TEPCO - December 2013


TEPCO - December 2013

Tokyo Electric Power Company, Incorporated (東京電力株式会社, Tōkyō Denryoku Kabushiki-gaisha, TYO: 9501), also known as Toden (東電, Tōden) or TEPCO, is a Japanese electric utilities servicing Japan's Kantō region, Yamanashi Prefecture, and the eastern portion of Shizuoka Prefecture.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

. TEPCO - Problems since June 2013 .

With the Tokyo Olympics, Tokyo 2020
now even more in the limelight !

Please read the daily news at NHK here
Since November 2013, NHK has a new feature, "Nuclear Watch" !
source : www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english

. Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 and Fukushima
東京オリンピック 2020 .

updates on this BLOG

特定秘密保護法案 Tokutei himitsu hogo hōan
The new secrecy bill. secrecy law is dangerous because Japan already has a lot of non-disclosable information and several related laws.
What will happen to the freedom of information, especially with respect to the problems of Fukushima?
- reference -

Geheimhaltungsgesetz, “Schutzgesetz” in Japan
vier Bereiche: Verteidigung, Diplomatie, Spionageabwehr und Terrorismusbekämpfung


- November 30, 2013 -

- short note from TV
Since all the water storage tanks are full, Tepco will stop doing anything about the infected water for a while.
(meaning, it will flow into the ocean without treatment or anything . . .)

Fukushima people learn how to deal with radiation - NHK news
Experts on radiation protection have met with residents around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to discuss how to deal with daily exposure to harmful substances. . . . The residents added that many young people have not returned to the area because they are worried about exposure to radiation.


- December 03, 2013 -

ALPS system shut down over leak - Japan Times
A trouble-prone system used to decontaminate radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was switched off Sunday because of a chemical leak, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
Hydrochloric acid, used to neutralize alkaline water being decontaminated, was found seeping from a pipe joint, Tepco said in a statement.
The joint was wrapped in a vinyl bag to contain the leakage, Tepco said, adding it was investigating the cause of the trouble.
About 1 liter of hydrochloric acid has been contained in the bag.
The leak was found at one of three Advanced Liquid Processing System units designed to remove radioactivity from contaminated water at the plant, where a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 sent nuclear reactors into meltdown.

Govt. panel urges additional wastewater measures - NHK
A government panel has drafted a report on additional measures to control the radioactive wastewater accumulating at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The government in September announced drastic measures, such as freezing the soil around the reactor buildings to prevent groundwater from getting in.
On Tuesday, the panel called for the rapid implementation of 5 backup measures, including building large storage tanks with double outer walls, and sealing cracks and piping holes with concrete.
It says a plan to pave the ground with asphalt to prevent rainwater from seeping in will be effective, while a measure to surround the wall of frozen soil with another wall was put off for later discussion.
The panel also said the handling of wastewater containing radioactive tritium should be studied by a team of experts to be set up by the government this month.
The measures will be implemented with reference to proposals by experts and engineers in Japan and abroad.


- December 05, 2013 -

IAEA: Tritium may have to be discharged into sea - NHK
Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency say tritium in wastewater at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may have to be discharged into the ocean.
The IAEA probe team released a preliminary report on Wednesday on its investigation, started on November 25th, to help in the decommissioning work at the plant. They interviewed government and plant operator officials from the Tokyo Electric Power Company and conducted on-site inspections at the plant.
The report says TEPCO should step up efforts to remove radioactive substances from wastewater accumulating in the plant's tanks and other places. ...
A team of experts sent by the International Atomic Energy Agency suggested Wednesday that Tokyo Electric Power Co. should consider discharging toxic water from the Fukushima No. 1 plant into the ocean after lowering the level of radioactive materials to less than the legal limit.
The proposal by the international nuclear watchdog was part of its call on Tepco to improve its management of the increasing amount of radioactive water at the crippled facility and ensure a safe decommissioning process.
Such a step would draw an angry reaction from people, including commercial fishermen, worried about further contamination of the Pacific.
“Controlled discharge is a regular practice at all nuclear facilities in the world,” Juan Carlos Lentijo, director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology, told a news conference in Tokyo as the team wrapped up its inspection of the plant.
Lentijo headed the team of 19 experts that arrived Nov. 25 to check the decommissioning efforts, including the radioactive water problem and the removal of fuel rod assemblies from the spent fuel pool high in the reactor building 4.


