Archive for the ‘Support Tohoku Kills Japan’ Category

The only reporter I could spot at the Osaka protest (Cf. Protest Against Radioactive Waste In Osaka in SurvivalJapan) was from the Mainichi Shimbun. Yomiuri Shimbun is a pro-nuclear news and powerful lobby with links to the CIA since the 1950, with its head Matsutaro Shoriki, to promote and sustain nuclear energy (and possibly weapon technology?) in Japan so their coverage is less and more biased unfortunately. Asahi Shimbun reported about a petition signature campaign in both Tokyo and Osaka on the same day for a referendum to take place, as per their article reproduced below: (more…)

A peaceful protest march was organized in Osaka yesterday by concerned Japanese mothers, starting in Motomachi-naka square at 1 pm and walking around Namba shopping area to the joyful sound of drums, saxophone and PET bottle-DIY “music” instruments and the supporting sound of friendly policemen telling people to “move along, stay in line” through their megaphones as they usually do for marathon runners. Protesters’ own PA system addressed the health issues and chanted the same “Bring down nuclear power plants! End nuclear power!” songs (in Japanese) which I witnessed last summer in Tokyo, which the additional local touch of “Stop Monju reactor!” (in nearby Fukui prefecture). Another strong message was “Protect the children!” as radiation is known to have larger effects on children than on adults.
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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)?

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The Beer In Japan post on SurvivalJapan offered some advice on how to choose food products with minimal radiation exposure risk in an environment devoid of reliable information source, with beer as an example. Three months ago, my post titled Safer Food Quest warned about such Tokyo-headquartered dairy product companies as Meiji, which distributes milk of course, but also chocolate snacks, ice cream, etc. Warning eventually became a scandal – one in many to come in Japan criminal food industry – as reported by Bloomberg today (read the article below).

Bloomberg – Cesium in Meiji Milk Powder Spurs Recall Amid Radiation Threat

By Kanoko Matsuyama, Dec. 6

Radioactive cesium was found in milk powder made by a Meiji Holdings Co. unit, Kyodo News said, causing the shares to fall the most in eight months and raising concern that nuclear radiation is contaminating baby food.

Meiji, Japan’s largest supplier of infant formula, is voluntarily recalling 400,000 cans of its “Meiji Step” brand product, which may have been contaminated by radiation leaked from the Fukushima nuclear plant, Kyodo said today. Affected cans have 2012 expiration dates of Oct. 4, Oct. 21, Oct. 22. and Oct. 24, it said.

Levels of cesium found in the 850-gram cans of baby milk powder are within safe limits and pose no health risk, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement today. The product may have been contaminated by cesium in the air, it said. The product was made in Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo , it said.

Prolonged exposure to radiation in the air, ground and food can cause leukemia and other cancers, according to the London- based World Nuclear Association. Japanese consumers have spurned certain food products, including beef, after evidence that fallout from Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)’s nuclear plant, crippled in the March 11 earthquake, entered the food chain.

Meiji fell as much as 13 percent in Tokyo trading, ending trading down 9.7 percent at a 30-month low of 3,020 yen. Rivals Morinaga Milk Industry Co. plunged 3.5 percent to a three-year low of 275 yen and Megmilk Snow Brand Co. declined 3.6 percent.

Cesium Traces

Traces of cesium-137 and cesium-134 were first detected in the Meiji milk product on Dec. 3 and were found again on Dec. 4, the company said today.

In a nuclear accident, radioactive isotopes including iodine-131 and cesium-137, which are normally contained inside the fuel rods, may be released into the atmosphere as gases or particulates if the rods are damaged. These can be inhaled or ingested through contaminated food or water. Children are especially susceptible to radiation poisoning from iodine, which can accumulate in the thyroid and cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization.

Cesium-137 that enters the body is distributed throughout the soft tissues, especially in muscle. Cesium-137 is eliminated faster from the body than other radionuclides, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kanoko Matsuyama in Tokyo at kmatsuyama2@bloomberg.net .

