Fukushima governor ‘pushes safety of prefecture’s food’ on Europe tour

Attendants of a reception held at the Japanese Embassy in London on Thursday are served sake from Fukushima Prefecture.
LONDON – Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori on Thursday kicked off a tour of Britain and France with the goal of publicizing the safety of food from the prefecture.
In London, Uchibori met with officials of British importing companies to promote Fukushima products and develop sales channels.
He also paid a courtesy call to Mark Field, the United Kingdom’s minister of state for Asia and the Pacific. Uchibori told Field that the people of Fukushima are profoundly grateful for the warm, generous support received from Britain since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Before the meeting, Field enjoyed dried peaches from Fukushima given by the governor.
During a Thursday evening reception at the Japanese Embassy in London, some 200 Japanese and British guests tasted foods and drinks from Fukushima, including the prefecture’s specialty Ten no Tsubu rice dishes with wagyu, locally brewed sake and peach juice.
Uchibori’s tour was planned after the European Union in December lifted its restrictions on imports of some foods from Japan, including rice grown in Fukushima. The restrictions were imposed due to concerns over radioactive contamination from the nuclear disaster.

45 Lawsuits in Fukushima District Courts

A group of plaintiffs walk in front of Fukushima District Court in October 2017. The secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority will increase its number of legal staff from this spring to deal with lawsuits.
Japan’s nuclear regulator to hire more legal staff to respond to Fukushima-related lawsuits
Japan’s nuclear regulator will increase its number of legal staff from this spring to deal with lawsuits related to the Fukushima crisis, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.
The secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority will increase the number of staff at an office in charge of litigation to 22 in the fiscal year starting in April from the current 17. In fiscal 2012, when the body was launched, it only had five employees, the source said.
The secretariat said it was handling a total of 45 lawsuits as of March 1, of which 29 had been filed by over 10,000 plaintiffs nationwide including evacuees and victims of the Fukushima accident who are seeking damages from the state.
Among those 29 lawsuits, four of the five district courts that have already handed down rulings ordered the state to pay damages to the plaintiffs, rejecting the state’s claim that the accident “could not be foreseen.”
A lawyer representing the plaintiffs has criticized the expansion move, saying the state should not insist on fighting the lawsuits.
Izutaro Managi, a member of a lawyers’ group representing some 3,800 evacuees and accident victims in a lawsuit seeking damages from the state and the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, said, “The aim of the authority’s secretariat is to strengthen the state’s claim that it is not liable for causing the accident.”
“The state should rather reflect on the accident and accept its responsibility,” he said.
In addition to lawsuits related to the Fukushima evacuees and victims, the secretariat is also handling lawsuits filed by residents seeking to halt operations at nuclear plants or the construction of new ones.
New lawsuits could also be filed in the future as more nuclear power plants clear safety assessments by the authority to resume operations. Currently, 14 reactors at seven nuclear power plants have passed screenings under stricter regulations imposed after the Fukushima crisis triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

A Representative of Plaintiffs, Tokuo HayaKawa’s Statement in The Court

tokuo-hayakawa.jpgTokuo Hayakawa at the rally in Tokyo in January, 2018.


JIJI PRESS’s article

TEPCO Ordered to Pay 600 M. Yen to Fukushima Evacuees

The statement below is translated by Yoshihiro Kaneda. If it has mistakes, Yoshihiro Kaneda has responsibility for that.


2017 October 6th

To  The Iwaki branch of the Fukushima District Court

Plaintiff: Tokuo Hayakawa

1 I am the thirtieth chief priest of a mountain temple which has a history of over 600 years, but the temple will pass into nothingness in my lifetime. Ten parishioners already severed our relationship. I became a chief priest in 1977 and the temple was desolated even 30 years after the end of the World War 2 because we had about 100 parishioners.

I planed reviving original religious activities and events and improvement for the environment of the temple and was satisfied with its achievement that I did most of it for three decades and several years until March 11th. Especially, the improvement of the precincts, I exerted myself and I overlapped it with my thought which I wanted to live my late life with enjoying the beauty of nature. After retirement, I was comfortable and enjoyed the nature.

