Tepco customers have paid 20.5 billion U.S. dollars to cover nuclear power-related costs since 2012 rate hike

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Customers of Tokyo Electric have paid over ¥2.4 trillion to cover nuclear-related costs since the beleaguered utility hiked electricity prices in September 2012, it has been learned.

The amount covers the costs of clerical work for processing applications for compensation related to the Fukushima disaster, totaling ¥25.9 billion, as well as ¥56.7 billion set aside as resources to repay the government for compensation paid on its behalf, and ¥41.4 billion in depreciation costs for two reactors at Fukushima No. 1 that were decommissioned, and for all four reactors at the Fukushima No. 2 plant, which Fukushima Prefecture and others want decommissioned.

The costs also include those to maintain its nuclear plants and to deal with the March 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

According to materials held by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the utility counted ¥601.4 billion in annual nuclear-related expenses as part of its overall costs when it raised electricity prices.

The expenses for nuclear power operations include ¥47.2 billion for measures related to Fukushima No. 1, including outsourcing radiation control-related work and inspecting and maintaining equipment to handle radioactive water.

The nuclear-related costs are expected to keep growing because Tokyo Electric has been unable to restart any reactors. When it raised prices in September 2012, the utility assumed that the ratio of nuclear power to its overall electricity supply would fall to 7 percent from 22 percent.

Tepco plans to restart two reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture, but this plan also may fail because Niigata’s new governor, elected in October, opposes restarts.

The Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry plans to have Tepco customers who have since switched to other utilities shoulder part of Tepco’s nuclear-related costs starting as early as fiscal 2020.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/30/business/tepco-customers-shelled-%C2%A52-4-trillion-nuke-related-costs-since-2012-rate-hike/#.WGae71zia-c

Fukushima, the Gift That Keeps on Giving

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Radiation from Fukushima has now officially entered the food chain, can it be fixed?
Fukushima, as you may recall, was an accident at a Japanese nuclear complex back in 2011. A combination of an earthquake and a tsunami damaged the facility, allowing radioactive water to pour into the ocean. In fact, ABC news reported that — “The 2011 quake of magnitude-9 was the strongest quake ever recorded in Japan, and it generated a tsunami that knocked out the Fukushima plant, causing the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl a quarter of a century earlier.”

Since then, there have been various plans to stabilize the situation, but all have failed. Robots sent in to find the cores have failed. The National Post wrote that — “It takes two years to build them. Each operator trains for a month before picking up their controls. And they get fried by radiation after working for just 10 hours.” That’s right. In just 10 hours, the robots are so damaged, they don’t work. In fact, the article continued by writing — “The reason the robots need to get inside core is that officials need to locate the plant’s melted (and still very radioactive) fuel rods before they can plan on what to do next”.

Wait, you might be asking yourself, what about the ice wall? Well, RT reported that — “In March, (a Japanese) construction company began building the frozen wall of earth around the four damaged nuclear reactors and had completed most of the 1.5-km (1 mile) barrier. TEPCO hoped that the frozen earth barrier would thwart most of the groundwater from reaching the plant and divert it into the ocean instead.

However, little or no success was recorded in the wall’s ability to block the groundwater during the five-month-period. The amount of groundwater reaching the plant has not changed after the wall was built.” That’s right. This plan has also failed.

And while media has effectively been silent on the issue, it does pop up from time to time, such as this article in Science World Report — “(a) Woods Hole chemical oceanographer, tracked down the radiation plume in the seawater. He proposed that the (contaminated) seawater crossed the Pacific Ocean and reached (America’s) west coast.” In fact, that article revealed that — “the seawater samples collected last winter from the Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach in the west coast indicated the presence of low levels of nuclear radiations. Thankfully, the levels were calculated too low to cause any harmful impact on the human or animal population of the region.” But that is missing the point – radiation has now officially entered the food chain.

Although the article in Science World Report notes that the levels were low, it should also be noted that their samples were all the way across the ocean. What if they took a sample in other places? Surely, logic would dictate that it would become stronger, the closer one gets to Japan.

It should also be noted that radioactive water continues to pour into the ocean on a daily, hourly, and by the minute basis. That hasn’t stopped. It is happening right now. It happens while you sleep. It happens while you are awake. It happens even if no one is talking about it and has been happening for more than 5 years, and there is no plan to stop it.
https://sputniknews.com/radio_connecting_the_pieces/201612301049141973-obama-fukushima-gift-that-keeps-on-giving/

6.3 magnitude earthquake in Ibaraki, near Fukushima, on Dec. 28, 2016. Over 6,500 quakes felt across Japan in 2016

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Earthquake rocks Japan near Fukushima nuclear power plant on December 28, 2016.

