Nuclear power plant reactors in both Shikoku and Kyushu islands are currently off-line. Hopefully the public opinion will hamper their restart after their inspection is done, although this is not a certainty as the government is already self-defeating its new law and allowed a loop-hole for extending nuclear power plant operations well past their designed lifespan.

The nuclear village is bracing until the public dissent fades to resume business as usual, with the extra gift to be allowed to participate in weapon development together with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (the Japanese equivalent of NASA now has operational rockets ready for ICBM usage). Besides, Japan just enacted a law which allows joint weapon development with other countries, i.e. US, so it is only a matter of time until the screw-driver nuclear nation is up-and-ready for war with China.

In other news, Japan is still pushing for nuclear technology export in countries such as Vietnam and India, so we should not be too wishful and naive about the plans to restart domestic nuclear plants, especially with less access to alternative electricity producing-resources such as Iranian oil.

Until nuclear power plants are fully decommissioned (and the question of hazardous waste and materials remains even then), they represent a hazard in case of earthquake, tsunami and the usual lack of professional ethic that leads to all sorts of nuclear incidents in Japan.

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A petition to get a referendum on the use of nuclear power in Kansai got 50,000 signatures in Osaka. Although a similar petition against Kobe airport was ignored by the city, this could be a first step towards a Kansai nuclear-free region. The future of civil nuclear power in Japan is however strongly dependent on US imposed export restrictions upon Iran. Currently, Japan imports extra crude oil to produce electricity, since most of its nuclear power plants are off-line, and has opposed the US sanctions. As for everything related to defense, and the question of civil nuclear power is directly linked to the ability of Japan to rapidly build ICBM in case of a serious conflict with China, Japan will likely give way. In fact, it is now preparing for alternative supply sources and asked Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help it make up any shortfall (read articles below). Read the rest of this entry »

The last nuclear power plant reactor in Kyushu was taken off-line towards the end of December 2011, leaving the Japanese southern island free of nuclear produced-electricity. Off-line reactors are not necessarily safe in case of earthquake, tsunami or human error, all of which are far too common in Japan to allow such utilities to be but ticking bombs.

It is however a first step towards a nuclear-free island, which produces most of the domestic food, including beef (the famous so-called “Kobe beef” is raised in Miyazaki, Kyushu) now that Hokkaido is contaminated. Besides nuclear fallout, the town of Tomakomai in Hokkaido decided to incinerate nuclear waste against the will of citizens, as reported in Tomakomai Minpo on 2011 December 8. The translated and commented article is available on Ex-SKF blog here. Tomakomai is located on the southern shore, about 50 km / 30 miles away from Sapporo, with a mostly residential / industrial plain between these cities (agricultural products come mainly from Tokachi plain on the east coast which has been under nuclear fallout most of spring and summer 2011).

Politicians and executives will likely get away with public opinion manipulation and other scandals in Kyushu as articles below show: a mere salary cut whereas in some more democratic countries, they might have been jailed. Besides, the Nishinippon Shimbun newspaper cancelled the publication of an anti-nuclear book due to pression from the same utility, which shows that public opinion manipulation is deeply rooted in Kyushu Electric Power Co. and Kyushu political institutions. Indeed, Saga Gov. Yasushi Furukawa is assured to get a highly paid sinecure in Kyushu Electric Power Co. after he “retires”.

Kyushu is the last large clean food producer in Japan and it has not accepted any nuclear waste for incineration yet: it may as well become the future of Japan.

Hereafter are reproduced several articles found in Japanese news in December 2011, as original articles might become unavailable soon: Read the rest of this entry »

Safe food is getting scarcer in Japan, even out of the no man’s land, in what I call the monitored land. Surviving in Japan supposes boycotting any food from areas northeastern of Nagoya included and of course any sea product from the North Pacific Ocean. This strict rule makes shopping complicated but nowhere as eating out. The end of the year brings a new threat in traditional food gifts that Japanese offer, i.e. “oseibo” (in Japanese 「お歳暮」. It is hard to be always on one’s guard and make rational choices as to what to eat and it is socially a burden when one constantly has to ask for the source of ingredients of any food in shops and restaurants. Furthermore, when the temptation is from one’s relatives and friends, it is almost impossible for anyone to resist and discard the gift, like Snow White could not decline the shiny red apple for the gentle old, poor woman who actually was intent on killing her.

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Concerned mothers made a formal declaration and held a press conference at Osaka Prefecture Main Building (Osaka-fu-cho, in Japanese 「大阪府庁」) on Friday, December 16th at 10:00 am. A panel of three mothers read a declaration stating that the plan of Osaka Mayor, M. Hashimoto, to accept radioactive waste from Iwate prefecture for incineration, is harmful for children. The declaration was received by three prefecture representatives, one who asked genuine questions, another who seemed condescending and the third who kept quiet. The most visible news team was ABC News. The room was small and supporters, mostly standing up, numbered about 50. There were only three Western foreigners present including myself.

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Butter in Japan mainly comes from its northern island Hokkaido, along with many dairy products such as milk, which is at the center of the latest radioactive food scandal.

The east coast of Hokkaido was visited by radioactive fallout from Fukushima most Spring and Summer days. Fishermen bring in their catch from radioactive Pacific Ocean close to Fukushima so that fish can be sold nationwide as products “from Hokkaido”. It is rumored to arrive at night in Nagoya for distribution throughout Japan. Domestic fish has become a major public health hazard in Japan and is exported worldwide.

There might be some safe areas left in Hokkaido but the prefecture lost all my trust for allowing various food scams to support contaminated regions. Besides it’s impossible to tell where in Hokkaido butter comes from, much less which milk and cream were used as ingredients.

