Day 293.2 On nobody noticing faxes until the evening and other assorted disasters

Published: December 29th, 2011 at 08:59 PM EDT

Radiation forecasts withheld by gov’t: “Ministry DECIDED such data would be unavailable” — Releasing it “would cause unnecessary panic”

Fears slowed SPEEDI info, The Daily Yomiuri, Dec. 30, 2011:

The System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI)–the government computer system that projects the dispersal of radioactive substances–was designed to pinpoint which areas should be evacuated after a nuclear accident. However, the government initially withheld SPEEDI’s projections after the Fukushima nuclear crisis erupted, claiming that releasing the data “would cause unnecessary panic.” […]

The Education, Science, Culture, Sports and Technology Ministry oversees SPEEDI. […] However, the ministry decided such data would be unavailable due to the loss of power at the plant following the massive March 11 earthquake. […]

The ministry came under growing pressure from the media to reveal the SPEEDI results. On March 15, the ministry had made projections for what would happen if all radioactive material was discharged from the nuclear plant. However, it did not release the figures for fear of panicking the public. […]

Chris Williams: Christmas in the Radiation Zone

By Chris Williams. Author and professor. Spending this Christmas in Japan.

 japan nuclear

It’s the first thing you notice.  Electric orange, ripe and luscious hoshigaki hang from every bough.  As we drive through the country and over the glittering, snow-specked mountain range from Fukushima city to Soma on the northeast coast of Japan, we pass many persimmon trees dotting the landscape, all laden with fruit, ready for harvesting.  But this year, the persimmons of Fukushima prefecture will remain untouched.  Bounty only for microbial decomposers, they are a silent reminder of the slow-burning, far-reaching menace of a nuclear accident.

Since March 11, local people, long skilled in farming this verdant and fertile region, have added expert knowledge in radiation to their library of stored knowledge, and the persimmons are deemed unsafe; irradiated by the releases from the stricken nuclear plant at Fukushima-Daiichi, 25km south of here.  I am told the dried fruit, until now a local specialty, has particularly high levels of radioactive contamination.

As we drove through the glistening mountains I watched the readings of the omnipresent dosimeter dangling casually from the rearview mirror of Hiroyuki’s car first oscillate, then grow alarmingly.  Arriving in front of a children’s summer camp, and quietly handed a face-mask, an ominous beeping sound began as the readings peaked above 1 micro-sievert per hour, corroborated by a second dosimeter brought by Yuuki to check the calibration.  We pass an old local incinerator at work burning refuse and the numbers spike again.

Article continues at:

Published: December 29th, 2011 at 07:57 PM EDT

Gov’t projections assumed ONE becquerel per hour was leaking from Fukushima — Actual rate reached at least 10 Quadrillion times higher

Fears slowed SPEEDI info, The Daily Yomiuri, Dec. 30, 2011 [Emphasis Added]:

[…] The Education, Science, Culture, Sports and Technology Ministry oversees SPEEDI. The system estimates where radioactive material will spread based on data, including figures provided by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) on the amount of radioactive material released. […]

That evening, it began projecting how much radioactive material would leak every hour, on the assumption that one becquerel was released per hour–a figure in line with Nuclear Safety Commission guidelines. […]

Panel: Wide communication gaps hampered response in Fukushima, AJW by The Asahi Shimbun, December 27, 2011:

[…] On March 11, officials of the science ministry, which has jurisdiction over SPEEDI, calculated the expected spread of radioactive materials on the assumption that such substances had spewed from the Fukushima No. 1 plant at a rate of 1 becquerel per hour. […]

Summary Report of RSMC Beijing on Fukushima Nuclear Accident Emergency Response, WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION (United Nations), Oct. 27, 2011:

In the Assumption that Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant would leak continually at the rate of 1 Becquerel per hour (Bq/h) in the future 3 (or 7) days […]

Assuming that Fukushima Nuclear Plant continuously released nuclear pollutants for 12 days from 25 March to 6 April and total release amount is 1 Bq […]

Total release amount is 1 Bq […]

View Microsoft Word .doc here

10,000,000,000,000,000 becquerels per hour vs. 1 becquerel per hour

Nikkei, April 12, 2011: “Haruki Madarame, chairman of the [Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan], which is a government panel, said it has estimated that the release of 10,000 terabecquerels of radioactive materials per hour continued for several hours.”

10,000 terabecquerels = 10 quadrillion becquerels per hour or 10,000,000,000,000,000 becquerels per hour

Can Web-Savvy Activist Moms Change Japan?