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Gale at j.gale@bloomberg.net

Shoppers are becoming aware as the apparition of milk with certified unique origin from places out of the no man’s land suggest. For instance, milk ″from Hyogo prefecture only″ is now available in some supermarkets  (see picture below with red box added to mark this mention in Japanese). Previously, tainted Hokkaido milk was difficult to avoid – although the northern island east coast is regularly visited by plumes from Fukushima. Besides, milk origin is ambiguously labelled ″packaged in″ any given factories without any details about the actual origin of the milk itself, hence discreetly giving decision power over whether companies mixed healthy milk with radioactive waste. Of course, there isn’t any guarantee that milk marketed as originating from the monitored land does not come from cows just imported from the no man’s land. Premium Kobe beef, for instance, only needs to be raised one year in that crowded region to be legally labelled and sold and such – cows are generally raised in greener and cheaper places such as Miyazaki (Kyushu)or Ishigaki (Okinawa) and then sent to Kobe. Although moving is costly, the cost can be passed on more easily on Kobe beef eaters than on Hyogo milk drinkers, hence providing a relative security for the latter ones. However the price of safe milk will rise with along with its increasing scarcity and it may reach a level where moving “hot” cows for their milk make economic sense on the very short-term. Food industrials should take notice with the example of milk packers that it damages their image, equity and bottom line very rapidly though. (more…)

This post is a first December update following the Nuclear Incident in Kyushu November Update on SurvivalJapan. Genkai nuclear plant reactor no. 4 in Kyushu was restarted a month ago after a serious incident and is schedule to be stopped again this month for periodic inspection. Mainichi Shimbun newspaper wrote on November 18th (full article in our November update) that: “Kyushu Electric should not be allowed to resume operation of the No. 2 and 3 reactors, currently idled for regular checks, at its nuclear plant in the town of Genkai in Saga Prefecture “in view of its current governance,” Edano told the Budget Committee of the House of Councillors.” As for no. 1, the article mentioned that: “Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano said Thursday the government will not allow Kyushu Electric Power Co. to restart two nuclear reactors at its Genkai power plant amid a scandal involving an attempt by the utility to misrepresent public opinion regarding the restart.” Today, NHK World announced that it was shut down, as can be read in the reproduced article below:

Genkai nuclear reactor 1 halted

Kyushu Electric Power Company has halted the No.1 reactor at the Genkai nuclear power plant in southwestern Japan. This means more than 80 percent of the nation’s reactors are now offline. It remains unclear when or if any of them will be restarted.

Shortly before noon on Thursday, workers at the Genkai plant began suppressing nuclear fission to reduce output at the reactor. The unit stopped operations at around 8:30 PM.

As a result, the No.4 reactor at the Genkai plant is the only one active in the Kyushu region.

Kyushu Electric plans to ask households and firms in its service area to use around 5 percent less electricity from December 26th, when the No.4 reactor is scheduled to be halted.
In mid-month Kansai Electric Power Company also plans to suspend the No.2 reactor at the Ohi plant and the No.2 reactor at the Mihama plant, both in Fukui Prefecture. These moves will leave the Kansai region with only one reactor online.

Kansai Electric plans to urge people to use around 10 percent less electricity from December 19th.

Of the country’s 54 reactors, the Genkai No.1 reactor is the 45th to go offline. There are no prospects for restarting the idle reactors as none of them has yet to meet the requirements for resuming operations.

These preconditions include passing the state’s safety stress tests and getting approval from local governments hosting the nuclear plants.

NHK World – Friday, December 02, 2011 07:47 +0900 (JST)

Hereafter is a screenshot for the NHK World video with active and inactive reactors in Japan. Genkai is indicated by the red box, reactor no. 4 is the only one left active for the island, until it shuts down for maintenance later this month. Given the unethical and unprofessional ways it was restarted a month ago, it could remain offline thereafter if Edano decides so. However, there might simply be a behind the scenes struggle to make Kyushu accept nuclear waste that his colleague Hosono keeps trying to sell nationwide. (more…)

This post follows up Nuclear Incident in Kyushu published last month on SurvivalJapan. Genkai nuclear plant reactor no. 4 was restarted on November 1st against the local population’s will and without any detailed public report regarding the incident. According to the Japan Times, “The reactor shut down automatically Oct. 4 due to an abnormality in its steam condenser that emerged after repairs were carried out using a faulty manual.” Kyushu Electric Power (KEPCO) simply changed the manual and got approval from the Central Government which found it “largely appropriate” as reported by Asahi Shimbun on November 2nd (read below). In their article on November 1st, the expression reported was “largely acceptable”, any of these leaving a taste of less than diligency and professionalism in a critical system such a nuclear plant, especially in the post-Fukushima context.

