We have been reviewing past news media articles, looking for mention of the control room records we reported on in the past two updates. There are precious few. An Asahi Shimbun article on June 18 states the Press was told the control room records would be available on June 15, but the release was canceled because official permission from the “Prime Minister’s residence” could not be obtained.  Asahi Shimbun noticed “holes” in the sequence of events, in their June 18 report. We know that in the early morning of March 12 the Prime Minister ordered TEPCO to pass all public information through his office to gain approval before release. We also know information was withheld and/or severely delayed in its release to the world to allegedly prevent public panic, which points directly at the Prime Minister as the culprit. Which begs the question…were the control room records doctored by the Prime Minister before they were released?

Coincidentally, today’s update from Japan lays mostly in the political realm…

  • The Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), Japan’s largest business and industry organization, has called on the government to ”steadily promote” nuclear power after it regains public confidence in its energy proposals released Tuesday. Keidanren openly promotes the rapid restarting of currently-idled nuclear power plants in order to avoid further power shortages which are hampering Japan’s economic recovery from the earthquake/tsunami. Keidanren Chairman Hiromasa Yonekura has also blasted the government over the “stress test” issue. He called the whole thing “ridiculous”. The group’s press statement adds, “Energy policies adopted through the government’s obscure decision-making process hamper stable economic activities.”While not taking sides in this debate, we must agree with Keidanren’s position that Japan’s government has an obscure decision-making process…at best. We would add that decision-making obscurity played a key role in the three hydrogen explosions and considerable uncontrolled airborne and aqueous radioactive releases from Fukushima.
  • Mainichi Shimbun reports a survey across Japan indicates that the public is terribly confused about nuclear “stress tests”. What are they? What purpose do they serve? Will they be required before idled plants can be restarted? What about the nuclear plants now supplying electricity? The main issue concerns who will supervise the program; the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA). Public confidence in NISA is very low due to Fukushima. To compensate, the government has assigned the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) to monitor NISA stress test activities. But, public confidence in the NSC is also poor. This is not a way to re-establish public confidence. Literally ripping NISA out of the Ministry of the Economy and NSC out of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, giving them authentic independence, would do a whole lot more toward improving public confidence. (Japan Times, June 23)Kan’s government says it will follow the stress test program of the European Union, and allow other nations to review NISA/NSC findings for independent verification. However, there is no current stress test program being used by the European Union. It does not yet exist. IAEA proposed stress tests on June 23 as a possible way to establish whether or not older plants have deteriorated relative to IAEA safety standards. The program is under development within the European Union. The Japanese government makes it seem that stress testing already exists in Europe, but it doesn’t!
  • Asahi Shimbun reports the new, ambiguous stress tests are largely the result of political infighting between Prime Minister Kan and Industry minister Banri Kaieda. Kaieda wanted the idled nukes back on line as soon as possible to ease the current national power shortage. Kan wanted the nuke restarts delayed until public opinion was more amenable to it. It could be that Kan’s sudden move in ordering stress tests before idled nukes are restarted is merely an assertion of his power, showing Kaieda who is in charge. Since there are currently no procedures or guidelines on how to implement stress tests, it could take months to get them drawn up and approved. Then, more time taken to perform the tests. Kaieda says it could possibly be even more months before any of the idled nukes that pass the test get restarted. In the interim, nearly all of the nukes currently operating will be shut down for scheduled maintenance and refueling.It is possible that the stress test delays could witness all Japanese nukes, fully 35% of Japan’s electrical supply, idled in order to satisfy the Prime Minister’s personal political agenda. Mainichi Shimbun reports a complete nuclear shutdown will increase Japan’s 2012 CO2 level 16% above their 1990 levels. The Kyoto Protocol calls for a 6% reduction in emissions by the end of 2012. The article adds, “It will inevitably call into question the consistency between the government’s policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and its suspension of operations at nuclear power plants.”
  • Yomiuri Shimbun (YOL) reports Kan has publicly boasted the government’s “unified view” on stress testing will be appreciated by the public, and increase confidence in the government. YOL points out that the government position on the stress tests is far from unified (as we can glean from today’s updates). The man seems delusional…
  • Yomiuri Shimbun also reports the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has published a paper on a survey of 216 major Japanese domestic companies, of which 163 responded. 69% say moving their businesses to other countries is a real possibility. The reason is two-fold. First, Japan has numerous severe earthquakes, and the cost of rebuilding a quake-damaged facility is potentially prohibitive. Second, many companies emphasized that government-induced power shortages, caused by keeping undamaged nuclear plants idle, could make doing business in Japan a long term problem. Companies in other countries now see dependence on the supply of goods from Japanese firms as a liability. This has resulted in Japanese firms being asked to move their production facilities overseas.
  • The wildly disorganized, fiasco-friendly world of Japanese government involvement in nuclear energy is about to add yet a new ingredient to the confused mess. Kyodo News reports the Japanese government has asked the Nuclear Policy Commission to “…set up a body to consider medium- to long-term steps for handling the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after the current crisis is over, such as how to remove melted fuel and decommission the crippled reactors.” At the same time, Nuclear Accident Minister Hosono asked the Japan Atomic Energy Commission to set up a forum to discuss creation of the new body. Confused? You bet!
  • The governors of the 47 Japanese Prefectures have accused Prime Minister Kan of haphazard decision-making and emergency responses to the nuclear emergency at Fukushima, reports NHK World. The governors say public discontent is reaching a fever pitch over the Prime Minister’s hit-or-miss responses, and he should be formally held accountable.
  • A Japan Today headline says Prime Minister Kan wants to nationalize the nuclear power production facilities across the country. Kan told a Parliamentary session that the Fukushima nuclear accident makes him doubt with the private sector’s ability to deal with the “eventuality” of a nuclear accident.Kan is showing that he is a political opportunist who believes in Unicorns. His actions starting with March 11, and throughout the past four months, clearly demonstrate that he and his staff are inept when it comes to nuclear safety and accident recovery. If any official entity should be doubted relative to the ability to deal with a nuclear emergency, it’s Kan and his regime. The public and the Press know this. Does he really think government will be trusted any more than the “private sector”?
  • An Asahi Shimbun poll indicates that 70% of Japan’s registered voters want Kan out of office by the end of August. His regime is literally circling the drain.
  • Meanwhile, at Fukushima Daiichi…Waste waters continue to be decontaminated, preparations to build the plastic enclosures for units #1, 3 & 4 are on-going, and the RPVs temperatures remain controlled. In addition, JAIF reports TEPCO has discovered pockets of high airborne Cesium-134 inside reactor buildings #1, 2 & 3. The localized pockets have been discovered by radiation monitoring robots currently scanning all areas inside the buildings. The levels range from 50 to 65 times above government standards. TEPCO says they will implement air clean-up measures to reduce the airborne levels before workers will be allowed to enter the locations to perform accident recovery work.