- December 06, 2013 -

Highest radiation levels measured outside reactor - NHK
Tokyo Electric Power Company says radiation levels are extremely high in an area near a ventilation pipe at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
TEPCO found radiation of 25 sieverts an hour on a duct, which connects reactor buildings and the 120-meter-tall ventilation pipe.
The estimated radiation level is the highest ever detected outside reactor buildings. People exposed to this level of radiation would die within 20 minutes.
The exhaust pipe in question was used to release radioactive gases following the outbreak of the accident 2 years ago.
TEPCO says radioactive substances could remain inside the pipes.


- December 10, 2013 -

Govt. panel calls for quick wastewater measures - NHK
A government panel has called for quick backup measures to control radioactive wastewater accumulating at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The government is working to freeze soil around the plant's reactor buildings to keep out groundwater. It's also building a wall along a coastal embankment to keep wastewater from seeping out to sea. But the measures are taking too long, and their effectiveness is in doubt.
The panel recommended a series of supplemental measures that include building double-walled storage tanks and sealing cracks in the buildings with concrete to keep out groundwater. It also called for paving large parts of the plant's compound with asphalt to keep rainwater out.
The panel also suggested that a team of experts assess the risks and technological challenges of handling wastewater containing radioactive tritium, and reach a conclusion by the end of March.


- December 12, 2013 -

18 firms told to end overwork at Fukushima plant - NHK
Japan's labor watchdog has told 18 firms to end overwork among employees at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
A labor standards inspection office in Fukushima Prefecture gave the correction advice to Toshiba and its 17 subcontractors.
Officials with the Fukushima Labor Bureau say the firms made employees work around radioactive water longer than legally allowed.
Japan's labor standards law permits only 10 hours of work a day when there are potential health risks. That includes maximum overtime of 2 hours.
Toshiba and its subcontractors admitted having some workers put in a few hours more a day between July and October.
Company officials told NHK they mistakenly understood that hours spent in preparation or waiting did not have to be counted in the daily limit.
The officials say they have corrected their practices after receiving the advice.


- December 13, 2013 -

TEPCO releases findings on meltdown
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says an early breakdown of a cooling system likely led to a meltdown at one of the facility's reactors after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Tokyo Electric Power Company on Friday released its findings on the accident at the Number 3 reactor, in a follow-up to a study made public in June 2012.
The previous study said the meltdown began at about 10:40 AM on March 13th -- 2 days after the disaster.
The new report includes an analysis of how the accident started. It says readings of a gauge early that morning showed that water levels inside the reactor were low enough to expose part of its fuel.
The low levels indicate that an emergency cooling system had malfunctioned.
The report also says fire engines began injecting water soon after 9 AM that day, but that the measure may have been ineffective because of pipe leaks.
The firm says similar leaks occurred at the 2 other reactors at the plant that had meltdowns.
The utility plans to continue looking into why and how massive amounts of radioactive substances were released from the damaged reactors.


- December 16, 2013 -

IAEA demonstrates aerial radiation monitor - NHK
The International Atomic Energy Agency has demonstrated an unmanned aerial vehicle designed to measure radiation levels in areas too dangerous for humans to access.
The aircraft on Monday hovered over Fukushima City near the site of the 2011 nuclear accident.
The prototype was designed based on a disc-shaped aircraft used for inspecting post-disaster sites around the world.
Presently, an unmanned helicopter developed by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency monitors radiation levels over evacuation zones in the prefecture.
But the IAEA 6-rotor prototype is easier to maneuver. It can thread its way close to building walls and electric cables.
It is radio-controlled. It can fly on automatic pilot by pre-programming data regarding the topography and buildings in the area.
The IAEA hopes to make the aircraft available to Fukushima prefecture in 2 years after test flights in the no-go zones.


