Tag Archives: japan

Fukushima anniversary: Ex-Japanese PM on why he now opposes nuclear power

March 11, 2014. Source: Democracy Now!

Photograph: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

Photograph: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

Three years ago today a massive earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami that struck Japan’s northeast coast, resulting in an unprecedented nuclear crisis: a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.

As Japan marks the anniversary with continued uncertainty around Fukushima’s long-term impact, we are joined by Naoto Kan, Japan’s prime minister at the time. It’s rare that a sitting world leader changes his position completely, but that’s what Kan has done.  He explains how he came to oppose nuclear power while still in office, as he weighed Tokyo’s evacuation.

“It’s impossible to totally prevent any kind of accident or disaster happening at the nuclear power plants,” Kan says. “And so, the one way to prevent this from happening, to prevent the risk of having to evacuate such huge amounts of people, 50 million people, and for the purpose, for the benefit of the lives of our people, and even the economy of Japan, I came to change the position, that the only way to do this was to totally get rid of the nuclear power plants.”

Click here for the video interview.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Nuclear power, Oceans, Pollution

U.S. sailors sick from Fukushima radiation file new suit against Tokyo Electric Power

Note: Perhaps there’s a sort of tragic irony in the USS Ronald Reagan facing the scrapyard…

-The GJEP Team

By Harvey Wasserman, February 9, 2014. Source: Eco-Watch

Now docked in San Diego, the USS Reagan’s on-going safety has become a political hot potato. The $4.3 billion carrier is at the core of the U.S. Naval presence in the Pacific. Critics say it’s too radioactive to operate or to scrap, and that it should be sunk, as were a number of U.S. ships contaminated by atmospheric Bomb tests in the South Pacific. Photo: Eco-Watch

Now docked in San Diego, the USS Reagan’s on-going safety has become a political hot potato. The $4.3 billion carrier is at the core of the U.S. Naval presence in the Pacific. Critics say it’s too radioactive to operate or to scrap, and that it should be sunk, as were a number of U.S. ships contaminated by atmospheric Bomb tests in the South Pacific. Photo: Eco-Watch

Citing a wide range of ailments from leukemia to blindness to birth defects, 79 American veterans of 2011’s earthquake/tsunami relief Operation Tomadachi (“Friendship”) have filed a new $1 billion class action lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power.

The suit includes an infant born with a genetic condition to a sailor who served on the USS Ronald Reagan as radiation poured over it during the Fukushima melt-downs, and an American teenager living near the stricken site. It has also been left open for “up to 70,000 U.S. citizens [who were] potentially affected by the radiation and will be able to join the class action suit.”

The re-filing comes as Tepco admits that it has underestimated certain radiation readings by a factor of five. And as eight more thyroid cancers have surfaced among children in the downwind region.Two new earthquakes have also struck near the Fukushima site.

The amended action was filed in federal court in San Diego on Feb. 6, which would have been Reagan’s 103rd birthday. It says Tepco failed to disclose that the $4.3 billion nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was being heavily dosed from three melt-downs and four explosions at the Fukushima site. The Reagan was as close as a mile offshore as the stricken reactors poured deadly clouds of radiation into the air and ocean beginning the day after the earthquake and tsunami. It also sailed through nuclear plumes for more than five hours while about 100 miles offshore. The USS Reagan (CVN-76) is 1,092 feet long and was commissioned on July 12, 2003. The flight deck covers 4.5 acres, carries 5,500 sailors and more than 80 aircraft. Continue reading

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West coast wood exports undercut economy and environment

By Samantha Chirillo, December 11, 2013. Source: Energy Justice Network

samarticleSince the European Union (EU) countries set high carbon reduction standards and counted biomass energy as carbon neutral and renewable, biomass exports from the southeastern U.S. have skyrocketed.

Now, as Japan looks for an alternative to nuclear energy, as U.S. corporations get tax breaks to relocate facilities to the countries of least regulation, as trans-Pacific trade agreements give these corporations power over governments, and as Oregon’s Congressional delegation plans to log more public forest, west coast ports are preparing for log and biomass export expansion. In 2013 alone, log and chip exports from the northwestern U.S. already doubled, according to Public Interest Forester Roy Keene. Exports are the surest path to forest decline, as history has shown, says Keene.