Genkai Mayor seemed surprised by the move as he declared that “We thought the reactor would be inspected without a resumption of operations. This is something we did not expect.” in the same article. However, he chose not to oppose the Central Government. Saga prefecture governor, who was involved in the scandal by KEPCO which was caught manipulating the public opinion in order to restart the plant operations, agreed with the decision. KEPCO president, who was directly behind the fraudulent scheme, did not resign and suffered only a minor salary cut. Eventually, the plant restarted producing nuclear power anyway, which shows that for the Japanese nuclear industry, not only it is acceptable to deceive and manipulate the public opinion, if you get caught red-handed, it does not matter as you can still impose your decision in the end with blessings from local politicians. On the technical side, KEPCO claims that the incident was due to human factor, yet it was the second time this particular type of issue had occured at that very plant.

Saga Governor Yasushi Furukawa gives a news conference on July 30 to explain the part he played in a campaign by Kyushu Electric Power Co. to orchestrate e-mail messages in favor of nuclear power. (Haruki Morishita)

Saga Governor Yasushi Furukawa gives a news conference on July 30 to explain the part he played in a campaign by Kyushu Electric Power Co. to orchestrate e-mail messages in favor of nuclear power. (Haruki Morishita)

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In an April survey, 572 cities and villages from 11 prefectures answered that they could accept nuclear waste. On November 2nd, that figure had dropped to 48 municipalities, i.e. 92% less, according an article from mainstream Sankei news (Japanese only).The Ministry of Environment chose not to reveal the names of these thoughtless cities and villages until they decide to actually transfer the nuclear waste. This lack of transparency does not improve trust ratings in M. Hosono and his ministry.

This post follows up Kyoto Firms To Incinerate Radioactive Waste published last month on SurvivalJapan. Mainstream Asahi newspaper (Japanese version only) reported on October 26 that 7 cities and villages in Kyoto Prefecture eventually withdrew their former acceptance of nuclear waste. These are mainly, beside Kyoto city, along Road 9 heading north-west to Tottori from Kyoto (山陰道, i.e. San-in Road, the “Road in the Shade of Mountains”) : Kameoka, Nantan, Kyotanba (village), Fukuchiyama. The city of Maizuru and the village of Ine, on the western side of Wakasa Bay on the Sea of Japan (“Nuclear Ginza”) also declined to receive the irradiated earthquake waste on second thoughts. The reason for this turnaround is that public safety regarding the levels of irradiation of earthquake rubble could not be guaranteed to the citizens. Kyoto alone had initially accepted to incinerate annually 50,000 tons of waste and eventually declared that it was not acceptable. Fukuchiyama had previously agreed upon 1,500 tons. Meanwhile, in the Soraku district south-east of Kyoto city, not 10 km south of Biwako lake which gives tap water to Kyoto, some villages along the Road 163 (Yamato Highway) such as Kasagi and Minamiyamashiro, as well as the town of Wazuka, answered in a survey that they could receive 70 tons of waste, provided that safety was insured. Wazuka is situated in the middle of wooded mountains surrounded by a ring of golf courses (more than 30): if the Soraku district aims to keep the revenue from their golf patrons, it should think twice before acting on. It could also alienate neighbouring Tsuzuki district and Nara golfers. Besides, tourism will be negatively affected in Kyoto and Nara cultural capital cities if any of Kyoto village or city processes the nuclear waste.

It should be noted that although municipalities retracted, the nuclear disaster minister’s, M. Hosono, new tack is to get regional private sector involved. Therefore it remains unclear whether nuclear waste will hit Kyoto or not by means of companies such as the 4 subsidiaries of TEPCO mentioned in our previous post.

