leakage from pumps and piping has been reported since February even though the government declared in December that the Fukushima plant was stabilized.
Some 1,000 steel tanks to store contaminated water could be seen at the western part of the plant's compound, showing the daunting task of disposing of water.
There are no signs of life in the no-entry zone that covers a 20-kilometer radius around the plant.
Destroyed buildings and boats washed ashore by the tsunami remain untouched near Ukedo port in Namie Town, to the north of the plant.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Tsunami alert softened days before 3/11
Just days before the Great East Japan Earthquake, a government panel softened the wording of a report warning that a massive tsunami could strike Tohoku after three utilities begged it to do so.

Hospitals in disaster zone hobbled by staff shortages

Seventeen of the 45 major coastal hospitals pummeled by the triple calamity last March are still unable to offer full medical services because of staffing shortages.

Smoke hits idle reactor in Niigata
Smoke was detected in a building full of heat-exchange equipment at an idled reactor at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant but no fire was found, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sunday.

More nuclear response hospitals needed
Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission says hospitals outside of evacuation zones must be designated as emergency treatment facilities for people exposed to radiation after possible nuclear accidents.
The commission made the recommendation after 5 hospitals near the Fukushima Daiichi power plant failed to function properly in the wake of the nuclear accident in March last year.
Their proximity to the plant was part of the problem. ...

Town to build evacuation platforms for tsunami
A town in central Japan says it will build evacuation platforms over municipal roads to protect residents from tsunami after a major earthquake.
The town of Yoshida in Shizuoka Prefecture says it will build 3 "evacuation towers" that will be at least 12 meters above sea level. The 300-square meter towers will each accommodate at most 600 people.
The town says it will start building the towers in fiscal 2012 with a budget of 5-and-a-half million dollars.
Yoshida lies on Suruga Bay close to the projected epicenter of a major earthquake in the Tokai region, and has no tall structures near the sea.
It began compiling measures to deal with tsunami that could be double the size of the official estimates after last year's disaster in northeastern Japan.
The land and infrastructure ministry says the evacuation towers will be the first in Japan to straddle roads. It says the structures will help people to escape tsunami that could occur at any time.

Schools reopen in Fukushima's Minamisoma
More schools in Minamisoma City in Fukushima Prefecture that have been closed since the nuclear accident last March, have reopened.
The four elementary and junior high schools have been holding classes in temporary facilities elsewhere.
But the students were able to return to their own buildings on Monday.
The reopening follows the completion of cleanup work after an evacuation advisory for the city was lifted at the end of September.
At Ishigami Daini elementary school, located 25 kilometers from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, many children arrived in the morning by car.
At an assembly, a 6-grader speaking on behalf of the pupils, said he will be happy to graduate from the original school building. He said he wants to make his remaining years in school fulfilling, partly for friends who have not returned.
The school says only 197 of its 493 pupils are coming back.
With the reopening of the 4 schools, all elementary and junior high schools in what was previously an evacuation zone, have resumed classes.

Independent panel: Tokyo evacuation considered

A report by an independent panel shows that some cabinet members were bracing for the possible evacuation of Tokyo after the Fukushima nuclear accident.
The 6-member panel of experts is due to issue a report on Tuesday based on interviews with 300 Japanese and US government officials and others about their responses to the accident on March 11th of last year.
The report says the chief of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant informed the government 3 days after the accident that the nuclear fuel rods could melt down because of cooling system failures. The information was reportedly sent to cabinet members and nuclear experts.
Economy minister Yukio Edano said that in a worst-case scenario, if the fuel rods continued to be exposed to the air, large doses of radioactive materials would be released and would prevent workers from entering the reactor buildings.
Edano said he feared that problems could also occur in another nuclear plant in Fukushima, and that Tokyo might have to be evacuated.
He added that the cabinet members were told of this scenario. Edano was the chief cabinet secretary at the time and served as the government's spokesperson.
The government chose not to make the scenario public.
The report says discussions are necessary on information disclosure by the government during emergencies.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

a very cold morning!