I was deprived of this achievement, satisfaction and enjoyment. I was deprived of happiness which I could earn by living for it. I lost my spiritual support to live the rest of my life. What was my life?


2 I am living this way now, but there were evacuees abandoned themselves to grief and then, they comitted suicide.

I heard about a married couple who lost their jobs due to the nuclear accident and heaved sighs repeatedly in Aizuwakamatsu. They strangled their disabled son and they hanged themselves along at the railroad of the Tadami Line.

There was a man,102 years old, who said “Do I have to move from here? I want to live here. I have lived too long.” The man had a rope around his neck and hanged himself.

A cattle farmer who was a 54-year-old man committed suicide, left a message on the wall of the cattle shed in Souma “if there was no nuclear power plant.”

The nuclear accident took a job from a person who was a hundred kilometers away and took an old man’s home, who has lived a hundred-year life and forced a man to kill himself, who had no idea how to pay back his debt because he could not earn money due to a ban on the shipment of milk.


There are many other people who committed suicide.

Our defense counsel won two epochal decisions by suing for the people who killed themselves at the Fukushima District Court.

The appeal of the man whose wife burnt herself to death was admitted. After the ruling, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) officials came to his house to apologize but they lost words because the husband rejected point-blank and said “But my wife will never return,” on the scene.

 The wife lost her husband by suicide. Her appeal was admitted and officials of TEPCO went to her home to apologize. But she said “I don’t accept,” and the officials were amazed and silent.

One of the plaintiff’s statements stated that he barely stopped his suicide. I listened to all of the statements by the plaintiffs. While listening to each statement, I always presumed regrets of those who committed suicide.


3  The nuclear accident deprived all of regions and societies we lived, people’s lives and existences. We cannot ever fully recover from this problem again. We lost the places where we were born. The judges witnessed this themselves.

“If only there was no nuclear power plant,” “If only the nuclear accident did not happen.” Those words cannot pierce the heart of the officials of TEPCO. That is the true nature of TEPCO that has not changed after the accident. If they were human, these words would reach them.

Did our statements touch TEPCO? Or their hearts? I will continue to appeal until our victims’ lodgment reach the hearts of TEPCO officials. That is our regretful thought.


4  Through the trial, it became clear that the bottom cause of the accident was a top priority of profit seeking.

However, TEPCO does not admit their responsibility of the accident and, regarding our compensation, they said: “Go to law.” Can we forgive this injustice?

Originally, why did TEPCO build a nuclear plant in Fukushima? Can they explain? They cannot.

We are not only ones who are victims and evacuees by the nuclear accident and our regions are not the only victimized regions. Victims are struggling at the various regions and the evacuation areas. Among them, our plaintiffs are only forced evacuees and what rules the trial is the local Iwaki branch which is nearest court from the nuclear power plant which caused the accident. Those who will rule are the judges who live in Iwaki and have chances to meet the evacuees. We were facing the trial with feeling the significance of that. Our lawyers were aware of this profoundly.


5  “Due to the geographical and social conditions, a location of a nuclear power plant must be the place which does not have a big city in its neighboring region and the place which is sparsely populated.” (The Development Vision of the Futatba Atomic Energy District) “We confirmed that both towns of Okuma and Futaba were the best place to build the nuclear power plant. In the background that the confirmation went along well, there were facts such as that EPCO manipulated carefully after asking to build the nuclear power plant. (Coexistence and Co-evolution-With the Region-The Course of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant 45 years, A History of the first thirty years of Tokyo Electric Power Company)

These are the reason and the circumstance but “why must the location of the nuclear power plant be the place which is sparsely populated?” “why do they manipulate carefully?”

These questions suggest that TEPCO expects a danger and severe accident. If they explained the danger and severe accident to residents, there would be no sacrifices and victims who said if only there was no nuclear power plant.


6  TEPCO had various big and small accidents one after the other immediately after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant started business operation and they hid the accident which might become a huge accident. Whenever the accident happened, they were designated their slow report and, furthermore, they falsified and fabricated the data and so on. That situation became normal and worsen. It was no wonder that a huge accident could happen at anytime without the earthquake and tsunami. That situation lasted 40 years. That was the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

On the other hand, TEPCO circulated an enormous quantity of various handouts and brochures, providing “safety myth” as the measure to local residents. Among those, there was a brochure, titled Calm and Lively Way. Support for Futaba Vigor Life! Futaba with ties: In order to tie strongly between the power plant and residents of Futaba County forever.

