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Japan

Until the Fukushima accident, Japan had 55 operating nuclear reactors as well as enrichment and reprocessing plants which had suffered a series of deadly accidents at its nuclear facilities resulting in the deaths of workers and releases of radioactivity into the environment and surrounding communities. Since the Fukushima disaster, there is growing opposition against re-opening those reactors closed for maintenance.

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Monday
Jan302012

Science with a Skew: The Nuclear Power Industry After Chernobyl and Fukushima

A wonderful piece from Gayle Greene, the author of "The Woman Who Knew Too Much", a biography of Alice Stewart who was the first researcher to show the damage of low dose radiation to the fetus. This article discusses Japan's ironic role in determining radiation damage, first from the US bombings which ushered forth a full court press cover-up of the health effects, to the health impacts of the GE designed Fukushima reactors and how data from the bombings is being used to quiet alarms about the impact of Fukushima radiation. A thoroughly-researched and well-written article and a must-read. Asia-Pacific Journal

Sunday
Jan292012

The radioactive waste at "The Fourth Reactor and the Destiny of Japan"

In an essay by that title, Akio Matsumura has warned about the risks of Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4's high-level radioactive waste storage pool collapsing:

"In the last weeks, I have been speaking constantly with Japanese government and party leaders on this urgent issue. Surprisingly, most of them were not aware of the dangerous situation. I, along with many eminent scientists, are emphasizing the precarious situation of the fourth reactor that contains 1,535 nuclear fuel rods in the pool and is balanced on the second floor [sic*], outside of the reactor containment vessel. If the fuel rods spill onto the ground, disaster will ensue and force Tokyo and Yokohama to close, creating a gigantic evacuation zone. All scientists I have talked with say that if the structure collapses we will be in a situation well beyond where science has ever gone. The destiny of Japan will be changed and the disaster will certainly compromise the security of neighboring countries and the rest of the world in terms of health, migration and geopolitics.  The Japanese government should immediately create an independent assessment team to determine the structural integrity of the spent fuel pool and its supporting structure. This is of the highest importance: the structure’s security is critical to the country’s future."

Dr. Gordon Edwards, Montreal based President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR), agrees wholeheartedly with Matsumura about the risks. Edwards has provided a techical backgrounder, and called for international assistance to prevent a worsening of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe, as could happen if the Unit 4 high-level radioactive waste storage pool collapses, and the irradiated nuclear fuel catches fire. Edwards presented Matsumura with yet more technical detail in a letter dated January 13th.

[*General Electric Boiling Water Reactors of the Mark 1 design actually have high-level radioactive waste storage pools located several stories up in the air]

Wednesday
Jan252012

Fukushima mothers and activists face eviction

On Friday, January 27th, the tent occupation in front of METI in Tokyo faces eviction by order of minister Yukio Edano. The eviction order follows a controversial public meeting where government officials met with nuclear industry personnel to discuss nuclear power plant restarts, while attempting to exclude the public from the meeting. Concerned citizens who registered to attend the meeting were forcefully removed and the meeting took place behind closed doors.

The tent occupation in front of METI has lasted over 4 months through the support of women from Fukushima, and many others around Japan who oppose nuclear power. People from all over the world have visited the occupation to show their support and learn about issues surrounding nuclear power post March 11th, including the severe conditions that people in Fukushima continue to face. Currently, women of Fukushima are in the process of a "10 month 10 day" 24-hour sit-in to protest against nuclear power and the government's mismanagement of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster that continues today.
An emergency press conference will be held on January 27th at 1pm at the Japan Federation of Bar Associations’ Building, Room 1006. (Access: http://www.nichibenren.or.jp/jfba_info/organization/map.html ) This will be followed by a demonstration at the tent occupation from 4pm to 6pm, the hours of the eviction deadline. Please email, telephone fax minister Edano and METI ( the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) to retract the eviction order. METI (TEL) +81-3-3501-1609 METI Public Relations (FAX) +81-3-3501-6942. METI Minister Yukio Edano, (TEL) +81-3-3508-7448, (FAX) +81-3-3591-2249. (E-mail) omiya@edano.gr.jp

Monday
Jan232012

Parents' groups lead Japanese response to Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe

An Associated Press article explores the rise of some 200 parents' organizations in Japan in response to the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe, mostly led by mothers. In many cases, mothers -- some of whom had not even bothered to vote before, because they were too busy raising children and/or working jobs -- are now familiarizing themselves with social media like Facebook and Twitter, in order to better network, communicate and organize. Parents have realized that they can no longer depend on the government to protect them, and have taken an active role in demanding radiation checks on their children's school lunches and school yards.

Sunday
Jan222012

Global Conference for a Nuclear Power-Free World, Yokohama

On January 11th, a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan kicked off the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power-Free World, held in Yokohama. The featured speakers included: Tatsuya Yoshioka (Chair of Executive Committee, Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World / Co-founder and Director, Peace Boat); Aileen Mioko Smith (Director, Green Action); Rebecca Harms (Member of the European Parliament, Green German Member of the European Parliament Spokesperson); and Mycle Schneider (Independent international consultant on energy and nuclear policy). The six co-sponsoring Japanese organizations, which had long called for a reassessement of Japan's love affair with the atom long before the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe, are: Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, FoE Japan, Green Action, Greenpeace Japan, the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, and Peace Boat.