. . . . . at 13:45
Earthquake M 4.8, off Ibaraki coast

. . . . . at 14:20
Earthquake M 5.1, off Ibaraki coast

Big cities lobby Kepco to drop nuclear power


Fukushima evacuee kids return to schools

Tepco's political tentacles
Just as Tokyo Electric Power Co. is under fire for trying to raise consumers' electricity bills before making sufficient efforts to streamline its management, a series of cases have surfaced in which the company appeared to be trying to strengthen its political influence by sending employees to prefectural and municipal assemblies.

Panel: Cabinet members unaware of SPEEDI
An independent panel investigating the Fukushima nuclear accident has found that the prime minister did not know about the government's system that can predict the spread of radioactive materials quickly.
The 6-member panel of experts is due to issue a report on the disaster on Tuesday.
The report says former Prime Minister Naoto Kan and 4 other politicians blame the science ministry officials for not informing them about the system called SPEEDI.
Former Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said he found out about it in a media report around March 15 last year.
At the time, the No.2 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was spewing radioactive materials. ...

Noda prioritizes getting Fukushima evacuees home
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has instructed ministers to work with each other so residents of evacuation zones in Fukushima can return home as soon as possible.
In an informal Cabinet session on Tuesday, Noda referred to his meeting last week with Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato, who asked for more support for evacuees and their early return. Noda and Sato met in connection with the central government's plan to review the evacuation zones by the end of March.
Noda said the government's top priority is to get people back home and that work on things such as decontamination, restoring infrastructure and securing employment must be speeded up. ...

Panel issues report on Fukushima nuclear accident !!!
An independent panel investigating the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has issued a report based on interviews with about 300 people, including Japanese and US government officials and nuclear experts.
It has pointed out that the government and the plant's operator were ill-prepared to deal with a crisis.
The 6-member panel of experts from the private sector has been studying how the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company responded to the nuclear accident in March last year. The power company's officials refused to be interviewed.
The report released on Tuesday criticizes the government's response as off-the-cuff and too late.
The late response is blamed on the government's failure to anticipate a nuclear accident triggered by an earthquake and tsunami that occurred simultaneously, which rendered its crisis management manual useless. The report says the problem was compounded by the lack of basic legal knowledge on the part of the government's senior officials.
The report also points to delays in providing the prime minister's office with accurate information, as well as insufficient support by nuclear experts. The report urges immediate debate on improving such problems.
The report condemns the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency for its failure to train professionals in safety.
It says the agency could not draw up plans to put the Fukushima plant under control due to a shortage of both personnel and ideas.
The report blames Tokyo Electric for increasing the damage by not immediately switching to an alternative cooling system after realizing that the emergency condenser wasn't working. It also says the company took too much time to start the vent procedure to avert a major crisis.
The head of the panel, Koichi Kitazawa, says the investigation has revealed what was going on inside the prime minister's office and elsewhere at the time of the accident.
He pointed out an institutional defect in Japan's system to address a crisis, a problem that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

Lost pension problem may affect 880,000 people
The Japanese government says more than 880,000 people may be affected by the massive loss of pension funds managed by an investment company. ...


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Panel lays bare Fukushima recipe for disaster
The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crisis was caused by Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s lack of preparation for huge tsunami and exacerbated by downright "distrust and meddling" by high-ranking officials, an independent panel reports.

(There was a lot of confusion in the first days - remember the recommendation of all of Japan to evacuate to the jungle of Brazil . . the doomsday scenarios with all the MIGHT BE, COULD BE . . did not happen!)

Tepco to pay Y600,000 to pregnant voluntary evacuees
Tokyo Electric Power Co. will pay Y600,000 each to pregnant women and children aged 18 or under who have voluntarily evacuated because of the triple-meltdown crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

Fukushima farmer presses Tepco to look after abandoned animals

Ridley Scott to join quake TV project

Fukushima nursery gets Caribbean kids' letters
Rie Yanagimoto
Part of the "Tegami (Letter) Project" launched by the Japan Committee for the U.N. Children's Fund
- and
Washington photo show
FUKUSHIMA — A 12-day exhibition of photos from areas ravaged by the March 11 earthquake will begin Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington to show Japan's gratitude for U.S. disaster-relief efforts under Operation Tomodachi.

