Delicacies from disaster-hit areas on the menu for Tokyo IOC banquet

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The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is teaming up with the Reconstruction Agency to bring delicacies from 2011 disaster-hit Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures to the table for its banquet with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Dec. 12.
It is said that many foreign travelers have strong concerns about the effects of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant caused by the earthquake and tsunami disaster in March 2011, but the Tokyo committee plans to use its many opportunities to appeal to the IOC about the safety of Fukushima products and the charm of the Tohoku region’s abundant foodstuffs. A spokesperson for the Fukushima Prefectural Government said, “We would like many people to try our products, and better understand the situation in the disaster-hit areas.”
The IOC and the Tokyo planning committee will hold a coordination conference for three days beginning on Dec. 11 to confirm progress on preparations for the games in the Tokyo area. Roughly 50 members of the IOC will participate in the banquet. In order to increase a feeling of involvement in the 2020 Games, the governors of each of the three prefectures have been invited to the banquet, and will be given time to speak to the IOC about the current conditions in each of their prefectures.
The organizing committee collaborated with the wishes of the three prefectures in deciding what special products to serve at the banquet. Representing Iwate Prefecture will be “hakkinton” (platinum pork) and two types of rice grown in the prefecture, “konjiki no kaze” (golden wind) and “ginga no shizuku” (drops of the Milky Way). From Miyagi Prefecture, beef tongue and “kinka” mackerel will be on the menu. Apples, “Kawamata Shamo” chicken and other items will be representing Fukushima Prefecture. The committee is working with the hotel that will hold the banquet to include each region’s products in every item on the menu.
In the outline for the committee’s “Basic Strategy on Food and Beverage Services at the Tokyo 2020 Games,” serving a menu made with ingredients from the affected areas is also planned to be utilized for athletes at the Olympic Village and other locations. While actually deciding on the menu for the games itself is still two years away, the banquet is a chance to promote the regional products to the IOC. The reputation of agricultural and other food products of Fukushima and the other prefectures have taken a heavy hit from rumors, and the committee hopes that 2020 will become a “Reconstruction Games” that will help dispel misconceptions.
This November, the Reconstruction Agency created a new reconstruction Olympics promotion team to connect the games to the areas that suffered damage from the 2011 disaster. The team will take on projects strongly requested by the areas to use foodstuffs at the Olympic Village as well as hold reconstruction promotional events.
“We’re extremely thankful that the organizing committee is taking on promotional events this early,” said State Minister for Reconstruction Toru Doi, who heads the team. “I would like this to be a step toward mending the damaged reputation of the regions.”
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Tokyo 2020 to feed IOC food from disaster-hit regions

dec 4 2017 Olympics will fed produce from Tohoku
The 2020 organisers have been trying to include the disaster-hit areas in their planning
International Olympic officials will be fed produce from northern Japan hit by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster, as Tokyo 2020 organisers aim to dispel fears over food from the region.
“Restoration of the disaster-hit area is an important pillar of our Games,” a spokeswoman for the Tokyo 2020 organising committee told AFP.
“By offering food from three disaster-hit prefectures, we hope to sweep away the false reputation of food from the regions and contribute to the restoration,” she said.
At a dinner during next week’s three-day visit by International Olympic Committee, Tokyo organisers are planning to offer fine food from the disaster-hit region and invite governors of the three prefectures to the meal, the official said.
The regions are famous for rice, pork, mackerel and apples but details of the menu are yet to be finalised, she added.
The northern Japanese areas of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate were devastated in 2011 by a huge quake-triggered tsunami and the resulting Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident contaminated large swathes of land and tainted the water with radiation.
Right after the disaster — the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986 — 54 countries imposed import bans on Japanese-produced food “for fear of contamination with radioactive materials”, farm ministry official Maiko Kubo told AFP.
Today, more than six years after the disaster, 25 countries have completely ended the ban and just days ago, the European Union further loosened their rules, scrapping their requirements for safety certificates for rice grown in Fukushima, she said.
However, China still has a trade ban on food from 10 Japanese prefectures and Taiwan from five regions.
Food from the affected areas has to pass strict Japanese safety tests before being put on the market.
A small number of food products made in Fukushima, such as mountain vegetables, are still banned in Japan.
Tokyo 2020 organisers have been keen to include the disaster-hit areas in the preparation for the Games.
In March, Fukushima won formal approval to host baseball and may have the honour of putting on the opening game.
And Kengo Kuma, designer of the new national stadium, the showpiece venue for the Games, has said he hopes to use timber from the disaster-hit region.

Activists call on artists to join protests against 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

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The idea of the Olympics as a sporting event complemented by culture goes back to Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Games. The Olympic Charter also states that the Olympic Movement is composed of sport, culture and education. These elements were often blended, as in the prewar Games that included such events as poetry and painting. From 1912 to 1948, arts competitions were held in parallel with the sporting events, though growing discontent meant this curiously hybrid system was jettisoned in favour of separate arts and cultural festivals held alongside the sports. From Barcelona in 1992, the idea of a Cultural Olympiad took hold, whereby a series of arts and cultural events would be organized during the four-year Olympiad period to culminate with the Games, though this had already happened de facto at past Games.
Now the leading figures in the protest movement against the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have called for an anti-Cultural Olympiad. In the recently published Anti-Olympics Arts Council Statement of Purpose, activists point to the destruction of public housing and eviction of homeless people as part of the preparations for the Olympics in Tokyo. The statement ends with a call to action:
For residents of urban areas, and especially the poor, the Olympic/Paralympic Games are nothing but a huge catastrophe. We, the Anti-Olympic Arts Council, call for you to resist and protest against these mega events. We call on artists, performers, poets, and all that use the arts as their medium—oppose the Olympic Games.
It is often said that artists in Japan have avoided direct political engagement in past decades, preferring more oblique modes of socially engaged practice, though the post-Fukushima zeitgeist has certainly produced some prominent examples of overtly politicized art. The prospect of the Olympics and Cultural Olympiad in 2020, given the geopolitical situation in the region as well as such ongoing major socio-cultural questions as Fukushima, Constitutional change and Japan’s demographic time bomb, necessarily conjure up a dilemma for the arts. How will the arts respond? Will artists protest, ignore, borrow or participate?
 
The most notable and lasting case of an artistic response to the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics is surely Kon Ichikawa’s nearly three-hour documentary film Tokyo Olympiad (1965). Arguably, the Olympics “propaganda” film subverts the brief, focusing on many of the small moments and the ordinary people among the spectators. It starts with the rising sun and then a wrecking ball while the narration enumerates the iterations of the modern Games and their host cities. The Olympics have noble aspirations, as Ichikawa acknowledges from the opening epigraph, but the reality, at least initially, is demolition. It ultimately segues into a somewhat more predictable, yet staggeringly meticulous, hymn to the facilities created for the 1964 sporting events, the participating athletes and the competitions themselves, but the underlying social commentary is more subtle.
The 1964 Olympics were more conspicuously satirised by the art collective Hi-Red Center when its members set about cleaning the streets of Ginza in white lab coats, a stunt intended to mock the city’s attempts to spruce up its appearance ahead of the Games. Recent moves in Japan to expunge pornographic magazines from retail outlets is an indication of the “cleaning” likely to take place prior to 2020.
One of the early projects of Akira Takayama’s theater collective Port B examined both the famous 1964 Games but also Japan’s “phantom Olympics”, the 1940 Games that were canceled due to World War Two. Tokyo/Olympic (2007) was a tour several hours long around the city on a chartered Hato Bus that took in the sites of the 1964 Games, but finished rather unexpectedly at a rather desolate location in Tokyo Bay. Participants could look across the bay to see the artificial island of Yumenoshima (literally, “island of hope”), which was made from the city’s trash, and a projected venue for the abandoned 1940 Games. (See Peter Eckersall, “Memory and City: Port B and the Tokyo Olympics” in Performativity and Event in 1960s Japan: City, Body, Memory, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.) The bay area will play host to many of the venues for the 2020 Games at a time when the government, say its critics, is attempting to steer the nation back towards its prewar past.
The upcoming Olympics in Tokyo have already succeeded in coopting many artists for its pageantry. One of them is the singer Ringo Sheena, though she recently got flamed by liberals for her nationalist comments in a July interview with the Asahi Shimbun in which she declared that “the whole population is the organizing committee” for the Games. “In that sense, it’s very Japanese in its respect for harmony.” No individual opinions are anticipated.
More specifically, the direction and content of the actual 2020 Games’ cultural program is the source of much anxiety in the arts world in Japan, since so little is known. Certain commercially driven artists have been announced as part of the Cultural Olympiad, but firm details are still under wraps. So far what we have been shown has largely consisted of the “Tokyo Caravan” performances, overseen by Hideki Noda, beginning in 2015 and then continuing at Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo’s Roppongi Art Night in 2016. Ostensibly this would qualify the program as an “Olympiad”, even if the events are apparently mere previews without a genuine feeling of sequence or overall curation. Alongside the Roppongi Art Night performance, an event in autumn 2016 “fusing traditional arts and the latest technologies for which Japan is famous”, officially launched the Olympiad as an “ambitious programme of cultural activities”. The veracity of that boast remains to be seen.
It is certainly the case that various celebrities and artists will benefit financially from the Olympics and Cultural Olympic. One of the reasons that Expo ’70 in Osaka was also such an iconic event was the participation of major figures from the arts, though this was not without intense controversy at the time — so much so that an “anti-expo” was held. Now that there is an Anti-Olympics Art Council, perhaps we can expect such a counter-event, an Anti-Cultural Olympiad, in 2020.

Olympic games in Fukushima: Is it safe?

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Fukushima city is going to host Olympic baseball and softball games in 2020.
What is the level of radio-contamination there? This is the question on everybody’s mind, spectators and players from all over the world. Is it really safe?

Baseball and softball games will take place in Azuma Sports Park in Fukushima city.

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Fukushima prefecture provides the information below on the radiation measurements of the Park.

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Measurements of the airborne radiation dose in the baseball stadium: No 13-16
Those of the softball stadium: No 4
The lines above and below indicate the value of the radiation dose at 1cm and 5cm above the ground.

We notice that, as usual, Fukushima prefecture gives only measurements in terms of radiation dose. Based on this information, one might think that it would be relatively safe to play there or to attend the games. However, monitoring only the radiation dose is not enough for radioprotection. The radiation dose is an indication of external irradiation exposure. In this case, the measures of radioprotection will be to stay away from the radioactive objects or not to stay in their vicinity for a long time. But the radiation dose does not provide information to avoid the risk of internal irradiation. For this latter, it is necessary to monitor surface contamination density or concentration, in this case, of soil (in terms of Becquerels/m2 or Bq/kg), as well as the concentration of radioactive substances in the air (Bq/m3). The radioprotection measures against internal irradiation would be wearing protective gear and masks to avoid the radioactive substances from adhering to the skin and/or entering the body.

 

Here is some information provided by Yoichi OZAWA of « Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project », the group of which we have published several soil contamination maps in this blog. OZAWA took measurements on July 27 at the request of the ARD German TV channel team which was visiting Fukushima.

PowerPoint プレゼンテーション
Contamination concentration and density of 5cm surface soil around the Azuma Baseball Stadium

Point A : The entrance of the « Torimu no Mori» where children play.
Radiation dose at 1m above the ground : 0.12 μSv/h
Radiation dose on the ground : 0.19µSv/h
Surface concentration : 605 Bq/kg
Surface density : 47,300 Bq/m2

Point B : In front of the Multi-purpose Fields.
Radiation dose at 1m above the ground : 0.10 μSv/h
Radiation dose on the ground : 0.22µSv/h
Surface concentration : 410 Bq/kg
Surface density : 31,200 Bq/m2

To interpret these figures, let us remind you that in Japan, according to the Ordinance on Prevention of Ionizing Radiation Hazards, places where the effective dose is likely to surpass 1.3mSv in 3 months (approximately 0.6µSv/h of airborne radioactivity) or the contamination density to exceed 40,000Bq/m2 are designated as a « Radiation Control Zone » and public entry must be severely restricted. People under 18 years old are not allowed to enter, and even adults, including nuclear workers, cannot stay more than 10 hours. It is prohibited to eat, drink or stay overnight. To leave the zone, one has go through a strict screening to check for radioactive substances leaving the zone, a measure to protect the individual person as well as the environment.

We do not have the measures of surface density of the baseball nor softball stadiums, but in answering the question of the above German TV team, the information was given as to the decontamination work and radiation dose. There had been decontamination work, and the airborne radiation dose was about 0.04µSv/h in the baseball stadium.

Even when decontamination work has been carried out in the stadium, the mountains and woods behind the park have not been decontaminated, and wind and rain bring the radioactive substances towards the park. Besides, as we can see above, other places in the park are highly contaminated when we look at the surface contamination. They represent high risks of internal irradiation. Moreover, according to recent research, radioactive particles disseminated by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident are mostly insoluble in water. This characteristic makes the health hazard much worse than in the case of the usual water soluble Cesium (see English transcription of NHK documentary on Insoluble Radioactive Particles in this blog). We believe that this Park should not be open to the public, especially to children.

The small type of insoluble radioactive particles – also called Cesium balls -, are dispersed in the Tokyo metropolitan area. People who visit this area should be careful and should take adequate radioprotection measures especially when it is windy and the radioactive particles can be re-disseminated.

All in all, we believe that there is far too much risk for the players and spectators to participate in the Olympic games in Fukushima. Fukushima should not host the Olympic games. Furthermore, we are against holding the Olympic games in Tokyo.

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Read also :

Forest fire in the exclusion zone in Fukushima: Why monitoring the radiation dose is not enough for radioprotection

See the publication of August 4 2017 in the FB of Oz Yo

https://fukushima311voices.wordpress.com/2017/08/07/olympic-games-in-fukushima-is-it-safe/

Ministry pushes farmers to attain certification to supply food for Tokyo Olympics

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The agriculture ministry has stepped up efforts to certify more agricultural producers in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, as the number of meals to be served for athletes and staff will likely exceed 15 million, the amount distributed during the 2012 London Games.

Agricultural producers supplying food for the upcoming quadrennial sporting events are required to obtain certificates under the Good Agricultural Practices third-party system to guarantee safety.

In Japan, about 4,500 farmers and farming organizations have acquired either the Global GAP, issued by a German association, or the Japan GAP (JGAP), managed by the Japan GAP Foundation. This is likely to fall short of the number of producers needed in the 2020 Games, sources familiar with the situation said.

A big obstacle is the expense of obtaining the certificates, with close to ¥100,000 in screening fees needed for the JGAP.

In March, the organizing committee for the Tokyo Games announced a decision to use food made by GAP-certified producers for meals to be served at the Olympic village and other related facilities.

With the current situation, Japan would have to procure a considerable amount of food from abroad, the sources said.

The ministry has set a goal of more than tripling the number of certified agricultural producers from the current level by the fiscal year ended March 2020.

In addition to providing subsidies to cover JGAP screening fees, the ministry plans to give priority to producers aiming to obtain GAP certificates in specific subsidy programs in fiscal 2018.

The Fukushima Prefectural Government plans to take advantage of the 2020 Games to dispel misinformation about the safety of food produced in the prefecture, home to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, where triple reactor meltdowns occurred due to damage from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In May this year, Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori declared that Fukushima aims to rank top among the country’s 47 prefectures in terms of the number of producers with GAP certificates. At present, there are nine GAP-certified producers in the prefecture.

By supplying locally produced food for the games, the prefecture hopes to promote the Fukushima brand in and outside Japan.

The prefectural government is now actively holding seminars to inform farmers and agricultural cooperative officials about the advantages of gaining GAP certification.

A company that operates a fruit farm producing persimmons, peaches and apples in the Fukushima city of Aizuwakamatsu won the JGAP certificate in January.

The process involved preparation of daily work reports and other documents. The costs, including expenses for pesticide storage facilities, were high, according to the firm.

Still, Mitsuhiro Saito, 60, president of the company, said, “The acquisition of the certificate helped boost our awareness about the importance of maintaining a clean environment and labor safety.”

But his farm may face a shortage of fruits for regular sales if products are supplied for the 2020 Games.

Saito now believes that it would be better for his farm to supply products for the Olympics and Paralympics only if inventories are enough, rather than placing absolute priority on the Games and creating problems for regular customers.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/07/26/national/ministry-pushes-farmers-attain-certification-supply-food-tokyo-olympics/#.WXmQPK3pOis

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Fukushima fallacies and fallout

By Shaun McGe

To finish this summary of his talk it would seem that the recent drive for tourism in the nuclear damaged Fukushima prefecture would actually be impacted during and after the Olympics. As the deadline for the games approaches clean up from the tsunami and nuclear disaster would be diverted into the Olympic infrastructure program as the tough IOC deadline approaches for July 2020.


In this article I wish to report on the issues with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. This is based on a presentation by Andrew Zimbalist the sports economist at the Foreign Correspondence Club of Japan on the 26th July 2017

As Prof. Zimbalist began his presentation he commented that the promised profits to the country as “Public dialogue is propaganda”.  He added to this by saying that there would be “no positive impulse to the economy”.

He followed up with a breakdown estimate of costs. There are three cost projections. The first being the initial costing to some 5 billion dollars. The second is a more recent report stating 12.5 billion dollars (less the contingency fund that was removed of some 2.5 billion dollars that is supposed to cover the cost over runs). The third was a more recent costing of 27 billion dollars!

He stated that the infrastructure that are being built specifically for the Olympics are likely to be “white elephants” with only a single use. He also said that Tourism will actually suffer during and after the games and that it would be unlikely to benefit the local economy.

Concerning infrastructure, he said that some 8,000 acres of land were used in the Beijing games and that Japan would be sorely stressed to provide all the land the International Olympic Committee (IOC) requires for its planned infrastructure.

The economy would be sorely tested as tax benefits etc for private investment would be at the cost of the tax payer. There would be no Tariffs on building materials imported. Free land would be offered to private investment companies and low indirect loans.

He mentioned the cost of security at being in the region of 2 billion dollars but did not mention that civil society groups would be targeted as they were in London in 2012.

To finish this summary of his talk it would seem that the recent drive for tourism in the nuclear damaged Fukushima prefecture would actually be impacted during and after the Olympics. As the deadline for the games approaches clean up from the tsunami and nuclear disaster would be diverted into the Olympic infrastructure program as the tough IOC deadline approaches for July 2020.

https://nuclear-news.net/2017/07/26/tokyo-2020-olympic-fukushima-fallacies-and-fallout/

Fukushima Radiation and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Japan Plans to Expose Its People and 2020 Tokyo Olympians to Fukushima Radiation

2017_0717fukushima.jpgRadiation-contaminated debris and soil is stockpiled for disposal near the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s embattled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on February 25, 2016, in Okuma, Japan.

 

Former nuclear industry senior vice president Arnie Gundersen, who managed and coordinated projects at 70 US atomic power plants, is appalled at how the Japanese government is handling the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

“The inhumanity of the Japanese government toward the Fukushima disaster refugees is appalling,” Gundersen, a licensed reactor operator with 45 years of nuclear power engineering experience and the author of a bestselling book in Japan about the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, told Truthout.

He explains that both the Japanese government and the atomic power industry are trying to force almost all of the people who evacuated their homes in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster to return “home” before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

This March Japan’s federal government announced the subsidies that have, up until now, been provided to Fukushima evacuees who were mandated to leave their homes are being withdrawn, which will force many of them to return to their contaminated prefecture out of financial necessity.

And it’s not just the Japanese government. The International Olympic Commission is working overtime to normalize the situation as well, even though conditions at Fukushima are anything but normal. The commission even has plans for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to have baseball and softball games played at Fukushima.

Gundersen believes these developments are happening so that the pro-nuclear Japanese government can claim the Fukushima disaster is “over.” However, he noted, “The disaster is not ‘over’ and ‘home’ no longer is habitable.”

His analysis of what is happening is simple.

“Big banks and large electric utilities and energy companies are putting profit before public health,” Gundersen added. “Luckily, my two young grandsons live in the US; if their parents lived instead in Fukushima Prefecture [a prefecture is similar to a state in the US], I would tell them to leave and never go back.”

Reports of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, which began when a tsunami generated by Japan’s deadly earthquake in 2011 struck the nuclear plant, have been ongoing.

Seven more people who used to live in Fukushima, Japan were diagnosed with thyroid cancer, the government announced in June. This brings the number of cases of thyroid cancer of those living in the prefecture at the time the disaster began to at least 152.

While the Japanese government continues to deny any correlation between these cases and the Fukushima disaster, thyroid cancer has long since been known to be caused by radioactive iodine released during nuclear accidents like the one at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. A World Health Organization report released after the disaster started listed cancer as a possible result of the meltdown, and a 2015 study in the journal Epidemiology suggested that children exposed to Fukushima radiation were likely to develop thyroid cancer more frequently.

The 2011 disaster left 310 square miles around the plant uninhabitable, and the area’s 160,000 residents were evacuated. This April, officials began welcoming some of them back to their homes, but more than half of the evacuees in a nearby town have already said they would not return to their homes even if evacuation orders were lifted, according to a 2016 government survey.

Officials from Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the company responsible for cleaning up the disaster, announced this February they were having difficulty locating nuclear fuel debris inside one of the reactors. Radiation inside the plant continues to skyrocket to the point of causing even robots to malfunction.

Cancer cases continue to crop up among children living in towns near Fukushima.

And it’s not as if the danger is decreasing. In fact, it is quite the contrary. Earlier this year, radiation levels at the Fukushima plant were at their highest levels since the disaster began.

TEPCO said atmospheric readings of 530 sieverts an hour had been recorded in one of the reactors. The previous highest reading was 73 sieverts an hour back in 2012. A single dose of just one Sievert is enough to cause radiation sickness and nausea. Five sieverts would kill half of those exposed within one month, and a dose of 10 sieverts would be fatal to those exposed within weeks.

Dr. Tadahiro Katsuta, an associate professor at Meiji University, Japan, is an official member of the Nuclear Reactor Safety Examination Committee and the Nuclear Fuel Safety Examination Committee of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Truthout asked him what he was most concerned about regarding the Japanese government’s handling of the ongoing nuclear disaster at Fukushima.

“What I regard as the most dangerous, personally, is the fact that the Japanese government has chosen the national prestige and protection of electric power companies over the lives of its own citizens,” Katsuta, who wrote the Fukushima update for the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, said.

Gundersen thinks it simply makes no sense to hold the Olympics in Japan.

“Holding the 2020 Olympics in Japan is an effort by the current Japanese government to make these ongoing atomic reactor meltdowns disappear from the public eye,” Gundersen said. “I discovered highly radioactive dust on Tokyo street corners in 2016.”

According to Gundersen and other nuclear experts Truthout spoke with, the crisis is even worse.

Fukushima and Surrounding Prefectures Radioactively “Contaminated”

“The Japanese government never dedicated enough resources to trying to contain the radiation released by the meltdowns,” Gundersen said.

Gundersen said that during his first trip to Japan in 2012, he stated publicly that the cleanup of Fukushima would cost more than a quarter of a trillion dollars, and TEPCO scoffed at his estimate. But now in 2017, TEPCO has reached and announced the same conclusion, but as a result of its inaction in 2011 and 2012, the Pacific Ocean and the beautiful mountain ranges in Fukushima and surrounding prefectures are contaminated.

One of the tactics that Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s administration chose to deploy at Fukushima to contain radiation was an underground “ice wall.”

“As the ‘ice wall’ was being designed, I spoke out that it was doomed to fail, and was [an] incredibly expensive diversion,” Gundersen said. “There are techniques that could stop water from entering the basements of the destroyed reactors so that the radioactivity would not migrate through the groundwater to the ocean, but the Japanese government continues to resist pursuing them.”

Gundersen argues that Japan could and should build a sarcophagus over all three destroyed reactors and wait 100 years to dismantle them. This way, the radioactive exposure will be minimized for Japanese workers, and ongoing radioactive releases to the environment would be minimized as well.

Gundersen also points out that it is equally important that radioactive water continues to run out of the mountain streams into the Pacific, so a thorough cleanup of the mountain ranges should begin right now, but that is a mammoth undertaking that may never succeed.

In addition to his other roles, Arnie Gundersen serves as the chief engineer for Fairewinds Energy Education, a Vermont-based nonprofit organization founded by his wife Maggie. Since founding the organization, Maggie Gundersen has provided paralegal and expert witness services for Fairewinds. Like her husband, she’s had an inside view of the nuclear industry: She was an engineering assistant in reload core design for the nuclear vendor Combustion Engineering, and she was in charge of PR for a proposed nuclear reactor site in upstate New York.

When Truthout asked her how she felt about the Abe government’s response to Fukushima, she said, “Human health is not a commodity that should be traded for corporate profits or the goals of politicians and those in power as is happening in Japan. The Japanese government is refusing to release accurate health data and is threatening to take away hospital privileges from doctors who diagnose radiation symptoms.”

Maggie Gundersen added that her husband also met with a doctor who lost his clinic because he was diagnosing people with radiation sickness, instead of complying with the government’s story that their illnesses were due to the psychological stress of the Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns.

M.V. Ramana is the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia in Canada, and is also a contributing author to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report for 2016. Like the Gundersens, he is critical of the Abe administration’s mishandling of Fukushima.

“I am not sure we can expect much better from the Abe administration that has shown so little regard for people’s welfare in general and has supported the nuclear industry in the face of clear and widespread opposition,” Ramana told Truthout. “As with restarting nuclear power plants, one reason for this decision seems to be to reduce the liability of the nuclear industry, TEPCO in this case. It is also a way for the Abe administration to shore up Japan’s image, as a desirable destination for the Olympics and more generally.”

Katsuta agreed.

“Prime Minister Abe has neither the knowledge about the issue of Fukushima accident nor the interest at all,” Katsuta said. “The Abe administration has yet to clearly apologize for its responsibility for promoting the nuclear energy policy.”

Instead, according to Katsuta, the Abe administration has lifted evacuation orders in an effort to “erase the memories of the accident.”

Fukushima Evacuees “Forced” Back Home

In the immediate wake of the Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns, 160,000 people fled areas around the plant. The Abe government has been providing housing subsidies to those who were evacuated, but its recent announcement means those subsidies will no longer be provided. Many “voluntary evacuees” will be forced to consider returning despite lingering concerns over radiation.

“This is very unfortunate,” Ramana said of the withdrawal of the subsidies. “The people who were evacuated from Fukushima have already been through a lot and for some of them to be told that the government, and presumably TEPCO, does not have any more liability for their plight seems quite callous.”

He explains that, in enacting this callous move, the Japanese government is claiming that radiation exposure is now within “safe levels” for people to return home. This claim ignores the fact that levels now are even higher than before the accident, and also disregards the widespread uncertainties plaguing the measurement of radiation in the affected areas.

Katsuta expressed similar concerns.

“The lifted evacuation area has not been restored completely, as the radiation dose is still high, and decontamination of the forest is excluded,” he said. “Besides, the decontamination waste is often stored in the neighborhood, and there were many families who did not return, and then the local community collapsed.”

Katsuta added that the subsidies only amount to $1,000 per refugee, so paying them for the next 10 years is “not expensive” in order to safeguard human lives.

Given her work in PR for the nuclear industry, Maggie Gundersen had an interesting position on the Abe government’s tactics.

When she was working for the atomic power industry, she was “carefully taught” certain misinformation about atomic power reactors by industry scientists and engineers. She said she would never have done that work if she had known the “hidden truth.”  She and Arnie were both taught that atomic power was the “peaceful use of the atom” — she does not support war and believes that the use of atomic weapons or depleted uranium are horrific crimes — and she explains that she never would have worked for or promoted atomic power knowing what she knows now.

“Arnie and I immediately noticed that TEPCO and the Japanese government were using the same playbook that was used at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island (and for that matter, Deepwater Horizon),” Maggie Gundersen explained. “Governments immediately minimize the amount of radiation being released, or in the case of Deepwater Horizon, the amount of oil.”

She added that in each of these cases, the mainstream press dutifully reported shortly after the crisis that there was nothing to fear, even though there was no evidence to support these assertions. The governments’ objectives were to minimize fear and chaos, and most media simply echoed officials’ claims. The responses to the Fukushima disaster are following the same pattern.

