Posts Tagged Daily Yomiuri

34 spots top Chernobyl evacuation standard : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)

Update: Fukushima prefecture has created a new website with information about the dangers of radiation (mouse-tip to Lenz Blog). The website includes a map, government pamphlets and FAQs about radioactive risks. Below is from the Daily Yomiuri:

Soil at 34 spots in six Fukushima Prefecture municipalities has been contaminated with levels of radioactive cesium higher than the standard used for forcible evacuations after the Chernobyl disaster, it has been learned.

According to a soil contamination map submitted at a study meeting of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, six municipalities recorded more than 1.48 million becquerels of cesium 137 per square meter–the standard used for forced resettlement after the 1986 Chernobyl accident.

The 34 spots are in no-entry and expanded evacuation zones around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

via 34 spots top Chernobyl evacuation standard : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri).


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Anti-Ozawa votes put Noda over : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)

From the Daily Yomiuri Online. (I like the “observers said” quote. I was an observer, too, and I said the same thing!)

The victory of Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda in a runoff election for the Democratic Party of Japan leadership Monday signified a refusal by a majority of party lawmakers to restore visible influence to former leader Ichiro Ozawa, observers said.

Noda won wide support, not only from the group led by former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara–who, like Noda, had backed the administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan–but also the group led by Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Michihiko Kano and most of the “floaters” who belong to no particular intraparty group.

DPJ lawmakers grew concerned that Ozawa and his followers might gain a free hand over personnel appointments and policy decisions if Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda became party leader and prime minister, observers said. Kaieda got the most votes in the first round of voting, with the full support of the groups led by Ozawa and former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

But anti-Ozawa feeling was not the only reason lawmakers voted for Noda:

Some observers said support for Noda increased after Kaieda indicated he would cancel the agreement reached by the DPJ and the opposition Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito to review the DPJ’s manifesto from the 2009 House of Representatives election.

This caused a number of DPJ lawmakers to fear that if Kaieda were elected party leader and prime minister, the new administration under him would be almost certainly become bogged down under a strong backlash from the opposition parties.

Noda clearly stated that he would review the manifesto, with no element of it being “sacred.” He thus indicated he would continue, in principle, the Kan administration’s stance of prioritizing cooperation with the opposition camp, rather than adherence to the manifesto.

via Anti-Ozawa votes put Noda over : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri).

And

Kaieda belongs to an intraparty group led by former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and received the backing of former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa, who leads the largest bloc in the party. Kaieda led the first round with 143 votes, while Noda won 102 in the five-man race.

Former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara won 74 votes.

However, Noda won the runoff thanks to the ballots of supporters of Maehara, as well as support from his own group and Kan’s. Noda also received votes in the runoff from lawmakers who voted for former Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Sumio Mabuchi or Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Michihiko Kano in the first round.

The Maehara and Noda camps on Sunday agreed to cooperate in case of a runoff, if either Maehara or Noda took second place in the first round.

Voting took place at a general meeting of DPJ Diet members, which began at 11 a.m. at a Tokyo hotel. A total of 398 DPJ Diet members were eligible to vote as of Monday morning: 292 members of the House of Representatives and 106 members of the House of Councillors. The party memberships of nine members, including Ozawa, have been suspended.

The actual number of votes cast was 395 in both the first and second rounds. However, three ballots were deemed invalid in the second round.

via Noda elected DPJ president : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri).


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Japan tsunami and earthquake: Pictures of recovery 3 months later | Mail Online

Japan tsunami and earthquake: Pictures of recovery 3 months later | Mail Online.

Remarkable photos tell their own story.

Update:

But then there’s another side to the story:

90,000 in shelters; most debris still uncleared 3 months on says the Daily Yomiuri this morning. The entire article consists of “buts” (quoted below). And here’s another DY article headline, “Fewer want to return home / Delayed recovery dampens evacuees’ hopes for the future”.

And more upbeat news: “150 police officers and riot squads to attend Tepco shareholders meeting, June 28th”. Bit over the top, isn’t it? I mean, what could possibly go wrong? The Japanese are always so polite and always apologizing for everything, aren’t they?

According to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, a total of 28,280 temporary housing units for survivors had been completed as of Friday in Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Chiba, Tochigi and Nagano prefectures. However, only about 40 percent, or 12,028 units, had occupants as of Wednesday, due partly to their inconvenient locations or other unfavorable conditions, the ministry said.

About 52,500 units are expected to be built by mid-August.

