Fukushima backlash hits Japan prime minister — CounterPunch

” Nuclear power may never recover its cachet as a clean energy source, irrespective of safety concerns, because of the ongoing saga of meltdown 3/11/11 at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Over time, the story only grows more horrific, painful, deceitful. It’s a story that will continue for generations to come.

Here’s why it holds pertinence: As a result of total 100% meltdown, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) cannot locate or remove the radioactive molten core or corium from the reactors. Nobody knows where it is. It is missing. If it is missing from within the reactor structures, has it burrowed into the ground? There are no ready answers.

And, the destroyed nuclear plants are way too radioactive for humans to get close enough for inspection. And, robotic cameras get zapped! Corium is highly radioactive material, begging the question: If it has burrowed through the containment vessel, does it spread underground, contaminating farmland and water resources and if so, how far away? Nobody knows?

According to TEPCO, removing the melted cores from reactors 1,2 and 3 will take upwards of 20 years, or more, again who knows.

But still, Japan will hold Olympic events in Fukushima in 2020 whilst out-of-control radioactive masses of goo are nowhere to be found. TEPCO expects decades before the cleanup is complete, if ever. Fortunately, for Tokyo 2020 (the Olympic designation) radiation’s impact has a latency effect, i.e., it takes a few years to show up as cancer in the human body.

A week ago on September 7th, Former PM Junichiro Koizumi, one of Japan’s most revered former prime ministers, lambasted the current Abe administration, as well as recovery efforts by TEPCO. At a news conference he said PM Shinzō Abe lied to the Olympic committee in 2013 in order to host the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.

“That was a lie,” Mr Koizumi told reporters when asked about Mr Abe’s remark that Fukushima was “under control,” Abe Lied to IOC About Nuke Plant, ex-PM Says, The Straits Times, Sep 8, 2016. The former PM also went on to explain TEPCO, after 5 years of struggling, still has not been able to effectively control contaminated water at the plant.

According to The Straits Times article: “Speaking to the IOC in September 2013, before the Olympic vote, PM Abe acknowledged concerns but stressed there was no need to worry: “Let me assure you, the situation is under control.”

PM Abe’s irresponsible statement before the world community essentially puts a dagger into the heart of nuclear advocacy and former PM Koizumi deepens the insertion. After all, who can be truthfully trusted? Mr Koizumi was a supporter of nuclear power while in office from 2001-2006, but he has since turned into a vocal opponent.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo, Mr Koizumi said: “The nuclear power industry says safety is their top priority, but profit is in fact what comes first… Japan can grow if the country relies on more renewable energy,” (Ayako Mie, staff writer, Despite Dwindling Momentum, Koizumi Pursues Anti-Nuclear Goals, The Japan Times, Sept. 7, 2016).

Mr Koizumi makes a good point. There have been no blackouts in Japan sans nuclear power. The country functioned well without nuclear.

Further to the point of nuclear versus nonnuclear, Katsunobu Sakurai, mayor of Minamisoma, a city of 70,000 located 25 km north of Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, at a news conference in Tokyo, said: “As a citizen and as a resident of an area affected by the nuclear power plant disaster, I must express great anger at this act… it is necessary for all of Japan to change its way of thinking, and its way of life too – to move to become a society like Germany, which is no longer reliant on nuclear power,” (Sarai Flores, Minamisoma Mayor Sees Future for Fukushima ‘Nonnuclear’ City in Energy Independence, The Japan Times, March 9, 2016).

In March of 2015, Minamisoma declared as a Nonnuclear City, turning to solar and wind power in tandem with energy-saving measures.

Meanwhile, at the insistence of the Abe administration, seven nuclear reactors could restart by the end of FY2016 followed by a total of 19 units over the next 12 months (Source: Japanese Institute Sees 19 Reactor Restarts by March 2018, World Nuclear News, July 28, 2016).