The Asahi article is reproduced hereafter along with a Google automated translation:

震災ゴミ 受け入れ撤回

2011年10月26日

                             7市町「市民へ説明困難」

東日本大震災で出た災害廃棄物の受け入れ問題で、当初前向きな姿勢を示していた府内7市町が方針を撤回した。今月、環境省の再調査に「受け入れ困難」などと答えた。放射性物質への不安を背景に、市民らに安全性を説明できないと判断したという。

受け入れの意向を撤回したのは京都市、舞鶴市、福知山市、亀岡市、伊根町、船井郡衛生管理組合(南丹市、京丹波町)。環境省が4月に実施した調査では、受け入れ可能な廃棄物の種類と量を回答していた。

京都市は、生ごみや家具類を年間5万トン受け入れられるとしていたが、今回は「受け入れは検討していない」と答えた。市は8月の「五山送 り火」で岩手県陸前高田市の松の薪(まき)を燃やす計画を進めたが、放射性物質の検出で断念した経緯がある。担当者は「現状では、市民に安全性を説得する 材料がない」と話す。

舞鶴市の担当者は「当初は被災地が大変な中、全国の自治体が努力すべきだと考えて手を挙げたが、市民への説明は難しい」と言う。伊根町は 「専門家の意見を聴くといった準備ができておらず、慎重な対応が必要と判断した」。船井郡衛生管理組合も「地元の理解がないと受け入れられない」と説明し ている。

福知山市は当初、生ごみなら年間1500トン受け入れられるとしていた。担当者は「今回の調査はがれき処理を想定しており、対応は困難だ」と言う。

一方、相楽東部広域連合(和束町、笠置町、南山城村)は調査に対し、年間70トンのがれき受け入れが可能と答えた。担当者は「災害はお互い様だから、できるだけ受け入れたい。もちろん、安全性の確保が大前提だ」と話す。

環境省は今回、災害廃棄物を焼却する場合は、放射性セシウム濃度が焼却炉の種類によって1キロあたり240~480ベクレル以下であれば 問題ないとする指標を自治体側に示した。それでも、「国の基準は根拠がわからない」(亀岡市)との声も出ている。環境省の担当者は「受け入れ困難とした自 治体にもデータを提供し、今後も検討を呼びかけたい」と話している。

Google Translate:

Withdraw acceptance quake debris

Seven cities and towns, “difficult to explain to the public”

Acceptance of waste at issue in the earthquake disaster came East, the mayor withdrew the seven policy Funai initially showed a positive attitude. This month, the Ministry review of the “difficult to accept,” replied the like. Behind the fear of radioactive material, it was determined that they can not explain to the public safety.

Intention to withdraw acceptance of the Kyoto Maizuru, Fukuchiyama, Kameoka, Ine-cho, Funai-gun health management associations (to the south, Tamba city today). In a survey conducted in April by the Ministry, was to answer the types and quantities of acceptable waste.

Kyoto, which had accepted 50,000 tons of garbage annually and furniture, was “not considered acceptable,” said. The city in August, “Gozan ceremonial bonfire” pine wood 陸前高田 city in Iwate Prefecture (Maki) promoted the burn plan, there are circumstances in the detection of radioactive material was abandoned. Person is “at present, there is no material to convince the public safety,” he said.

Maizuru city officials “initially in the disaster area is hard, raised their hands but believes that local governments should strive, hard to explain to the citizens,” he says. Ine city is “not ready to hear the opinions of experts and has determined that the prudent action is needed.” Funai-gun health management associations also “unacceptable and there is no understanding of the local” has been explained.

Fukuchiyama originally had 1500 tons per year and if garbage is accepted. Clerk, “the survey process expects rubble, is difficult to support,” he says.

Meanwhile, the eastern regional coalition Sagara (city only, Kasagi town, village 南山城) is to survey respondents can accept 70 tons of rubble. Person is “a disaster from O互I様 it, to accept as possible. Of course, it is prerequisite to ensure the safety,” he said.

Ministry of Environment Now, if the incineration of waste disasters are indicators that local authorities are shown in the following problem if the 240-480 Bq per kg depending on the type of incinerator concentration of radioactive cesium. Still, “do not know the basis for national standards” (Kameoka) and they have a voice. MOE officials “to provide data to local governments and difficult to accept, consider further appeal to” he said.

