Photos were taken on October 13, released on October 15, 2011. Temperature is in Celsius.
TEPCO also released the photos of the facilities at J-Village including photos of the cafeteria (opening special - all 500-yen menu) and the concession stall. You can view them by going to TEPCO's "Photos for Press" page (look for releases on October 15), or this PDF file.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Photos were taken on October 13, released on October 15, 2011. Temperature is in Celsius.
Must Read: Asahi Shinbun "Trap of Prometheus" Series Part 1 - Men in Protective Clothing (4,5) "This Is a Homicide"
(Installment 1, Installments 2 and 3, Installments 4 and 5, Installment 6, Installments 7 and 8, Installments 9 and 10, Installments 11 and 12)
Asahi Shinbun's series "Trap of Prometheus" - Men in Protective Clothing, which documents what happened in Namie-machi in Fukushima Prefecture right after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.
Men in Protective Clothing (4) This is a homicide, isn't it?
There is a computer simulation system called SPEEDI, which the national government has spent 13 billion yen to develop. If you input the amount of radiation, topography, weather, wind direction, etc., the system will calculate where the leaked radioactive materials may go.
On March 12, two hours before Reactor 1 had a hydrogen explosion, the SPEEDI simulation was carried out by Nuclear Safety Technology Center under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Science.
The simulation showed radioactive materials flowing toward Tsushima District [in Namie-machi]. But the national government didn't tell the residents.
The result of the SPEEDI simulation was known to the Fukushima prefectural government. The Fukushima government even called up Nuclear Safety Technology Center on March 12 night to ask for the simulation result, which was then sent via email. However, the prefectural government never acted on it. The email has been deleted since, and the record of the receipt of the email is lost.
Residents evacuated from Tsushima District on March 15, but it was not until May 20 that they were informed of the SPEEDI result by the Fukushima prefectural government, because the subject was brought up in the Prefectural Assembly.
A manager in charge at the prefectural government visited the temporary town hall of Namie-machi in Nihonmatsu City on May 20 to explain.
"It is a homicide, isn't it?"
Namie-machi Mayor Baba strongly protested.
According to Baba, the manager in charge apologized in tears for not having passed on the SPEEDI result.
It was not just the SPEEDI information that had been withheld.
Fukushima Prefecture had measured the radiation levels in various locations since early morning of March 12.
At 9AM on March 12, it was 15 microsieverts/hr in Sakai District, and 14 microsieverts/hr in Takase District. These two locations in Namie-machi showed abnormally high radiation levels compared to other towns. It was more than 6 hours before the hydrogen explosion of Reactor 1, and there were many evacuees in these districts.
These numbers were uploaded on the homepage of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on June 3. However, the significance of these numbers were lost among the copious data on the METI's homepage.
At the end of August, [I] showed the data to Kazuo Ueda, who is in charge of disaster assistance. He was flabbergasted.
"I've never seen these before. Why didn't the national government and the prefectural government tell us?"
Mizue Sugano [from installments 1, 2, 3] says,
"I suppose we were abandoned by the government."
(Reported by Motoyuki Maeda)
Men in Protective Clothing (5) Will I die?
Where did the 25 people in Mizue Sugano's house go?
One of them, Misako Yatsuda (age 62) have evacuated to Kasugai City in Aichi Prefecture. She lives in a municipal housing.
She is a distant relative of Mizue. Her house is in Onoda District of Namie-machi. It is located about 20 kilometers east of Mizue's house, and within the 10 kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuke Plant.
In the afternoon of March 11 when the earthquake hit, she was at home.
Early next morning, on March 12, her second daughter who lived in neighboring Futaba-machi came with her family to get her. "It's dangerous here, we have to get out." They left on 9AM.
Route 114 was clogged up with cars going in the direction of Tsushima District where Mizue lived. They took Route 6 and headed north, and went to the house of Misako's eldest daughter in Kodaka District in Minami Soma City. There, they heard of the hydrogen explosion of Reactor 1, and all headed for Tsushima District.
When they arrived at Mizue's house, it was past 6PM. Other evacuees there had just finished eating supper.
They were tired from running around all day, but they joined the meeting of the evacuees. It was Misako who suggested that they throw used toilet paper in the box, from her experience when she traveled in Mexico.
They were barely settled down when Mizue told them of the warning from the men in white protective clothing.