Greenpeace/Japan Discovers Widespread Radioactivity

One of the issues surrounding the Fukushima incident and the upcoming Olympics is whom to trust. Already TEPCO has admitted to misleading the public about reports on the status of the nuclear meltdown, and PM Abe has been caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar, but even much worse, lying to a major international sports tribunal. His credibility is down the drain.

As such, maybe third party sources can be trusted to tell the truth. In that regard, Greenpeace/Japan, which does not have a vested interest in nuclear power, may be one of the only reliable sources, especially since it has boots on the ground, testing for radiation. Since 2011, Greenpeace has conducted over 25 extensive surveys for radiation throughout Fukushima Prefecture.

In which case, the Japanese people should take heed because PM Abe is pushing hard to reopen nuclear plants and pushing hard to repopulate Fukushima, of course, well ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics since there will be events held in Fukushima Prefecture. After all, how can one expect Olympians to populate Fukushima if Japan’s own citizens do not? But, as of now to a certain extent citizens are pushing back. Maybe they instinctively do not trust their own government’s assurances.

But, more chilling yet, after extensive boots-on-the-ground analyses, Greenpeace issued the following statement in March 2016: “Unfortunately, the crux of the nuclear contamination issue – from Kyshtym to Chernobyl to Fukushima- is this: When a major radiological disaster happens and impacts vast tracts of land, it cannot be ‘cleaned up’ or ‘fixed’.” (Source: Hanis Maketab, Environmental Impacts of Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Will Last ‘decades to centuries’ – Greenpeace, Asia Correspondent, March 4, 2016).

That is a blunt way of saying sayonara to habitation on radioactive contaminated land. That’s why Chernobyl is a permanently closed restricted zone for the past 30 years.

As far as “returning home” goes, if Greenpeace/Japan ran the show rather than PM Abe, it appears they would say ‘no’. Greenpeace does not believe it is safe. Greenpeace International issued a press release a little over one month ago with the headline: Radiation Along Fukushima Rivers up to 200 Times Higher Than Pacific Ocean Seabed – Greenpeace Press Release, July 21, 2016.

Here’s what they discovered: “The extremely high levels of radioactivity we found along the river systems highlights the enormity and longevity of both the environmental contamination and the public health risks resulting from the Fukushima disaster,” says Ai Kashiwagi, Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace Japan.

“These river samples were taken in areas where the Abe government is stating it is safe for people to live. But the results show there is no return to normal after this nuclear catastrophe,” claims Kashiwagi.

“Riverbank sediment samples taken along the Niida River in Minami Soma, measured as high as 29,800 Bq/kg for radiocaesium (Cs-134 and 137). The Niida samples were taken where there are no restrictions on people living, as were other river samples. At the estuary of the Abukuma River in Miyagi prefecture, which lies more than 90km north of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, levels measured in sediment samples were as high as 6,500 Bq/kg” (Greenpeace).

The prescribed safe limit of radioactive cesium for drinking water is 200 Bq/kg. A Becquerel (“Bq”) is a gauge of strength of radioactivity in materials such as Iodine-131 and Cesium-137 (Source: Safe Limits for Consuming Radiation-Contaminated Food, Bloomberg, March 20, 2011).

“The lifting of evacuation orders in March 2017 for areas that remain highly contaminated is a looming human rights crisis and cannot be permitted to stand. The vast expanses of contaminated forests and freshwater systems will remain a perennial source of radioactivity for the foreseeable future, as these ecosystems cannot simply be decontaminated” (Greenpeace).

Still, the Abe administration is to be commended for its herculean effort to try to clean up radioactivity throughout Fukushima Prefecture, but at the end of the day, it may be for naught. A massive cleanup effort is impossible in the hills, in the mountains, in the valleys, in the vast forests, along riverbeds and lakes, across extensive meadows in the wild where radiation levels remain deadly dangerous. Over time, it leaches back into decontaminated areas.

