Survey finds “post-disaster” reconstruction slow in Tohoku prefectures

The pace of reconstruction after the powerful earthquake and tsunami that hit parts of northeastern Japan in March 2011, and the subsequent nuclear disaster, differs from community to community, with a delay forecast in Fukushima municipalities affected by radiation from the accident, a Jiji Press survey has revealed.
The survey was conducted in January and February in a total of 42 municipalities along the Pacific coast in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, and around Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station, where an unprecedented triple reactor meltdown occurred following the natural disasters.
Of the 42, 12 are in Iwate, and 15 each in Miyagi and Fukushima.
Of the total, 15 municipalities said that post-disaster reconstruction will be completed by the end of fiscal 2020 in March 2021, the final year of the reconstruction period designated by the government.
Three municipalities said reconstruction will finish by the end of fiscal 2016, one by the end of fiscal 2017, six by the end of fiscal 2018 and five by the end of fiscal 2019.
The city of Soma in Fukushima said it is difficult to say exactly when the construction projects will be completed.
Meanwhile, 11 municipalities, including nine in Fukushima, noted that post-disaster reconstruction will end in fiscal 2021 or later.
Many of the nine Fukushima towns and villages cited delays in work to decontaminate areas polluted with radiation and dispose of radiation-tainted soil, and the restoration of agriculture, forestry and fishery industries.
This suggests that industry reconstruction has been tardy, affected by shipment restrictions and misinformation about radiation.
The two other municipalities projecting the completion of reconstruction after fiscal 2020 are Sendai, the prefectural capital of Miyagi, and the Miyagi town of Minamisanriku.
Sendai faces a delay in land procurement for reconstruction projects, including one for elevating roads. The central district of Minamisanriku was devastated by the tsunami.
In Iwate, nearly 50 percent of the planned public housing for people who lost their homes in the quake and tsunami has been completed. The proportion stands at about 50 percent in Miyagi and 40 percent in Fukushima.
Of the 12 Fukushima municipalities where evacuation advisories were issued after the nuclear accident, six, including the towns of Tomioka and Okuma, said that their populations at the end of 2025 are expected to decrease by 20 percent or more from current levels.
Among other municipalities in Fukushima and the two other prefectures, five, including Minamisanriku, project drops of 15-20 percent and eight foresee declines of 10-15 percent.
An official of Minamisanriku said, “The population decrease in our town will likely accelerate, because the number of children is falling and some of the residents who have been evacuated to other areas have found new homes and jobs there and therefore opted not to return to Minamisanriku.”
In Miyagi, Sendai and three nearby municipalities expect increases in their populations, on the back of inflows of evacuees from other areas and the establishment of operational hubs by construction companies.
In Fukushima, population growth is forecast in the town of Shinchi, where a liquefied natural gas storage facility is planned to be constructed.
Many of the surveyed municipalities said that they want the central government to continue securing enough reconstruction budgets and providing personnel support, and to increase flexibility in subsidy programs.
The earthquake and tsunami killed more than 15,800 people and left over 2,500 others unaccounted for.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/02/28/national/social-issues/survey-finds-post-disaster-reconstruction-slow-tohoku-prefectures/#.VtMsmubzN_l

Does Tohoku’s disaster tourism exploit or educate?