The 6.3 magnitude quake struck Japan’s Kanto region, the Japanese Meteorological Agency says.

It’s an area that neighbours the Tōhoku region, where Fukushima Power Plant had a disastrous meltdown in 2011.

English language news site The Japan News said the jolt was powerful enough to be felt in the region, part of Honshu Island.

While Japan’s NHK news agency said the tremors were felt throughout “wide areas” of the east coast, though the epicentre was not at sea.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company, which is still decommissioning Fukushima’s ruined reactors, said they were investigating the impact of the quake there.

“At the moment, we have not confirmed the impact of the earthquake on our main power facilities (including nuclear power plants),” the statement read.

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Latest earthquakes in Japan:

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The quake struck Ibaraki Prefecture at 9.38pm local time (12.38pm UK time). There were no immediate reports of damages or injuries. Ibaraki Prefecture has had 176 earthquakes in the past 365 days.

Japan has a long history of powerful earthquakes and sits within the world’s most active volcano and earthquake zone.

The zone, called the Pacific Ring of Fire, is home to 90% of earthquakes and 81% of the most powerful quakes.

Over 6,500 quakes felt across Japan in 2016

The number of earthquakes that hit Japan this year with an intensity of one or higher was 3.5 times the figure for the previous year.

The Japanese seismic scale varies from zero, which is imperceptible to people, to seven, the most strongly felt by humans.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency says that as of 7 PM on Thursday, 6,566 earthquakes of one or higher had shaken the country this year. Last year’s number was 1,842.

In 2011, Japan registered more than 10,000 such quakes that were aftershocks of the Great East Japan Earthquake that triggered tsunami. But the number of quakes had been on a consistent downtrend since then.

The agency cites the Kumamoto earthquakes as a cause for the increase in 2016. The serial tremors in the western prefecture led to more than 3,000 such quakes in April alone.

The agency says 33 quakes registered an intensity of “5 lower” or above. Many people find it hard to move and walking is difficult at the “5 lower” intensity.

In November, a quake off Fukushima Prefecture caused tsunami from Japan’s northern to western Pacific coast, with a maximum 1.4-meter tsunami in a neighboring prefecture.

Agency officials urge people to prepare for quakes and tsunami in their daily life because strong tremors could strike anywhere in Japan.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161230_05/

Tepco, investors discussing first bond sale since Fukushima anonymously shh!

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With the government considering splitting Tepco’s nuclear business and forming alliances with other atomic operators, the issue of restarting the utility’s Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear plant, the world’s biggest, has faded.
While oil and gas prices have risen in recent weeks, they are still well below highs in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster that led to a shutdown of most of Japan’s reactors, so Tepco’s costs remain manageable.
Tepco is aiming to sell the debt through a unit in charge of its power transmission business, Tepco Power Grid Inc, to separate risks from operations dealing with the disaster.

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THE HANS INDIA |   Dec 27,2016 , 05:40 PM IST

Tepco, investors discussing first bond sale since Fukushima Tepco, investors discussing first bond sale since Fukushima
Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) is gauging demand for its first bond offering since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear calamity, with some market participants expecting a…

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Fukushima Trucks Spreading Unmeasurable Amount of Radiation

In Yamada, Futaba District, Fukushima, trucks carrying waste after decontamination work, go by spreading unmeasurable amount of radiation.

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The Geiger counter hits 9.99 microSv/h which is its limit!

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Recovery effort? Is n’t it better to relocate the entire residents elsewhere safe? In Japan, there are many villages and small towns where they suffer with depopulation.

What they do now is just to keep feeding big contractors, not helping affected people…..

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Source: Oz Yo

 

Yoshinaga, Sakamoto ask for nuclear-free world in Osaka

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Actress Sayuri Yoshinaga recites a poem with piano accompaniment from musician Ryuichi Sakamoto at the Festival Hall in Osaka’s Kita Ward on Dec. 19.

OSAKA–Actress Sayuri Yoshinaga and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto teamed up to appeal for a world free of nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants at an event organized by The Asahi Shimbun here on Dec. 19.