- December 18, 2013 -

French journalists inspect Fukushima Pref. - NHK
French journalists have toured Fukushima Prefecture to see how residents are tackling radiation contamination from the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
French radiation protection specialists arranged the tour for about 20 journalists. The specialists are concerned that French media reports on Fukushima may not have been accurate.
The journalists visited Yanagawa Town in Date City. They observed radiation checks of dried persimmons, a local specialty. Firms recently resumed shipments of the persimmons for the first time in 3 years.
The reporters heard that contamination levels have all been within the safety standard.
They also visited a former peach orchard that now serves as a first point of storage for contaminated soil.
The journalists learned that authorities were able to secure the use of the site with the cooperation of locals.
Pierre LE HIR, a reporter for Le Monde newspaper, said it was impressive to see how hard people are working to ensure local farm produce is safe for consumption.
He said he hopes to correct sometimes biased views about Fukushima in France through his reporting.

TEPCO decides to decommission 2 more reactors - NHK
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has officially decided to decommission the facility's 2 reactors that escaped serious damage in the 2011 disaster.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, made the decision at its board meeting on Wednesday. Four of the plant's 6 reactors were crippled due to meltdowns or hydrogen explosions in their buildings.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in September urged the utility to decommission the plant's No. 5 and 6 reactors. The 4 others were already being decommissioned.
TEPCO gained approval for the decision from 2 host towns last week. The firm's president Naomi Hirose plans to report on the move to Fukushima Prefecture on Thursday.
The decision means the utility needs at least 260 million dollars more for decommissioning. Part of the additional cost is expected to be passed on to consumers through higher electricity fees.
TEPCO does not plan to immediately dismantle the No. 5 and 6 reactors and their buildings. They are to be used to test technologies and train workers to remove melted fuel and dismantle facilities at the plant's No.1 to 4 reactors. . . .


- December 20, 2013 -

Radioactive cesium detected in deeper groundwater - NHK
Tokyo Electric Power Company says radioactive substances have been detected in water samples taken from deep underground at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Highly radioactive substances had been detected in previous months in shallow groundwater that was found to be leaking into the ocean.
But for the first time in December, TEPCO investigators detected radioactivity in groundwater taken from a layer 25 meters beneath the No. 4 reactor's well facing the ocean.
In a water sample taken on Tuesday of last week, 6.7 becquerels per liter of Cesium 137 and 89 becquerels per liter of strontium and other beta ray-emitting radioactive substances were detected.
TEPCO officials say radioactive substances may have been mistakenly mixed during the process of getting the sample.
But they are concerned that if contamination of deeper layers of groundwater is confirmed, it could be another source that is leaking into the ocean. The inspectors plan a further examination.
Meanwhile, at the No. 2 reactor, the density of beta ray-emitting radioactivity in groundwater has been rising since November. On Thursday, it registered a record 1.9 million becquerels per liter.


- December 22, 2013 -

Water leaks found near Fukushima tank barrier - NHK
The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says 1.6 tons of radioactive water is estimated to have drained into the ground from the barrier surrounding tanks storing contaminated water.
TEPCO officials said they found water coming from the barrier's foundation joints on Saturday afternoon.
They also said they measured 93 becquerels per liter of strontium 90 in the water remaining within the fence. The radiation level is about 9 times the national limit for water allowed to be released from the barrier.
The officials said they believe cause of the leakage was deteriorated joints.
They also said that, from the radiation level, they believe the leaked water is not radioactive water from the tanks but rainwater that had collected inside the fence.
They added that they think the high level of strontium 90 was detected because the rainwater absorbed radioactive materials that have been spreading in the environment since the March 2011 accident.
They confirmed that no radioactive water leaked into the ocean, as there are no drainage systems leading to the sea near the site.
- a bit later it was
New fix may be needed for leaks from tank barrier
TEPCO officials say an estimated 2.6 tons of water leaked through joints at 2 locations on the barrier's concrete bottom.
They say up to 190 becquerels per liter of strontium 90 were detected in the water inside the barrier. That radiation level is about 19 times the allowed national limit for radioactive water to be released from the barrier. . . .


