• Initial fuel loading of Takahama unit #3 began on Friday. 157 fuel bundles will be installed inside the Reactor Pressure Vessel, 68 of which are fresh, unused fuel. 24 bundles are Mixed Oxide fuel (MOX), containing recycled Uranium and Plutonium as the fissionable isotopes. Kansai Electric Co. President Makoto Yagi said, “We will put top priority on the safety of the work.” Kansai Electric plans on reactivating the fuel core sometime between January 28-30th, and start electrical generation and transmission around the beginning of February. Full commercial operation should begin at the end of February. Unit #4 fuel loading and restart is expected to follow unit #3 by about a month. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20151225/p2g/00m/0dm/048000c
  • Some Fukushima evacuees criticize reversal of the Takahama restart injunction. The original injunction, rendered in April, claimed the Nuclear Regulation Authority was illogical and irrational, and no nuclear plants were safe enough to be restarted. On Thursday, the Fukui District Court rescinded the injunction. Presiding Judge Jun Hayashi said, “The decision by the Nuclear Regulation Authority [to approve restarts] does not show logical flaws. There is no manifestation of concrete danger that threatens lives of local residents.” An evacuee from Minamisoma, now living in Kyoto, felt the people of Japan have effectively forgotten Fukushima, “I feel the Fukushima accident has become something that lies totally in the past. I cannot understand why there is a divergence in the decisions made in the judicial system. If the courts approve reactor restarts and those orders are carried out, there is the possibility of new victims appearing who have to go through what we did.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201512250049http://www.nuclearpowerdaily.com/reports/Japan_court_paves_way_for_more_nuclear_restarts_999.html (Comment – Antinuclear advocates in Japan continually complain that the Japanese public has “forgotten” the Fukushima accident. Nothing could be further from the truth. The largely-antinuclear popular Press in Japan carries Fukushima accident and accident-related articles on a daily basis.)
  • A post-Fukushima ICRP workshop was held in Date on December 12-13th. The International Commission on Radiological Protection sponsored the event to inform attendees on the conditions in Fukushima Prefecture. The workshop was entitled “Rehabilitation of Living Conditions after the Nuclear Accident”. About 120 local citizens and international researchers attended. University of Tokyo Physics Professor Ryugo Hayano reported that food restrictions greatly limited resident’s exposures, although it will be difficult to further lower radiation levels due to the limitations of decontamination efforts. Thus, he said, “It is hard to say what we can do for the residents’ greater peace of mind.” As for future efforts, Fukushima Medical University’s Makoto Miyazaki said, “It is necessary to have people who play an intermediary role between experts and residents. In Belarus, teachers and public health nurses play such a role. A similar practice needs to be put in place beforehand in Japan.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=610 (Comment – There was literally no mention of the workshop in the national Press, before or after it was held. It is only to be found in Fukushima Prefecture’s internal news outlet, available to its 2 million residents; less than 2% of Japan’s population. If this was an antinuclear workshop, it would have been widely trumpeted by the popular Press across Japan.)
  • Voluntary evacuee partial rent subsidies will be started in 2016. The Fukushima government is currently providing free housing to voluntaries, but that will end April 1, 2016. A family of five currently gets their rent paid up to about $720 per month, and a family of four up to $480/month. The average monthly apartment rental in the prefecture is about $450. In order to ease to loss of free housing for families with children or expectant mothers, the prefecture will give them about $250/month after April 1, 2017, and $160/month beginning April, 2018. In addition, qualifying households will get a lump sum of about $800 for “key money” to cover the switch from government rental payments to residents. Fukushima Prefecture says there are approximately 7,000 voluntary evacuee households getting free rent, which numbers about 18,000 persons. The extended subsidies will cover about 2,000 households. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20151226/p2a/00m/0na/016000c
  • Fukushima-related suicides continue to rise. Nineteen occurred in 2015 (by the end of November), up from 15 over the same period in 2014. The numbers were compiled by local police through interviews with bereaved families. The most-cited reasons were the prolonged evacuation and uncertainty about leading normal lives after returning home. Professor Masaharu Maeda of Fukushima Medical University says, “The problems facing Fukushima disaster victims become more complicated as time passes. There is a need to increase the number of people who have specialized knowledge to help to provide support of disaster victims through improved care.” The University surveyed 38,000 evacuees in 2014 and some 40% said they worry about future negative health effects from radiation exposure. 50% said they believe the radiation will harm their children and grandchildren. It is felt those most concerned are at the greatest risk of taking their own lives due to unrequited depression. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201512280026m
  • A national association of Fukushima lawsuit plaintiffs is launched. 10 local groups of plaintiffs and their lawyers from across 18 prefectures involved in class-action suits across Japan have come together to supposedly prevent the memory of the nuke accident from fading away. They complain that the threat of radioactive contamination remains and continues to pose a threat, but no-one seems to care. The group also wants to further emphasize their collective demand of compensation for the mental and/or physical harm they claim to have suffered, and compel stronger relief measures for all affected citizens. They hope the new group will attract a membership of 10,000 people or more. The association plans to formally inaugurate in February, just ahead of the nuke accident’s fifth anniversary. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20151227_09.html (Comment – The rampant, prolonged influence of the Hiroshima Syndrome combined with acute radiophobia, virtually assures that the Fukushima accident will not be forgotten. What the new association seems to really mean is nuke restarts show that most of Japan isn’t demanding the immediate and complete abolishment of nuclear plants.)