• Seventy-three Naraha youths celebrate Coming-of-Age Day in their home town. Formal adulthood in Japan occurs at age 20, which includes the right to drink legally and vote. Each year, the holiday is celebrated on the second Monday in January. The celebration for Naraha has been held in Iwaki since Tokyo forced the town to evacuate on March 12, 2011. With last September’s lifting of the evacuation order, Coming-of-Age Day has returned to the town. Naraha Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto told the newly-legal adults, “I want you to embrace the tough and hard times that you have gone through as valuable experiences and carve out your future.” Speaking on behalf of the celebrants, Kaede Nogi said, “I am very happy that I could mark the milestone day in my hometown which I love, and with my friends whom I love.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/recovery/AJ201601110044http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/explore/calendar/january/seijinshiki.html
  • Fukushima fishermen hold their first New Year prayer ceremony in five years. The tsunami of March 11, 2011, devastated the fishing business based in Iwaki; which is adjacent to the southern edge of the Tokyo-mandated exclusion zone. As with all Tohoku Region fishing businesses hammered by the quake and tsunami, recovery has been slow. For Iwaki, recovery has been further restricted due to negative publicity concerning radioactive contamination. Iwaki fishermen are currently catching 71 species of marketable fish deemed safe by the government, on a “trial” basis. The total catch in 2014 was about three percent of the tonnage marketed before 3/11/11. Fukushima Prefecture tested more than 8.500 fish from Iwaki in 2015, and only four had greater than the national 100 Becquerel per kilogram standard. Iwaki’s fishermen feel this year will be a hallmark for them, so they have resumed their annual prayer observance. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/recovery/AJ201601080053
  • Singapore will consider lifting restrictions on Fukushima foods. On Saturday, the European Union dropped the majority of their required radiation checks on Japanese food imports. On Sunday, Farm Minister Hiroshi Moriyama requested that Singapore follow suit. Development Minister Lawrence Wong of Singapore said he will consider the request after they examine the EU decision. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/01/10/national/social-issues/singapore-consider-japanese-request-ease-restrictions-fukushima-food-items/#.VpJhUJDUgdV
  • The number of Fukushima’s nuclear evacuees drops below 100,000. The prefectural government’s annual survey reveals 99,991 people remain away from their homes; 56.5% living in the prefecture and 43.5% elsewhere. The total was 121,585 in January, 2015, and the peak was just under 165,000 in May, 2012. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002670837 (Comment – about 70,000 of the current evacuees are Tokyo-mandated, and 30,000 are “voluntary” – from outside the exclusion zone, but fled because they feared low level radiation exposure.)
  • December reports saying 100% of unit #4’s spent fuel was released during the accident were entirely false. James Corbett’s normally antinuclear Fukushima Update, out of Tokyo, posts numerous links showing the “mostly alt-media” sources were posting a “bogus story”. http://fukushimaupdate.com/fukushima-myth-declassified-fuel-releases-video/ Perhaps the most popular of the sources were Russia’s RT News https://www.rt.com/news/325663-fukushima-nuclear-report-declassified/ and America’s Washington’s Blog http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/12/declassified-u-s-government-report-week-fukushima-accident-100-total-spent-fuel-released-atmosphere-unit-4.html. The alleged source of the false claim was a recently-declassified Nuclear Regulatory Commission document containing worst-case speculations on Alaskan public exposures if unit #4 spent fuel pool boiled away and somehow caught fire. It never says that the scenario actually happened.  http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1212/ML12122A949.pdf#page=7   (Comment -The SFP was never in danger of boiling away and the spent fuel pool fire concept was/is essentially mythical, though repeatedly trumpeted by deceitful antinuclear sources such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, Australia’s Helen Caldicott, and America’s Arnie Gundersen.)
  • Detectible mid-Pacific Ocean contamination levels increase, but remains innocuous. Fukushima InFORM reports that last summer’s sampling 1,500 kilometers west of Canada at “Ocean Station Papa”, shows levels have gone up over the past year, but remain at less than 10 Becquerels of Cesium per ton of seawater. In June, Woods Hole Oceanographic detected 11.4 Bq/ton at a location between Hawaii and Alaska, farther west than Ocean Station Papa. This is 3-4 Bq/ton more than in 2014, and slightly greater than models have predicted. Thus, it appears that the main body of the detectible Fukushima isotopic plume is moving very slowly to the east. http://fukushimainform.ca/  In addition, Fukushima InFORM now has a highly sensitive gamma spectrometer in full operation. On InFORM’s explanatory page, we find that samples of seawater and fish are so exceedingly low in Cesium levels, that each needs to be monitored inside the spectrometer for 1-3 days to get an accurate reading! http://fukushimainform.ca/methods_gamma_spectroscopy/
  • With the impending startup of two Takahama station units, some Japanese Press have posted reports on “concerns” about Plutonium. The Takahama units will use a few MOX (Mixed Oxide) fuel bundles (~15% of the total) containing Uranium and a small fraction of Plutonium recycled from used (spent) fuel. The concern is that the “plutonium in stock” will keep increasing faster than it can be used in operating reactors. One contributing cause is that smaller Japanese nukes are being decommissioned for economic reasons stemming from the high cost of meeting Japan’s new safety regulations. Another is the extreme slowness of the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s review of applications for restarts in Japan. The build-up of Plutonium in storage is tasty meat for Japan’s antinuclear Press. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160108/p2a/00m/0na/006000c