- December 23, 2013 -

TEPCO taking watertight measures for barriers - NHK
The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is coating the surface of all barriers around contaminated water tanks at the plant to prevent further radioactive water leaks.
TEPCO officials found radioactive water seeping out of the barriers at 4 locations over the weekend.
They say that at two locations degraded resin that seals concrete seams caused the leak. They made sure the leaks had stopped after repairing the seals.
At 2 other locations, they say water was leaking from cracks in the concrete, which they suspect was caused by cold weather. They plan to fill the gaps.
The utility plans to coat the surface of all of the barriers, about 20, as similar problems could appear in other locations.
TEPCO says more than 3 tons of water leaked, and the radiation levels were higher than the allowed national limit for radioactive water to be released from the barriers. But the utility denies the water flowed into the sea, as there are no drainage systems leading there.

Falling water levels within barriers hint at leaks - NHK
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says water levels have dropped sharply inside another 2 barriers surrounding contaminated water tanks.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says its workers discovered the phenomenon on Tuesday at 2 barriers near the number 4 reactor building. The water levels in question were last checked on Friday.
TEPCO officials say the water levels dropped 11 centimeters from Friday inside one barrier, and 7 centimeters in the other.
They say nothing suggests that the water leaked into the surrounding ground. And they have noticed no changes in water levels in tanks in the area.
TEPCO officials say the water within the barriers contains up to 440 becquerels per liter of radioactive strontium--- 44 times the government limit for radioactive water to be released from the barrier.
The officials suspect that the water might have gradually seeped into the soil beneath the tank lots.
They plan to drain the water within the barriers and find out what caused the water levels to fall. The utility suspects cracks in the concrete barriers.
Contaminated water leaks from similar lots have already been discovered at 4 different locations over the weekend.


- December 27, 2013 -

Deteriorated joints may be cause of water leaks - NHK
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says deteriorated resin filler probably caused water leaks from barriers surrounding contaminated water tanks.
Tokyo Electric Power Company found a total of 225 tons of water leaked from 2 concrete barriers at the plant on Tuesday.
It also found that the remaining water in the barriers contained radioactive strontium at a level of up to 44 times higher than the government limit.
TEPCO says it drained the water from the barriers and no cracks were seen at the bottom of the concrete.
After applying resin over the joints on bottom, no water leaked.
Thus the utility concludes the joint resin filler probably deteriorated, causing the leaks.
Water leaks in other barriers were discovered earlier this month. A drop in temperature is believed to have widened the space among joints.
TEPCO says it will apply resin on the bottom of all of about 20 barriers at the plant and step up monitoring water levels.


. TEPCO - Problems since June 2013 .

. - - - Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 - and Fukushima - - -
東京オリンピック 2020 .


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  1. NHK News
    Opposition protests Ishiba's "terrorism" comment

    Japan's opposition bloc has lodged a protest with the governing Liberal Democratic Party over a comment made last week by Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba. He said the tactic of screaming during protests is essentially no different from an act of terrorism.

    The secretaries general of 7 opposition parties, including the Democratic, Japan Restoration and Your parties, met on Monday to discuss Ishiba's comment, which he posted on his blog.

    Ishiba's comment came in reference to demonstrations around the Diet building by civic groups opposing a bill to protect state secrets.

    Participants said Ishiba's comment infringed on the freedom of expression guaranteed by Japan's Constitution.

    They added that the comment sheds light on a grave problem with the secrecy legislation -- that it is vague about the definition of terrorism.

    The opposition agreed to demand that the government and coalition parties use great care when discussing the bill in the Diet.

    Later, a representative of the 7 opposition parties handed a letter of protest to the LDP Diet affairs chief.

    Ishiba told reporters that he has already retracted the comment, corrected the blog and offered an apology.
    He added that terrorism is clearly defined as an act of killing or injuring people with the aim of forcing something to change.

  2. NHK News
    Fukushima town to add supplementary compensation

    A town near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has decided to supplement compensation from the plant operator with additional payments for some residents.

    All the residents of Okuma evacuated from the town following the nuclear accident. In December of last year, the town was divided into 3 zones according to radiation levels.