And as significantly, if not more so, what happens to the out-of-control radioactive blobs of corium? Nobody knows where those are, or what to do about it. It’s kinda like the mystery surrounding black holes in outer space, but nobody dares go there.

Fukushima is a story for the ages because radiation doesn’t quit. Still, the Olympics must go on, but where? ”

by Robert Hunziker

source

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Former Japan PM accuses Abe of lying over Fukushima pledge — The Guardian; The Denver Post

The Guardian: ” Japan’s former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi has labelled the country’s current leader, Shinzo Abe, a “liar” for telling the international community that the situation at the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is under control.

Koizumi, who became one of Japan’s most popular postwar leaders during his 2001-06 premiership, has used his retirement from frontline politics to become a leading campaigner against nuclear restarts in Japan in defiance of Abe, a fellow conservative Liberal Democratic party (LDP) politician who was once regarded as his natural successor.

Abe told members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Buenos Aires in September 2013 that the situation at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was “under control”, shortly before Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Games.

IOC officials were concerned by reports about the huge build-up of contaminated water at the Fukushima site, more than two years after the disaster forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents.

“When [Abe] said the situation was under control, he was lying,” Koizumi told reporters in Tokyo. “It is not under control,” he added, noting the problems the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), has experienced with a costly subterranean ice wall that is supposed to prevent groundwater from flowing into the basements of the damaged reactors, where it becomes highly contaminated.

“They keep saying they can do it, but they can’t,” Koizumi said. He went on to claim that Abe had been fooled by industry experts who claim that nuclear is the safest, cleanest and cheapest form of energy for resource-poor Japan.

“He believes what he’s being told by nuclear experts,” Koizumi said. “I believed them, too, when I was prime minister. I think Abe understands the arguments on both sides of the debate, but he has chosen to believe the pro-nuclear lobby.”

After the Fukushima crisis, Koizumi said he had “studied the process, reality and history of the introduction of nuclear power, and became ashamed of myself for believing such lies”.

Abe has pushed for the restart of Japan’s nuclear reactors, while the government says it wants nuclear to account for a fifth of Japan’s total energy mix by 2030. Just three of the country’s dozens of nuclear reactors are in operation, and two will be taken offline later this year for maintenance.

Koizumi, 74, has also thrown his support behind hundreds of US sailors and marines who claim they developed leukaemia and other serious health problems after being exposed to Fukushima radiation plumes while helping with relief operations – nicknamed Operation Tomodachi (friend) – following the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In 2012 the service personnel launched a lawsuit accusing Tepco of failing to prevent the accident and of lying about the levels of radiation from the stricken reactors, putting US personnel at risk.

Most of the 400 plaintiffs were aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that was anchored off Japan’s north-east coast while helicopters flew emergency supplies to survivors of the tsunami, which killed almost 19,000 people.

Medical experts, however, said the sailors would have received only small, non-harmful doses of radiation; a US defence department report published in 2014 said no link had been established between the sailors’ health problems and their exposure to low doses of Fukushima radiation.

Koizumi, who met several of the sick servicemen in San Diego in May, plans to raise $1m by the end of next March to help cover the sailors’ medical expenses.

“I felt I had to do something to help those who worked so hard for Japan,” he said. “That won’t be enough money, but at least it will show that Japan is grateful for what they did for us.”

Despite his opposition to Abe’s pro-nuclear policies, Koizumi was complimentary about his performance as prime minister during his second time in office in the past decade.

“As far as nuclear power is concerned, we are totally at odds,” Koizumi said. “But I think he’s reflected on the mistakes he made during his first time as leader and is doing a much better job second time around.”

