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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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Tuesday
Jun122012

Sample language for a letter of protest to Japanese Prime Minister Noda re: his re-start approval for Ohi nuclear power plant, Fukui Prefecture 

Letter of Protest [A PDF version of letter of protest is posted here]

To: Mr. Yoshihiko Noda, Prime Minister of Japan

“Shame on you, Mr. Noda  – listen to your people and act responsibly – Don’t restart Ohi reactors – Come up with a responsible energy policy based on conservation and renewable energy”

Dear Prime Minister,

We protest your decision to restart two nuclear power reactors in the town of Ohi in Fukui Prefecture. We ask you to reconsider and instead impose a moratorium on nuclear power in Japan. We ask you to come up with a responsible energy policy for a Japan without nuclear power and based on energy conservation and renewable energies.

Here are our reasons:

① Your decision is undemocratic. The Japanese public is not supporting you. Many members and parliamentarians of your own party are not standing with you. 

② The full truth about the meltdown of the three reactors in Fukushima has not been established, yet.

③ The prevailing, temporary safety standards that have been applied by the stress tests and that you referred to when you declared the Ohi reactors to be safe, are insufficient. At present, essential safety measures that are required by the stress tests have not yet  been implemented in Ohi. It is not verified whether the reactors can be shut down safely if a serious earthquake were to occur.

④ Any new regime of safety standards must be formulated and overseen by a truly independent Nuclear Safety Agency. This agency has not yet been established, and parliamentary procedures have just been started. 

⑤ The sharp increase in seismic activities in Japan since the earthquake and tsunami catastrophe of March 11 is alarming. The fact that there are active fault lines in the vicinity of the Ohi reactors, and perhaps even under the site is a major reason of concern.

You may reject this letter as an outside interference into the internal affairs of Japan. However, we know since Chernobyl and Fukushima that the fallout of nuclear accidents does not know national borders, but severely impacts the global environment and bears unknown risks to the health of all mankind. We believe it is our moral obligations to voice our concerns to you.

We also know that our concerns are shared by many people in your country and that a majority of your people does not agree with you. We have high respect for the people of Japan, for their sense of community and service in times of great harm. We believe in their creativity and strong will to overcome these difficult times, and to rebuild a Japan without nuclear power.

We, therefore, ask you to kindly reconsider the restart of the Ohi reactors and to declare a moratorium on nuclear power. We ask you to come up with a responsible energy policy for a Japan without nuclear power based on energy conservation and renewable energies.

Yours sincerely,

Date: 

Signature:

Tuesday
Jun122012

Powerful, moving pleas from Fukushima women to Noda government

On June 7, 2012, about 70 women, including 10 women from Fukushima, did a "die-in" in front of Prime Minister Noda's official residence to protest against the start of the Ohi nuclear power plant. Before the die-in, 10 Fukushima women visited the Cabinet office and met with officials to submit a letter of request addressed to Prime Minister Noda. The next day, Noda announced he would re-start Ohi. This video shows the testimony of the women - one by one - in powerful, moving orations that should not fail to move anyone thinking rationally. At the end there is footage of the die-in. Unfortunately, Noda failed to heed their pleas. Watch our bulletin, website and Facebook pages for actions to protest the irresponsible criminality of restarting reactors in Japan.

Friday
Jun082012

Toshio Nishi, Hoover Institute: "On the Cesium Road"

Toshio Nishi, a research associate at the Hoover Institute, published a very hard-hitting essay, "On the Cesium Road", on April 6, 2012. It begins:

"Japanese feel angry and ignored, prisoners of both radiation and bureaucracy. 

For more than a year, I have been hoping that the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company would find the courage to bear the unbearable and repair the breathtaking damage from last spring’s earthquake and tsunami. But a better tomorrow is not in sight. A deathly silence still pervades the desolate landscape of Fukushima and the long coastal line of northern Japan—the cesium road.

The Japanese government grows more incompetent and dysfunctional, while Tokyo Electric has dug a deep foxhole of self-preservation and clings tightly to its monopoly. I am embarrassed as a Japanese citizen to list some of the most glaring shenanigans that the government and the power company have been acting out in public over the past year..."

