• Japan’s Prime Minister has resigned. Naoto Kan’s resignation comes 5 1/2 months since the March 11 trifecta of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident challenged his leadership and spawned accusations that he has mishandled the crisis. Kan was waiting for a bill promoting renewable energy to pass the Diet, and when this happened Friday (Japan Time) he made his announcement. Several news sources in Japan speculate he will become an anti-nuclear “guerrilla” activist.
  • Our Aug. 24 update reported TEPCO finding possible evidence of a 10 meter tsunami for Fukushima Daiichi in 2008, but withheld its finding until March 7, 2011. Since then, the Japanese news media has been buzzing with reports on the issue. NISA says TEPCO told them of their findings on March 7, written on “a piece of paper”, but with no supporting documentation. NISA did not ask for documentation, either. NISA seems quick to blame TEPCO as the sole culprit. NISA says they ordered the company to submit a written report as soon as possible and suggested the need to reform the facilities. Conversely, TEPCO says this is not true and NISA never ordered them to do anything. TEPCO further claims they sent their findings to the Japan Society of Civil Engineers (JSCE) which decides tsunami-prevention measures for nuclear plants, in 2008. Traditionally, JSCE makes a determination on the viability of a finding before it is sent to NISA. JSCE never got back to TEPCO about it, so the utility didn’t contact NISA until now.Some of TEPCO’s statements to the press aren’t helping the utility’s image. For example, Japan Times quotes an anonymous TEPCO official as saying “That was only one of the research activities,” downplaying its significance relative to other risk studies occurring in 2008. NHK World reports a TEPCO spokesperson said it did not publicize the results because they were based on a hypothetical situation. Does anyone at TEPCO care about how often they have informationally shot themselves in the foot since March 11?
  • An article in Yomiuri Shimbun concerns teachers learning about radiation in order to meet recent government curriculum mandates. To pay for the teacher’s training, two Ministries have re-designated 77 million yen previously intended for “expenses for nuclear power education support projects”. The government hopes to train at least 1,400 teachers before next spring, when the new curriculum becomes law. 140 workshops in 11 Prefectures are scheduled to be held before Sept. 1. In addition, 10 Japanese Universities have made radiation training a requirement for teacher certification renewal. Tetsuo Ito of Kinki University’s Atomic Energy Research Institute said, “Teaching everything from [the nature of] radiation to the fear of it will help reduce discrimination and prejudice over the issue.” All teachers quoted by The Yomiuri said they knew nothing about radiation before taking the training. Whether or not the training reduced their personal anxieties is not mentioned.
  • JAIF reports that yet another nuke will be shut down for scheduled inspection and refueling by Friday. The Tomari #2 nuclear plant is already reducing power output in anticipation of Friday’s operational suspension. This will bring the number of inactive reactors around the country to 41, or 76% of the total number of 54. JAIF mentions that 11 of the idle nukes have completed their scheduled outage work and are ready to restart. However, politics and radiation fears will keep them shut down until 2the new year, at the earliest.
  • JAIF also reports that all Prefectural cattle shipping bans have been lifted, including Fukushima. In the future, bans will be ordered for farms and specific locales where Cesium tainted beef is detected. Their method of detection will be to test the meat of cattle raised where soil Cesium contamination exists. With Farms that do not have cesium in the soil, one head of each herd will be tested as a precaution.Suddenly, private agencies that screen food products for radioactive contamination have been swamped with requests from food producers, distributors and consumers,for a wide range of foods…not just beef. In fact, Mainichi Shimbun says the demand far outstrips the number of facilities that can test for Cesium. What was first a beef-phobia is rapidly becoming a wide-spread food-neurosis.
  • Mainichi Shimbun now ads its voice to the speculation that the government will buy up all the highly contaminated land around the towns Futuba and Okuma, and make it a nuclear waste dump. In fact, some of the evacuees interviewed by The Mainichi are in favor of it. They experienced the economic benefits of Fukushima Daiichi before the accident, so now they feel obligated to assume some of the responsibility for the accident. However, there has been no official confirmation or denial of the rumor from Tokyo.

The Hiroshima Syndrome strikes again…

  • To accommodate the public’s phobic fears, the Japanese government has further lowered the schoolchild radiation exposure limit. The new standard is one millisievert per year, which just happens to be what is considered to be the national average for natural background exposures. Students who are at schools where this limit might be exceeded will be allowed to go outside if the school’s radiation field is below 3.8 msv/yr. The students who go outside in the school fields between 1 and 3.8 msv/yr. must be decontaminated before going back into the school building.
  • Asahi Shimbun seems to be hell-bent on amplifying unfounded radiation fears by making the exception sound like the rule. Using essentially hear-say evidence, The Asahi reports, “some who continue to work at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant say things like they will never marry because of cancer fears due to the leaked radiation from the plant. “ In addition, one worker allegedly said, “While we have to do everything we can to stop (the nuclear accident), in a sense we are all guinea pigs.” And yet another who says, “Since I have no idea when I will develop cancer, I probably can never get married even if I go to a place that matches couples.”If these quotes are in fact representative of what Fukushima workers believe about radiation exposure, then TEPCO has done them and the world a terrible disservice by not teaching their people about the realities of the biological effects of ionizing radiation. Deplorable…