In political longevity terms, Abe’s performance could hardly be worse. He resigned in September 2007 after less than a year in office, following a series of ministerial scandals, a debilitating bowel condition and a disastrous performance by the LDP in upper house elections. ”

by Justin McCurry

source

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Read a similar article by The Denver Post

Why hosting the 2020 Olympics would hurt Japan

The Feb. 28 Economist article (below), “Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup is bad for a city’s health,” explains who is really paying for the new infrastructure built to host the games (taxpayers!) and who is really making the majority of the profit – I’ll give you one guess, that’s right, the IOC [International Olympic Committee] and FIFA. Seeing the precedent of economic disadvantage for both the London and Sochi Olympics and Brazil’s World Cup, Tokyo would be making a huge mistake in hosting the 2020 Olympics.

The article states, “But over the past few decades, the IOC, in particular, has appropriated an every-greater share of the proceeds for itself: the most recent public data reveal that it now pockets more than 70% of Olympic television revenue, compared with less than 4% between 1960 and 1980… And there is little evidence to support the projections that hosting will bring a surge in tourism: Beijing and London both attracted fewer visitors during their summer Olympics in 2008 and 2012 respectively than they had int he same period a year earlier.

The international organizations argue, in return, that they also contribute to the costs of staging the contests: in particular, FIFA funds the entire World Cup operating budget. However, “operating” costs account for only a small portion of the price of hosting tournaments. The lion’s share is spent on construction, both on stadiums and on transport capacity to shuttle people between events. Those expenditures are borne entirely by the host. Although there is no formal requirement that such venues be new, the IOC and FIFA have consistently selected cities with the most ambitious plans for custom-built facilities. It is the need to build so much, so fast that leads to taxpayer-funded cost overruns that would be comic were they not so tragic, running from a low of four times the original estimate up to ten times or more.”

Rather than digging itself into deeper debt by spending billions of dollars on sports facilities, Tokyo must funnel maximum resources into the Fukushima Daiichi decommissioning efforts and compensation for the ten of thousands of displaced Fukushima refugees. I use the word “efforts” because no one truly knows how to deal with the situation — three reactors with spent melted fuel that cannot be located due to extreme radiation levels; about 1,300 storage tanks full of contaminated water, up to 333 of which are leaking; the risk of sinking foundation due to underground water, which also becomes contaminated; and 300 tons of radioactive water flowing in the Pacific Ocean daily since March 2011. The list goes on. Japan seems to have its hands full with an estimated several trillion dollar cleanup process and recovery that will take a minimum of 40 years.

Rather than looking out for the safety of its citizens, the Japanese government has literally done the opposite by increasing the annual radiation limit from 1 mSv to 20 mSv and by threatening evacuees to move back to contaminated areas where evacuation orders have been lifted. They are given a set number of months to return home until they can no longer receive compensation. I’m talking about mothers who fear radiation exposure for their families every day and children who can’t even play outside for more than a short period of time before they’ve reached their daily radiation capacity.

The Japanese government has shamed and dishonored its country by denying its citizens their basic needs for survival and happiness and the freedom to raise their families in a clean environment. Instead, its marriage with utilities and energy companies has pushed nuclear energy to the forefront of Japan’s energy policy, a slap in the face to the survivors of the Fukushima triple meltdowns.

Tokyo must step down as host of the 2020 Olympics for the social and economic welfare of Japan.

Economist_Olympics_article

Letters from Mitsuhei Murata, former Japanese ambassador to Switzerland, to Caroline Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Washington Post

This letter was dated May 7, 2015, Tokyo:

” Dear Ambassador Caroline Kennedy,

Please allow me to send you my message being widely disseminated. It is a serious warning against an eventual severe nuclear accident.

The international community could not remain indifferent for long to the present and increasing dangers of Fukushima.

On individual, regional and national levels, serious efforts are needed to improve the situation.

The Tokyo Olympic Games give the false impression that Fukushima is under control. Japan is, alas, damaging the global environment with never-ending radioactive contamination.

Japan should devote maximum efforts to bring Fukushima under control, mobilizing human wisdom on the widest possible scale.

Please allow me to count on your understanding and support.