Misako had the family of 7 of her second daughter with a 1-month-old baby, and the family of 4 of her eldest daughter evacuate during the night. Misako herself evacuated on March 13 evening.
She didn't know where to go, but she headed for Koriyama City to get as far away as possible.
In Koriyama City, they were measuring the radiation on the evacuees. When they tested Misako, the needle of the meter swung significantly. " Am I going to die?" Misako shouted.
That night, she slept in the car. On March 15 morning, she was finally able to talk over the cellphone with her husband (age 54) who was in Soma City when the earthquake struck. They met in Aizu Wakamatsu City, and went, via Niigata Prefecture, to Kasugai City [in Aichi Prefecture] on March 22 where her sister lived.
It was the 12-day flight, without any clear direction from the national government or TEPCO.
"Nuclear plant is safe". She had heard such explanation a number of times. Her life, based on that word, has crumbled to pieces.
However, it is also true that the residents have benefited from the nuclear power plant. "We cannot say that only the nuclear plant is bad", Misako sighs.
Not only the Fukushima prefectural government had the SPEEDI data, but it also had the simulation data given by TEPCO. It decided to sit on both sets of data. The same is true for the national government.
Futaba-machi, where Misako's second daughter lived and where Fukushima I Nuke Plant is located, did receive at least the simulation data from TEPCO, and the town duly informed the residents to evacuate. The national government did tell the town to evacuate.
Namie-machi did benefit from nuclear power, as it received the special subsidy from the national government for a number of years for having agreed to let Tohoku Electric Power Company plan a nuclear power plant construction in the town.
He was a rock musician, composer, producer and actor. He died of a cancer in 2009.
Way ahead of his time.
Imawano and his band RC Succession were stopped from releasing their album "Covers" in 1988 allegedly because of anti-nuclear and ant-war messages in the songs. Their record company? Toshiba.
(English subtitle by greendiamondism)
He took down his blog overnight which had a ton of useful visual information regarding radiation contamination, and restricted access to tweets after he and his family were anonymously "threatened" after the disclosure of strontium discovery in Yokohama City.
He says, "The whole purpose of my studying the radiation and radiation contamination and sharing information has been to protect my family, especially our young daughter. There is no point in doing so if my family's safety is threatened because of it. Please understand."
Yes, it's so "yesterday's news", isn't it, when a citizen is threatened for breaking the news that part of his city has been heavily contaminated by the radioactive fallout from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant? Time to move on. If you don't see, don't say, don't hear anything, it doesn't exist.
Must Read: Asahi Shinbun "Trap of Prometheus" Series Part 1 - Men in Protective Clothing (2,3) "We Were the Only Ones Who Didn't Know"
(Installment 1, Installments 2 and 3, Installments 4 and 5, Installment 6, Installments 7 and 8, Installments 9 and 10, Installments 11 and 12)
In the first installment, two mysterious men in white protective gear told Mizue Sugano, resident of Tsushima Discrict in Namie-machi in Fukushima Prefecture, to flee the place. She had been taking care of the evacuees from the area near Fukushima I Nuke Plant all day.
Men in Protective Clothing (2)
Evening of March 12. Mizue Sugano ran back inside her house, and told what the men in protective gear just told her. Argument ensued.
"If it is really dangerous, the town or the police will surely tell us. Let's wait and see." People were just settling down, and didn't want to move.
But in the midnight, the situation changed. Several buses went in to the community center which was used as emergency shelter. One evacuee noticed the buses. One of the bus drivers told the evacuee that he was to "move the evacuees".
At that time, Namie-machi was shuttling the remaining residents within the 20-kilometer radius to Tsushima District. Mizue didn't know that, and concluded that this place was in danger, as the men had told her. She woke up the evacuees, and they discussed the situation again.
Many still didn't move. But one woman said, "If we all stay, then Sugano's family cannot escape." That decided it.
"Let's escape as far as the gasoline lasts."
Just past midnight, two young couple with small children departed. They had a baby who was born in February, and small children.
At first, they were reluctant. "We don't want to escape through the mountain route in the middle of night." Mizue persuaded them by saying "Let your children escape", and gave them rice balls.
They discussed again after breakfast on the next day, March 13. A young couple who had said they wouldn't escape now said "We will escape, for our child." An elderly woman let the couple use her car.
"Since I'm alone, I can ride the bus at the shelter."
