Elections in Osaka brought a new radioactive waste incineration top supporter in the person of M. Hashimoto, in line with the previous government and closer to achieving their plan. Foreigners are leaving Japan for both economical and radioactive contamination reasons and some of the lingering companies are looking to the west to seek refugee but local politicians do not understand that they are planning to kill Osaka and reject foreign investment in their city and the whole Kansai region – and accelerate the overseas shift of major domestic manufacturers based in the area. Downsizing in foreign companies in Japan – starting with the repatriation of expats – may not be obvious in statistics yet, but the situation is incredibly tense and this kind of “atmospheric intelligence” will become supported by hard economic data next year. Therefore, the Osaka Governor should guarantee the security of international staff and take all necessary measures to ensure that radioactive waste is refused if only in order to keep foreign companies in Kansai and attract more of them.
According to the Kansai Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Kansai region accounts for approximately 20% of Japan’s economy, the equivalent to that of the Netherlands (ranking 17th in the world) – Source: 2009 Kansai Keizai Hakusho (Economic White Paper). The website of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan states that:
“Apart from Tokyo, the Kansai region in western Japan is the most important economic centre. The Kansai region groups the seven prefectures of Fukui, Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara and Wakayama, and covers 8.3% of Japan’s surface area. Its approximately 24 million inhabitants produce 16% of Japan’s GDP. Its share of total Japanese exports to Germany is 22.6%, and of imports from Germany 17.4%.
The Kansai region boasts a gross regional product of $US770 billion, which corresponds to an economic strength on a par with Canada, or with South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore combined.”
Kansai is the only large economic region in Japan striclty outside the no man’s land and previous Prime Minister Naoto Kan once considered the possibility of moving the Japanese government to Osaka – yet Osaka Governor decided to destroy it anyway.
US and Germany represented respectively 33 and 16% of all foreign-affiliated companies in Kansai by country in 2008, according to The Foreign Investor CD-ROM 2009, by Toyo Keizai Inc. – that is a combined half of all these foreign companies. As soon as the radioactive disease comes to Osaka, these companies will shrink like their Greater Tokyo sisters. Furthermore, the latter will cancel any plan they might have had to move at least part of their staff over there.
If you are a potential expat from the US, Germany and any other English-fluent national, I strongly caution you against accepting any position in Japan at the moment, since Tokyo is actually within the real no man’s land – except that it is officially miraculously spared from Fukushima, much like Minsk is supposed to be from Chernobyl, within similar distances; Osaka is on the verge of falling into the shadow and Nagoya will surely follow its path once Osaka is taken. The Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry may well issue some reports that the situation is safe and organize special events to promote it, it will not be safe and foreigners know it. Indeed, would you accept working in Minsk or Kiev (no offense to residents and victims of these cities)?
Los Angeles based-blogger Ex-SKF wrote an interesting piece which show how the Osaka Governor intends to impose his policy and keep opposition at bay. It is reproduced hereafter (caption to picture added):
Ex-SKF – Radioactive Debris New Osaka Governor To Citizens: “Don’t Interrupt!”
47-year-old Ichiro Matsui is the newly elected governor of Osaka Prefecture who is all for accepting the disaster (and radioactive) debris from Tohoku. He convened the first meeting of experts to decide on the guidelines for accepting the debris, but the meeting was “rudely”, according to him, interrupted by the citizens who don’t want any radioactive debris to be burned and buried in Osaka. The meeting was canceled after one hour.
The governor was so incensed at this inappropriate behavior by the citizens who were supposed to just observe the meeting that he decided to keep the citizens in a separate room next time and make them watch the live feed of the meeting so that they don’t interrupt the meeting with their silly questions about radiation.
The ex-governor of Osaka, 42-year-old Toru Hashimoto, is also very eager to accept debris. Now that he has become the new mayor of Osaka City, he and Matsui (they are of the same party called Osaka Restoration Association) want to push hard for the radioactive debris brought to Osaka. Pesky citizens be damned.
Will Osaka people put up with this? (Well, enough people voted for this guy, so maybe they will.)
(Here’s the picture of the powerful duo. Governor Matsui is on the left, ex-Governor Hashimoto is on the right. He looks so youthful that I’ve started to think he hasn’t graduated from the middle school yet.)
