The dominant energy topics over the weekend have been the nuclear security summit in Washington, DC, and Japan’s de-regulation of electricity. Only two Fukushima-based reports have been posted. The first is actually old news. The second reveals that the Press’ speculations of a large Japanese public movement away from utilities with nukes were unfounded.

  • Fukushima high school students find their radiation exposures are safe. On February 8th, Fukushima High School student Haruka Onodera told the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ), “The individual doses [of external radiation exposure in high school students] were almost equal inside and outside of Fukushima Prefecture, and in European areas.” She and her fellow students began a project in 2014 to see if Fukushima radiation exposures were greater than the rest of Japan, and how they compared to background levels of schools elsewhere in the world. They found their annual exposures in Fukushima Prefecture were between 0.63 and 0.97 millisievert. The range was between 0.55 and 0.87 mSv elsewhere in Japan and the exposures in fourteen European high schools were between 0.51 and 1.1 mSv. The students also found they experienced lower exposure rates at school than when they were at home; probably due to the school’s concrete walls which shield them better than the walls of their homes. Onodera explained her opinion on the significance of the project, “The experience has brought home to me how important it is to address reality objectively and scientifically.” (Comment – The FCCJ meeting was covered briefly in Japan Times on February 8th  and we reported on it promptly thereafter. Why has it taken nearly two more months for another Japanese press outlet to report this good news? And, why haven’t any international news outlets picked up on it? It seems anything positive concerning Fukushima isn’t “newsworthy”.)
  • Electricity deregulation has relatively little impact in Japan. On Friday, the retail sale of electricity was fully liberalized, allowing consumers to choose which companies they want to buy from. However, only 0.6% of the customers in Japan have filed to switch suppliers. Even more surprising is that only 1% of Tepco’s customers have filed to switch. The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s largest newspaper, believes that Japan’s post-3/11/11 economic recovery demands a stable, uninterrupted supply of electricity, which can only be guaranteed if more nukes get restarted. The Yomiuri states, “It is indispensable to secure an excess in supply capacity by pushing ahead and reactivating nuclear power stations after their safety has been confirmed.”