By evening, all 25 evacuees at her house re-evacuated to Fukushima City, Koriyama City, and Minami Soma City.
Mizue told what the men in protective gear had told her to the evacuees in the nearby houses. One of them said to her, laughing.
"I used to work for TEPCO. The nuclear power plant that I helped build cannot be that dangerous."
The man had escaped from tsunami, not the nuclear accident. Mizue was relieved at his word. Mizue and her eldest son Junichi (age 27) decided not to evacuate.
Junichi was in charge of cooking for evacuees at the shelter, making rice balls.
"I cannot just escape by myself." At that time, the survey meter that could measure up to 30 microsieverts/hour went overscale 10 kilometers from Tsushima District. (Reported by Motoyuki Maeda)
Men in Protective Clothing (3) Why are policemen dressed that way?
Even after 25 people at the Sugano's house evacuated on March 13, most of the evacuees remained in Tsushima District.
The evacuation order was expanded to 10-kilometer radius at 5:44AM on March 12. After the hydrogen explosion of Reactor 1, it was expanded to 20-kilometer radius at 6:25PM.
However, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said in the press conference on March 12 evening, "It is not that a large amount of radioactive materials is leaking. People outside the 20-kilometer radius won't be affected."
The gist of his message was, "It is no big deal, but please evacuate just in case". People believed Tsushima District, 30 kilometers from the plant, was safe.
TEPCO employees came to the Tsushima branch of Namie-machi town hall on March 12 and 13 to report on the situation. They were not in protective gear. They didn't say "this place is dangerous". They were totally different from the men Mizue had met [on March 12 evening].
The branch officials and the district chief didn't see the men Mizue had met. However, Mizue wrote down what she had seen and heard.
March 15 early morning, after Reactor 3 had exploded the previous day, there was an explosive sound in Reactor 2 and an explosion in Reactor 4. For the first time, the national government asked the residents to "evacuate indoors" for the area between 20 and 30 kilometer radius.
It was about that time the residents of Tsushima District started to evacuate. The Mayor Baba and his staff had learned of the explosion of Reactor 3 on March 14 on TV, and decided to evacuate voluntarily to the neighboring Nihonmatsu City starting March 15.
At the front gate of Fukushima I Nuke Plant, 11,930 microsieverts/hour radiation was recorded at 9AM on March 15. But Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano still sounded optimistic.
"The density of radioactive materials is significantly diluted past 20 kilometer radius, to the degree that it has only a small or no effect on humans."
"Water injection to Reactors 1, 2 and 3 is proceeding smoothly, and the reactors are being cooled."
It would be some time before the Japanese were told that the reactors had had a meltdown on March 12.
On March 12 morning, policemen controlling traffic in Namie-machi were wearing protective clothing.
"Why are policemen dressed like that?"
The residents wondered and feared. Kazuhiro Yoshida (age 65) was the Chairman of the Town Assembly. He visited the police station in Tsushima District, and requested that the police stop wearing the protective gear as they were making the residents fearful.
Yoshida now says.
"We were the only ones who didn't know." (Reported by Motoyuki Maeda)
(Yukio Edano is the current Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. We should never forget what he said since the start of the accident, and hold him accountable for the lies he spewed "to prevent panic", supposedly.)
Friday, October 14, 2011
Must Read: Asahi Shinbun "Trap of Prometheus" Series Part 1 - Men in Protective Clothing (1) "Why Are You Here? Flee!"
(Installment 1, Installments 2 and 3, Installments 4 and 5, Installment 6, Installments 7 and 8, Installments 9 and 10, Installments 11 and 12)
Asahi Shinbun print version (including digital print) has started a series called "Trap of Prometheus (プロメテウスの罠)" - comparing nuclear energy to the mythical fire that the Greek god gave to humans. The first installment of Part 1 "Men in Protective Clothing" was published on October 3, 2011. The series is written by the Asahi Shinbun journalist Motoyuki Maeda.
It is an astonishing read. Part 1 "Men in Protective Clothing" deals with 25 people in Namie-machi in Fukushima Prefecture, where no information about the seriousness of the plant accident reached, and where many evacuees from within 10 kilometers radius from the plant sheltered. There are 12 installments for the Part 1 so far.
Tsushima District of Namie-machi in the article is about 30 kilometers northwest of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, considered very safe from radiation. The government and the experts who appeared on TV right after the accident were all saying "The further you evacuate from the plant the safer it gets, and there is no worry for people outside the 10 kilometer radius".