    The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, is planning to compensate people for household appliances and furniture they have had to abandon.

    But the central government, which determines the standard for compensation, has set different amounts for each zone.

    For example, a family with parents and 2 children in the zone where it is most difficult to return would receive about 67,000 dollars. But a similar family in the 2 other zones would receive some 50,000 dollars.

    Okuma town officials say the disparity could divide the community and weigh down its rebuilding efforts. They have decided to set up their own town fund to make up the difference.

    The town plans to implement the plan before the end of the fiscal year in March. Okuma will be the first municipality to offer supplementary compensation for the nuclear accident.


  3. Anonymous12/04/2013

    Film industry opposes secrecy bill - NHK

    Members of Japan's film industry have declared their opposition to a controversial government-backed bill to protect state secrets.

    A group of 264 film directors, screenwriters and actors released a statement on Tuesday protesting the government's plan to railroad the bill through the Diet by Friday.

    The bill passed the Lower House last week. Deliberations are now under way in the upper chamber.

    The statement was organized by 5 people, including directors Yoji Yamada and Yasuo Furuhata. Animated movie director Hayao Miyazaki also expressed his support.

    The group says it protests with strong apprehension and anger the content of the bill and its rushed deliberations in parliament.

    It says the bill risks undermining the public's right to know and the freedom of expression, and is utterly unacceptable in light of the spirit of democracy.

    Five other creators' groups, including the Directors Guild and the Artist Association, have issued a joint statement demanding that the secrecy bill be scrapped.

    Dec. 4, 2013

  4. Anonymous12/07/2013

    Japan's Diet enacts state secrecy law

    Lawmakers in Japan have approved a bill that gives the government the authority to designate certain official information as special secrets. The law will strictly penalize those who leak information.

    Lawmakers in the ruling coalition used their majority in the Upper House to cut off debate on the secrecy bill.
    Then they voted in favor of it.

    The law gives senior government officials the authority to define information as 'special secrets.'
    That would include material related to defense, diplomacy, counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism.

    Public servants found guilty of leaking such secrets could be jailed for up to 10 years.
    Some people, including international human rights groups, writers and scientists, are concerned about the power the law gives Japan's leaders. They say it will undermine the people's right to know.

    Prime Minister Abe has vowed to set up panels to oversee the decisions officials make under the new law.

    Dec. 6, 2013

  5. Anonymous12/07/2013

    Writers, lawyers, citizens oppose secrecy law

    Groups of Japanese writers, publishers, and lawyers have expressed strong opposition to a state secrecy law enacted on Friday. In central Tokyo, about 15,000 people took to the streets to protest the legislation.

    The Japan PEN Club said in a statement that the law facilitates self-centered use of power and cover-up of information by authorities and could destroy democracy.

    The statement says club members are determined to protect freedom of speech and expression without succumbing to the law's intimidation.

    The Japan Magazine Publishers Association and the Japan Book Publishers Association issued a joint statement that calls the law extremely dangerous and that it could shake Japan's foundation.

    The statement says the associations resolutely protests the enactment, because the law could become a major obstacle to information-gathering and writing.

    The Japan Federation of Bar Associations also issued a statement of protest.

    The lawyers' association's president, Kenji Yamagishi, said the law violates the public's right to know and would make popular sovereignty a mere facade.

    The statement points out the danger that bureaucrats could make information secret at their own will. It says the federation strongly protests the vote in the Upper House, which was forced without any study of many contrary viewpoints.

    Ahead of the vote, thousands of people held a protest rally at Hibiya Park in central Tokyo.

    Organizers say about 15,000 people attended in response to calls by academics and civic groups.

    The participants adopted a resolution that says the legislation could lead to bureaucratic dictatorship by placing administrative power ahead of the Diet.

    The demonstrators later marched to the Diet to protest.


  6. Anonymous12/10/2013

    Abe cabinet support rate lowest at 50%

    An NHK opinion poll shows that the support rate for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet has fallen to 50 percent, the lowest since its inauguration in December of last year.

    NHK conducted the poll by phone over the weekend, contacting nearly 1,640 people aged 20 and older. 1,055 of them responded.