Tuesday
Jun052012

Former Japanese PM Kan: "the best way to make nuclear plants safe is not to rely on them, but rather to get rid of them”

Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan testifying before the Diet panel investigating the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.In an article entitled "Japan's Former Leader Condemns Nuclear Power," the New York Times reported on May 28th about the three-hour testimony of Japan's former Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, before a Japanese parliamentary investigation into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe. Kan was serving during the first five months of the catastrophe, from 3/11/11 to August, when he resigned. Kan warned that the politically and economically powerful "nuclear village" in industry, government, and academia has shown "no remorse" for the catastrophe, as it pushes to re-start Japan's 50 remaining atomic reactors despite widespread grassroots opposition. Kan pointed out that “Gorbachev said in his memoirs that the Chernobyl accident exposed the sicknesses of the Soviet system. The Fukushima accident did the same for Japan.” Kan shared that he feared a worst case scenario cascade (or in the words of Kan's Chief Cabinet Secretary, now Minister of Trade, Economy, and Industry, Edano, "demonic chain reaction") of reactor meltdowns and high-level radioactive waste pool fires, which could have caused the “release into the air and sea many times, no, many dozens of times, many hundreds of times the radiation released by Chernobyl,” which would have forced the evacuation of 30 million people from Tokyo, leading to “a collapse of the nation’s ability to function.” Kan concluded “It is impossible to ensure safety sufficiently to prevent the risk of a national collapse. Experiencing the accident convinced me that the best way to make nuclear plants safe is not to rely on them, but rather to get rid of them.”

An AFP article, carried by Japan Today, reports that Kan compared the "nuclear village" in Japan to the imperial militarism that plunged Japan into World War II. Kan is quoted as saying “The nuclear accident was caused by a nuclear plant which operated as national policy...I believe the biggest portion of blame lies with the state...Before the war, the military came to have a grip on actual political power… Similarly, plant operator TEPCO and FEPC (Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan) held sway over the nation’s nuclear administration over the past 40 years...They ousted experts, politicians and bureaucrats critical of nuclear energy from the mainstream. Many others they sidelined so that they could maintain the status quo.”

Thursday
May312012

Stony Brook and Stanford Universities link radioactive bluefin tuna caught off California coast to Fukushima

A study, published by the universities at Stony Brook and Stanford, has scientifically linked  radioactive contamination in bluefin tuna caught off the coast of California in August 2011, to the massive releases of radionuclides into ocean waters from Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear catastrophe which began in March 2011. The scientific report concludes that Fukushima has "caused significant local and global concern regarding the spread of radioactive material."  The authors with Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University and the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University jointly published "Pacific bluefin tuna transport Fukushima-derived radionuclides from Japan to California” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The authors report "unequivocal evidence" that the radioactive cesium-137 and cesium-134 contamination in the bluefin tuna is from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear catastrophe.  The bluefin tuna spawn in the waters of the Western Pacific off the coast of Japan each year and then migrate across the Northern Pacific to the eco-systems in the Eastern Pacific off the coast of California.   Radioactive cesium accumulates in the muscle tissue of fish.  The report states, “Because bluefin tuna are harvested annually in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) at 1.7 – 9.9 x 103 metric tonnes (between 1700 and 9900 metric tonnes) for human consumption (2000 to 2010), the possibility of radioactive contamination raises public health concerns.”

The report further states that the samples showed a 10-fold increase in radiocesium concentrations in the commercial fish and, presently, would likely only provide low doses of radioactivity through consumption relative to other naturally occurring radionuclides in those same fish.

However, the study appears to have measured only one kind of radiation: gamma. The researchers do not mention measuring beta or alpha radiation, two types that deliver a much higher dose once inside a human body. This means that any radioactive decay level (usually given in becquerels - Bq) would under represent the actual level of radioactivity. Additionally, the researchers attempt to compare radiocesium contamination with that of naturally occurring radiation. However, such comparisons should be avoided because studies show that cesium can behave very differently, collecting in unexpected places in the body and residing there longer than expected.

The study represents the first evidence that radiation from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, coming by way of the Pacific Ocean marine food chain, can ultimately end up increasing internal radioactive exposure and body burden for humans in the US. Since publishing the study, the authors have now caught more bluefin tuna that have completed additional migrations between Japan and California.  These commercial fish will be tested for increased bioaccumulation of radioactive isotopes. Additional bio-magnification of radioactive isotopes like cesium-137 can be expected to continue to increase in the fish food stock in these contaminated eco-systems. The average life span of bluefin tuna can be up to 15 years, meaning that additional fish migrations into these contaminated eco-systems can increase as the result of bio-magnification, bio-accumulation and  the uptake and retention of radioactivity in muscle and organ tissue.