Fukushima disaster news update

This video sfrom the USA says about itself:

3 October 2015

“Bio-Impacts of Chernobyl & Fukushima

Evolutionary biologist Dr. Tim Mousseau shares findings from his unique research on the biological effects of radiation exposure to wildlife from the nuclear disasters at Chernobyl & Fukushima.

This is part 2 of a 3-part series of presentations on Fukushima contamination by independent research scientists Ken Buesseler, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Tim Mousseau, Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina.

From The Japan Times:

Who’s responsible for the Fukushima disaster?

by Jake Adelstein

Oct 3, 2015

The International Atomic Energy Agency released its comprehensive — but mostly ignored — final report on Fukushima on Aug. 30.

It blamed the March 2011 triple meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant on a blind belief in “the nuclear safety myth.” In other words, the myth that Japan’s “nuclear power plants were so safe that an accident of this magnitude was simply unthinkable.”

“The regulation of nuclear safety in Japan at the time of the accident was performed by a number of organizations with different roles and responsibilities and complex interrelationships,” the report said. “It was not fully clear which organizations had the responsibility and authority to issue binding instructions on how to respond to safety issues without delay. The regulations, guidelines and procedures in place at the time of the accident were not fully in line with international practice in some key areas, most notably in relation to periodic safety reviews, re-evaluation of hazards, severe accident management and safety culture.”

I’m sure we all remember the “unforeseeable” accident that happened in Fukushima in March 2011, an accident that will take an estimated 40 years and billions of dollars to clean up, some of it already subsidized with taxpayer money and higher electric bills.

Having restarted a reactor at the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima in August, one might suspect that the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Kyushu Electric Power Co. don’t appear to remember this accident very well.

For a start, putting the reactor in Kagoshima back online didn’t exactly go according to plan. Despite months of inspection, seawater was detected in the reactor’s cooling system in late August. Alarm bells sounded.

In spite of all the checks and balances that were introduced in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, power utilities are continuing to drop the ball as far as their reactors are concerned. How can we ensure such oversight is avoided?

Katsunoba Onda, author of “Tepco: The Darkness of the Empire,” which predicted in 2007 the nuclear accident at Fukushima, and lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai, who established the National Network of Counsels in Cases against Nuclear Power Plants, have proposed a very simple way of ensuring this happens: hold nuclear plant operators criminally liable for negligence. The threat of incarceration might help them take their work more seriously and less likely to cut corners.

The Prosecutorial Review Board appears to back such a proposal, approving the first criminal prosecutions of three former Tepco executives last July. The board consists of a panel of 11 private citizens, who operate under a rarely used set-up in the Japanese legal system that allows outsiders to review prosecutors’ decisions.

The panel ordered that Tsunehisa Katsumata, chairman of Tepco at the time of the accident, and two former heads of the utility’s nuclear division, be charged with professional negligence resulting in death and injury.

Prosecutors, however, have to date been slow to pursue criminal liability in the case. They did accept submissions from the public but then leaked their decision not to prosecute just as Japan won the right to host the 2020 Olympic Games. The story, however, doesn’t end there.

This decision was again sent to the Prosecutorial Review Board, which again recommended that a criminal case be filed. For the second year in succession, the Prosecutorial Review Board overruled the prosecutors.

Prosecutors have reportedly continued to reject the case because “it is not possible to prove negligence.”

The IAEA report is expected to be submitted as evidence showing the exact opposite.

“When you have a disaster of this scale, isn’t it crazy not to pursue responsibility?” Kawai, who led the citizen’s group that filed charges with the prosecutors, told Nikkan Gendai. “The common sense of the people overturned the judgment of prosecutors, prosecutors who favor large companies and the powerful. Tepco knew about the possibility of a large-scale tsunami and did nothing about it. The idea that if it’s not easily foreseeable, no one is responsible is mistaken. Abe says ‘Japan has the safest nuclear standards in the world.’ He’s the only one saying it. It’s not true. The Abe administration’s push for war and for nuclear energy are very dangerous — one mistake and this country will be destroyed.”

If the Tepco executives are tried in court and found guilty, it wouldn’t be the first time nuclear power operators were convicted of criminal negligence resulting in death. In 1999, two employees died in an accident at the Tokaimura power plant run by JCO, a nuclear fuel cycle company. Six of the company’s executives were later charged and pleaded guilty to criminal charges of negligence resulting in the deaths.

They were all given suspended sentences.

Japan to restart second reactor on Oct. 15 under post-Fukushima rules — The Japan Times: here.

Military base in Okinawa, Japan should go

This video says about itself:

14 September 2015

The governor of Okinawa has said that his prefecture will nullify an order approved to carry out landfill projects for a new US base. Governor Takeshi Onaga was elected last year on promises to fight the move. He says the approval given in 2013 by his predecessor for preparatory landfill work has “legal defects”, and that the local government will revoke it.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Okinawa governor seeks to halt building of US airbase

Tuesday 15th September 2015

THE governor of Okinawa prefecture said yesterday that he was taking steps to halt work on a new US military airbase on the Japanese island.