    The support rate dropped 10 points from the previous survey in November. The disapproval rate rose 10 points to 35 percent.

    Of those who support the cabinet, 32 percent said it seems better than other possible cabinets. 22 percent said the cabinet has the ability to implement policies. 19 percent said they have high hopes for its policies.

    Of those who disapprove of the cabinet, 44 percent said they don't expect much from its policies. 19 percent said they don't trust Abe, and 15 percent said they don't support the ruling parties.

    Among all respondents, 59 said they give high marks to the cabinet's economic policies. 36 percent said the opposite.

    The poll asked about the controversial state secrecy law that was enacted last week. 33 percent said they support the law, while 58 percent said they do not.

    During Diet deliberations, some lawmakers expressed concerns that the law would be applied arbitrarily and restrict the people's right to know. 73 percent of the respondents said they share these concerns. 20 percent said they do not.

    Dec. 9, 2013 - NHK news

  7. Anonymous12/10/2013

    Secrecy law to be promulgated Dec. 13th

    The Japanese government will begin preparations this week to implement a controversial state secrets' protection law that will take effect in about a year.

    Cabinet ministers agreed on Tuesday to publish the official text of the law on Friday -- exactly one week after the legislation cleared the Diet.

    The law allows the heads of ministries and agencies to designate especially sensitive national security information as special secrets. Public servants who leak secrets face prison terms of up to 10 years.

    The government plans to launch 2 new bodies related to the law by the year-end. One will consist of experts assigned to develop a unified standard for designating and declassifying special secrets.

    The other will comprise vice ministerial officials and will check whether government entities are designating secrets appropriately.

    A 3rd body to double-check the designation process is expected to be launched within the Cabinet Office later, before the law takes effect.

    Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has indicated that this body should be highly independent.

    The creation of the oversight bodies comes in response to concerns that the secrecy law could allow the government to arbitrarily conceal information.

    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told executives of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday that he will work to ease such public concerns.

    Dec. 10, 2013

  8. Anonymous12/12/2013

    NRA to approve restart of reprocessing facility

    Japan's nuclear regulator plans to approve a partial restart of a facility for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel before it clears safety screening under new regulations.

    The Nuclear Regulation Authority says it's allowing the restart to make plutonium and other highly radioactive waste in the facility solid and more stable.

    The authority said on Wednesday that it plans to allow the government-backed Japan Atomic Energy Agency to operate part of the plant in Tokai Village, about 100 kilometers north of Tokyo.


  9. Anonymous12/13/2013

    Govt. recommends simpler cleaning up methods

    NHK has learned that the Environment Ministry has advised some Fukushima municipalities to adopt simpler methods in cleaning up radioactive materials from residential areas.

    The decontamination work is slow in these municipalities.

    In a meeting last week, the ministry officials told local officials that they can omit roof cleaning or topsoil removing from their set of cleaning up procedures if they want to speed it up.

    In Fukushima Prefecture, the government carries out decontamination in areas with relatively high radiation.

    But in other less contaminated areas where people are living, local municipalities are doing the cleaning up.


  10. Anonymous12/15/2013

    Japan Times -

    According to an essay by Toshihiro Yamanaka in the Asahi Shimbun on Nov. 24, the current negotiations between Japan and the U.S. as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks is running a similar course. Yamanaka covered the Brunei round in August. Of the 112 registered journalists there, 105 were Japanese. He describes the USTR as being “irritable” in nature, and in Brunei the Americans were having all Japanese coverage translated immediately into English. They repeatedly accused their Japanese counterparts of failing to control the flow of information, such as proposed tariff elimination rates.

    Yamanaka says the Japanese media should report such matters because the outcome of any successful TPP talks will have a profound effect on Japanese trade policy. One of the few American journalists covering the talks in Brunei told him that no one in the U.S., “not even people from farm states,” know what the TPP is, so major news outlets didn’t send anyone.

