Posts Tagged ‘food’

Asahi Shimbun Japanese version reported that Yamada, the governor of Kyoto prefecture paid a secret visit to the small town of Kyotamba on March 28, in order to ask its mayor to accept incinerated radioactive waste and dispose of it, on the basis that the incinerator output would be better monitored there and that Kyotamba has 9 hectares of land as well as a river where to dump radioactive ashes. The mayor replied that he would think about the proposal positively, which is a way to acknowledge agreement provided that the brown envelope is fat enough.

Actual incineration would take place in undisclosed facilities in Kyoto prefecture, such as in Maizuru, Kyoto and Kameoka. Governor Yamada makes no secret about his plan to accept radioactive waste for incineration, but every move he makes towards its implementation is undemocratic and behind the scenes, a strategy also used by Goshi Hosono, the Minister of Environment who is pushing for nationwide spread of radioactive contamination.  (Updated on 2012/04/10)

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Yesterday, I was in Osaka to commemorate Japan Meltdown Day, March 11. My plan was to join one of the protest events organized that day and which none of the English language newspapers mentioned. If you looked up Osaka in the news, you would probably hit some story about sumo. Some Japanese newspapers started to report more accurately the disastrous situation in which Japan is getting deeper everyday. However, their focus remains the No Man’s Land, i.e. Tokyo and North-East Japan, which incidentally is the raison d’etre of SurvivalJapan. Besides, this defiant attitude costs them to lose access to the government press club and a Japanese journalist friend of mine told me that this particular newspaper was on the verge of bankruptcy. This is Japan, not Singapore, but the press is not free to speak. It is a concern if the only newspaper that tries to speak out is about to shut down.

So I arrived late for events in Osaka yesterday and missed them. Ten thousands people were to gather in the morning at the large hall of the City Hall on Nakanoshima isle. In the afternoon, protesters marched along one of three different paths converging towards KEPCO headquarters, Midosuji and Nishi-Umeda. A foreign friend of mine who attended told me that the crowd was lively and angry at the government and utilities yet very friendly and enjoying themselves. Japanese information on this “Bye Bye Gempatsu (Nuclear Power) 3/11 Kansai 10,000 Protesters Event” is available on this website. I walked alone from Umeda to Nakanoshima Park and all trace of the meeting of 10,000 had disappeared.

I was hoping to catch up with the “humanError national 100,000 participants parade” after the incredibly spot-on recording by the Frying Dutchman near Kamogawa river and Sanjo St. in Kyoto, a group of Japanese artists. They show that not every Japanese youth is self-centered and disconnected from reality, they are the future of Japan if this country solidifies again – and if yakuza don’t kill them. Frying Dutchman sees right through the enemies of Japan and their non-violent message is ultimately about love. They were touring in Okinawa yesterday but were followed all over the country. Their website is available in English here and you can watch their video with English subtitles. Frying Dutchman’s message resonates so strongly in our hearts that it is impossible to watch without tears in our eyes, for us who live through this never-ending disaster. The video has been seen by more than 150,000 viewers on YouTube alone as of writing and is fast becoming viral. I am sad because I know that most people who have not experienced living in melted down Japan will not understand. Actually most of the foreigners still living in Japan chose to close their eyes and ears to their environment: it is so easy to ignore the evil spirit which now inhabits every bit of Japan. It will take the same human error again and again, in each country, like blind earthworms hit the electric wire time and again without understanding, until we are all burnt and eventually get a hint.

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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: (more…)

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. (more…)

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. (more…)