They ignored the safety measure we asked whenever strange things happened to the nuclear power plant. In the same breath, they distributed the handouts like that.


7  In 1972, the Association of Naraha Town Residents was formed with the resolution: “We protect beautiful natural mountains and rivers and peaceful lives of townspeople and lives of us and our posterity.” In 1973, the same associations were formed in Tomioka and Okuma. On September in the same year the prefecture association was formed with the agreement: “We are against nuclear and thermal power plants because we cannot obtain the confirmation of safety and those plants are not true regional development and those are against people’s will.” So we, both town and prefecture people were appealing its risk.

One year after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the organizations of anti-nuclear residents all over Japan took a leading part and they formed “The Nuclear Power Plant Problem Residential Movement National Contact Center.” Since then, in order to establish measures for safety and emergency, we proposed and negotiated with the government and each electric power company every year.

We continued to warn them with publishing a pamphlet titled “Next Huge Accident Will Be in Japan” in 1992.


8  On February, 2005, TEPCO admitted the nuclear power plants in Fukushima could not be withstood by a tsunami in the Chilean Tsunami class becuase we had accused them. But they neglected one and all of our frequented drastic measure claims. Then, the huge accident happened. The Fukushima nuclear accident was an accident that was waiting to happen. Can we deny it?


9  According to “The Result of the Root Cause Analysis” in Summary of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident and Nuclear Safety Reform Plan, published after the accident, on March 3, 2013, by TEPCO, TEPCO says “the fact of admitting a need of tsunami protection measures leads that the power plant at that time is not safe. As a result, we were convinced that we would be required nimious measures by Nuclear Regulatory Commission and local residents.”

These things like this are TEPCO’s 40 years history. In consequence, what a huge damage we got! This is our one word “if only there was no nuclear accident.”


10  On August 5th, 2015, Naomi Hirose, CEO of TEPCO was asked the question “Do you acknowledge that the accident was a man-made disaster as a perpetrator?” He answered firmly  “Honestly, I have never thought seriously whether the accident was a man-made disaster or natural disaster until now.” On December 8th, 2016, Yoshiyuki Ishizaki, the president of TEPCO Fukushima Revital Headquarter, said to one victim “the nuclear power plant is  a necessary evil.” They made incautious remarks that they have not understood the calamity of victims and the stricken area at all four and five years after the accident.


11  We dare to bring a case before the Iwaki branch which is the closest local court from the location of the stricken area and the nuclear power plant. It is because we assure only this local court can understand suffering of victims and also they can hand down the decision which will take the part of the victims.

If this local court will hand down a decision which overlooks our actual conditions of damage and the situations of the hometown, we, victims, will not be relieved. All the more, please, the court, according to the facts and truth, hand down a decision for which we are able to hold a hope to live. We and many victims are suffering the damage that “it is impossible to verbalize.”

The Mainichi’s article is below.
Another court orders TEPCO to pay damages to Fukushima evacuees