The number of evacuees in shelters fell by about 27,000 from a month earlier to 90,109 as of Friday. However, this figure is still considerably higher than the about 50,000 people living in shelters three months after the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake.

A total of 468,653 people were staying in shelters on March 14.

Electricity has been restored in most areas, but 57,900 households in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures are still without running water, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

The Environment Ministry estimated the disaster left 23.92 million tons of debris in these three prefectures. As of Friday, about 5.19 million tons–just 22 percent–had been moved to temporary storage spaces.

In Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, the city that had the most debris dumped on it by the tsunami, only 7 percent had been cleared, the ministry said.

Many transport networks are still feeling the impact of the March 11 disaster.

The Tohoku Shinkansen line resumed full operations by April 29, but train services remain suspended over a stretch of 344 kilometers on regular lines, mostly in coastal areas.

A 16-kilometer section of the Joban Expressway between the Hirono Interchange and the Joban Tomioka Interchange remains closed due to the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The Japan Red Cross Society and three other organizations had received donations of about 251.4 billion yen as of June 3. About 82.3 billion yen of this had been passed on to Tokyo, Hokkaido and 13 prefectures affected by the disaster in a first round of distribution, but only 37 billion yen had actually reached survivors.

According to the Cabinet Secretariat’s Volunteers Coordination Office, at least 387,900 people had taken part in volunteer activities in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures as of June 5.

 


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World critical of Japans failure to disclose info : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE The Daily Yomiuri

The 5th installment of Yomiuri newspaper’s series on the Fukushima nuclear crisis. As mentioned before, these articles contain interesting content, but overall they are somewhat confusing, or possibly confused. The articles seem to be trying to find fault, yet they also include information that seems to refute the criticism.

For example, TEPCO has in earlier news been criticized for not acting promptly, and yet in this article we are told that not even the French nuclear experts have been able to make progress because of large amounts of contaminated water in key areas. The same may hold true for the apparent delay in opening vents to prevent the hydrogen explosions.

This is the fifth installment in a series focusing on delays in implementing emergency steps by the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. to deal with the unprecedented nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.Many countries have grown frustrated with and distrustful of the Japanese government for its poor handling of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crisis and its failure to disclose relevant information after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11.

grueling questions thrown at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency’s Deputy Director General for Nuclear Safety, Koichiro Nakamura, at a small-group session of a review meeting for contracting parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety in Vienna on April 6.

The session was held to check Japan’s compliance with the terms of the treaty. In addition to representatives from the group’s 12 member countries, about 200 international representatives and experts attended–an unusually large number.

“I doubt any of the foreign participants were satisfied with Japan’s explanation,” said a visibly disappointed European diplomat.

A Russian expert was more critical, saying: “If nuclear plants are built on the coast, it’s foreseeable that a major tsunami could occur. Despite being a technologically advanced nation, Japan has no robots that can be used at nuclear plants!”

South Korean experts were the most disgruntled. “Despite being neighbors, Japan did not tell us beforehand that it would be discharging contaminated water into the sea. Communication on disaster relief and assistance between [South Korea and Japan] is not good enough,” he said.

John Roos, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, was at times annoyed with the lack of detailed information coming from Japan.

At one point his embassy had difficulty finding out exactly whom to contact over the issue–Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Prime Minister’s Office, or concerned ministries–and was therefore unable to determine the assistance Japan needed.

Roos tried to collect relevant information by phoning Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda and other Democratic Party of Japan Diet members he knew personally.

The United States even attempted to gather information independently using a spy satellite and an unmanned surveillance plane, a Global Hawk, possibly indicating a lack of confidence in the Japanese government.

A visiting expert from the U.S. government’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was reportedly frustrated with Akihisa Nagashima, a former parliamentary secretary of the Defense Ministry and now a DPJ member in the House of Representatives. At a meeting at TEPCO’s head office in Tokyo on March 18, the expert allegedly told Nagashima it was unclear who was actually in charge of managing the crisis.

About 20 experts from Areva SA, a French major nuclear reactor maker, arrived in Japan and are now stationed at joint task force headquarters set up at TEPCO and other places.

Since Areva has already operated nuclear fuel reprocessing plants, it is expected to provide TEPCO with the technology to remove contaminated water from the reactors.

Yet according to a TEPCO official, Areva has been unable to act. “It is unsafe for workers because radiation levels [near the nuclear reactors] are too high,” he said.

Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive officer of Areva, described the situation as both complicated and unprecedented. She noted the outlook for the plant seemed dismal and that the top priority was to find out what was going on.