    The USTR mostly resents Japanese bureaucrats, who are famous for their carelessness with data, and is afraid sensitive information will eventually reach people who do have a stake in such issues. Then you get a situation like the massive 1999 riots at the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Seattle, which the USTR is loath to see repeated. Yamanaka characterizes the TPP talks as “the most secretive trade negotiations to take place since the end of the 19th century,” an observation supported by classified documents recently released by WikiLeaks showing how the U.S. is pressuring all countries involved in TPP to make sure details of the talks are kept from the public.


  11. Anonymous12/17/2013

    NHK news
    TEPCO to cut power bills, restart nuclear plant

    Tokyo Electric Power Company is drawing up a business plan to cut electricity rates by restarting all the reactors at a nuclear power plant in central Japan.

    TEPCO raised the rates to cover its losses after the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011. The increases averaged about 8.5 percent for households, and 17 percent for businesses.

    But the plan TEPCO is drawing up includes reactivating all seven reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture over the next several years. The utility wants to show that it will be able to reduce electricity bills through the full-scale resumption of operations. All nuclear reactors at the plant are now offline.

    TEPCO also plans to slash fuel costs by replacing old thermal power plants with more efficient facilities.

    Industry sources say the utility could lower electricity rates in stages if it can realize the resumption. They say the rate cuts would total about 10 billion dollars a year in 10 years.

    TEPCO plans to finalize the business program by the end of the year.

    Dec. 16, 2013

  12. Anonymous12/17/2013

    NHK news
    Rokkasho plant to be completed in Oct. 2014

    Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited says it hopes to be ready to reprocess spent nuclear fuel at its Rokkasho plant in northern Japan from next October.
    The company is conducting a test run at the plant in Aomori Prefecture.

    Executives say they believe the plant largely conforms to the Nuclear Regulation Authority's new safety standards that take effect from Wednesday.
    They say they believe the regulators are unlikely to demand major reinforcement work.
    Company executives plan to meet officials from the Aomori Prefectural government on Thursday and explain how the plant's safety measures conform to the new standards.

    They say they will try to win consent from Rokkasho Village and the prefecture. They plan to then apply for a safety screening by the end of the year.

    Japan Nuclear Fuel originally planned to complete the plant in 1997.

    Dec. 16, 2013

  13. Anonymous12/18/2013

    Democratic Party criticizes govt.'s energy policy

    Members of the opposition Democratic Party have harshly criticized a government draft energy policy designed to retain nuclear energy as an important basic source of electricity.

    The government's draft policy presented earlier this month says Japan will continue to utilize nuclear power generation if plant safety can be ensured, in order to secure a steady supply of low-cost electricity, without worsening climate change.

    At a meeting on Tuesday, many Democratic Party members in charge of energy policy criticized the government's draft.

    One member said it is irresponsible to restart nuclear reactors while there is nowhere to dispose of high-level nuclear waste.

    Another said nuclear power is not low-cost energy, if the costs of decommissioning reactors and compensation after nuclear disasters are taken into account.

    The members hope to wrap up their energy proposal in line with their party's policy of aiming to end nuclear power generation by the 2030s.

    They will present the proposal at the party's convention in February.

    NHK world news

  14. Anonymous12/20/2013

    Tsunami-affected reactor to apply for safety check

    Tohoku Electric Power Company plans to apply for a government safety screening of one of the reactors at its Onagawa plant within this year, with a view to restarting it.

    Sources say the utility, based in Sendai City, northeastern Japan, is planning to file the application with the Nuclear Regulation Authority for Reactor Two at the plant, on the Pacific coast in Miyagi Prefecture.

    All three of the plant's reactors shut down automatically during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and have since remained offline. The seawater pumps for cooling the reactors were flooded in the tsunami.

    The utility has since been beefing up measures to protect the plant from earthquakes and tsunami.

    It has installed large-capacity power generators on higher ground and is building 29-meter sea walls.

    The sources say that the documents required for a safety screening of Reactor Two are now ready.


  15. Anonymous12/22/2013

    NHK news
    New cleanup plan set for areas with high radiation

    Japanese government officials say the clean-up operation around the crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima is 3 years behind schedule. They say they are now aiming to complete the work by March 2017.

    Environment Ministry officials said in January last year the decontamination would be finished by March 2014, except in areas with very high radiation levels.