Disaster tourism can be an unsettling descent into voyeurism as visitors ghoulishly gawk at, and photograph, those caught up in catastrophe as if they’re at a petting zoo. The concept has prompted widespread condemnation of insensitive tourists and travel companies exploiting disasters as marketing opportunities.
In the years following the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, opponents of disaster tourism have claimed that its economic benefits are overstated while the ethical shortcomings are legion. Advocates counter that the economic benefits can be significant, crucial to regional recovery, and that there are important lessons to be learned.
There is no longer much to gawk at along the Tohoku region’s tsunami-ravaged coast, however, save for some shattered buildings preserved to memorialize the tragedy. Bus companies and hotel operators pocket profits, but they also generate jobs and expose outsiders to a region that has always been a neglected backwater.
Recently I witnessed large buses from one local tour company disgorging dozens of sightseers for snapshots of the skeletal disaster management center and the derelict Takano Kaikan hall in Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture. These tourists are spending money in local shops and restaurants in a remote place that has poor transport links and is in the middle of a noisy, messy all-encompassing rebuilding phase. What used to be the center of town is now a vast construction site dominated by giant berms of earth that will raise the town by about five meters.
I met a young man from Osaka who came as a volunteer and then decided to remain in the area. He pointed out that for devastated local businesses, disaster tourism is a welcome lifeline. Elsewhere, a big-screen TV in a hotel lobby features a 3-D video of the tsunami that allows guests to don special glasses and watch the unfolding tragedy. I suppose this could be educational, but the prevailing holiday atmosphere dissuaded me.
Denunciation of disaster tourism in Tohoku is grounded in sympathy for the victims and concerns that devastation is an unseemly attraction, but Australia National University’s Simon Avenell, author of “Transnational Japan in the Global Environmental Movement,” says he is not a purist in this regard.
“From a financial perspective, I’m generally supportive of disaster tourism, certainly because it brings people and some money into the region, but also because it offers local people a chance to express their feelings directly (rather than mediated through the press or TV),” he says. “As time goes by, 3/11 becomes less and less of a news item, so tourism can be at least a small communication pipeline for locals.”
However, Avenell also has qualms about the potential for masking serious unresolved issues, because by promoting a sense of normalization “it could actually hamper fundamental change (and) … its political benefits might be limited or even deleterious in the long run.”
The infamous Kyushu port of Minamata, which put mercury poisoning on the global radar in the 1970s, is now perhaps the most visited sight for school excursions by Kyushu students after Nagasaki’s atomic bomb park and museum. Chris McMorran, a senior lecturer in Japanese studies at the National University of Singapore, takes his students there. He says tourism officials from Tohoku visited Minamata to learn about the city’s educational disaster tourism initiatives and the role of kataribe (storytellers) in them.
“Using an itinerary to create an opening for reflection and communication has long fit the learning objectives of overseas field learning experiences,” he says. There are “packages that continue to attract visitors to Tohoku who want to hear from survivors, witness the destruction and (most intriguingly to me) view (and photograph) disaster monuments. In some areas, there are also new shopping areas targeted at tourists, which feature locally handmade products and restaurants. It seems like these places are actively promoted by locals trying to start businesses in the absence of other major economic activity.”
McMorran posits there are phases in Tohoku’s disaster tourism.
“First, through volunteerism, then volunteer tourism (or ‘voluntourism’), then disaster (recovery/support) tourism. It’s a fascinating evolution that has effectively controlled the potential anarchy of large-scale volunteerism and steered it into consumption (via tourism and the purchase of local goods) as the preferred disaster recovery response from citizens.”
The media has played a significant role in this latter phase. Philip Seaton, a professor of modern Japanese studies at Hokkaido University, has studied the role “contents tourism” has played in Tohoku’s recovery. This is where television shows, films and anime promote an area specifically by featuring it.
Producers chose sites “in disaster zones in the hope that the ‘contents tourism’ induced by popular culture would help in the more general economic revitalization efforts of disaster areas,” Seaton says. Prime examples include NHK dramas “Yae no Sakura,” set in Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, and “Amachan,” set in Kuji, Iwate Prefecture. It is estimated that the latter generated ¥30 billion in economic benefits for Tohoku as fans of the series flocked to the gorgeous coastal location to sample local delicacies from the show.
It is also clear that a variety of organizations, ranging from religious and education institutions to NPOs and activist groups, are conducting study tours in the region that are explicitly educational. As I wrote two weeks ago, the ruins of Okawa Elementary School in Miyagi Prefecture are now a site for school tours that aim to improve disaster preparation. Universities are also running study tours in the region.
Hiroko Aihara, a journalist with Japan Perspective News, notes that the Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation has issued guidelines for responsible disaster tourism but remains ambivalent over “dark tourism,” which involves places associated with death and suffering. She is concerned about a lingering radiation risk in Fukushima and worries that if tours don’t involve local residents and the evacuees, visitors might get a skewed impression that downplays the nuclear disaster — which could be “converted to political propaganda by the ‘nuclear village,’” she says, referring to pro-nuclear interests. She also cautions that schools and teachers should disclose information about the dangers of radiation exposure near the stricken nuclear plant and suggests bringing individual measurement devices. If properly led, she agrees that educational tours can be beneficial, but she is not in favor of mere casual observation.
Fukushima Prefecture is sponsoring trips to Namie, an abandoned town just 9 kilometers away from Tepco’s three nuclear meltdowns, that convey a powerful message to visitors about the hubris of nuclear safety — underscored by the continuing ban on overnight stays. Nearby Futaba, however, has taken down the iconic pro-nuclear energy welcome sign that spanned the entryway into that ghost town because it had become a favored photo op for tourists. Some disgruntled locals feel it should have been preserved for posterity to help future generations learn the lessons of Fukushima, but abashed town officials claim the aging sign had become a safety hazard. At least that’s their story, and they’re sticking to it.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2016/02/27/commentary/tohokus-disaster-tourism-exploit-educate/#.VtLKBubzN_l