Oregon may be the biggest loser, or at least the state with the most to lose, with a third of its total annual harvest volume exported as logs and chips, as Keene states in his article “Outsourcing Forests Costs Thousands of Jobs.”Oregon does not have stringent forest practice laws or headwater protections at the state level, like Washington and California do. Current bills to log the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) checkerboard public forest lands in Oregon fail to account for the large-scale clearcutting and poisoning of near Oregon’s intermingled private forests.
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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change

Friends of the Earth International strongly denounces Japan’s inaction on climate

WARSAW, POLAND, November 15, 2013 – Friends of the Earth International today strongly denounced the Japanese government which stated at the UN climate talks that it is breaking its promises to reduce climate change-causing greenhouse gases. [1]

Japan is the world’s fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

While the planet is hurtling towards catastrophic climate change, and thousands are dead due to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Japan announced it will not reduce its carbon emissions as much as previously promised. This Japanese announcement flies in the face of the scientific evidence recently released by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change,” said Dipti Bhatnagar, International Coordinator of the Climate Justice & Energy programme, Friends of the Earth International.

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Fukushima crisis new blow to fishermen’s hopes

By Miki Toda and Koji Ueda, August 28, 2013. Source: San Francisco Chronicle 

Photo: Koji Ueda

Photo: Koji Ueda

Third-generation fisherman Fumio Suzuki sets out into the Pacific Ocean every seven weeks. Not to catch fish to sell, but to catch fish that can be tested for radiation.

For the last 2 ½ years, fishermen from the port of Yotsukura near the strickenFukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant have been mostly stuck on land with little to do. There is no commercial fishing along most of the Fukushima coast. In a nation highly sensitive to food safety, there is no market for the fish caught near the stricken plant because the meltdowns it suffered contaminated the ocean water and marine life with radiation.

A sliver of hope emerged after recent sampling results showed a decline in radioactivity in some fish species. But a new crisis spawned by fresh leaks of radioactive water from the Fukushima plant last week may have dashed those prospects.
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Fukushima leaks prompt government to ‘emergency measures’

By Takashi Hirokawa, Jacob Adelman, Peter Langan & Yuji Okada, 26 August, 2013. Source: Bloomberg

 

Members of Fukushima prefecture panel inspect ALPS, a multiple nuclide removing system, at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture on Aug. 6, 2013. Photo: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Members of Fukushima prefecture panel inspect ALPS, a multiple nuclide removing system, at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture on Aug. 6, 2013. Photo: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Japan’s government will lead “emergency measures” to tackle radioactive water spills at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, wresting control of the disaster recovery from the plant’s heavily criticized operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)

“We’ve allowed Tokyo Electric to deal with the contaminated water situation on its own and they’ve essentially turned it into a game of ‘Whack-a-Mole,’” Trade Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters today at Fukushima. “From now on, the government will move to the forefront.”

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which is led by Motegi, “is working to draw up, by some time in September, both emergency measures and more fundamental steps to eliminate the roots of the contaminated water problem, as well as measures to be carried out going forward,” the Prime Minister’s office said in a response to written questions.

More than two years after the March 2011 nuclear disaster,Tokyo Electric’s recovery effort has taken a turn for the worse. Japan’s nuclear regulator last week questioned the company’s ability to deal with the crisis, echoing comments earlier in the month by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Continue reading

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Fukushima fallout hits farmers

By Suvendrini Kakuchi, July 30, 2013. Source: Inter Press Service

Cranes stand around tsunami-crippled four reactors, from left, Unit 1 to Unit 4, at Fukushima Dadi-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan Sunday, March 11, 2012. Photo: AP /Kyodo News

Cranes stand around tsunami-crippled four reactors, from left, Unit 1 to Unit 4, at Fukushima Dadi-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan Sunday, March 11, 2012. Photo: AP /Kyodo News

Life for Yoshihiro Watanabe and his wife Mutsuko, mushroom and rice farmers from Fukushima, has changed drastically since the disastrous meltdowns in the Dai Ichi nuclear plant that was hit by a massive tsunami after a 9.0 strong earthquake struck on Mar. 11, 2011.

