Posted by Beyond Nuclear International
From the Ecologist
No bliss in this ignorance: the great Fukushima nuclear cover-up
Linda Pentz Gunther
February 20, 2016
The Japanese were kept in the dark from the start of the Fukushima disaster about high radiation levels and their dangers to health, writes Linda Pentz Gunter. In order to proclaim the Fukushima area ‘safe’, the Government increased exposure limits to twenty times the international norm. Soon, many Fukushima refugees will be forced to return home to endure damaging levels of radiation.
Once you enter a radiation controlled area, you aren’t supposed to drink water, let alone eat anything. The idea that somebody is living in a place like that is unimaginable.
Dr. Tetsunari Iida is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP) in Japan.
As such, one might have expected a recent presentation he gave in the UK within the hallowed halls of the House of Commons, to have focused on Japan’s capacity to replace the electricity once generated by its now mainly shuttered nuclear power plants, with renewable energy.
But Dr lida’s passionate polemic was not about the power of the sun, but the power of propaganda. March 11, 2011 might have been the day the Great East Japan Earthquake struck. But it was also the beginning of the Great Japan Cover-Up.
On the ISEP website, Iida extols the coming of the Fourth Revolution, following on from those in agriculture, industry and IT. “This fourth revolution will be an energy revolution, a green industrial revolution, and a decentralized network revolution”, he writes.
But in person, Iida was most interested in conveying the extent to which the Japanese people were lied to before, during and after the devastating nuclear disaster at Fukushima-Daiichi, precipitated on that same fateful day and by the deadly duo of earthquake and tsunami.
“Shinzo Abe says ‘everything is under control'”, said Iida, speaking at an event hosted by Nuclear Free Local Authorities, Green Cross, and Nuclear Consulting Group in late January. It was headlined by the former Japan Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, who was at the helm when the triple disasters struck. “Yes – under the control of the media!”
A trial for Tepco like post-war Tokyo Trials
The media may have played the willing government handmaiden in reassuring the public with falsehoods, but in July 2012, the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission concluded that the disaster was really no accident but “man-made“. It came about, the researchers said, as a result of “collusion” between the government, regulators and the nuclear industry, in this case, Tepco.
“There should be a Tepco trial like the post-war Tokyo Trials”, Iida said, referring to the post World War II war crimes trial in which 28 Japanese were tried, seven of whom were subsequently executed by hanging.
Hope for such accountability – without advocating hanging – is fleeting at best. In 2011, while addressing a conference in Berlin hosted by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, I suggested the Tepco officials should be sent to the International Criminal Court at The Hague, (a body the US still conveniently refuses to recognize) to answer for what clearly amounts to crimes against humanity.
The remark caused a bit of a stir and earnest questions about the mechanism by which Tepco could be brought there. Needless to say, nothing of the kind ever happened, or is likely to.
Instead, the Abe’s government’s preferred tactic is to go full out to restart reactors and move everybody back home as soon as possible, as if nothing serious had happened. Just scoop off a little topsoil, cart it away somewhere else and, Abracadabra! Everything is clean and safe again!
Normalizing radiation, a policy and now a practice
Of course radiological decontamination is not that easy. Nor is it reliable. It is more like“pushing contamination from one spot to the next”, as independent nuclear expert, Mycle Schneider describes it. And radiation does not remain obediently in one place, either.
“The mountains and forests that cannot even be vaguely decontaminated, will serve as a permanent source of new contamination, each rainfall washing out radiation and bringing it down from the mountains to the flat lands”, Schneider explained. Birds move around. Animals eat and excrete radioactive plant life. Radiation gets swept out to sea. It is a cycle with no end.
Next in the ‘normalization’ process came the decision to raise allowable radiation exposure standards to 20 millisieverts of radiation a year, up from the prior level of 2 mSv a year. The globally-accepted limit for radiation absorption is 1 mSv a year.
This meant that children were potentially being exposed to the same levels of radiation that are permitted for adult nuclear power plant workers in Europe. Some officials even argued that zones where rates were as high as 100 mSv a year should be considered ‘safe’. Writing on his blog, anti-pollution New Orleans-based attorney, Stuart Smith,observed wryly:
“Instead of taking corrective measures to protect its people, Japan has simply increased internationally recognized exposure limits. It seems that the priority – as we’ve seen in so many other industrial disasters in so many other countries – is to protect industry and limit its liability rather than to ensure the long-term health and well being of the masses. Go figure.”
For the entire article:
From the Washington Post
Japanese Prime Minister Abe wows Rio finale as Super Mario
By Elaine Kurtenbach
August 22, 2016
TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s brief but showstopping gig at the Olympics closing ceremony as the Nintendo game character Super Mario offered a tantalizing glimpse at Tokyo’s plans for the 2020 games.
The organizers for the Tokyo games crammed the works into a brief two-minute film montage before Abe’s appearance: athletes participating in more than a dozen sports, as iconic Japanese images like Tokyo Tower, cherry blossoms, a bullet train, Tokyo Bay Bridge and the famous “scramble” intersection in Shibuya whiz by.