“Is the Abe regime glossing over the seriousness of the Fukushima meltdowns and ongoing radioactivity? Absolutely,” she said. “What is happening in Japan to the known and unknown victims is a human rights violation and an environmental justice debacle.”

2020 Tokyo Olympics to Be Held Amidst “Hot Particles”

Katsuta said that the Fukushima evacuees are “extremely worried” that their plight will be overshadowed by the Olympics. He believes the Japanese government is using the Olympics to demonstrate to the world that Japan is now a “safe” country and that the Fukushima disaster “has been solved.”

“In Japan, the people are really forgetting the Fukushima accident as … the news of the Olympics increases,” he said.

Arnie Gundersen doesn’t think it makes sense to have some of the Olympic venues (soccer, baseball and possibly surfing) in Fukushima Prefecture itself.

“Radioactively ‘hot particles’ are everywhere in Fukushima Prefecture and in some of the adjacent prefectures as well,” he said. “These ‘hot particles’ present a long-term health risk to the citizens who live there and the athletes who will visit.”

Ramana, too, believes that the events held closer to Fukushima “may be adding to the radiation dose of the competitors and the spectators.”

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Fukushima Disaster “Will Continue for More Than 100 Years”

Maggie Gundersen pointed out that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission consistently claims it has learned lessons from Fukushima, but she doesn’t think the commission — or the Japanese government, or corporations — learned any lessons at all.

“Energy production is all about money,” she said. “After the meltdowns, many banks in Japan invested in keeping the atomic power reactors on hold until the disaster could sort itself out. Those banks and the government supporting its access to the use of the atom have a vested interest in starting the old reactors up.”

Katsuta has a dire outlook for the future of Fukushima, and said there are already numerous evacuees who have given up hope of returning because they are aware of the crisis being unsolvable by the current means of TEPCO and the Abe administration.

“Even if decontamination and decommissioning work progresses, the problem will not be solved,” he said. “We have not yet decided how to dispose of decontamination waste and decommissioning waste.”

Ramana believes Fukushima should be a reminder of the inherent hazards associated with nuclear power, and how those hazards become worse when entities that control these technologies put profits over human wellbeing.

Arnie Gundersen had even stronger words.

“The disaster at Fukushima Daiichi will continue for more than 100 years,” he explained. “Other atomic power reactor disasters are bound to occur. Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi should have taught everyone around the world that nuclear power is a technology that can destroy the fabric of a society overnight.”

According to him, the remains of the reactor containments at Units 1, 2 and 3 are highly susceptible to damage from another severe earthquake, and any earthquake of 7.0 or higher at the Fukushima site could provoke further severe radiation releases.

Shortly after the meltdowns, Maggie and Arnie Gundersen both spoke about Japan being at a “tipping point”: It could respond to the disaster by leading the world in renewable energy while choosing to protect people and the pristine rural environment through sustainable energy economies.

But obviously it didn’t work out that way.

“The world saw Japan as technologically savvy, but instead of moving ahead and creating a new worldwide economy, it continues with an old tired 20th century paradigm of energy production,” Maggie Gundersen said. “Look at the huge success and progress of solar and wind in other countries like Germany, Nicaragua and Denmark. Why not go energy independent, creating a strong economy, producing many more jobs and protecting the environment?”

Arnie Gundersen has plans to return to Japan later this year on a crowdsourced trip with scientific colleagues in order to teach Japanese citizen scientists how to take additional radioactive samples. Fairewinds Energy Education is currently fundraising to make this possible.

In the meantime, dramatic examples of the ongoing dangers of nuclear power in Japan abound.

In June, radioactive materials were found in the urine of five workers exposed to radiation in an accident at a nuclear research facility in Japan’s Ibaraki Prefecture. In that incident, one of the workers had a large amount of plutonium in his lungs.

Recent polls in Japan show that the Japanese public has lost faith in nuclear safety regulation, and a majority of them favor phasing out nuclear power altogether.

Meanwhile in the US, President Donald Trump has put nuclear energy first on the country’s energy agenda and has announced a comprehensive study of the US nuclear energy industry. Trump’s energy secretary Rick Perry said, “We want to make nuclear cool again.”

https://www.ecowatch.com/tokyo-olympics-fukushima-2460798164.html