The coast of the Sea of Japan is illuminated by a string of nuclear power plant reactors which is locally known as the Nuclear Ginza, after the name of a dazzling international shopping area in Tokyo. Three months ago, in our post Shiga Nuclear Disaster Simulation Pulled Off NHK News, SurvivalJapan introduced the attempt by Shiga prefecture to simulate the effects of a nuclear disaster in one of these reactors, for instance the troubled Mihama where a water leak occured just last week as reported in Mihama Reactor Shutdown Update 1 on SurvivalJapan.

Shiga is on the eastern border of the monitored land, i.e. the safer part of Japan where anything might happen and which needs to be carefully monitored, as explained in Japan Livability Map September 2011 and in our later posts. Shiga capital city is Otsu, at the southernmost tip of the Lake Biwa (or Biwako) which provides the region with tap water, including neighboring Kyoto city. Maps of Shiga and of the nuclear fallout which would result from a disaster at Mihama are available in Another Troubled Nuclear Reactor Shuts Down on SurvivalJapan.

Asahi Shimbun just published an article of difficulties that Shiga prefecture faces in getting access to the nationwide SPEEDI nuclear simulation data – the system which results were ignored by the government in the aftermath of March 11, as then Prime Minister M. Naoto Kan chose to apply an unsophisticated geometrical circle rule around Fukushima ground zero instead. It is telling that a prefecture cannot have access to some SPEEDI data but that pro-nuclear Yomiuri Shimbun could – and quickly at that – and used it to calculate some radiation dose in the wake of Fukushima disaster, as reported in their March 27 article titled Radiation doses spread unequally / Experts say govt should give more detail in designating evacuation zones.

The article is reproduced below and illustrates that although the Japanese population gives some signs of changing its opinion and that some prefectures get the clue of this political shift, the Japanese government has yet to feel it and adapt. Also it is a reminder that a technologically advanced country such as Japan may have everything it needs to simulate and forecast issues; monitor radiation and efficiently communicate about it; display unique humanoid robots and rescue teleoperation machines; move seamlessly people around and quickly build housings – it is all for nothing without proper political leadership.

Last, it is made clear that the concern of the Japanese government, more specifically of its MEXT and METI ministries, is not to avert another Fukushima-style disaster but to keep the nuclear energy sector afloat. As mentioned in earlier posts, the CIA has been pushing for this since the fifties through Yomiuri Shimbun (actually much more than just a newspaper) and the main Japanese nuclear companies are joint ventures with American companies (GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Toshiba Westinghouse). This blog engine being American, SurvivalJapan should remain quite safe if certain industrial interests are not discussed here, even though they are in the public domain. Most blogs about Fukushima nuclear disaster hosted in Japan have been pulled off-line so I will simply invite the interested reader to Google it up for herself (some extra keywords: Gregory Jaczko, Matsutaro Shoriki, Bill Magwood and why not a recent article by Yomiuri Shimbun itself titled U.S. to restart construction of N-reactors / Toshiba arm to deliver new model to better understand why there are almost no report of nuclear fallout from Fukushima in the US – enough said).

Asahi Shimbun – Shiga battling red tape in preparing for nuclear disaster

December 13, 2011


OTSU–Shiga Prefecture, despite its proximity to the nation’s largest concentration of nuclear reactors, has been denied access by the science ministry to a key computer simulation program that would allow it to prepare better for nuclear disaster.

The prefectural government made the request six months ago as part of efforts to craft a contingency plan amid public concern over the nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture following the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake.

Shiga Prefecture shares its northern border with Fukui Prefecture, which is home to 13 nuclear reactors.

The science ministry denied Shiga Prefecture access to its System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information, or SPEEDI, on grounds that its use has been limited to prefectures hosting nuclear plants or related facilities and those within 10 kilometers from such installations.

Its border with Fukui Prefecture is 13 kilometers from the Tsuruga nuclear plant in Tsuruga operated by Japan Atomic Power Co.

Shiga was the first prefecture to attempt to predict the spread of radiation in a nuclear accident on the scale of the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The ministry has declined to give an explicit answer to Shiga Prefecture’s request.

“We will weigh (it), but we don’t know when we can offer access,” a ministry official said.

The SPEEDI is capable of mapping the spread of radiation within a 100-km radius in less than 20 minutes if information on radioactive materials, as well as weather conditions and topography data, is inputted.

The system also forecasts radiation levels in the atmosphere and the effects of radiation exposure.

The Shiga prefectural government set out in May to draw up an emergency evacuation scenario in the event of a nuclear accident in Fukui Prefecture.

It did so because residents of Fukushima Prefecture living 50 km from the crippled plant were forced to evacuate as radioactive materials dispersed in a belt-like wave due to wind activity and features in the terrain.

On four occasions since June, Shiga Governor Yukiko Kada and senior prefectural officials have visited the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which is in charge of the nation’s nuclear policy, to request a radiation prediction map.

But an official at the science ministry’s Nuclear Safety Division said Fukui authorities would have to be consulted first before a decision is made on whether to allow Shiga Prefecture to use the SPEEDI system.

The ministry is still reluctant about meeting the request although it acknowledged that a proposal was made in October at a working group with the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan, based in the Cabinet Office, that the radius for areas bracing for a possible nuclear accident be expanded to within 30 km, instead of the current 8-10 km.

In November, with no assistance from the central government, Shiga prefectural authorities mapped out how radioactive iodine would disperse in the event of an accident at the Mihama plant in Mihama, or the Oi plant in Oi, both in Fukui Prefecture and operated by Kansai Electric Power Co.

But the simulation was done by the computer system that is normally used to predict the spread of particles contributing to air pollution, and assumed that the scale of the nuclear accident was as serious as the one at Fukushima.

Once that was established, the simulation carved up the prefecture into three regions based on estimated thyroid gland exposure to radiation through inhalation if an individual spent eight hours outdoors and the rest indoors.

One region would require immediate evacuation due to radiation levels of 500 millisieverts or more. In another, residents would be required to remain inside concrete buildings due to radiation levels of between 100 millisieverts and 499 millisieverts. And finally, residents would be required to stay indoors due to radiation levels measuring between 50 and 99 millisieverts.

In the simulation involving the Mihama plant, 60 weather patterns observed last year were used.

Shiga Prefecture released only the results of its own areas as nearby prefectures did not agree to the disclosure.

But officials in Shiga Prefecture said the simulation map needs to be verified by nuclear experts because it was not based on the

dispersion of radioactive materials.

“We need a predicted radiation dispersion map produced by the SPEEDI to formulate an emergency evacuation plan,” said an official at Shiga Prefecture’s disaster management bureau.

Shiga Nuclear Disaster Simulation

The original article may still be available here.

  1. Tracey says:

    Dear Sir or Madam,
    It is interesting reading your site. I was wondering about something you have in your site and where it came from. There is a picture located at

    that appears to be a google earth radiation overlay. Do you happen to know where this pic came from or where i can get this overlay? Any assistance that you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

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