The decision to resume operations at Oi units #3&4 has spawned numerous protests around the world. It makes no difference that the Oi power plants were undamaged on 3/11/11 and safety measures have been significantly improved over the past year. To date, 54 safety improvements have been put in place at Oi to insure emergency electrical supplies will be available, withstand severe earthquakes, and protect against the worst-possible tsunami for the region. It also makes little difference that the number of protestors outside of Tokyo has been minimal. The popular Press is giving all demonstrations relatively equal coverage. It is also interesting that the one well-attended protest in Tokyo has had a wide range of estimates as to the number of individuals involved. The true number? That’s for you to decide…

  • Kyodo News reports that protest organizers believe 45,000 attended the Tokyo rally. A 42-year-old woman who had come with her children, said, “The government’s decision (to reactive the Oi reactors) is folly. We should not leave the solution of energy issue to the next generation.”
  • The Mainichi Shimbun also reports the 45,000 attendance number, but adds that Tokyo Metropolitan Police estimate that 11,000 attended. “I learned about today’s activity via Facebook,” said a 32-year-old from Tsuchiura, Ibaraki Prefecture. “I’m appalled at (the government’s decision on) restarting the nuclear reactors while the method to dispose of nuclear waste hasn’t been determined.” There have been weekly protests outside then Prime Minister’s office since March, with an average of about 300 attending each week. The organizers (Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes) says the numbers were growing until this week when the Oi restart decision suddenly swelled their ranks.
  • Japan Today says about 20,000 attended Friday’s Tokyo rally. The report suggests the protest shows that PM Noda’s decision contradicts the public’s position on the matter. “The battle has only just begun”, insisted composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, a leading anti-nuclear figure. Protesters said they would hold another demonstration next week. Noda had said he would not allow restarts as long as local officials from Oi town and Fukui Prefecture were opposed. Once their approval was given, Noda said restoration of Oi operations was permitted. Nearly all Tokyo protestors were from communities outside the Oi locality, from all over Japan.

Outside Tokyo, the Oi protests were much less popular…

  • Japan Times tells us that protests were held all over the world in parallel with the Tokyo demonstration. In Osaka, about 1500 people massed outside the Kansai Electric Company offices to protest the Oi restarts. One protestor said, “They are trying to scare us by saying power supplies may run out even if the reactors are restarted”. Another attendee said, “I think reactivation is premature”. In Washington, D.C., about 35 protestors from as far away as California delivered a letter to the Japanese Consulate which said (in part), “Your decision is undemocratic. It is clear even from the United States that the Japanese public is not supporting you. You may reject this letter as outside interference. However, the fallout of nuclear accidents does not know national borders (and) severely impacts the global environment.” Similar demonstrations occurred in San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, with small numbers attending. Finally, about 20 protestors interrupted the final day of the international sustainable energy conference in Rio de Janeiro where PM Noda represented Japan.
  • Asahi Shimbun reports on a rally against the Oi restarts in P.M. Noda’s home town. A few hundred protestors marched in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, denouncing the resumption of nuclear powered electricity in Japan. The demonstration took place on Sunday.

In other Fukushima news…

  • Seafood harvested from the waters off Fukushima is safe to eat. The prefecture’s federation of fisheries says they have tested shellfish and octopus and found no detectable levels of Fukushima isotopes gathered off Soma city. This marks the first seafood testing done on Fukushima seafood since the 3/11/11 crisis began. Octopus and whelk, a kind of marine snail, were shipped to a few cities and went on sale today. “It was crisp when I bit into it, and it tasted so good,” said Yasuhiro Yoshida, who oversees the seafood section at a supermarket in Soma, which sold out of about 30 kilograms of the snails and 40 kilograms of the octopus that had been shipped to the store. “I was filled with both uncertainty and hope today, but I was so happy when I found out the local supermarket had sold out by 3 p.m.,” said Hirofumi Konno, a fisheries official. He said they planned to also offer crab, which has been discovered to be free of Fukushima contamination as well. He said many people were buying the seafood in support of local fishermen. The items were available locally but not in the whole prefecture or the Tokyo area. Flounder, sea bass and other fish from Fukushima can’t be sold yet because of detectable contamination. (Japan Today)
  • Tokyo has asked four major power companies to prepare for rolling blackouts. This is despite the anticipated restarts of the Oi nukes. Chubu, Kansai, Shikoku, and Hokkaido Electic companies have been alerted that Tokyo will call for the blackouts if power demand reaches 99% of capacity. If the outages are anticipated, Tokyo will issue warnings by Email 3-4 hours before the blackouts will begin. Each local area affected will experience two hours of power loss, once per day as long as the shortage exists. Hospitals, prefectural government buildings, police and fire stations will be exempt, along with railways, airports and banks. (Japan Today)
  • The Tokyo government warns the people of Japan about ads that purport protection from radiation, but are misleading or technically unfair. The Bureau of Citizens and Cultural Affairs checked on about 24,000 ads concerning radiation protection in 2011 and found 582 cases of questionable content. About a fourth of the dubious ads made claims without verifiable data to support what they say. 56 cases were for water purification equipment, 39 unfair ads for disaster-prevention products, 34 cases involved ads for health food, 16 for radioactivity measuring devices and 11 were ads for protective masks. The Bureau said faulty ads for detergents and masks were said to be effective in avoiding contamination, but the products were “ordinary” and had no supportive data for their claims. While the ads are not themselves illegal, Tokyo advises consumers to closely check the credibility of advertising statements. (Mainichi Shimbun)