Peace is something that we achieve together instead of just only wishing for,” said Yoshinaga as she delivered her message at the poetry recital event titled “Heiwa no Tameni–Shi to Ongaku to Hana to” (For peace–Poems, music and flowers).

An audience of around 2,500 listened intently as she read poems about the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, and the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant triggered by an earthquake and tsunami.

Yoshinaga was accompanied by Sakamoto on the piano during the charity concert at the Festival Hall in Osaka’s Kita Ward.

Over the past 30 years, Yoshinaga, who was born in March 1945, has carried out voluntary work giving poetry readings about the atomic bombings, motivated by her belief that it is her mission as a person with the gift of expression who was born in the year the war ended.

The peace-seeking actress read 19 poems including: “Umashimenkana” (I will let her give birth to a baby), written by Hiroshima poet Sadako Kurihara; and “Gonen” (Five years) written by Ryoichi Wago, a high school teacher from Fukushima who is also a poet.

Yoshinaga and Sakamoto, who also held a poetry recital in Canada in May, decided to stage the latest event in Osaka with the aim of spreading the activity in Japan to promote the ideal of a peaceful nuclear-free world.

Peace will never be achieved if you just keep silent,” said Sakamoto. “I want to believe that each one of our continuous small efforts will eventually move the world.”

Sakamoto performed his famed composition, the main theme of the 1983 film “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence,” among other pieces.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612200059.html

 

Mountain of Light by Gen’yū Sōkyū – excerpt

As a writer and priest in Fukushima, Sōkyū grapples with the aftermath of the 2011 nuclear disaster in this short story about a son organising a funeral for his father, who collected radiation-contaminated waste

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Rice fields in Fukushima, no longer cultivatable after the evacuation zone was dissolved in August 2012.

Akutagawa Prize winner Gen’yū Sōkyū has an unusual vocation among litterateurs: he is the chief priest of a temple in Fukushima, where nuclear disaster struck following the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011. Both a leader and a major voice in reconstruction efforts, Gen’yū uses fiction to grapple with the catastrophe, and in this story, Mountain of Light, he imagines (perhaps even hopes for) a future of provincial ascendance and “Irradiation Tours”. In this excerpt, the narrator relates his coming to terms with his father’s devotion in collecting the community’s “irradiated” — their radiation-contaminated waste, in other words.

The editors at Asymptote

The next time I saw Dad was at Mom’s funeral. He himself would die three years later at ninety-five—twenty-five years after our last conversation—of old age, not cancer. After my mother’s cremation, he spoke to me.

Your ma had a hard time of it, but it was all worthwhile. Thanks to the irradiated, we managed to live meaningfully, right up to the end, and that’s no joke. When my time comes… you’ll burn me on top of that mountain, right?”

His hearing wasn’t so good by that time, so while I said “Don’t be stupid,” apparently what he heard was “Okay, I’ll do it,” although I didn’t realise this until much later. He held my hands in front of Mom’s altar and said “Thank you” over and over again… It might’ve been a misunderstanding, but that was the first time he had ever shown me gratitude.

My brother and sister-in-law had only offered incense at the crematorium, and were no longer there. He was a consultant to an electronics manufacturer, and even though he said he had a meeting to attend, I was sure they had left out of fear. I too had debates with the missus about the effects of low-level exposure, almost every night. Eventually we stopped speaking, and came to see each other as “contaminated.” We’d separated by then. And that’s when I finally realised that we were both being completely ridiculous.

I’m sure all of you will agree—I mean, think about it, academics had all these opposing theories and no one was willing to budge. Some people said that anything up to one hundred thousand times the intensity of background radiation is fine, look at astronauts, they’re fine—and then others demanded that we spend trillions of yen on decontamination to scrape off fertile soil with low-level radiation. The Hormesis and Prophylaxis camps, yeah, that’s what they were called. Both sides wanted the other to calm down and talk things through, but like me and the ex, they just couldn’t do it. You could say my divorce was the result of a proxy war, haha.

People—organisations are even worse—go to terrifying lengths to save face. The ICRP, that’s the International Commission on Radiological Protection, they of all people should’ve created spaces for discussion, but showed no intention of doing so. And then public opinion was set on throwing every last baby out with the bathwater: if nuclear reactors were bad, then all radiation was bad too. In short, no one was calm.

