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Six months later: The Fukushima nuclear disaster in retrospect
As Japan approaches the six-month anniversary of its worst nuclear disaster, when an unprecedented meltdown occurred in three of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant’s reactors in a combination of natural and manmade calamities, the road to recovery is still long and unclear. In anticipation of the anniversary, the Mainichi looks back over the past six months to outline what has been done, learned, and where Japan currently stands on the issue in this time of crisis.
Article continues at: http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110910p2a00m0na008000c.html
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Disaster recovery still elusive
Sunday marks half a year since the major earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan. The path to recovery still seems far away as many disaster survivors continue to struggle in rebuilding their lives.
As of Saturday, the number of confirmed deaths from the disaster was 15,781, while 4,086 people remain unaccounted for. About 83,000 people are still living away from their homes.
To accommodate evacuees more than 49,000 units of temporary housing have been built. That is 94 percent of the planned number.
Securing jobs remains one of the top priorities. In the 3 hardest-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, the number of people who have lost their jobs or temporarily left work totals about 158,000.
An NHK survey shows that 50 percent of temporary housing residents say they have no prospects for future earnings or will lose their income within a year.
As of July, about 70,000 people were receiving unemployment benefits. But the payments’ period is expected to end starting in October. The labor ministry is considering extending the period and offering subsidies to companies that hire the affected people.
Only 5 of 40 hard-hit local communities have drawn up recovery plans. Financial support from the central government is essential for the plans, but how to secure funds remains unclear.
Other recovery challenges include supporting children who have been forced to change schools due to the disaster and the ensuing nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture.
The affected children need psychological care and educational support.
Sunday, September 11, 2011 05:07 +0900 (JST)
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Industry minister Hachiro quits over gaffes on Fukushima crisis
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s industry minister Yoshio Hachiro resigned from his post Saturday after making remarks that angered and displeased people affected by the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, political sources said.
Hachiro submitted a resignation letter to Noda, who accepted it, they said. His resignation deals a blow to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda who took office and launched his Cabinet just last week, succeeding Prime Minister Naoto Kan.
Hachiro is scheduled to hold a press conference later Saturday.
Hachiro was under pressure to quit after he called areas near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant a “ghost town” Friday and made a joking remark in the presence of reporters about radiation leakage from the plant earlier.
Hachiro apologized for the remarks and pledged to “work hard” as minister of economy, trade and industry.
But criticism not only from crisis-affected people and opposition lawmakers but even his colleagues in Noda’s ruling Democratic Party of Japan forced him to resign, only eight days after Noda launched his Cabinet.
The DPJ’s policy committee chief, Seiji Maehara, told reporters earlier Saturday, “It will be important for him to clearly explain today what his intentions really were” when he made the remarks.
Shigeru Ishiba, policy chief of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, also said Hachiro should resign of his own volition and that if not, the premier must sack him.
(Mainichi Japan) September 11, 2011
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2 out of 3 municipalities opposed to more nuclear plants: survey
TOKYO, Sept. 11, Kyodo
Roughly two out of three municipal leaders in Japan are opposed to building more nuclear power plants while nearly half of local governments are interested in hosting big solar power plants, a Kyodo News survey showed Saturday.
The survey, conducted ahead of the six-month mark of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, also shows that most are dissatisfied with measures taken by the central government to cope with the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant crippled by the disasters.
According to the survey of 1,793 prefectural, city, town and village offices, of which 1,697 responded, 38 percent say they are against building new nuclear power plants while 27 percent are not only against building new plants but also want to see the early abolition of existing plants.
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A third of Fukushima residents would move if they could
More than a third of residents of Fukushima Prefecture would move to avoid radiation if they could, according to a survey by The Asahi Shimbun and TV Asahi Corp.-affiliated stations.
In a telephone poll, 941 people in Fukushima were asked: “If possible, would you like to live in places inside and outside the prefecture where radiation levels are low in order to avoid damage caused by radioactivity?”
Thirty-four percent of respondents said they would move, while 62 percent said they would not.
Fifty-five percent of respondents from households with children up to junior high school age wanted to move. Twenty-five percent of respondents with no children said they wanted to relocate.
Of the people who wanted to move, 37 percent said finding a job and 25 percent said moving away from a familiar environment were major obstacles.
Among those who did not want to go, 59 percent said leaving their home community was a key factor. About 18 percent said they were not particularly concerned about radiation risks.
Forty-eight percent of respondents said they were making efforts to minimize their exposure to radiation in their daily lives, with that figure rising to 71 percent among people with children.
The polling of the Fukushima residents was part of a wider survey of 2,787 people in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures in early September.
Sixty-six percent of respondents in Fukushima Prefecture, 47 percent in Iwate Prefecture and 53 percent in Miyagi Prefecture said the damage from the disaster could have been reduced by better disaster-prevention planning by central and municipal governments.
Respondents in the three prefectures were asked whether they thought people in their prefectures would be able to return to their pre-quake normality “within three years,” “in more than five years,” “within 10 years” or “in more than 10 years.”
Sixty-eight percent of Fukushima respondents said it would take longer than 10 years to get back to normal. In Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, 40 percent of respondents thought it would take longer than 10 years and another 40 percent chose the “within 10 years” option.
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Simulation shows radiation may have reached 15 prefectures
By HIROHIKO NAKAMURA / Staff Writer
Radioactive iodine and cesium from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant likely spread across a wide area encompassing Tohoku, Kanto and parts of Chubu, according to a simulation by the National Institute for Environmental Studies.
The results of the study are expected to provide a basis for information used in decontamination efforts and other quake-related projects.
“The simulation data does not necessarily reflect actual measurements,” said Toshimasa Ohara, head of the institute’s Center for Regional Environmental Research. “We want the data to be used as reference figures and indicators of where to measure radiation levels, especially in areas where the results indicate high levels.”
Taking into account weather conditions, such as wind directions and rainfalls, Ohara estimated the amount of nuclear substances from the plant that had fallen on the ground and in nearby waters from March 11, when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, until March 29, the date the radiation fallout was believed to have mostly eased off.
The results indicate the possibility that 13 percent of leaked iodine-131 and 22 percent of released cesium-137 fell on soil in 15 prefectures. Cesium-137 was estimated at high levels in spots scattered across a broad area, including Shizuoka, Nagano and Niigata prefectures.
In early May, the science ministry published the results of the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI) to estimate the spread of radiation from the plant.
Many of SPEEDI’s radiation monitoring locations recorded values close to the ones estimated by Ohara’s simulation project. But the SPEEDI measurements were largely limited to an area close to the plant.
After radioactive cesium was detected in tea leaves in Shizuoka, Kanagawa and other prefectures, calls from the public intensified for assessments covering a much wider area.
The simulation map can be found on the National Institute for Environmental Studies’ website in Japanese at (http://bit.ly/qImVbY).
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And this, filed under HUMOR…
Great – especially the last frame: http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2011/09/ot-radiation-contamination-perceived-by.html