— ‘It’s a lie’: former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi blasts Shinzo Abe’s government over Fukushima clean-up

“I think nuclear is an environmentally viable way to produce electricity.”
— Dale Klein, an adviser to TEPCO and a former chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Dale Klein is a good example of the revolving door between government and private industry. Regulators don’t regulate because they don’t want to jeopardize their career options.

From South China Morning Post

Sept. 8, 2016

Former prime minister backed the use of nuclear power during his years in office but now says he regrets being ignorant about its risks

Former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi has blasted current premier Shinzo Abe’s stance that the situation at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant is under control.

“It’s a lie,” an impassioned Koizumi, 74, told reporters in Tokyo on Wednesday. “They keep saying it’s going to be under control, but still it’s not effective. I really want to know how you can tell a lie like that.”

A spokesman for Abe’s office didn’t immediately respond to a phone call and e-mail requesting comment.

More than five years after the meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, the operator – Tokyo Electric Power Co. – continues to struggle to contain the radiation-contaminated water that inundates the plant. Tepco is using a frozen “ice wall” to stop water from entering the wrecked facility, but still about 300 metric tonnes of water flows into the reactor building daily, mixing with melted fuel and becoming tainted, according to the company’s website.

Company spokesman Tatsuhiro Yamagishi said by email that a process to bolster the ice wall is beginning to have an effect, adding that the company believes no underground water is flowing into the sea without being treated. All radioactive materials are under measurable limits, he said.

Koizumi was speaking at an event to publicise his campaign to raise money to help US servicemen who say they contracted radiation sickness while working on the clean-up after the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and meltdown.

The former prime minister backed the use of nuclear power during his years in office from 2001-06, but now says he regrets that he had been ignorant about its risks and is campaigning for its abolition.

“When I was prime minister, I believed what they told me. I believed it was a cheap, safe and clean form of energy,” Koizumi said. “I’m now ashamed of myself for believing those lies for so long.”

Koizumi also blasted Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, saying that its chief, Shunichi Tanaka, gave permission to restart the Sendai reactor in the southern Japanese island of Kyushu despite having reservations about its safety. The authority wasn’t immediately available to comment outside of business hours.

Local courts and governments have been one of the biggest roadblocks to restarting more reactors, crimping Abe’s goal of deriving as much as 22 per cent of the nation’s energy needs from nuclear by 2030. [it’s always at the local and grassroots level where action happens]

The Otsu District Court earlier this year made a surprise decision that restricted Kansai Electric Power Co. from operating two reactors in western Japan only weeks after they’d been turned back on.

On March 10, the eve of the fifth anniversary of the disaster, Abe said that Japan can’t do without nuclear power.

Just three of the nation’s 42 operable reactors are currently online. Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai No. 1 and No. 2 reactors, which restarted last year, are facing opposition from the region’s new governor, who has twice formally demanded that they be temporarily shut for inspection.

“There is no perfect source for electricity,” Dale Klein, an adviser to Tepco and a former chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said in an interview in Tokyo last week. “If there were a perfect source, we wouldn’t be having our energy debates. Wind has its problems, solar has its problems, coal has its problems. But at the end of the day, we need electricity. And I think nuclear is an environmentally viable way to produce electricity.”

Koizumi contested claims by Abe’s administration that the nuclear watchdog is imposing the world’s most stringent safety standards in the earthquake-prone nation. “If you compare the Japanese regulations to those in America, you realise how much looser the Japanese regulations are,” he said.

“Abe knows the arguments on both sides, but he still believes the arguments for nuclear power generation,” Koizumi added.

http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/east-asia/article/2017251/its-lie-former-japanese-prime-minister-junichiro-koizumi-blasts

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— USS Ronald Reagan update — Former prime minister flies to California to support sick US veterans, breaks down in tears at press conference

From Asahi Shimbun

Tearful Koizumi backs U.S. vets suing over 2011 nuclear disaster

May 19, 2016

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi breaks down in tears at a May 17 news conference in Carlsbad, California, after talking about what U.S. veterans who took part in Operation Tomodachi have endured. (Ari Hirayama)

CARLSBAD, California–Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi broke down in tears as he made an emotional plea of support for U.S. Navy sailors beset by health problems they claim resulted from radioactive fallout after the 2011 nuclear disaster.

More than 400 veterans who were part of a mission called Operation Tomodachi to provide humanitarian relief after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami filed a mass lawsuit in California against Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. They are seeking compensation and an explanation for their health problems.