Takeshi Onaga, elected last year on promises to fight the move, said that approval given in 2013 by his predecessor for landfill work had “legal defects” and that he had begun the process to cancel it.

“We will take all possible measures to block base construction in Henoko and this is the first step,” Mr Onaga said at a news conference at his office in the prefectural capital of Naha.

The comments could set him on course for a legal battle with Japan’s central government.

US Marine Air Station Futenma is located in the city of Ginowan, part of the larger Okinawa City metropolitan area, and has been occupied by US forces since before the end of World War II.

Islanders oppose its presence not only for the noise and danger of flights but because of a string of assaults, rapes and murders of Okinawans, especially women and girls, by US troops based there and at other facilities

They oppose the move to a less heavily populated site at Henoko, which they say will simply shift the problems elsewhere, and want the base removed entirely.

Tokyo suspended the land reclamation work on August 10 to allow for a month of talks to reach a compromise with the Okinawan government.

But with no agreement reached, work resumed on Saturday despite fierce protests by residents.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the reclamation work would continue as planned, calling Mr Onaga’s protest “regrettable.”

The Defence Ministry, which is in charge of the work, is reportedly considering the possibility of filing for an injunction if Mr Onaga revokes approval for the work.

Three-quarters of US bases in Japan and more than half the 50,000 troops are on Okinawa, which lies in the Ryukyu chain of islands that stretch south-west from Japan’s southern tip toward Taiwan, facing China to the west.

Huge pro-peace demonstration in Japan

This video, recorded in Japan, says about itself:

Huge Protest in Tokyo Rails Against PM Abe’s Security Bills

30 August 2015

Members of the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy-s (SEALDs) protest against the revision of the pacifist Article 9 [of the Japanese constitution] outside the Parliament building.

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered near Japan’s parliament building on Sunday to oppose legislation allowing the military to fight overseas.

From Reuters news agency:

Sunday August 30, 2015 10:45am EDT

Huge protest in Tokyo rails against PM Abe’s security bills

TOKYO | By Kiyoshi Takenaka

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered near Japan’s parliament building on Sunday to oppose legislation allowing the military to fight overseas, the latest sign of public mistrust in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s security policy.

In one of Japan’s biggest protests in years – organizers put the crowd at 120,000 – people of all ages braved occasional rain to join the rally, chanting and holding up placards with slogans such as “No War” and “Abe, quit”.

Demonstrators swarmed into the street before parliament’s main gate after the crowd size made it impossible for police, out in heavy numbers, to keep them to the sidewalks. A second nearby park area also filled with protesters.

The rally was one of more than 300 this weekend in Japan protesting Abe‘s move to loosen the post-war, pacifist constitution’s constraints on the military.

“Sitting in front of TV and just complaining wouldn’t do,” said Naoko Hiramatsu, a 44-year-old associate professor in French and one of the Tokyo protesters.

“If I don’t take action and try to put a stop on this, I will not be able to explain myself to my child in the future,” said Hiramatsu, holding a four-year-old son in her arms in the thick of the protest.

Abe in July pushed through parliament’s lower house a group of bills that let Japan’s armed forces defend an ally under attack, a drastic shift in Japan’s post-war security policy.

The bills are now before the upper chamber, which is also controlled by Abe’s ruling bloc and aims to pass the legislation before parliament’s session ends on Sept. 27.

Abe’s ratings have taken a hit from opposition to the security bills. Media surveys showing those who oppose his government outnumber backers, and more than half are against the security bills.

“We need to make the Abe government realize the public is having a sense of crisis and angry. Let’s work together to have the bills scrapped,” Katsuya Okada, head of Japan’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, told the Tokyo rally.

The demonstration was the biggest in Tokyo since the mass protests against nuclear power in the summer of 2012, after the March 2011 Fukushima atomic disaster.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Linda Sieg; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

See also here.

Large protests took place in Tokyo Sunday against the military legislation currently being debated in the upper house of Japan’s legislature or Diet. These demonstrations are a sign of widespread anti-war sentiment in Japan and opposition to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s backing of the US war drive against China: here.

Amid the worsening global economic slump and sharpening geo-political tensions, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is accelerating his remilitarisation agenda. While the government is pushing legislation through parliament to evade constitutional restraints on the armed forces, the Japanese defence ministry is requesting another 2.2 percent rise in its budget next year to a record 5.1 billion yen, or $US42 billion: here.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is preparing to ram its widely unpopular security legislation through the Diet, or parliament, this month despite continuing protests and mass opposition. The bills will formalise Abe’s “constitutional reinterpretation” last year to permit so-called collective self-defence—that is, Japan’s military involvement in US wars of aggression. Further anti-war protests took place last weekend, including in Tokyo’s Shinjuku shopping district on Sunday, as well as the cities of Sendai, Osaka and Fukuoka: here.