By MALCOLM FOSTER Associated Press
TOKYO December 29, 2011 (AP)

Japan’s nuclear crisis has turned Mizuho Nakayama into one of a small but growing number of Internet-savvy activist moms.

Worried about her 2-year-old son and distrustful of government and TV reports that seemed to play down radiation risks, she scoured the Web for information and started connecting with other mothers through Twitter and Facebook, many using social media for the first time.

The 41-year-old mother joined a parents group — one of dozens that have sprung up since the crisis — that petitioned local officials in June to test lunches at schools and day care centers for radiation and avoid using products from around the troubled nuclear plant.

“It’s the first time for anyone in our group to be involved in this type of activism,” said Nakayama, who now carries a Geiger counter with her wherever she goes.

Public dismay with the government’s response to this year’s triple disaster — earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown — is driving some Japanese to become more politically engaged, helped by social and alternative media. While still fledgling, it’s the kind of grass-roots activism that some say Japan needs to shake up a political system that has allowed the country’s problems to fester for years.

Nakayama’s group has had mixed success: Officials in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward immediately started posting radiation levels in milk, but they say they won’t start testing lunch foods until April. Still, Nakayama feels she and others in what she calls the “silent majority” are making a difference.

“Women in their 30s and 40s are busy raising children, and many also work,” she said. “We’re normally too busy to really raise our voices. But this time we felt compelled to speak up.”

Many Japanese have been content to let politicians and bureaucrats run the country as they see fit. Quite a few of the mothers in the newly formed parents groups didn’t even vote regularly.

But the handling of the nuclear crisis — perceived as slow, confused and less than forthright, a perception reinforced by a critical government report this week — has deepened distrust of both government and mainstream media. That has given rise to a sense that the government isn’t as reliable as once thought, and that people need to take action themselves to get things done.

“People used to think of the government as something like a father figure,” said Tatsuya Yoshioka, founder and director of Peace Boat, a volunteer group involved in recovery efforts in the tsunami-hit northeast. “But people are graduating from that. We are moving toward a more active kind of democracy in which people realize they are the primary actors, not the government.”

Japan still has a long way to go. The activism is small-scale, and powerful forces — a culture that frowns on nonconformists, an affluent society — stand in the way of lasting change.

In the weeks following the March 11 tsunami, frustration over the sketchy information coming from the government about the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant drove many Japanese to Twitter and alternative media webcasts.

OurPlanet-TV, for example, relayed footage two days after the disaster from a freelance reporter near the Fukushima plant who reported the radiation level was quite high, said director Hajime Shiraishi. Within weeks, the number of viewers jumped to more than 100,000 per day from 1,000 to 3,000 before the tsunami, she said. It has since fallen back to the 20,000-30,000 range.

Published: December 29th, 2011 at 02:16 PM EDT

Fukushima hospitals forced to limit services and reduce number of patients due to Tepco — Official: “We don’t know how long we’ll be able to continue operating under the current circumstances”

Fukushima hospitals in financial strife / Services being cut as medical facilities’ losses top 12 billion yen due to nuclear crisis, Yomiuri Shimbun by Joji Takagai, Dec. 30, 2011:

Hospitals in Fukushima Prefecture are facing financial strain–and cutting services–due to the ongoing impact of the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. […]

“We don’t know how long we’ll be able to continue operating under the current circumstances,” a hospital administrative official [at Onoda Hospital in Minami-Soma] said. […]

Tepco Shortfall

  • Hospitals demanded TEPCO pay compensation for the first six months
  • They received an average of about 70 percent of their request
  • Retirement bonuses for doctors and other expenses [like “costs of medicines”] were not covered

Due to the financial shortfall, hospitals [are]:

  • Forced to limit their services
  • Reducing the number of inpatients they accept

Kazuhira Maehara, head of Fukushima Prefecture’s hospital association

  • “Many of the hospitals had to limit the number of inpatients they accept due to the declining number of medical staff”
  • “Compensation payments didn’t start until nine months after the accident”
  • “Unless something is done, it will be a long time before hospitals [in the prefecture] can resume operation”
Published: December 27th, 2011 at 01:58 AM EDT

Top Japan official: Very strong possibility there is nuclear fuel outside containment vessel (VIDEO)

Goshi Hosono, Minister of State for the Nuclear Power Policy and Administration (Nuclear Accident Minister) with translator