SEVEN YEARS AFTER: Only trickle of former residents returning home to Fukushima

evacuees return 22 march 2018.jpg
March 22, 2018
Close to a year after evacuation orders were lifted in four municipalities near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, only 6.1 percent of evacuees have returned to live in their former communities.
According to a survey of displaced residents, the top reasons cited for not returning were the condition of their homes, concerns about radiation and the lack of hospitals and stores.
The Asahi Shimbun has conducted annual surveys of evacuees since June 2011 with Akira Imai, a senior researcher at the Japan Research Institute for Local Government.
In the latest survey, questionnaires were sent in mid-January to 329 individuals who participated in past surveys. Valid responses were received from 161 individuals now residing in 19 prefectures around Japan aged between 28 and 91.
Of the respondents, 114 were still living as evacuees.
Close to 70 percent of the respondents said the measures taken by the central and local governments leading up to the lifting of the evacuation order on March 31 and April 1, 2017, were insufficient.
Regarding those results, Imai said, “The lifting of the evacuation order was conducted without adequate consideration for the hopes of the evacuees to have their communities returned to their former condition.”
Last year’s lifting of the evacuation order covered areas of the four municipalities of Namie, Tomioka, Iitate and Kawamata that were outside the difficult-to-return zones.
In the joint survey, respondents were asked about measures taken by the central and local governments to decontaminate irradiated areas and construct social infrastructure. A combined 109 respondents said the measures were insufficient or somewhat insufficient.
They were asked their reasons for not returning.
Multiple answers were allowed, and the most popular response given by 59 people was because their homes were not habitable. Forty-eight people raised concerns about radiation exposure on their health.
The inconvenience of not having shops and hospitals nearby was cited by 56 people.
One 46-year-old resident of Namie who lives as an evacuee with her husband and two children in central Fukushima Prefecture has no plans to return because there are no hospitals in the community capable of looking after her oldest daughter, who has an illness that could require emergency care.
While the rates at which evacuees have returned to the four municipalities range between 3.5 percent and 31.1 percent, the rates have not necessarily increased dramatically in the other municipalities where evacuation orders were lifted before spring 2017.
While the rates are between 80 and 81 percent for Tamura and Kawauchi, it is only between 19 and 34 percent in the three other municipalities where the orders were lifted prior to spring 2017.

Amount of food with radioactive cesium exceeding gov’t standards ‘dropping’, so they claim

So they say…..But why should we believe such study coming from the Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry research team to be true? Especially when we know that their main policy has been a constant denial of the existing risks for the past 7 years…..
food radioactive cesium 22 march 2018.jpg
March 22, 2018
The number of cases in which radioactive cesium exceeding Japanese government standards was found in food items dropped to less than 20 percent over a five-year period from fiscal 2012, a health ministry study has found.
The government standards for radioactive cesium came into effect in April 2012, which assumed that half of distributed food products contained the radioactive element generated by the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. It is set at 100 becquerels per kilogram for common food items, 50 becquerels per kilogram for baby food and cow milk and 10 becquerels for drinking water.
Based on central government guidelines, 17 prefectural governments, counting Tokyo, check food products in which radioactive cesium is likely to be detected, including items that have been distributed, for the radioactive element. Other local governments have also been independently inspecting such food products to confirm their safety. A Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry research team analyzed data compiled by local governments, excluding that of beef, which has an extremely low detection rate for cesium, as well as products that go through bag-by-bag inspections such as rice from Fukushima Prefecture.
As a result, the number of cases that exceeded the threshold set under the Food Sanitation Act totaled 2,359 of 91,547 food products inspected in fiscal 2012. In fiscal 2013, it was 1,025 out of 90,824 products, 565 out of 79,067 in fiscal 2014, 291 out of 66,663 in fiscal 2015 and 460 out of 63,121 in fiscal 2016.
Broken down by categories, 641 cases of food items among agricultural produce were found to have exceeded the government standards for radioactive cesium and 1,072 cases were detected among fishery products in fiscal 2012, but the figure had dropped to 71 and 11, respectively, in fiscal 2016. For fishery products, this is believed to be attributed to the reduction of cesium concentration in the seawater as the element had diffused in the ocean. It is also believed that the concentration in agricultural items had dropped as a result of decontamination work and other efforts.
At the same time, the number of cases exceeding national standards totaled 493 for game meat in fiscal 2012, and 378 in fiscal 2016. Researchers suspect that because wild animals continue to feed on wild mushrooms and plants with high concentrations of radioactive cesium growing in forests that have not been decontaminated, the figure does not drop among game meat products.
Almost all the foods that exceeded the government standards for radioactive cesium had not been available to consumers as the contamination was detected during inspections before being shipped to markets. However, Akiko Hachisuka of the National Institute of Health Sciences Biochemistry Division who headed the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry research team says game meat and wild mushrooms need to be prioritized in inspections for the time being and also in the future.
Among wild mushrooms and other products that had been distributed to markets, 19 cases exceeding government standards were reported in fiscal 2012, seven in fiscal 2013, 11 in fiscal 2014, 12 in fiscal 2015 and 10 in fiscal 2016.