It looks Asahi, after nearly 7 months after the accident, finally feels guilty enough to report the truth for a change.
The following is my quick private translation of the 1st installment of Part 1, as it appeared in Asahi Shinbun digital version on October 3, 2011. It deals with March 12 night in Tsushima District in Namie-machi.
Men in Protective Clothing (1)
Tsushima District in Namie-machi, Fukushima Prefecture lies in the mountains about 30 kilometers northwest of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.
On March 12, one day after the nuclear accident, 10,000 people fled from the coastal area within the 10 kilometer radius from the plant to Tsushima District. Elementary school, middle school, community center, temples were used to house them, but there were not enough public shelters. People were housed in private residences in the district.
Mizue Kanno (age 59) welcomed these evacuees at her home all day. By nightfall there were 25 people. Most of them were her relatives and acquaintances, but some were total strangers.
Her home is a newly built home after demolishing the 180-year-old house. It has a large gate, and the compound is large. It has a big room with 20 tatami mats [32.4 square meters, or 349 square feet]. Quite ideal for accepting evacuees. Soon, inside the gate, the yard was full of evacuees' cars.
"I don't know what happened at the nuke plant, but we should be OK here". People looked relieved, at least for now.
Mizue cooked 7 cups of rice in each of the two pressure cooker she had. The supper for the evacuees was rice balls and miso soup with pork and vegetables. The evacuees, with only the clothes they happened to wear when they fled, gathered in the big room and ate supper.
After supper, people introduced themselves, and decided on the community rule.
- To avoid clogging up the toilet, toilet paper should be discarded in the paper box next to the toilet.
- Everyone helps in cooking and laying out the dishes
- Let's not be too shy.
The evacuees were to sleep in two rooms in the house. Mizue rounded up all the futons there were in the house for the evacuees.
Then, Mizue stepped outside and noticed there was a white wagon parked in front of her house. There were two men in white protective gear in the wagon, and they shouted at her. But she couldn't hear well.
"What? What is it?"
"Why do you remain here? Please, we beg, flee."
Mizue was shocked.
"Flee? But this is a shelter."
Two men came out of the wagon. Both were wearing gas masks.
"Radioactive materials are spreading." They spoke seriously and urgently.
In front of her house was the Route 114, lined with cars of people who couldn't find shelters. Two men shouted at people who were stepping out of their cars, "Get back inside the car quick!"
Two men then drove away toward Fukushima City. They didn't go to the town office branch or post a warning on the message board.
The national government said it was safe outside the 10-kilometer radius. Then why were these two men wearing the protective clothes and gas masks? Who were they anyway?
Mizue didn't know the answers. But she hurried back inside the house, and told the evacuees what the men just told her. (Reported by Motoyuki Maeda)
According to the Greek mythology, Prometheus gave fire to humans.
By obtaining fire, humans developed civilizations. Fire from fossil fuel increased the productivity. Then, humans obtained fire from nuclear energy. It was dubbed as "dream energy". But there was a pitfall.
Humans, who obtained civilization by Prometheus fire, are troubled by the nuclear fire. This series will consider the nation, the people, and the electricity in the backdrop of the failure of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.
"Trap of Prometheus" series will be written over the next several months. The 1st in the series "Men in Protective Clothes" will have over 10 installments. In the series, names will be listed without honorifics.
(Translation for the 2nd and 3rd installments are on this post.)
Bio-concentration hard at work. NHK News Japanese reports that a high level of radioactive cesium has been detected from plankton in the ocean off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture.
The news only mentions, as usual, cesium-134 and cesium-137. If the researchers did test for other nuclides like strontium and plutonium, NHK is not saying anything. If they didn't, why didn't they?
NHK News (4:54AM JST 10/15/2011):
Radioactive cesium in high density has been detected from plankton collected off the coast of Iwaki City in Fukushima Prefecture in July. The marine survey was done by a research group at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology. The group points out that the radiation effect may soon become apparent in big fish like sea bass by way of food chain.
In July, the research group at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology on board a survey ship surveyed the ocean from the coast of Iwaki City out to about 60 kilometers off the coast and collected plankton in order to study the effect of radioactive materials on marine life.