Tourists are well advised to avoid altogether Tokyo and the whole north-east of Japan, although visiting Osaka – Kyoto – Nara area, i.e. Kansai, and south-east remain safe as of today, provided extreme caution is paid to food origin. This can prove tricky as tourists usually eat out and Japanese cuisine, one of the best in the world, takes a large place in the tourist experience. However, the authorities’ mismanagement of the Fukushima crisis brought down a culinary disaster with half of the country’s fresh produce turned into nuclear waste distributed nationwide, and TEPCO managed to pollute the Pacific Ocean to such an extent that anything from it, including of course sushi, should be out of anyone’s diet whose life expectancy is higher than the next five years. I highly recommend renting a place with a kitchen and making your own food with utmost care to labelling. Most of all, leave your children at home. If visiting Japan still makes sense to you and you are taking all necessary precautions, keep in mind that your return flight will serve food from Japan with “unknown” origin on board, even if you are flying with a foreign airline. I strongly advise that you take your own food on-board whenever possible and complain to your airline about putting their flying staff and passengers at risk. If you think this is an exaggeration, picture yourself leaving Minsk just seven months after Chernobyl disaster contaminated the whole Belarus and being served local food on board.

On a recent trip to Europe flying with Lufthansa, I was amazed that not only Japanese but also the German crew was totally oblivious of this severe threat. After my explanation, a crew member was nice enough to serve me some remnants from their incoming flight, i.e. two frankfurters, four bananas and two oranges and some cheese and black bread which was all I ate during the 12 hour or so flight. Luckily for me, I was the only one to raise the issue this time – or I would have had nothing but orange or tomato juice to sustain me. Back to Japan, I was  concerned while eating spinach, a radio-friendly vegetable, especially as some onigiri rice balls labelled in Japanese were available during the flight and some sushi rolls and cold soba noodles were served with some wasabi / horse-radish paste as entrees – but a crew member reassured me that everything came from Germany notwithstanding. I took his word and try to sleep on it with the help of a Warsteiner beer, which amazed me by the simplicity of its content compared to the incredible brew which is served in Japan under the name “beer” (not even mentioning the various substitutes): malt, hops, yeast and water. Here is a picture of my frugal plate below. If you believe that their high potassium-40 content makes eating 4 bananas as dangerous as Fukushima rice and Ibaraki spinach, you are mistaken and should continue to learn about radioactivity. (more…)

I have recommended for us as citizens to monitor radioactivity also in our relatively spared areas, especially near incinerators and mountain spots where wild garbage dumps spoil forests (Cf. Mid-October Status & Editorial in SurvivalJapan). It turns out that the government seems to be candid about its intention to pollute forests with radioactive waste as reported by Yomiuri Shimbun, a mainstream news media which article is reproduced hereafter. The same newspaper also mentions, in a different article, the risk of internal contamination by radioactive pollen from cedars (cryptomeria or in Japanese “sugi”). Many people are allergic to these during pollination – the risk here is much more serious. When yellow dust was found in the rain in the no man’s land, I surmised it was sulfur (Cf. Typhoon Roke Aftermath In Fukushima in SurvivalJapan) created by nuclear reaction on-going at Fukushima while some other people proposed uranium, plutonium compounds or simply pollen from China. If pollen it was, one can imagine how far cedar pollen could fly within Japan. Fortunately, dominant winds usually spare our areas from the no man’s land fallout – but facial masks remain highly recommended during pollination even outside the no man’s land (Cf. Of Gloves And Masks in SurvivalJapan). Although now symbolic in Japan, sugi was introduced after WWII to replace forests burnt by American bombings and as an effort to promote wood industry. The article about sugi pollen is also reproduced below, however there is no “harmless” level, contrary to what Satoshi Yoshida, an expert on radiation ecology and a senior researcher at the Research Center for Radiation Protection of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (again some Orwellian Newspeak), states in the article. Radioactive particles which gets into the human body are harmful in minute quantities which do not compare to external exposure effects of the same dose. In some regions within the no man’s land, local people have decided to fall whole forests with the aim to protect forest workers from cesium supposedly concentrated in tree leaves and burn the wood. However it may be true that these forests are dangerous places, the solution offered by human beings is as usual worse than the original problem. Radioactive forests will remain a hot topic.

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