Recorded Dec. 19, 2011

Transcript Summary

  • In regard to where the nuclear fuel might be there are 3 possibilities:
  • Possibility 1: In pressure vessel
  • Possibility 2: In containment vessel
  • “The third possibility is it [nuclear fuel] might have worked it’s way out through the containment vessel and be underneath it” […]
  • “In regard to that third possibility that some fuel may have worked its way out of the containment vessel and gone underneath it, I think there’s a very strong possibility…we think there is a strong possibility that some fuel is in that location as well.”
From Arudo Debito / Dave Aldwinckle:

End-year Irony #1: Japan cancels free flights for NJ tourists, claims it’s “insensitive”, while funding GOJ whaling expeditions

Posted by debito on December 30th, 2011

Hi Blog.  As the sands in the 2011 hourglass trickle away, here are a couple of posts to be filed away under Ironies.  Today’s deals with how the GOJ sees “Tohoku disasters relief measures” — both in terms of funding foreign tourists and in funding ships killing whales.

Looks like one ministry is more prone to feeling public shame than the other, so, according to the announcements below, the suddenly “insensitive” proposal to give free plane tickets to foreign visitors to visit Japan has been cancelled.  The Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Ministry, however, is singularly shameless, so I doubt that will happen to whaling.

Now, sooner or later, we’ll have to show sensitivity somehow to those afflicted by the Tohoku disasters.  I wonder which ministry that falls under.  Probably a lot of it under the former Construction Ministry arm of MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism), which has a long history of being even more shameless in ripping off the Japanese public than MAFF.

Once again, evidence of just how out of touch Japanese bureaucrats are with the public they purportedly serve.  I guess the next disaster, sadly, will have to happen in Tokyo.  Arudou Debito


Japan Flight Give Away Not to Go Ahead
December 26, 2011, courtesy of CB

This autumn there were many reports about the Japan Tourism Agency proposing to give away 10,000 free flights to Japan in 2012. After the proposal was reported, people from around the world sent messages to Japan National Tourism Organization saying they would like to participate in the programme to visit Japan and to help revitalize Japan’s tourism industry following the March 2011 earthquake. So it is with regret that the Japanese Government announced the budget for this proposal has been declined, so the flight give away will not be going ahead.

Thanks to the support of the international community, Japan is making vigorous progress towards reconstruction in the earthquake and tsunami affected northeast of Japan, but recovery from the earthquake continues to be a pressing issue.

“We realise that this announcement is going to disappoint thousands of people around the world, but we hope people will understand how insensitive it would appear for the Japanese Government to give people free flights to Japan when the cities, towns and villages devastated by the tsunami are still in desperate need of funding for reconstruction. We also would not want people thinking that the generous donations given from around the world to aide [sic] those affected by the disaster was being spent on giving people free flights.

[“]The places most popular with visitors to Japan – Tokyo, Kyoto, Hakone, Osaka, Hiroshima, Sapporo and Okinawa – were outside the earthquake and tsunami affected areas. Please do not let the fact that there will be no free flights put you off visiting Japan. There are lots of great deals available and Japan is ready and waiting to welcome back visitors more warmly than ever before,” said Kylie Clark, Head of PR & Marketing, Japan National Tourism Organization.

To find out more about the deals available on flights and holidays to Japan, please

For more information about this matter, please visit the Japan Tourism Agency website and Japan National Tourism Organization’s global website The Japan Tourism Agency statement on this annoucement can be viewedhere.


Above link reproduced below:

”Fly to Japan! Project”(10,000 FREE FLIGHTS TO FOREIGNERS)
Last Update : 2011/12/26

The project titled Fly to Japan! (to offer flight tickets to 10,000 foreigners with high potential to communicate Japan’s attractions), which had been covered in a number of media in autumn this year, was not approved as a governmental draft budget of FY 2012.

We express our hearty gratitude to a multitude of people for offering inquiries and messages to support Japan after its coverage.

As the recovery from the earthquake is an ongoing urgent task, Japan has been vigorously working towards its restoration with the support from the world. Almost all of Japan has been back to normal and ready to welcome visitors. We are sincerely looking forward to having you to see Japan with your own eyes.
Japan Tourism Agency and Japan National Tourism Organization would like to inform you of the events and promotions in 2012. If you are interested, please register as a Visit Japan fan from the site below.



Referential site:

You Won’t Believe How Japan Is Spending Extra Fukushima Relief Money
Business, By Dina Spector, December 08, 2011

Of the $230 billion in government funds allocated to rebuilding Japan post-tsunami, $29 million is going toward the country’s annual whale hunt, an official from the nation’s Fisheries Agency told the AP.