Proposed storage of spent nuclear fuel sparks resistance in Aomori Pref. City

Recyclable Fuel Storage Co interim storage facility mutsu, Aomori Prefecture.jpg
The Recyclable-Fuel Storage Co. interim storage facility is seen fenced off in Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture, on March 6, 2018
March 22, 2018
The selection of a site to house an interim storage facility for spent fuel from nuclear power plants operated by Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) has run into rough waters. In January, the Aomori Prefecture city of Mutsu surfaced as a candidate, but resistance quickly emerged from locals.
With KEPCO’s nuclear power plants being concentrated in Fukui Prefecture, the prefectural government has set a basic premise of storing spent nuclear fuel outside the prefecture. The utility aims to announce a candidate site this year, but there remains fierce opposition to accepting nuclear fuel from other prefectures, and because of this, its prospects of settling on a site are unclear.
After a 20-minute drive along a national route from central Mutsu during a visit by the Mainichi Shimbun in early March, an imposing fence could be seen along a snowy field. Beyond the fence was a square building — an interim storage facility that is being built by Recyclable-Fuel Storage Co. (RFS), a company founded by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. and Japan Atomic Power Co. The facility’s storage capacity is around 3,000 tons of spent fuel. There are plans to build a second building in the future.
In January, this facility gained nationwide attention. As the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) came to the final stage of its screening of the facility, news organizations reported that KEPCO was considering transporting spent nuclear fuel from its plants to the facility.
Mutsu Mayor Soichiro Miyashita immediately held a news conference, saying he had heard no such thing from the central government, KEPCO, or RFS. “The feelings of the region are being completely ignored,” he said.
In an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun on March 6, Miyashita suggested it was unlikely KEPCO would bring its nuclear fuel into the facility as things stand. “Operations at the site haven’t started yet. Without the facility having cleared the NRA’s screening, it’s unthinkable that they could change the status quo,” he said.
The Shimokita Peninsula in northern Aomori Prefecture, where the city of Mutsu is located, not only houses the interim storage building, but has a collection of other nuclear facilities including the Higashidori Nuclear Power Plant in the Aomori Prefecture village of Higashidori, the Oma Nuclear Power Plant in the town of Oma and the reprocessing plant for spent nuclear fuel in the village of Rokkasho. But since the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, construction of nuclear facilities has been suspended or delayed.
“We had expected our nonresident population to increase in line with nuclear power plant construction and inspections. But taxi companies are going out of business, and the economic chill is severe,” Miyashita said.
Alongside concerns about the storage of nuclear fuel, there are also deeply rooted aspirations regarding the operation of nuclear power plants in the region. Katsura Sonoda, head of the Mutsu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, commented, “In local economic circles, there is little resistance to reactivating nuclear power plants, and we want the interim storage facility to go into operation quickly. Fixed property taxes and subsidies will also increase.
A figure in the energy industry commented, “The mayor is up for election for a second term in June. It’s not the case that he lacks understanding of nuclear power-related projects; I guess it’s just that he had to be sensitive toward antinuclear public sentiment in the wake of the nuclear disaster (in Fukushima).”
In late January, KEPCO announced that it would set up an office in Aomori in June to handle payment-related issues, employing about 70 people. A public relations representative for the company maintained that this had nothing to do with the interim storage facility, but this has not swept away the view that the company is entering Aomori Prefecture to warm the region to the idea of hosting the facility.


Fukushima rice to be exported to France


March 21, 2018
The governor of nuclear disaster-hit Fukushima Prefecture appears likely to soon reach an agreement with a French trading house to export rice to France.
Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori is starting his 4-day visit to France and Britain on Thursday to promote local produce, including rice, beef, and processed fruit.
He seeks to dispel concern about the safety of food products from Fukushima following the nuclear accident in 2011 and expand its sales channels.
Prefectural sources say Uchibori is likely to reach an agreement to ship to France a locally produced rice variety called Tennotsubu . Rice from Fukushima will be exported to France for the first time.
Sources say the governor is also likely to cement a plan to increase Fukushima’s shipments of rice to Britain.
The prefecture exported 19 tons of rice to the country in the fiscal year ending in March 2017.
An official involved in Fukushima trade affairs says the exports will have a significant impact as Britain and France play a central role in passing on information in Europe.