Are Organisms Adapting to Ionizing Radiation at Chernobyl?

Numerous organisms have shown an ability to survive and reproduce under low-dose ionizing radiation arising from natural background radiation or from nuclear accidents. In a literature review, we found a total of 17 supposed cases of adaptation, mostly based on common garden experiments with organisms only deriving from typically two or three sampling locations. We only found one experimental study showing evidence of improved resistance to radiation. Finally, we examined studies for the presence of hormesis (i.e., superior fitness at low levels of radiation compared with controls and high levels of radiation), but found no evidence to support its existence. We conclude that rigorous experiments based on extensive sampling from multiple sites are required.

Source: http://www.cell.com/trends/ecology-evolution/abstract/S0169-5347%2816%2900019-7?_returnURL=http%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0169534716000197%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

Radiation research in children teeth in Japan

Prof. Chihiro Ichihara from Aichi Medical University, is an independent man.

He informed the audience about the children teeth project for measuring Strontium 90, with no government support, looking for funding.

Prof. Chihiro Ichihara collects children teeth and lets them measure for Strontium 90. He plans to build an own independent lab for parents.

Similar project was done until the1980s in the U.S. after the bomb tests. It was then supervised by Jay Gould. (STRONTIUM-90 IN BABY TEETH AS A FACTOR IN EARLY CHILDHOOD CANCER http://www.radiation.org/reading/ijhs/ijhs_9_2000.html)

To measure Sr90 is very difficult, because it emits only beta radiation. It causes bone marrow depression, destroys the stem cells and immune system, casuses bone cancer / sarcoma.

His project deserves more attention, because it is VITAL.

A similar research was conducted in the US:

STRONTIUM-90 IN BABY TEETH AS A FACTOR IN EARLY CHILDHOOD CANCER

Jay M. Gould, Ernest J. Sternglass, Janette D. Sherman,
Jerry Brown, William McDonnell, Joseph J. Mangano

International Journal of Health Services
Volume 30, Number 3, Pages 515-539, 2000
Copyright Baywood Publishing Co., Inc

http://www.radiation.org/reading/ijhs/ijhs_9_2000.html

Kudos to Prof. Ichihara, wo worked at the research reactor in Kyoto: “He is a physicist specialising in Neutron transport experiments and their calculation as well as in gamma-ray spectrum measurement.

Currently, he teaches as a Visiting Professor at Aichi Medical University. He is a member of the Steering Committee of PDTN. Previously, Prof. Chihiro Ichihara was an Associate Professor at the Research Reactor Institute of Kyoto University.