The yearly whale expeditions that take place in the Antarctic Ocean are extremely controversial, often sparking aggressive anti-whaling campaigns from environmental groups like Greenpeace and the Sea Shepard Conservation Society.

But Japanese officials argue that the seasonal hunt is largely carried out for research purposes.

This year, the commercial trip will also aid whaling communities still struggling to recover from the March tsunami.

The AP reports:

Tatsuya Nakaoku, a Fisheries Agency official in charge of whaling, defended the move, saying the funding helps support Japan’s whaling industry as a whole, including some whaling towns along the devastated northeastern coast. One ship on the hunt is based in Ishinomaki, a town hit badly by the March 11 tsunami, he said.

A portion of the funds is also being funneled into efforts to protect the fleet from attacks by environmental groups. For the third year in a row, Coast Guard boats will be sent with the hunting convoy as a precautionary safety measure, reports Yoree Koh of The Wall Street Journal.

Japan has long drawn criticism from the international community for its whaling practices, which the country considers an integral part of its culture. For decades, Japansese whaling fleets have wriggled their way around a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling by insisting that whales are captured for scientific research.

But according to Toko Sekiguchi of Time, “once a whale is killed, scientists collect data from the animal’s remains on its age, birthing rate and diet; the meat is then packaged and sold.”

Despite outrage from marine activists, whaling ships left Japan on Tuesday on a five-month journey that will return some 900 whales.

Now see what it’s actually like to go whale hunting >

Read more:

This entry was posted on Friday, December 30th, 2011 at 7:05 am and is filed under GaiatsuIronies & HypocrisiesJapanese GovernmentJapanese PoliticsTangentsTourism. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

TEPCO neglected anti-flood measures at Fukushima plant despite knowing risk

A room housing an emergency power system at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant had been submerged due to a pipe leak 20 years ago, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) revealed Dec. 29.

The utility’s latest revelations indicate that the company had failed to institute measures against flooding despite knowledge that it was possible.

According to TEPCO, the incident took place on Oct. 30, 1991, when seawater used as reactor coolant leaked from a pipe inside the turbine building of the plant’s No. 1 reactor. Although the emergency power system room was flooded, the power supply was not cut. The reactor, however, was stopped for the day.

Article continues at:



NUCLEAR ACCIDENT INTERIM REPORT / Law dysfunctional in face of unimaginable disaster

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The government panel’s interim report said plans laid out by the Nuclear Disaster Special Measures Law did not function properly because the scale of the disaster was unimaginable.

According to the law, in the event of a nuclear disaster an off-site headquarters is to be established near the nuclear power plant where the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency can gather information with representatives of local governments.

However, because local governments were overwhelmed dealing with the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, of the six towns surrounding the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant only Okumamachi sent a representative to the headquarters.

On March 15, following explosions at the plant’s Nos. 1 and 3 reactors, and with the No. 2 reactor in a hazardous condition, radiation measurements inside the headquarters reached 200 microsieverts per hour, forcing the office to relocate to Fukushima city.

Early that morning, the nuclear safety agency had faxed the headquarters, advising them to administer stabilized iodine to prevent the accumulation of radioactive iodine in workers’ bodies. But in the confusion surrounding the relocation to Fukushima, nobody noticed the fax until the evening.

The headquarters, which was only five kilometers from the nuclear plant, was not equipped with an air purifier to protect against radiation. This had been pointed out in 2009 by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, but the nuclear agency said such equipment was not necessary. “Radioactive substances would only be in the air for a short time. Just turning off the ventilation system is enough,” they said.

The confusion was largely because a multihazard disaster involving a nuclear crisis and natural calamities was not foreseen. However, the 2007 Niigata Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake had provided a forewarning.

The Niigata quake damaged Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power station, and the nuclear safety agency began conducting an investigation.

However, local governments opposed this probe, saying that if a claim was made that the earthquake caused the nuclear accident, the public would be overly apprehensive. The agency then concluded, “There is virtually no possibility that a natural disaster could cause a nuclear disaster,” and the probe was terminated.

Niigata Prefecture in 2010 devised a training plan that anticipated such complex disasters, which was revised and approved by the safety agency. Regarding such training, the report said, “Disaster drills that take into account the unique aspects of nuclear accidents should be conducted regularly, with full participation of local residents.”

(Dec. 30, 2011)

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