“Dangerous levels of radiation from the crippled nuclear reactors have effectively forced us to stop our mushroom cultivation and reduced our farming income almost 80 percent,” Watanabe told IPS.

He added that the family is also taking extreme care to protect their health by choosing only “safe” food, resulting in “a nerve-wracking lifestyle.” Exposure of food to radiation increases cancer risks.

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Tepco faces decision to dump radioactive water in Pacific

By Tsuyoshi Inajima, April 11, 2013. Source: Bloomberg

Photo: Tokyo Electric Power Co. via Bloomberg

Photo: Tokyo Electric Power Co. via Bloomberg

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)’s discovery of leaks in water storage pits at the wrecked Fukushima atomic station raises the risk the utility will be forced to dump radioactive water in the Pacific Ocean.

Leaks were found in three of seven pits in the past week, reducing the options for moving contaminated water from basements of reactor buildings. Water in the basements is from the months after the earthquake and tsunami disabled the plant two years ago, when disaster teams used hose pipes and pumps to try and cool the reactors.

While the company has since built a makeshift sealed cooling system, underground water is breaching basement walls at a rate of about 400 tons a day and becoming contaminated, according to Tepco’s estimate. With Japan’s rainy season approaching, contaminated water levels are likely to increase at the plant 220 kilometers (137 miles) northeast of Tokyo.

Reducing radiation levels in the water and pouring it into the sea is one of two options the utility has, said Kazuhiko Kudo, a research professor of nuclear engineering at Kyushu University. The other option is “to keep building above-ground storage tanks,” said Kudo. That’s a fight Tepco can’t win without stopping the underground water pouring into the basements, Kudo said.
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Japan’s ‘frozen gas’ reserves are worthless if we take climate change seriously

Note: Read more about Japan’s most recent excursion into the world of extreme energy and extremely bad ideas, as covered on Climate Connections, here.

-The GJEP Team

By George Monbiot, March 14, 2013. Source: The Guardian

There may be catastrophic release of gas from methane hydrates buried beneath the deep sea. Photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

There may be catastrophic release of gas from methane hydrates buried beneath the deep sea. Photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

There’s only one way of knowing whether or not governments are serious about climate change: have they decided to leave most of their fossil fuel reserves in the ground? We have already discovered far more carbon than we can afford to burn, if we are not to commit the world to very dangerous levels of heating. Only if most of it – four-fifths according to a detailed estimate – is left where it sits is there a good chance of preventing more than2C of global warming.

Forgive me if you’ve heard me say this many times before. But it is the only point that is really worth making. It doesn’t matter how many wind turbines you build, or energy-saving lightbulbs you install, or more economical cars you manufacture: unless most of our fossil fuel reserves are declared off-limits they will, sooner or later, be extracted and burned. The question of whether it is sooner or whether it is later makes little difference: we have already identified more underground carbon than we can afford to burn between now and the year 3000.

Far from agreeing to leave existing fossil fuel reserves in the ground, governments and corporations are spending hundreds of billions prospecting for new reserves, and finding ways to extract ever more exotic forms of buried carbon. Every time they succeed, press reports gush like a Texan oil well in the 1920s.

This mindless enthusiasm has now greeted the Japanese government’s announcement that it has successfully extracted natural gas from methane hydrates (otherwise known as clathrates) buried under the bed of the sea.
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Japanese farmers protest Japan’s push to join Trans-Pacific Partnership

By Jacob Chamberlain, March 13, 2013. Source: Common Dreams

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

Farmers from across Japan staged a protest in Tokyo on Tuesday over signs that the Japanese government will soon sign on to join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership “free-trade” agreement with the U.S. and other nations.

Saying the TPP will only result in “a drastic agreement that will change the way the nation deals with food,” the farmers urged Japan’s leaders not to back the deal or join the talks.

Roughly four thousand people joined Japan’s Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (Ja-Zenchu) and other groups linked to the farm and fish industries to express opposition to a deal they say will compromise the integrity of their livelihoods.

Akira Banzai, head of JA-Zenchu, said at the rally that both “anxiety and anger” is “spreading around us because we have not received a sufficient explanation from the government,” as to what the TPP will entail for the food industry of Japan.
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