With highest and warmest regards,

Mitsuhei Murata

Former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland
Executive Director, Japan Society for Global System and Ethics ”

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This letter was dated Nov. 18, 2014:

” Dear President Jimmy Carter,

I hope all goes well for you.

The new political development in Japan could remind the responsibility of the IOC [International Olympic Committee] to have been influenced by the lack of understanding of the real situation of the Fukuichi.

I am attaching below my letter sent to the Washington Post last September. Tepco announced yesterday that contaminated water is flowing into the sea from the trenches at Fukuichi, due to the failure to freeze the water. The situation is dangerously worsening.

The IOC continue to ignore Dr. Helen Caldicott’s  legitimate request to send to Japan a team of independent scientists to reasure the safty problem. The credibility of the IOC is at stake.

I am informing you of an important initiative taken by a Swiss friend of mine, Mr. Andreas Nidecker, Co-Founder of IPPNW-Switzerland in response to my message attached below.

It is very timely and its impact will be extensive.

With highest and warmest regards,

Mitsuhei Murata ”

* * *

” Prof. Mitsuhei Murata
Former Ambassador to Switzerland
Executive Director, Japan Society for Global System and Ethics
Dr. Jean Jacques Fasnacht, MD, President PSR / IPPNW Switzerland
Basel, 17.11.2014

Dear Mitsuhei Murata and Jean Jacques Fasnacht,
Dear friends in IPPNW in Switzerland and worldwide,

Mitsuhei, reading Your description of the current events in the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant I am as alarmed as You about the worsening situation: the failure of the „freezing concept“ of TEPCO for the underground water flow indeed may facilitate a lasting increase of the Pacific seawater contamination, which is of global concern. You are also absolutely correct in Your assessment, that the Internatl. Olympic Cttee should seriously consider withdrawing the 2020 Olympic Games from Japan.

By Your previous political position You have a close connection with our country, Mitsuhei. We activists in Switzerland and in many countries are involved in a politically tenacious and difficult struggle to get our Nuclear Power Plants phased out. I therefore propose to You, Jean Jacques, to publish Mitsuhei’s letter to the Washington Post in Swiss Newspapers, translated into German obviously. Other IPPNW affiliates may also decide to do the same.

Both the state of the damaged reactor and the failing efforts by TEPCO and the fact of expensive Olympic Games still planned in Japan in 2020 deserve wide public attention. i feel that we as IPPNW  have a responsibility to publish these facts

Best regards and thanks for Your continued efforts to stand-by in observing the evolving disaster in Fukushima and report about it.

Andi Nidecker, MD ”

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This letter was sent to the Washington Post and dated Sep. 16, 2014, Tokyo:

” Mitsuhei Murata
Former Ambassador to Switzerland
Executive Director, Japan Society for Global System and Ethics

The worsening situation at Fukushima Daiichi has some experts fearing the worst; collapse of the 4 reactor buildings due to the softening of the soil caused by excessive underground water. It could be the beginning of a catastrophe for Japan and the world. Experts say within weeks a radioactive plume could reach the West Coast of the United States.

The total volume of cesium 137 of the Fukushima Daiichi is equivalent to 5000 Hiroshima Atomic Bombs. The release of their total radiation could bring about the nuclear winter that would fatally affect the United States for hundreds of years. The dangers are real and incomparably terrifying than many are led to realize by Tokyo Electric Company (Tepco) and the Japanese Government.

Fukushima is forgotten, but the reality remains; Fukushima is a global security issue.

Japan knows more than any other country the real and present dangers of nuclear reactors. It is a serious security problem that the mainstream of the world continue to promote nuclear power generation even after Fukushima, totally ignoring its lessons.

The problem of protecting the security of the residents of the US West Coast will soon awaken the world to the uncontrollable and spreading consequences of the Accident. We cannot deny that Fukushima, if badly managed, could become the beginning of the ultimate global catastrophe.

The withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympic Games seems inevitable. “