But as you know, after the power plant accident, it was the ICRP who recommended raising the radiation exposure limit by twenty to a hundred times of the normal value. After that was rejected, they just stayed silent, same as me and the ex. Even now I have no idea who’s right. But what’s certain is that the radioactive potassium and carbon and whatnot in our bodies emit a fair amount of radiation, with or without the reactors. Somebody weighing sixty kilos would put out, oh, five thousand becquerels or so. Anyway, the Commission never officially changed their stance on low-level exposure after that. And now we have all of you taking part in this Irradiation Tour, coming to see the mountain my old man made. Radon hot springs are popular once more, and Fukushima’s population is even growing rapidly.

What was I… oh, right—that was quite a ramble—I was telling you about Dad’s request.

For the record, it wasn’t cancer. He might’ve said “Cancer wouldn’t be bad,” but in the end he had a prolonged bout of the autumn flu and kicked the bucket, just like that.

I got the news from my cousin, and when I came back Dad was already laid out in the main room, around there. Yes, right there, where the blond man is sitting, haha. I lifted the white cloth, and saw my old man looking solemn for the first time. It was as if he’d taken off the okame mask—I had never seen that face before, honest.

I spent the whole night thinking. I recalled what Dad said at Mom’s funeral, and I wasn’t sure what to do about his cremation. But the answer soon came to me. You see, my mother’s remains had disappeared from the altar.

Since Mom died eight years ago, I’d started coming back home a little more often. I’d retired from my job, and I didn’t have a family of my own. I wasn’t that worried about Dad living alone, rather I’d come to believe his mountain may have been some kind of miracle.

On one of those visits, he’d told me about their dog’s death, and how he had buried it atop that mountain. Sitting by my old man’s pillow, I looked over at the altar and noticed that while my mother’s picture was there, her remains were not. I put the pieces together and went outside. It was a still, humid night at the beginning of summer.

The sound of insects filled the air. It was my first time ever on that mountain. I realised, halfway up, that it had become much taller than before. It was even taller than it is now, nearly thirty metres, I’d wager. As I went up the winding path, I was aware of the dosimeter packed in my bag, but you know, I didn’t take any measurements. I think my feet were a bit shaky, but I wasn’t scared of anything anymore. Dad did the same thing every day, and he lived peacefully until the age of ninety-five, just like Mom.

Now and then, I felt his presence. Staring at the ground as I climbed, in the dim light of the moon, it seemed my old man was saying “It’s okay, it’s okay” and smiling overhead.

As I expected, there were two pieces of natural stone at the top, set about one metre apart. At some point, Dad had made and maintained a grave for Mom and another for their dog up there. And that’s why this mountain is like one of those burial mounds.

Looking around, I saw the neon signs of the neighbouring town twinkling like countless stars. Of course, the stars in the sky were also countless, and so beautiful. Perhaps Dad built the mountain with the knowledge of this view. I was suddenly reminded of him saying the word “meaningfully” at Mom’s funeral. The last words I’d heard Mom say also seemed to echo in my ear: “Someone come by?”

Thinking back later, the mountain seemed to be glowing faintly that time too, but I couldn’t distinguish it from the silvery moonlight.

I went to the temple the next morning and asked the priest to carry out the funeral at my home. I had the newspapers run not just a death notice, but a full obituary too. My old man had single-handedly taken on the irradiated of this town as well as other parts of the prefecture, so I felt the public ought to know about his death. I might’ve been a little carried away.

The funeral was an incredible affair.

I was very grateful for the hundred-odd wreaths, and the not one but five priests, but this wasn’t your regular congregation—this was a mob. The prefectural governor came, five or six mayors came too. Pretty sure there were over two thousand attendees. But the real highlight came during the cremation, after everyone had gone home.

The priest from my family temple was actually very supportive. When I told him about my old man’s request, he said “Let’s do it. We’ll perform the cremation on top of that mountain.” After the ceremony, the guys from the neighbours’ association carried Dad’s coffin up the mountain. As our ancestors did, we gathered kindling, placed a board on the kindling, and laid the coffin on the board. Straw from nearby rice fields, once considered hazardous, was piled up high on the coffin. It was starting to get dark, and the fire burned beautifully, it did. By that time, the Hormesis school of thought was already pretty mainstream, so I wasn’t surprised by the hundred or so people who had stayed behind to watch from the foot of the mountain. What I didn’t expect was what happened after those people had left. I’d invited the priest into the house, and as we were drinking, I heard a massive bang. I went outside to take a look, and the whole mountain was smouldering, not just the area around my old man’s body.