Ex-SKF also provided an English translation of a relevant article in Japanese by Sankei Shinbun Western Japan edition (12/7/2011), for which I roughly translated the title:
Sankei Shimbun – Meeting Of Experts On Guidelines For Disaster Debris Disposal In The Prefecture Of Osaka Stopped By Unruly Opposition Speech
Regarding the acceptance of disaster debris from the March 11 earthquake/tsunami, the Osaka prefectural government held a meeting on December 7 of experts to decide on the guidelines of debris disposal within the prefecture. But the meeting was disrupted from the citizens who were observing the meeting and spoke up against the acceptance due to the concern for the effect of radioactive materials, and it had to be abandoned after about one hour. Governor Ichiro Matsui, who has already expressed willingness to accept the debris, was very displeased, and said “I don’t think it was appropriate for [these people] to interrupt the meeting that discussed scientific knowledge. He plans to have the citizens observe the meeting in a different room via the [live] monitor.
According to the prefectural government, citizens who were against accepting the debris spoke up one after another, asking to know whether there would really be no damage to health. Remarks from the observers are not allowed. Professor Takao Yamamoto of Osaka University, who was the chairman of the meeting, and others decided that the meeting couldn’t proceed in an orderly way, and canceled the meeting.
Acceptance of disaster debris in Osaka was first expressed in May in the prefectural assemby by the then-governor and soon-to-be mayor of Osaka City Toru Hashimoto. Governor Matsui also says, “If the safety is confirmed, we should accept the debris to help the victims of the disaster.”
According to the guidelines for processing the debris that are to be discussed in the meeting, the debris with the density of radioactive cesium of 200 becquerels/kg will be first sorted and crushed in the disaster areas, then it will be put in sealed containers and brought to Osaka by ship. After landing in Osaka, the debris will be further sorted and crushed by private companies that has the facilities to prevent the escape of radioactive materials. Then it will be transported to municipal and private waste processing plants and burned. Before burying the ashes, the density of radioactive cesium is to be measured and it should be less than one-quarter of the national safety limit.
The Osaka government had planned to decide on the guidelines before the end of this year, and to start negotiation with the disaster-hit prefectures and with the municipalities in Osaka that have incineration plants. However, almost all of 10,000 messages received at the government are against accepting the debris. Coupled with the cancellation of the meeting on December 7, it looks difficult to decide on the guidelines before the end of this year.
The original Japanese article is reproduced at the end of this post, after these last comments by Ex-SKF:
“Just like Tokyo. Osaka will burn the radioactive debris in the municipal incineration plants all over Osaka. These criminal people are duly elected. Viva democracy.
Debris with 200 becquerels/kg of cesium will burn to produce ashes that may have 6600 becquerels/kg of cesium (33 times concentration). I don’t know what national standard they are talking about, but assuming it is 8000 becquerels/kg that is decreed “safe” for burying in the landfill by the Ministry of [Destruction of] the Environment, Osaka’s ashes will be too radioactive to bury with abandon. Well I suppose they can simply mix and match and burn to lower the radioactivity.”
Original Sankei Shimbun article:
東日本大震災で発生した災害廃棄物の受け入れをめぐり、７日に開かれた大阪府内で処理する 際の指針を検討する府の専門家会議が、放射性物質の影響を懸念して反対する傍聴者からの発言が相次いだため紛糾し、開始から約１時間で中止を余儀なくされ た。同日、受け入れを前向きに検討する意向を示した松井一郎知事は「科学的知見を検討する会議の進行を妨げるのはいかがなものか」と不快感を示し、次回か ら別室でのモニター傍聴に切り替える方針を示した。
同会議で議論されている処理指針の骨子では、放射性セシウムの濃度が１キロ当たり２００ベクレルのがれきの山を被災地で選別し、破砕した上でコンテナに密 閉し、船で大阪まで輸送。陸揚げ後、放射性物質が外部へ飛散しない設備を整えた民間業者の施設でさらに選別・破砕し、市町村や民間の焼却施設へ運搬、焼却 灰の埋め立てに際してはセシウム濃度が国の基準の４分の１以下であることを確認する案が示されている。
What you can do to avoid this disaster is call the Prefecture of Osaka, the City of Osaka, M. Hashimoto political party opinion hot line and also sign the online petition (Japanese, let me know if you need help for translation), let them know that you are concern as a foreigner and investor (in English or Japanese):
Prefecture of Osaka
Tel.: 06 6910 8001
Direct line to the Department of Environmental Affairs (環境局直通): 06 6210 9562
Send your opinion by email at the link below:
Tel.: 06 4310 7285
Send a mail to the Voice of Citizens desk at the link below:
Send your opinion directly to M. Hashimoto and his political party “Osaka Restoration Association” (「大阪維新の会」) dedicated line by
Tel.: 06 6120 5581 or
Fax.: 06 6120 5582
Sign the online petition: