Fukushima Mother Calls at UN Rights Body Hearing for Full Implementation of “Fukushima Recommendations” by the Japanese Government

Mother calls for full implementation of “Fukushima recommendations” at UN rights body hearing
GENEVA, March 19 (Xinhua) — The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) on Monday adopted the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) outcome of Japan, but a mother from the Fukushima area pleaded at the hearing for the Japanese government to take measures to fully implement the “Fukushima recommendations.”
“The Japanese government has been ignoring people who want to avoid radiation,” Akiko Morimatsu, a mother, and evacuee from Koriyama in Fukushima, told the HRC.
Seven years after the meltdown of three reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, owned by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) after a massive earthquake hit Japan, the accident is still ongoing, as was recently admitted by Japan’s nuclear regulator, Greenpeace told the HRC.
The NGO said that its radiation investigations in Fukushima recently reported on the high levels of radiation that evacuees will be exposed to if they were to return to their homes.
It said this will pose an unacceptable risk for 40-100 years or more depending on the level of contamination.
At the UPR the Japanese government accepted UN recommendations to provide essential financial, housing and medical support for self-evacuees.
Yet in 2017 the government removed as many as 29,000 Fukushima citizens from the official record as self-evacuees and terminated housing support, said Greenpeace.
Morimatsu, is one of those who was “disappeared by the government,” said Greenpeace.
“I thank United Nation member states for defending the rights of Fukushima citizens and I call on you to continue to help all the victims and evacuees of nuclear disasters and to protect the people of Fukushima and East Japan, especially children, from radiation exposure,” said Morimatsu.
Fukushima evacuee asks for support at UN
A Japanese woman who evacuated Fukushima after the 2011 nuclear accident has called for international support at the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Akiko Morimatsu delivered a speech at the Council in Geneva on Monday. She moved to Osaka with her 2 children after the accident.
Morimatsu criticized the Japanese government for focusing only on policies that encourage former residents to return to the affected areas.
She called on the international community for support to protect children from further radiation exposure.
A Japanese official said the government will do all it can to expedite reconstruction, keeping in mind that those affected still face difficulty in their daily lives.
The Human Rights Council recommended last November that Japan should continue to support affected residents and voluntary evacuees, in line with requests from Germany and other member states.
The Japanese government says it accepts Council recommendations related to the accident. But it also says it has been providing necessary support in accordance with laws.

A message from Ms. Akiko Morimatsu, an evacuee from Fukushima

Ms. Akiko Morimatsu, an evacuee from Fukushima, sent a message to citizens who live near a nuclear power plant.
“–What is the hardest thing for you, seven years after the evacuation?
The hardest thing is being exposed to low-level radiation. It does not cause any immediate symptoms. It has no color and no odor. It does not cause pain; you do not feel hot or itchy. If you could feel the effects of nuclear exposure, it would be lethal. In Fukushima, when you are facing a low-level radiation exposure, none of the five senses can detect it. Therefore, it’s possible to get the impression that you are not affected by radioactivity while there.
According to the logic of those who want to operate nuclear power plants, there is nothing to worry about. These people are taking advantage of the fact that we cannot see radioactivity. It’s not right. In Fukushima, we’ve started to experience cases of thyroid cancer and other health issues, including unknown illnesses.”


“There is a reality that many residents in Japan continue to live away from their homes to avoid radioactivity in contaminated areas due to the nuclear accident.
In this country, there are many so-called “mother-child evacuees” where mothers have evacuated without their husbands to protect their children. However, the Japanese government does not keep the accurate number nor the situation of those evacuees, and continues to promote policies to lift evacuation orders for areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and encourages residents to return there.
A lesson from Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Fukushima is that we should not create any more nuclear disasters or nuclear victims. It is a fundamental human right to live free from radiation exposure and to have the right to health, which are directly related to people’s lives and health that needed to be respected the most.”

Northern Japan court rejects lawsuit against construction of Ohma nuclear plant

higashidori, aomori NPP
Japan court rejects lawsuit against construction of nuclear plant
A court in northern Japan on Monday rejected a lawsuit to halt construction of a nuclear plant, said the company building the facility, Electric Power Development Co (J-Power).
The ruling by the Hakodate District Court in Hokkaido prefecture on the Ohma plant will be welcomed by many utilities as they push for a return to nuclear power following the 2011 Fukushima disaster, despite strong opposition from chunks of the public.
More than 1,100 residents in Hokkaido, among others, had filed the lawsuit in 2010 to prevent Ohma from starting. The construction of the 1,383-megawatt plant, which will use mixed oxide fuel, a blend of uranium and plutonium recycled from spent nuclear fuel, started in 2008, but work was suspended after Fukushima in 2011.
Building resumed in 2012, but has been delayed as the company has to meet new safety requirements imposed after the 2011 disaster, a company spokesman said. The station is about 38-percent complete, he said.
J-Power in 2016 pushed back the planned start of operation by two years to 2024/25.
“We are doing all we can for the start of operations in the 2024/25 business year,” the spokesman added.
The ruling marks the latest judgement on atomic power in the country, with critics of nuclear energy having more success in some other cases.
A high court in western Japan sided with residents last December to prevent the restart of a nuclear plant idled for scheduled maintenance, although lower court decisions have usually been turned down on appeal.
Court rules against bid to halt Ohma construction
A Japanese court today rejected a lawsuit seeking to stop construction and subsequent operation of Japan Electric Power Development Corp’s (J-Power’s) Ohma nuclear power plant, being built in Aomori prefecture.
More than 1100 residents of Hakodate city filed a suit and claims for damages with the Hakodate District Court against J-Power and the government in July 2010. A further eight complaints have since been filed with the court.
The lawsuit focused on whether there is an active seismic fault in the seabed near the Ohma plant site and the risk of volcanic eruptions in the area. The plaintiffs also expressed concerns about the plant using purely mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel. Ohma 1 would be the first Japanese reactor built to run solely on MOX fuel incorporating recycled plutonium.
“Until now, we have asked the court to dismiss the claims, and we have carefully insisted on and verified that the safety of the Ohma nuclear power plant is secure,” J-Power said.
The company announced today that the Hakodate District Court had “recognised” its argument and ruled in its favour. The ruling dismisses both the injunction on the plant’s construction and the claims for damages, it noted.
Presiding Judge Chikako Asaoka was quoted by the Asahi Shimbun as saying: “At the moment, it is difficult to readily recognise the tangible danger of a grave accident likely to occur at the plant.”
“We will continue to respond appropriately to the conformity assessment by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) to the new regulatory standards and we will work throughout the entire company to create a safe power plant,” J-Power said. “In addition, we will strive to provide information about the plan of the Ohma nuclear power plant to the people concerned.”
The start of construction of the Ohma plant was originally due in August 2007, with commercial operation planned for March 2012. However, the imposition of more stringent seismic regulations put back the start of construction to May 2008 and commercial operation to November 2014.
Work to build the first unit at Ohma – a 1383 MWe Advanced Boiling Water Reactor – was about 40% complete in March 2011 when a tsunami caused the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Construction of Ohma 1 was suspended following the accident, but was resumed in October 2012. At that time, J-Power said it would strive to establish a safe power plant by, among other things, ensuring reinforced safety measures are implemented that take into account the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident.
In December 2014, J-Power submitted an application to the NRA to make changes to Ohma 1’s reactor installation to strengthen the unit’s protection. These measures – including tsunami countermeasures, ensuring power supplies, ensuring heat removal functions, and severe accident responses – were originally expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
However, in September 2015, the company announced a one-year delay in the start of safety equipment construction, pushing back the start of operation to around 2021. This delay was attributed to the prolonged screening process by the NRA after the company was requested to submit additional information about its plans.
A year later, J-Power said it expects a further delay of around two years in the completion of the NRA’s review and approval process for Ohma 1. It now expects construction of the safety upgrades to begin this year and to be completed in the second half of fiscal year 2023.
“We are doing all we can for the start of operations in the 2024/25 business year,” a J-Power spokesman told Reuters.

First samples of Fukushima plant nuclear fuel debris to be collected in FY 2019

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March 16, 2018
The government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) are set to extract a small sample of melted nuclear fuel from the bottom of the No. 2 reactor’s containment vessel at the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant as early as fiscal 2019.
The operation will be a test before starting full-scale collection of the fuel, targeted for 2021 or earlier. If development of technologies for debris retrieval shows promise, the operation may be moved up to the end of fiscal 2018. The government and TEPCO hope to ascertain the properties of the melted fuel and use the information for developing collection devices and debris containers.
This will be the first attempt to sample nuclear fuel debris from a reactor. Other materials, including those floating in contaminated water and substances stuck to robot probes, have been extracted from the plant’s reactors before. The No. 1, 2 and 3 reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant melted down in the March 2011 nuclear disaster.
The road map for collecting the melted fuel, last revised in September 2017, states that TEPCO would choose a first reactor to tackle by the end of fiscal 2019 and decide on a collection method. The utility would then start the retrieval process in 2021. As deciding on this process requires finalizing ways to contain, transfer and store the debris, the government and utility concluded that they would need to grasp the fuel’s current condition by extracting samples beforehand.
In January this year, a camera and dosimeter were sent into the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor through an existing passage to find pebble- and clay-like masses at its bottom believed to be melted fuel. A source close to the government says the plan is to remotely guide a robot arm equipped with a camera and dosimeter into the containment vessel through the same passage, and extract a small amount of the suspected fuel debris.
The January probe of the containment vessel revealed radiation around the pebble-like masses measured 8 sieverts per hour — a level potentially lethal to humans after just one hour of exposure. Due to the ultrahigh radiation, the sampled material will be placed in a special radiation-shielded container before being removed from the reactor. After that, the sample will be brought to a Japan Atomic Energy Agency facility in Ibaraki Prefecture for analysis.
A government source told the Mainichi Shimbun that sampling the suspected fuel debris is different from the debris collection specified in the road map, and stressed that extracting samples should be beneficial to determine a method for retrieving the fuel.

Sanitising the Fukushima nuclear waste situation: Japanese newspaper succumbs to pressure


The Great Train Photo Robbery
Despite one newspaper’s effort, Japan can’t make its radioactive waste “disappear.”
From information provided by Kurumi Sugita, Jon Goman, and Fukushima 311 Voices.
After the disastrous events of the March 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan, France-based Kurumi Sugita, a retired Japanese social anthropologist, and her American partner, Jon Goman, started a website for the French citizens group, Nos Voisins Lontains, 311 (Our Far Away Neighbors 311.) At first published only in French, it is now also published in English and Japanese at Fukushima 311 Voices.
In a particularly revelatory article last October, the pair highlighted the extent to which efforts to “normalize” the devastating consequences of the nuclear disaster are pervasive in Japan.
Tomioka train station when it was still closed due to high radiation levels
They detailed how the Mainichi Shimbun ran a story about the reopening of a stretch of railway line that had been closed since the Fukushima accident. The photo that accompanied the piece showed a train in the background. But the foreground of the picture was dominated by row after row of black trash bags filled with radioactive waste. (Shown in headline photo at the top of the article.)
Apparently, the radioactive trash bags photo at the train station caused some public (or possibly corporate) protest. The photo abruptly vanished from the Japanese online version of the paper (but not the English language one), to be replaced by a picture showing cheerfully smiling train personnel and passengers on the station platform.
Rows of such radioactive waste-filled bags now litter that region of Japan, sometimes stretching as far as the eye can see. Watch RT’s extraordinary drone footage of waste bags.


They are a reminder of the impossibility of effective “cleanup” after a radioactive accident. In a desperate attempt to restore confidence among exiled residents, top soil and other debris was scooped up intro trash bags in the name of “cleanup”. However, all this achieves, if the bags are ever “disposed of,” is to move the radiation somewhere else.
The story is one small example — but nevertheless a poignant one — of the extent to which the Japanese public are being subjugated, silenced and even threatened into an acceptance of the widespread radioactive contamination of their country.
Rows of trash bags containing radioactive waste from the Fukushima nuclear disaster now litter the area.
Here is the original October 30, 2017 blog post from Fukushima 311 Voices, published in English and Japanese.
Newspaper changes an “annoying” photo
When we are outside of Fukushima, or of Japan, it is difficult for us to realize to what extent it has become difficult to speak of radio-contamination and the risk of exposure.
To illustrate this, we are reporting on the case of a photo replacement in the Mainichi Shimbun. This took place only in the Japanese edition. The original photo seems to have remained in the English edition.
On October 21, the Mainichi Shimbun reported the reopening of a part of the JR East line under the title: “JR East partially reopens line halted since 2011 nuclear disaster”. In this article, the Mainichi published a photo of a train leaving the newly opened Tomioka station. (If it is impossible to open the article, here is the web archive).
At left is the original picture (used also in the Japanese 1st version) with the caption : “A train leaves Tomioka Station in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture, after services on the JR Joban Line were resumed between Tomioka and Tatsuta on Oct. 21, 2017. (Mainichi)”.
As you can see, the picture clearly tries to attract the attention of the readers to the black bags containing contaminated waste. In fact, the Japanese caption mentions also: “In the foreground, a temporary storage site of bags containing decontamination waste”. You can see other pictures here by the same photographer.
The photo above received a large number of complaints and protests. People basically complained: “why stain the joyful event with such a picture?”.
Here is the link to the togetter (in Japanese) through which you can see in what kind of language these people protesting against the first picture express themselves. They are pointing out crudely “the malicious intention” of the Mainichi Shimbun to devalue the event and the reconstruction of Fukushima.
The result is that the Mainichi Newspaper replaced the original photo with the one below.
Replaced train photo
The replaced photo is now only available on the web archive).
Read more about Kurumi Sugita and Jon Goman and their Fukushima 311 Voices blog: https://fukushima311voices.wordpress.com/about/


Tepco and other utilities eye joint nuclear plant project in Aomori Prefecture

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Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and other major utilities will start talks this spring on jointly building and operating a nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan, sources close to the matter said Friday.
The plan involves Tepco’s Higashidori nuclear power plant in Aomori Prefecture, the construction of which was suspended following meltdowns at the firm’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant in March 2011. Tohoku Electric Power Co., Chubu Electric Power Co., and Japan Atomic Power Co. are expected to participate in the project, according to the sources.
Kansai Electric Power Co. is also considering joining a group to discuss the role of each utility and how to shoulder the huge costs related to the Higashidori plant, they said.
The government, which holds the majority of Tepco’s voting rights through a state-backed bailout fund, is expected to support the move.
Tepco, which began constructing the Higashidori plant in January 2011, hopes to compile a joint venture plan around fiscal 2020.
Struggling under the burden of huge compensation payments and plant decommissioning costs from the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Tepco is aiming to rebuild itself through realigning its nuclear business. The utility has been asking other power companies since late last year to join in with construction of the Higashidori plant.
Other utilities may benefit from the joint business as they can share know-how and resources through the initiative at a time when profitability is deteriorating, due to suspensions of nuclear power plants for tighter safety screening introduced after the Fukushima disaster.
Still, many utilities remain wary that teaming up with the crisis-hit Tepco could result in their share of plant decommissioning costs increasing in the future.

Govt. bans decontamination work by foreign interns


March 16, 2018
The Japanese government has decided to ban companies from using foreign trainees to carry out decontamination work in areas affected by the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The decision comes after a Vietnamese man complained that he was asked to remove contaminated soil in Fukushima Prefecture. He told a news conference that he would never have come to Japan if he had known that he would be doing this kind of work. He also expressed concern about the possible impact on his health.
The man came to Japan under a government-backed technical internship program that allows foreigners to acquire skills and knowhow.
The ministries in charge of the program say that decontamination is not suitable work for interns.
They say they will make it mandatory for companies to submit a pledge that trainees will not be asked to do this kind of task.
A group that supports foreign interns says there have been similar cases.
The ministries will warn companies if other cases are discovered and may consider revoking their permission to hire foreign interns.