Anime and video game characters including Pac Man and Hello Kitty are featured, along with the beloved blue Doraemon cat, who pulls from his pocket of magic gadgets a green warp pipe to whisk Abe, transformed briefly into Super Mario, from his limousine in Tokyo straight to Rio.
… As they gear up for the 2020 games, the organizers appear to have achieved what they were striving for: “Cool!” ‘’OMG” and “I want to go to Tokyo!” were among various comments on Twitter.
For complete article:
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“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.
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]
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.
From Japan Times:
Let’s call the whole thing off: The former Japanese ambassador to Switzerland, Mitsuhei Murata, recently suggested that Japan should stage an ‘honorable retreat’ from hosting the 2020 Olympics due to the unpredictable situation at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. | KYODO
Time has come for an ‘honorable retreat’ from Tokyo 2020 over Fukushima
- Nov 4, 2015
Dear Olympics minister Toshiaki Endo,
Let me begin this message by offering you my sincerest condolences. Condolences for what? For the death of the belief that a trouble-free 2020 Tokyo Olympics would serve to showcase Japan’s economic revival.
Up to this point, the exact opposite has been the case, due to the scrapping of plans for a very expensive new National Stadium, the scuttling of the Olympic logo amid charges of plagiarism and newspaper headlines alleging, for example, that “Japan’s Olympics fiascoes point to outmoded, opaque decision-making.” Even more recently, Japan sports minister Hakubun Shimomura offered to resign over the Olympic stadium row.
Among these developments, the charge alleging “outmoded, opaque decision-making” is perhaps the most troubling of all, because it suggests that both of the major setbacks the 2020 Olympics has encountered are systemic in nature, not merely one-off phenomena. If correct, this indicates that similar setbacks are likely to occur in the future. But how many setbacks can the 2020 Olympics endure?
At this point it may be apt to recall the warning of 13th-century Zen master Dogen: “If there is the slightest difference in the beginning, the result will be a distance greater than heaven is from Earth.”
One lesson to be learned from Dogen’s words is that in order to understand the mess you are in now, you should reflect on how you got into it in the first place. When this is done, the “beginning” becomes clear, i.e., Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s 2013 statement to the International Olympic Committee that the situation at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant was “under control.” The prime minister went on to tell the Diet, “The effect of radioactive substances in the nearby waters is blocked within 0.3 sq. km of the plant’s harbor.”
One needs only to look at recent stories describing the torrential downpours in the Fukushima area to know that this claim, if it were ever true, is clearly no longer valid. Even Tepco stated: “On Sept. 9 and 11, due to typhoon No. 18 (Etau), heavy rain caused Fukushima No. 1 drainage rainwater to overflow to the sea.” This is not to mention the high probability that relatively decontaminated areas have been contaminated once again by the heavy rains carrying radioactive particles lodged in the nearby mountains down onto the plains. Nor does it take into account that no one knows the location or condition of the melted fuel in reactors 1, 2 and 3.
Unfortunately, Zen master Dogen didn’t explain what to do when you find yourself in a spot where heaven is already far removed from Earth — or the truth, in this instance. Fortunately, the former Japanese ambassador to Switzerland, Mitsuhei Murata, recently proposed an eminently reasonable solution. It is time, he says, for Japan to stage an “honorable retreat” from hosting the 2020 Olympics while there is still time to select and prepare an alternative site.
In an article in the September issue of Gekkan Nippon, Murata buttressed his proposal by pointing out another misstatement in Abe’s IOC testimony, namely, “(Fukushima) has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo.” In response, Murata pointed to a number of incidents showing that Tokyo was affected by Fukushima radioactive fallout, including the discovery on March 23, 2011, that water from the purification plant in the Kanemachi district of Tokyo contained more than 200 becquerels per liter of radioactive iodine, double the recommended limit for young infants stipulated in the Food Sanitation Act.
Murata’s major concern, however, was not about the past but the present and future. He noted the danger still posed by large numbers of spent fuel rods suspended in spent fuel pools in reactors 1, 2 and 3. Unlike the spent fuel rods in reactor building 4 successfully removed by the end of 2014, the remaining rods can’t be removed from the damaged reactor buildings due to the high levels of radioactivity surrounding these reactors, all three of which suffered meltdowns.
Murata’s gravest concern is a number of troubling indications of recurring criticality in one or more of the reactors at Fukushima No. 1. For example, he notes that in December 2014, both radioactive iodine-131 and tellurium-132 were reported as having been detected in Takasaki city, Gunma Prefecture. Given the short half-lives of these radioactive particles, their presence could not be the result of the original meltdowns at Fukushima.
Murata is not opposed to the Tokyo Olympic Games per se, but finds them a major distraction to what needs to be done immediately — namely, gathering the best minds and expertise from around the world and, with the full support of the Japanese government, doing everything humanly possible to bring Fukushima No. 1 truly “under control.” This will help to ensure the Pacific Ocean is no longer used as an open sewer for Fukushima-produced radiation, and also address the ongoing pain and distress of the residents of Fukushima Prefecture and beyond.
As Murata noted in the conclusion of his article, “Heaven and Earth will not long countenance immoral conduct.” Recognizing this, Minister Endo, will you join the call for an “honorable retreat”?
BRIAN VICTORIA Kyoto
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