A popular butter in Japan is the Snow Brand Hokkaido Butter, from the company that poisoned 15000 Japanese in 2000 and secretly recycled old milk to make other products – not to be trusted in these trying times. Read the rest of this entry »

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).

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Not a day passes without news of fires and water leaks in various nuclear power plants in Japan: after Fukushima, Genkai, Mihama leaks last week (these are geographically as far as can be from each other in Japan), it is the turn of Tsuruga in Fukui prefecture to be on fire (again). Tsuruga is, along with other troubled Mihama and Monju reactors, situated on “Nuclear Ginza” coast of the Sea of Japan in Honshu, close enough to cities like Nagoya and Kyoto to cause a disaster in case of accident. Read the rest of this entry »

Mainichi Shimbun reported further issues at Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Kyushu. The water leaks follow those at Mihama and Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant last week and a fire yesterday at Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant (read about it in Fire And Water At Japanese Nuclear Power Plants on Survival Japan). Previous update is available here. It mentioned that there hadn’t been any radioactive material leak, which of course was inexact (although KEPCO tries hard to prove there is no causal link between the leaks and the radiation surge) – incidentally JAPC declared the same regarding Tsuruga today.

About Genkai, claims by the local government that radiation levels ″sometimes rises under natural conditions such as rain″ might be half-truths as radioactive rains are not natural conditions, but it is irrelevant nonetheless in the current nuclear power plant leak context. Besides, ″the usual range of 433 to 472 cpm″ is not harmless – it is about 10 times readings I measured elsewhere in Japan (Cf. Geiger Counter Case Study: Inspector Alert on SurvivalJapan – although results in the post are given in uS/h, in fact 40 cpm was a typical value).

Nuclear power plants in “normal operation” in the US leak a ″little″ amount of radioactivity which operators must report to the NRC. Japanese nuclear power plants are similar although I am not aware of any such reporting in Japan.

Mainichi Shimbun – Radiation rose slightly afterwater leak at Genkai plant

SAGA, Japan (Kyodo) — A radiation reading at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture rose slightly above the usual range after coolant water leaked there Friday, the prefectural government said Sunday.

The reading at an outlet for seawater cooling the No. 3 reactor’s secondary cooling system was 473 counts per minute at 3 p.m. Friday, against the usual range of 433 to 472 cpm, not high enough to immediately impact human health, it said.

On Friday morning, 1.8 tons of primary coolant water containing radioactive materials leaked within the reactor’s purification system. The utility claimed the radiation reading is unrelated to that leak and said it will investigate the cause.

Water used in treating low-level radioactive waste is sometimes discharged from the outlet, but that was not the case Friday, the local government said, adding the reading sometimes rises under natural conditions such as rain.

(Mainichi Japan) December 12, 2011

Original article may still be available at this link.

Further updates with “not so slight levels” or such as “Yukio Edano ordered the last Genkai reactor to shut down” for instance are foreseeable.

A lot of the rationale of supporters of non-evacuating Tokyo seems to revolve around the notion of hotspots. Hotspots are limited areas in which ground radiation spikes up compared to the surroundings. Although radiation is not negligible in Tokyo, some argue that it is even higher in similar cities where there hasn’t been any known nuclear incident, such as Hong Kong with more than 0.3 uSv/h at 1m above ground. Tokyo hotspots detected in Setagaya, around the Imperial Palace, etc. were not very satisfactorily explained in the news by the supposed presence of radium bottles left over (same explanation used several times).

Tokyo cityscape changes continually and buildings may disappear suddenly as one visits a street after a few years. Besides construction work and demolitions, low to medium intensity earthquakes regularly shake the city and cause shelves, TV sets, etc. to fall and smash on floors. It is difficult to imagine radium bottles lying around for 50 years untouched in these ever-moving conditions. Such bold statements from the government were largely accepted by the population who is eager to cling to any reassuring explanation for their hotspots.

Hotspots are perceived to be like rotten apples in an otherwise healthy basket, singularities which statisticians can dismiss in order to focus on the average radiation environment. Scarcity of hotspots seem to support this view, however monitoring is imperfect and reporting even worse.

Shortly after March eleven, a green tea grower from Shizuoka prefecture (south-west of Tokyo and near the Mount Fuji) reported that his tea was radiation-hot after he got it analyzed on a voluntary basis (Cf. link to New York Times story in Analysis Of Japanese Government Radiation Spread Report on SurvivalJapan). Panic followed among green tea growers who made sure that none of them would ever carry their tea leaves to a laboratory again. This is anecdotal but it illustrates how hotspots are discovered and buried in Japan. Therefore hotspots tend to seem isolated whereas, if the population wanted to seriously investigate, there might be more rotten apples.

Here is another anecdote: in the farming village from where I buy local vegetables and rice, I proposed a foreign friend of mine who grows organic food there to make some radioactivity measures – and in order to make it significant, to get organized with the local Japanese community and offer to check out their fields and rice paddies too. My friend replied that such discussions had already taken place and that the consensus was that, although it would nice to know that the soil is safe, it would have a devastating effect with commercial consequences, should we find anything unusual. I discreetly made a measurement there which showed it was alright (0.125 uSv/h with Inspector Alert right next to the wet, black soil) and told my friend about it. From reading the news and hearing people talks, I am convinced this is a relevant example of farmers’ attitude with respect to radiation monitoring nationwide – and hence the explanation of the scarcity of reported hotspots.

Hotspots monitoring in Japan is like searching for a sick tree at the edge of a forest, cutting the tree down and never look in this place again. Read the rest of this entry »