It’s okay.”

That wasn’t my old man, it was the priest standing next to me.

After all, the mountain was made up of countless trees, branches, grass, all perfectly flammable. The priest probably also knew that the temperature would go up to five, six hundred degrees at most, and as long as it didn’t go over seven hundred degrees the caesium wouldn’t disperse.

Is that true?”

Yes, it’s okay, it’s okay, all of it will stay in the ashes.”

The priest came across as a salesman—no, I hear he used to work at an incinerator, maybe that was it—he spoke with complete assurance. I have no idea which of them first came up with the “it’s okay” mantra. Anyway, we made a makeshift table and continued drinking outside, sitting on upturned beer crates.

That’s when we finally saw it. Where the sky was turning into night, the air had a kind of sheen, it seemed to be lit from some deeper layer. It was the mountain, giving off a pale purple fluorescence. Now and then flames peeked out, smoke billowed up, but the purple aura that encompassed the whole shone with a light that would repel darkness forever. It was as if the cloud bearing the noble Amitābha had descended before our eyes.

The mountain continued to smoulder for several days, gradually shrinking and becoming more compact. And every night, the whole mountain would emit a soft light. No one knows why. All sorts of experts came and investigated the thing, but it’s still a mystery. After the usual forty-nine days of mourning, Dad’s bones were buried close to Mom’s gravestone, and since then the light seems to have become stronger, haha, but that’s probably my eyes playing tricks on me.

Look, there it is, you’ll start to see it as night falls. On your feet, everyone, and let’s ascend the Mountain of Light.

It’s okay, no need to rush. Radiation’s not as strong as it was five years ago, but there’s still plenty to soak up.

Sorry, one more thing—I said earlier that this mountain’s also a burial mound, so first, I’d like all of you to put your hands together in prayer for a moment.

Thank you.

Okay then, please put on your shoes and head outside. Now, now, no pushing. I know you can’t wait to get all the exposure you can, but as in all things, sharing is caring. More and more foreigners visiting these days, but I still don’t have any materials in English, sorry about that. PU-RI-I-ZU KA-MU A-GE-I-N, haha.

Ah, just look at that. You wouldn’t think such beauty could come from this world. Translucent, pure, noble, and absolutely toxic. If it were the colour of lapis lazuli, I guess it’d herald the coming of Bhaiṣajyaguru the Medicine Buddha instead of Amitābha. Wow, even the souvenir store’s neon sign is reflected in the sky—we’re looking at the Pure Land of the East here, everyone.

All right, everyone. Please follow me, single file. The staff will give you detailed instructions, please do as they say. It’s okay, it’s okay. Everyone gets the same exposure. Yes, this is the eighty millisievert course. Hey, you there, no sneaking off to get two rounds in, that’s a violation. Good grief, you guys… Those of you who haven’t changed into your white robes, it’s okay, take your time. Right, we’re heading out now, nice and easy… rokkonshōjō, the sky is clear, rokkonshōjō the mountain shines…

Translated from Japanese by Sim Yee Chiang.

For more of Gen’yū, read one of his early reactions to the events of March 2011 here, translated and published in the July 2011 issue of Asymptote.

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  • Gen’yū Sōkyū is a novelist and essayist, as well as the 35th chief priest of the Fukuju-ji Zen Buddhist temple in the town of Miharu, Fukushima. Born and raised in Miharu, he started writing novels while reading Chinese literature and drama at Keio University, Tokyo. His second novel, Chūin no hana (Flowers in Limbo), was awarded the prestigious Akutagawa Prize in 2001. His work, which explores the application of Buddhist or Zen teachings in everyday contexts, has been translated into French, German, Korean and Chinese. As an influential leading writer and committee member of the government’s Reconstruction Design Council, Gen’yū is currently a major voice in national reconstruction after the massive earthquake that hit Japan in 2011. His website can be found here.
  • Sim Yee Chiang is a contributing editor at Asymptote. He was born in Singapore, received an undergraduate education and a master’s in English from Stanford University, and researched issues of English-Japanese and Japanese-English literary translation under the auspices of the University of Tokyo, where, seduced by the praxis itself, he now hopes to contribute to the exponentially growing mass that is world literature.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/translation-tuesdays-by-asymptote-journal/2016/dec/27/translation-tuesday-mountain-of-light-by-genyu-sokyu-excerpt