The analysis of zooplankton collected 3 kilometers off the coast revealed the high density of radioactive cesium at 669 becquerels/kg. It includes cesium-134 whose half life is 2 years, indicating the radioactive materials from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant being concentrated in plankton.
Zooplankton become food for various kinds of fish. The research group points out that by way of food chain radioactive materials may concentrate, and start to seriously affect large-size fish like sea bass.
The leader of the group, Professor Takashi Ishimaru, says, "Due to the southerly ocean current, the highly contaminated water from the nuke plant continuously flowed into this area of the ocean, raising the radioactive material density in plankton. We need to further study how long the effect of radiation on fish will continue."
Well, according to Japan's Fisheries Agency, bio-concentration and accumulation were not supposed to happen, as they made it abundantly clear when the Japanese government sanctioned the release of "low" contamination water from the nuke plant. Well they did.
Not only they did happen, but clearly at an accelerated pace. Bigger fish have already been found with surprisingly high levels of radioactive cesium. The ocean contamination is probably of much bigger scale and the degree of contamination much more serious than the Japanese government has dared to admit so far.
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 1 Cover-up Complete, Still Detects 4.7 Sieverts/Hr Radiation Inside (Updated with Video)
But don't worry, the nuke accident is "winding down" successfully, according to the Japanese government under the new administration and TEPCO.
First, Reactor 1 coverup (TEPCO handout for the press, 10/14/2011). What was the cover for again? TEPCO has been claiming the air coming out of the wrecked reactor is far below what's allowed for radiation control area in a nuclear power plant. (Oh I forgot. It was to avoid Google Earth.)
2 packbots entered the reactor building of Reactor 1 to measure the radiation on October 13. The location where 4 sieverts/hr steam was observed in June still has very high radiation - maximum 4.7 sieverts/hr - but no more steam, says TEPCO.
(OK, where is the corium? Has it escaped the water-filled basement?).
Here's the link to the video (for download) of the location of the 4.7 sieverts/hr radiation: http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/news/110311/images/111014_01.wmv
A lot of white noise.
(UPDATE: Iwakami just disclosed the number that Yokohama City wanted to hide in the press conference last night.
From the apartment building rooftop sediment:
Radioactive cesium (previously measured): 105,600 becquerels/kg
Radioactive strontium (89 and 90 combined): 236 becquerels/kg
The City of Yokohama did have a press conference late at night on October 14, but the officials only disclosed the data of strontium (89 and 90 combined) from the samples taken from the public locations - side of the road and at the fountain in a public park in Kohoku-ku in Yokohama.
It kept mum on the rooftop sediment in an apartment building that had over 100,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, citing some sort of agreement with the person who provided the sample. (That person says, "What are they talking about?", by the way.)
The results of the testing done by Yokohama City, as provided by Yasumi Iwakami on twitter:
From the sample taken from the side drain of the road in Kohoku-ku:
Radioactive cesium (measured previously): 39,012 becquerels/kg
Radioactive strontium (-89 and -90): 129 becquerels/kg
Radioactive cesium (measured previously): 31,570 becquerels/kg
Radioactive strontium (-89 and -90): 59 becquerels/kg
The city considers strontium to have come from from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, and will ask the national government to test for strontium outside the 100-kilometer radius from the nuke plant. Yokohama is about 250 kilometers away from the plant.
Mr. Iwakami reports that during the press conference the city was heavily criticized for not disclosing the number for the sediment on the rooftop of the apartment. The city didn't have a convincing argument as to why they were not disclosing, Iwakami says.
(UPDATE: for more details, see my new post.)
The city was testing on its own, using the sample that had over 100,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium.
195 becquerels/kg of strontium-90 has been detected from the sample that had over 63,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. Both samples were taken from the same rooftop of an apartment building in Kohoku-ku in Yokohama City.
Details to be announced later in a press conference, according to a Yokohama Assemblywoman (Ms. Sakura Inoue). Right now the city is holding an emergency meeting of the radiation countermeasures staff.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Now that the rice from all districts and cities in Fukushima Prefecture are declared "safe" (i.e. below the provisional safety limit of 500 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium), the Fukushima prefectural government is gearing up for the PR campaign it plans to mount to promote Fukushima rice in restaurants and school lunches and to consumers in the Tokyo metropolitan area.
From NHK Japanese (10/13/2011):
Fukushima Prefecture finished testing for radioactive materials in harvested rice. In all districts where rice was planted, the level of radioactive materials was lower than the national safety standard, and the shipment of rice is now allowed. Fukushima is planning to counter "baseless rumors" by appealing the safety of the rice to consumers.
The testing of harvested rice was completed on October 12 with Nihonmatsu City, and as rice from all districts tested lower than the national provisional safety limit the shipment of rice is allowed in all 48 municipalities that planted rice this year.
Rice from 1,174 locations were tested, in 82% of those locations or 964 locations no radioactive materials were detected. Only one location tested more than 200 becquerels/kg of radioactive materials [cesium].
Therefore, Fukushima Prefecture considers the rice grown in Fukushima is safe. The prefectural government is planning to send the governor and other city officials to the Tokyo metropolitan area to appeal to consumers and to call for increased use of Fukushima rice in restaurants and school lunches in order to counter the "baseless rumors".
The NHK article has an accompanying news clip, where you get to see how the "testing" was done at the Fukushima prefectural government. A government worker is waving a scintillation meter over a plastic bag that contains a small amount of brown rice. He spends about 2 seconds at most for each bag.
If you recall, waving a scintillation meter over the meat cow was how they were testing the meat for radiation at first. We know how that ended up.
In the "main" test after the rice harvest, they tested 2 samples per district (villages and towns before they were incorporated into nearby large cities), except for one district in Shirakawa City where 500 becquerels/kg of cesium was detected in the preliminary test. There, if the testing was done according to what the Fukushima prefectural government had announced, samples from two locations per 15 hectares in the district were measured.
But good luck persuading the consumers who refuse to buy Fukushima rice, when a rice farmer in Fukushima is not sending his crop this year to his family members and relatives because of radioactive cesium, no matter how it is "below the safety limit". According to Asahi Shinbun (10/13/2011),
A man, aged 69, grows "Koshihikari" brand rice in Mizuhara district in Fukushima City where 104 becquerels/kg [of radioactive cesium] was detected in the "main" testing. He said, "I have no choice but to tell my grandchild who lives far away to buy rice somewhere else".
He always sends a year supply of rice to his second daughter's family who lives in Sapporo City. He also sends rice to relatives and acquaintances in Fukushima City. But this year, it will be difficult to do so [he probably won't send the rice this year].
Now that the rice from Fukushima is set to be sold all over Japan, let's check what else is going out from that prefecture these days that is radioactive.
From Fukushima Prefecture's daily monitoring (i.e. sampling) results on October 13, 2011:
Only iodine-131, cesium-134, cesium-137 are measured, as usual, and the Japanese only cares about the total cesium density (provisional safety limit of 500 becquerels/kg). Radiation detected was all radioactive cesium.
Apple (Fukushima City): 13 to 37 becquerels/kg
Persimmon (Fukushima City): 25 to 124 becquerels/kg
Persimmon (Iwaki City): 31 becqerels/kg
Persimmon (Minami Soma City): 59 to 135 becquerels/kg
Kiwi (Minami Soma City): 220 becquerels/kg
Kiwi (Kunimi-machi): 270 becquerels/kg
Citron (Date City): 860 becquerels/kg
Citron (Koori-machi): 720 becquerels/kg
Pomegranate (Motomiya City): 148 becquerels/kg
Gingko nut (Yukawa-mura): 22 becquerels/kg
Lotus root (Shirakawa City): 73 becquerels/kg
Beef (Minami Soma City): 32 to 97 becquerels/kg
Everything but citrons from these to locations are good to sell.
(UPDATE: They say it was most likely radium-226, the surface radiation was 600 microsieverts/hour.)
From Tokyo Shinbun quoting Kyodo News (10/14/2011):
Regarding the localized hot spot location on the municipal road in Tsurumaki, Setagaya-ku in Tokyo, the Mayor of Setagaya-ku, Nobuhito Hosaka, held a press conference on October 13 evening that over 30 microsieverts/hour radiation was detected from the bottles found from under the floor of the house that borders the road.
The Ministry of Education and Science analyzed the content of the bottles, and almost identified it as radium. Since it was not one of the nuclides released from a nuclear reactor such as radioactive cesium, the Ministry concluded that it had nothing to do with the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.
According to Setagaya-ku and the Ministry of Education and Science, the bottles look to be made of glass, about 7 centimeters long and 5 to 6 centimeters in diameter. There are several tens of bottles in a wooden box. The content of the bottles are powdery.