Special credits to Jan Hemmer for the pictures and the informations

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Radiation research in children teeth in US

Radiation and Public Health Project

Tooth Donation Form/Kit

How to Send Teeth

  • If not already clean, wash the teeth and let them dry.
  • Wrap each tooth in paper and cushion with tissue or something similar.
  • Print out the tooth donation form, fill it out, and send it with the teeth to:

    Radiation and Public Health
    P.O. Box 1260
    Ocean City NJ 08226


Do not worry if you do not have all the information requested

There is some information we need in all cases:

  • Where the mother lived when carrying the child.
  • The child’s birthdate.
  • Where the child lived the first year after birth.

If you can supply us with this information, don’t worry about the rest if you do not know the answers.

Important: If you have a tooth or teeth from more than one child, please fill out a separate form for each child and clearly mark which teeth came from which child. We cannot use teeth from more than one child when they are mixed together.

Would you like preprinted envelopes?

For envelopes with the teeth form pre-printed on them, email us (odiejoe@aol.com) with your name, address, and phone, and how many envelopes you need.

* For more than 10 envelopes and Group Networking, contact our Executive Director Joseph Mangano.(odiejoe@aol.com)

Tooth donation form: http://www.radiation.org/projects/tooth_donation_form.html

Source: http://www.radiation.org/projects/tooth_donation.html

Hot Spots in the 5th Year Over 20μSv h in Fukushima city Feb. 23, 2016

Here is the video made by Masa in Fukushima and his group. The video is available in English. This is the reality of 5 years after the nuclear accident. The area in the video is going to be “de-contaminated” in this coming spring, 2016.
Despite that there are numerous hot spots in school routes and parks, Masa says that in Fukushima, nobody talks about radiation anymore.
In the 5th year since the Fukushima nuclear accident, we found hotspots on the riverbed in Fukushima city. They exceeded 20μSv/h. We examine the present FUKUSHIMA which is facing the micro-hot-spots phenomena.

Japan restarts fourth atomic reactor since 2012 moratorium

Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama No. 4 reactor in Fukui Prefecture on Friday became the nation’s fourth to be restarted since 2012 and the first to burn MOX, a mixed-oxide fuel that contains plutonium.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Kepco President Makoto Yagi said safety would remain the top priority and that the utility would continue to promote safety standards beyond what was legally required.

The startup came nearly a week after a radioactive water leak was discovered at the reactor’s auxiliary building on Feb. 20. Kepco halted restart preparations while it repaired the leak, saying it did not pose a danger to the environment.

The utility said earlier this week the leak was caused by a loose pipe valve and could be repaired without affecting the restart schedule, which called for rebooting the unit by the end of this month.

Under Kepco’s schedule for the restart process, the No. 4 reactor is expected to start generating electricity by Monday afternoon and reach full power a few days later. Once the Nuclear Regulation Authority gives final approval, and assuming there are no last-minute technical problems, the plan is to have it back online and selling electricity from late March, just before the end of fiscal 2015.

The restart of Takahama No. 4 comes about a month after the nuclear power plant’s No. 3 reactor was restarted. Along with two reactors at Kyushu Electric’s Sendai plant, which went back online last August, they comprise the four reactors that have been restarted since beefed-up nuclear safety standards took effect in 2012.

In addition to No. 3 and No. 4, which are at least 30 years old, Kepco also wants to restart Takahama Nos. 1 and 2, both of which are over 40. It hopes to run them for up to two decades. Despite concerns about the increased probability of accidents at the aged plants, their restart moved a step closer to reality on Wednesday, when the NRA said additional safety systems Kepco installed to extend the reactors’ life spans met its standards.

The next step will be soliciting public comment, and then further permission from the NRA is required for what would be the first-ever extensions in Japan of reactors over 40 years old.

Before that happens, Kepco will seek final permission from the mayor of Takahama and the governor of Fukui Prefecture for the restart, which could be a lengthy process. The utility may also find itself forced to deal with public and political concerns in surrounding Kansai prefectures like Shiga and Kyoto, where safety concerns about the aged reactors are strong.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/02/26/national/japan-restarts-fourth-atomic-reactor-since-2012-moratorium/#.VtC5r-bzN_l