    But the clean-up has fallen behind in the restricted zones of 6 out of 11 municipalities.

    Officials have had trouble getting communities to approve of temporary storage sites for contaminated soil.

    They say they will prioritize work in residential areas so people can return home as soon as possible.

    There is still no decontamination plan for the town of Futaba, where the nuclear plant is based.

    Environment Ministry officials are still trying to negotiate a schedule with locals.

    Dec. 21, 2013

  16. Anonymous12/23/2013

    Tokyo march against restarting nuclear plants

    People opposed to restarting Japan's nuclear power plants took to the streets of Tokyo on Sunday.
    The march through central Tokyo was organized by civic groups against nuclear power generation.

    The Abe administration plans to end the former Democratic Party government's nuclear-free energy policy and continue to utilize nuclear power generation if plant safety can be ensured.

    Its new energy policy is set to be approved by the cabinet next month.

    After the march, participants surrounded the Diet building and chanted such slogans as "Don't restart reactors" and "Don't create nuclear waste."

    One placard read "Don't contaminate the sea," apparently referring to the continuing struggle to contain contaminated water leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi Plant.

    A 69-year-old woman from Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, said she is opposed to restarting nuclear power plants or exporting them before the troubles at the Fukushima plant are resolved.

    A 44-year-old father living in Tokyo said the government should decide to immediately abolish all nuclear power plants and work to promote renewable energy sources for future generations.

    The organizer says 15,000 people gathered around the Diet building, while police put the figure at about 2,000.

    Dec. 22, 2013

  17. Anonymous12/25/2013

    NHK news
    Fukushima rice-cultivation area to be expanded

    Japan's government plans to permit rice cultivation on an experimental basis in paddies in Fukushima Prefecture next year, 3 years after the nuclear disaster.

    This year, the agriculture ministry banned rice planting in 5,300 hectares of rice paddies within evacuation zones, citing the risk that the crops could contain levels of radioactive material over the government limit.

    But following the government's review of the evacuation zones in August, the ministry decided to allow experimental rice planting in 3,900 hectares.
    The purpose of experimental rice cultivation is to verify the level of radioactive material in the rice produced.

    The ministry says that if farmers want to resume full-scale rice cultivation, their entire crop will be checked by the prefecture and municipalities. If the level of radioactive material is within the limit, the rice can be put on sale.
    The ministry says its plan to expand crop acreage depend on the situation in each area.


  18. Anonymous12/26/2013

    NHK news
    Experts study how to deal with tritium

    A panel of experts has begun to assess the risks and technological challenges of handling wastewater containing radioactive tritium at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

    The treatment of tritium poses a major challenge at the plant, as removing the substance from water has proven difficult.

    Nine experts on radioactive substances and other fields met at the industry ministry on Wednesday. They aim to reach a conclusion by the end of March.

    They agreed to identify the risks of keeping tritium-tainted water inside tanks, or releasing it into the ocean. They say they will also look into technical difficulties when developing technologies to remove tritium from water.
    They say studying the different options will help determine what action will be the most feasible.

    The ministry expects the tainted water at the plant will likely accumulate to about 800 thousand tons in the future.

  19. Anonymous1/02/2014

    NHK news
    Nuclear plants unlikely to resume operations soon

    Officials with the Nuclear Regulation Authority in Japan say no nuclear plants are likely to resume operations in the near future.

    They set new safety standards last July following the 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi. The guidelines call on operators to prepare for severe accidents and to reinforce facilities to make them earthquake-resistant.

    Seven utilities have applied for safety screenings for 9 plants so they can restart operations.

    The regulators have held 65 meetings to examine those applications. They say none of the plants is ready to go back online because operators have not appropriately renewed their estimations of the scale of possible earthquakes.

    Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka says he has no clear idea how long the screening process will take.

    All commercial reactors in Japan are currently offline. Utilities want to restart them as soon as possible because the cost of importing fuel for thermal power generation is straining their bottom lines.

    If and when regulators give them the green light, the firms still need consent from local governments before they can fire up their nuclear plants.

    Jan. 1, 2014