The radiation was so high that the survey meter that they brought couldn't measure as it went overscale. No one is currently living in that house.
Whether people believe the government is another matter. Some simply do not. I am rather shocked to see the Ministry of Education, of all people, responding so quickly, even releasing the photo above so quickly. That ministry is the last one I'd expect to respond to ordinary people's concern. How ironic.
(Oh wait... The radiation near the surface of the side walk (5 centimeters off) was rather high at 1.34 microsievert/hour, according to Mainichi Shinbun (10/13/2011). Radium in the bottle under the house cannot explain that, can it??)
In the meantime, more radiation "hot spots" (often several microsieverts/hour) have been discovered in the Tokyo metropolitan area. More later.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
because in the "main" test administered by the Fukushima prefectural government, none exceeded the stringent national provisional safety limit of 500 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium.
The highest was from a district in Nihonmatsu City, 470 becquerels/kg (page 9 of the linked PDF file). But not to worry, rice farmers of the particular district. The Fukushima prefectural government will buy up all your rice, according to Kyodo News English (10/12/2011), probably using the money from the national government (i.e. nation's taxpayers' money).
It's a win-win for Fukushima rice farmers who went ahead and grew rice. If tested for less than 500 becquerels/kg of cesium, they are all set to sell. If tested close to 500 becquerels/kg, the government will buy the crop. No information on what the prefecture is going to do with the rice it buys up, but I suspect it will find its way to the market eventually. It's a lose-lose for a minority of conscientious farmers in Fukushima who chose not to grow at all this year - no sales, no compensation. Good luck, consumers, finding radiation-free rice and fighting critics who tell you that you are selfish on insisting on clean food.
In the meantime, a tweet from a farmer in Iitate-mura who evacuated from the village says:
Diary of my temporary return to Iitate-mura in early October: The result of the radiation test for the rice came in. Surprise, surprise. 2,194 becquerels/kg [of radioactive cesium] in brown rice, more than 4 times the provisional safety limit. Since it was so high I arranged for the re-testing, just in case. As to the rice crop in the rice paddy, it has to be mowed down by the end of this week. So the new crop of rice will be feeding the wild boars.
He had said in his earlier tweets that when he had to leave the village in spring, he sprinkled the seed rice on his rice paddy and let the nature take its course instead of throwing it away. To his great surprise, the rice thus sowed directly (as opposed to planting carefully cultivated seedlings) and grown without any fertilizer or pesticide and without any tilling grew better than ever. He duly noted the irony, but also now says, "If I ever grow rice again, I will do the direct sowing and do none of the maintenance work. The traditional way of growing rice by planting seedlings, using fertilizer and pesticide, tilling, weeding and other constant care is nothing but a conspiracy by the agribusiness and JA (agricultural producer co-op)."
Way to go, farmer A1271. I hope you can get to grow crops again somewhere cleaner.
The concentration is less than in the case of Reactor 1 pipe (63%), as it was only 6.5%.
From Yomiuri Shinbun (10/12/2011):
TEPCO announced on October 12 that the high concentration of hydrogen gas was detected from the pipe that connects to the Containment Vessel of Reactor 2 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.
The concentration was 6.5%, lower than 63% detected in the pipe in Reactor 1 the other day. Nonetheless, TEPCO says "Normally the concentration of hydrogen gas within the Containment Vessel is less than 1%. The concentration detected in the pipe is higher than expected". It is likely that hydrogen gas generated right after the accident remains in the pipe.
TEPCO plans to install a gas management system to filter out radioactive materials in the gas inside the Containment Vessel. After the installation TEPCO plans to remove hydrogen gas. If there are more than 4% hydrogen and more than 5% oxygen in the atmosphere, a chance of explosion increases.
After the installation?
However, looking at TEPCO's diagram (from press handout on 10/12/2011), this pipe is different from the one they found 63% concentration in Reactor 1. The Reactor 1 pipe was originally used for the core spray system - i.e. it was a pipe for water, so were the valves. But the Reactor 2 pipe and valves on the pipe are for the flammable gas, which I suspect has different specs.
It looks like the ever-incurious TEPCO decided to use the pipe for gas in Reactor 2, probably correctly assuming the valves would stop hydrogen gas from the CV better than the valves for the core spray system.