 

via World critical of Japans failure to disclose info : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE The Daily Yomiuri.

Here are links to the other installments in the series:

  1. The first installment NUCLEAR CRISIS: HOW IT HAPPENED / Kan’s visit ‘wasted time’
  2. The second installment NUCLEAR CRISIS: HOW IT HAPPENED / Hydrogen blasts at plant surprised experts
  3. The third installment NUCLEAR CRISIS: HOW IT HAPPENED / Government radiation data disclosure–too little, too late
  4. The fourth installment NUCLEAR CRISIS: HOW IT HAPPENED / Government, TEPCO brushed off warnings from all sides

 


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Absent TEPCO execs slowed crucial action : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)

(Update: First installment is here. I’m still not sure what to make of this article, or the first installment. The headline seems to be a direct and unequivocal criticism of TEPCO management, yet the details revealed in the article do not add up to clear guilt at all. If anything, the slow response was almost inevitable given the physical conditions at the time. The only “flaw” I can see, as revealed in the article, is the endemic Japanese one of decision-making: underlings are completely unable, either by training, experience, or by company policy, to make decisions on their own. This usually works OK, but its weaknesses become clear in an emergency.

Is this series a way for the U.S. armed forces and/or government to criticize Kan and his administation indirectly?  It seems to be criticizing the Japanese authorities from Western point of view. Such views typically do not take into account the (different) Japanese way of doing things: of making decisions, of taking executive action. Yet this article is published in the English-language ediction of a Japanese newspaper, presumably written by Japanese (or at least with their input and editorial supervision); in other words, written by people who should know better, who are capable (or should be) of seeing both cultural sides. I don’t get it.)

This is the second installment in a series focusing on delays in implementing emergency steps by the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. to deal with the unprecedented nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

It took TEPCO about 15 hours to vent steam from the nuclear reactor vessel at the Fukushima facility’s No. 1 reactor, despite having recognized the need to do so by the evening of March 11….

Venting a reactor heightens the risk of radioactive contamination. This decision could place enormous social responsibility on the company and also make it liable for substantial damages. And injecting water into a reactor core essentially destroys it. One reactor costs about 100 billion yen to replace.

via Absent TEPCO execs slowed crucial action : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri).

Here is another article on the subject. Parts of this leave me baffled: is it implying that TEPCO’s reasons for not opening the vents sooner were excuses, not the real reasons? If TEPCO cannot open the vents because  of lack of power, how does getting angry or invoking the law solve the problem? This article, like the other two, seems to leave out (or leave unsaid) as much as it includes.

At 1:30 a.m. on March 12, Kan, Kaieda and Madarame gathered at the crisis management center in the basement of the Prime Minister’s Office.

The three urged TEPCO officials to vent the steam as soon as possible. But TEPCO officials said there was no way of opening the valves because there was no power supply.

Exasperated, Kaieda called the utility’s head office in Tokyo and the accident headquarters at the plant every hour, pressuring them to open the valves immediately.

TEPCO workers tried to open the valves by manually overriding the automatic system, but struggled to make progress because they had to work in darkness.

At dawn, pressure inside the No. 1 reactor was more than twice the designed maximum.

Eventually, at 6:50 a.m., the government ordered the utility to open the valves under the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law.

When Kan visited the accident site shortly after 7 a.m. and found TEPCO had not opened the valves yet, he reprimanded company officials. The officials replied they would like to have another hour to make a decision on what to do.

Kan blew his stack.

“Now’s not the time to make such lackadaisical comments!” the prime minister told the TEPCO officials.

Yet even still, the utility spent three more hours discussing the matter before finally opening the valves at 10:17 a.m.

Five hours after that, a hydrogen explosion occurred at the No. 1 reactor, blowing apart its outer building.

(Apr. 12, 2011)


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Autumn at Sheffield Park Gardens, East Sussex

In a November 4th article in the Daily Yomiuri, Mike Guest wrote about marked language: “phrases like, “Japan’s four seasons” instead of the seasons, or “American joke” for any joke told by a foreigner. Marked by redundancy. ”

Many Japanese will insist that Japan is unique because it has four seasons, and if pushed will admit that other countries do too, but that in Japan the seasons are very clearly distinguished!

And how right they are. As you can see from the photo, autumn in Britain is a very mundane affair, and no different from the other 3 seasons which are all equally miserable and quite undistinguished, even indistinguishable from each other. Autumn colours? What autumn colours?? (See more dull photos here and here).

Ode to Autumn” – John Keats (1819)

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’erbrimmed their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind,
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, –
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

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