Panel blasts Kan's response to disaster

An independent panel investigating last March's nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has criticized former Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan over his response to the disaster.
Panel head Koichi Kitazawa told reporters at the Japan National Press Club on Tuesday that Kan interfered excessively in workers' efforts to bring the plant under control. .....

Edano advised Kan not to visit Fukushima
The morning after last year's March 11th Fukushima nuclear disaster, then Prime Minister Naoto Kan flew to the disaster site by helicopter, although his spokesman advised him not to do so, warning of criticism from the opposition.
A report issued on Tuesday by an investigating panel cites vivid accounts of Kan and others at the prime minister's official residence in the first days of the disaster. ...

Nuclear accident "off-site" center under review
A Japanese government panel is proposing the setting up of 2 separate centers to help local communities respond to any future nuclear power plant accident.
What is known as the off-site emergency response center failed to function properly when the Fukushima nuclear disaster occurred on March 11th last year.
A rise in levels of radiation and the impact of the tsunami and earthquake prevented officials from local municipalities gathering at the off-site center, about 5 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Creating 2 centers to reinforce the functions of such an off-site center is one of the draft recommendations submitted by a working panel of the Nuclear Safety Commission on Tuesday. ...

Panel denounces govt. handling of disaster
An independent panel investigating the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has criticized the government's responses as ad-hoc, stopgap measures.
A report issued by the panel on Tuesday says then prime minister Naoto Kan and several other lawmakers told the panel that they had no understanding of the nuclear disaster manuals. They said they had received no explanations of the manuals from ministry officials at an early stage of the accident.
The report says Kan first received explanations of the manuals from officials 4 days after the accident, when a joint task force of the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company was set up.
The panel says that just after the accident occurred, staff members at the prime minister's office were busy looking up in books the basics of legislation on nuclear disasters. ...

Miscommunications made things worse
An independent panel investigating the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant has issued a report showing in detail how miscommunications helped deepen mistrust among key players in the crisis management.
The nuclear accident started when the Fukushima Daiichi plant had a station blackout---a loss of all its power sources. The government saw that providing mobile sources of electricity was its top priority.
On the night of March 11th, government officials were scrambling to get as many power supply trucks as possible from around the country to the Fukushima plant. ...

Panel report: US nuclear safety guidelines ignored
An independent panel investigating the Fukushima nuclear accident says the Japanese government ignored the advice of the US authorities and failed to refer to US nuclear safety guidelines.
Independent investigators interviewed about 300 people, including Japanese and US government officials. They released their report on Tuesday.
The report says that after 9-11, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission - or NRC - established guidelines for restoring nuclear reactors disabled by a terrorist attack.
The report says the US commission explained the guidelines to Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency on at least two occasions. The NRC also asked Japan to improve the anti-terrorism measures at its nuclear facilities.
But the report says the agency did not adopt the recommended safety procedures.
The report quotes an NRC official as saying the agency showed no interest in counter-terrorism measures.
Independent investigators say that if the guidelines had been followed, the damage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant would have been less severe.

Cesium in milk found under limit
Major Japanese milk producers say their products have passed the government's safety standards for radioactive cesium.
The government decided to strengthen milk safety standards from April amid consumer concerns about the nuclear accident at the Fukushima power plant.
Under the new standards, milk will be allowed to contain only 50 becquerels of cesium per kilogram, or one quarter the current permissible level.
The Japan Dairy Industry Association on Wednesday announced the results of radiation screening tests held at 124 factories, mainly in eastern Japan.
The association said the amount of radioactive cesium in milk before shipping was below the lowest detectable amount -- 10 becquerels per kilogram -- at all of the factories.
The association says the tests confirmed that the milk is safe, and that it hopes children drink it without fear of radioactive contamination.


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. March 11, 2012 - Remember 2011 .


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January 2012


Ink stones from Ogatsu town, Ishinomaki
石巻 雄勝町

The Ogatsu stones will be made into ink stones like this one which was made before the disaster or be used for roof tiles and wall tiles of houses.
Ogatsu stone accessories are also being produced.
source : peaceboat.jp/relief

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. WKD : inkstone, 翡翠硯(すずり) suzuri .


Daruma Tea Cup to help Tohoku


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