Koizumi, 74, responded to a request from a group supporting the plaintiffs and flew to the United States to meet with 10 veterans.

At a news conference here on May 17, Koizumi said: “U.S. military personnel who did their utmost in providing relief are now suffering from serious illnesses. We cannot ignore the situation.”

Apparently overcome with emotion, Koizumi started crying, but went on and said, “Proponents and opponents of nuclear energy must think together about what can be done.”

Koizumi, in power between 2001 and 2006, became a vocal opponent of nuclear energy after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant caused by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami.

During the news conference, Koizumi also touched upon the significance of the scheduled visit to Hiroshima by U.S. President Barack Obama next week.

“It will be important to see how that is tied into a reduction and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons,” Koizumi said. “We should all work toward zero nuclear plants and develop other energy sources.”

Most of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit were crew members of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which anchored off the Tohoku coast to provide relief along the battered coastline.

Theodore Holcomb, an aviation mechanic on the flattop, was tasked with washing down U.S. helicopters that had operated in areas with high radiation. He was later diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. He died in 2014 at age 35.

The Department of Veterans Affairs later cut off a study into the causal relationship between his exposure to radiation and his illness.

His best friend in the Navy, Manuel Leslie, 41, now is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit on behalf of Holcomb.

Leslie said he just wants the truth to come out for his friend.

Another crew member, Ron Wright, 26, worked on the deck. After finishing his shift one day, he was forced to remove his clothes after a high radiation reading. Subsequently, he developed a swelling of the testicles and underwent surgery four times after he returned to the United States. However, the pain was so intense that he had to rely on painkillers and sleeping pills.

A military doctor told him there was no relationship between his illness and exposure to radiation.

Wright said he was never given protective clothing or iodine during the mission. He also said he had no knowledge of radiation at the time.

According to the ship’s logs and the testimony of former crew members, sailors aboard the Ronald Reagan may well have been exposed to radiation as the carrier passed under a radiation plume that was generated by the Fukushima accident. In addition, the carrier used desalinated seawater for drinking and showers by crew members.

However, in a 2014 report released by the U.S. Defense Department, no link was established between radiation exposure and health problems. The reason cited was that only a low level of radiation exposure occurred.

Many of the plaintiffs have not been compensated for their medical expenses.

Paul Garner, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said, “I hope the Japanese people will realize there are American ‘tomodachi’ who have been forgotten.”

A spokesperson for Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. said, “We are dealing with the matter through the normal channels.”

(This article was written by Masato Tainaka and Ari Hirayama.)

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201605190065.html

— Former Prime Minister Koizumi backs U.S. sailors suing over Fukushima radiation

From Japan Times

May 19, 2016

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has thrown his support behind a group of former U.S. sailors suing the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The sailors claim health problems they now suffer were caused by exposure to radiation after a triple meltdown at the plant following an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday in Carlsbad, California, with some of the plaintiffs, Koizumi said, “Those who gave their all to assist Japan are now suffering from serious illness. I can’t overlook them.”

The lawsuit was lodged in 2012 against plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., which was last month renamed Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

The plaintiffs include crew members of the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, which provided humanitarian relief along the tsunami-battered coastline in a mission dubbed Operation Tomodachi.

Koizumi spent Sunday through Tuesday meeting 10 of the plaintiffs, asking about the nature of the disaster relief they undertook and about their symptoms.

“I learned that the number of sick people is still increasing, and their symptoms are worsening,” he told the news conference.

Koizumi called on those in Japan, both for and against nuclear power, to come together to think of ways to help the ailing U.S. servicemen.

The group of about 400 former U.S. Navy sailors and Marines alleges the utility did not provide accurate information about the dangers of radioactive material being emitted from the disaster-struck plant.

This led the U.S. military to judge the area as being safe to operate in, resulting in the radiation exposure, the group claims.

One of the plaintiffs at the news conference, Daniel Hair, said Koizumi’s involvement made him feel for the first time that Japan is paying serious attention to their plight.

According to lawyers for the group, seven of its members have died so far, including some from leukemia.

Koizumi, who served as prime minister between 2001 and 2006, came out in opposition to nuclear power in the wake of the 2011 disaster. He has repeatedly urged the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to halt its efforts to restart dormant reactors across Japan.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/05/19/national/former-prime-minister-koizumi-backs-u-s-sailors-suing-over-fukushima-radiation/#.Vz91PfkrJMy

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