Professor Hirotada Ohashi of Tokyo University, one of the three "Plutonium Brothers" who declared that the toxicity of plutonium was much exaggerated and it was safe even if some villains dumped plutonium in a reservoir for tap water and people drank that water, used to work for TEPCO before he became assistant professor at Tokyo University.
After he got his PhD in nuclear engineering from Tokyo University in 1980, he joined TEPCO and remained there until 1986, when he went to Tokyo University to become an assistant professor. (His short bio in Japanese, here.)
It all makes sense.
Radioactive Cesium from Breast Milk from Mothers in Hiroshima Prefecture, 840 km from Fukushima I Nuke Plant
One mother had lived in Hiroshima since before the March 11 nuclear accident. The expert at Hiroshima University who measured the density of radioactive cesium suspect it is internal radiation from ingesting contaminated food.
Hiroshima is over 840 kilometers from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.
From Chugoku Shinbun (10/12/2011):
A citizens' group called "Tsunagaro Hiroshima (Let's connect, Hiroshima" announced on October 11 that a minute amount of radioactive materials has been detected from the breast milk of two mothers who live in Hiroshima Prefecture. One of them escaped from Tokyo after the March 11 disaster; the other had lived in Hiroshima since before the disaster. The researcher at Hiroshima University who measured the breast milk says there is no problem feeding their babies with the breast milk.
The survey was done in early October on 4 people who evacuated to Hiroshima from the Kanto region after the March 11 disaster, and on 2 people who had lived in Hiroshima since before the disaster. 100 cc of the breast milk was taken from each mother, and tested by Professor Kiyoshi Shizuma of Hiroshima University Graduate School of Engineering.
A minute amount of radioactive cesium was detected from two mothers in their thirties. The Ministry of Health and Labor uses the provisional safety limit for milk and dairy products for radioactive cesium (200 becquerels/kg) for the breast milk. The citizens' group has not disclosed the detailed numbers as the mothers do not wish the numbers to be disclosed, but says they are well below the standard set by the Ministry of Health and Labor.
Professor Shizuma will continue to monitor the mother who has lived in Hiroshima since before the accident, as "It is possible that radioactive cesium came from ingesting the contaminated food."
The leader of the citizens' group says he will ask the prefectural government to set up a system to test the breast milk and urine, and to measure the radiation in food.
That is the air radiation. NHK News says the number happens to be much higher than the current air radiation in Iitate-mura (2.1 microsieverts/hour at the village office) in Fukushima Prefecture, where all the villagers have had to evacuate.
Just like in Yokohama City, a citizen measured the air radiation, and alerted the municipal government who then went and measured. At least the municipal governments have started to at least respond.
The result was 2.8 microsieverts/hour. The Setagaya-ku government power-washed the 10-meter stretch of the side walk, and the radiation came down to ... (hold your breath)... 2.71 microsieverts/hour.
Setagaya-ku is one of the special wards of Tokyo that located at the western end of the 23 special wards on the east Tokyo. It borders Kanagawa Prefecture to the south. (Setagaya-ku is marked in deep purple in the map, where the special wards are marked in light purple.)
From NHK News Japanese (10:58PM JST 10/12/2011):
2.7 microsieverts/hour radiation was detected on a municipal road in Setagaya-ku (special ward) in Tokyo earlier this month, and the Setagaya-ku government is asking people to avoid the location while it considers the decontamination plan.
The high radiation was detected in the 10-meter long, 1-meter wide stretch of the side walk in Tsurumaki in Setagaya-ku. According to the Setagaya-ku government, a resident informed the government on October 3 that there was a location with high radiation. When the Setagaya-ku government measured, the radiation was 2.8 microsieverts/hour maximum, much higher than the surrounding area.
The Setagaya-ku government used the pressure washer to wash the stretch of the side walk, but the radiation level only came down to 2.707 microsieverts/hour. The expert whom the government consulted with said the radiation level there may have become elevated because of the rainwater collecting there.
However, the measurement revealed that the air radiation was higher off the ground than on the ground, and the Setagaya-ku government is planning to investigate further to identify the cause of this unusual result.
This municipal road is a designated school route to an elementary school. Setagaya-ku has put up the road cones to alert people not to enter the area, and is considering decontamination. Setagaya-ku measured the radiation in elementary schools, middle schools, kindergartens and nursery schools in July and August, but there was no high radiation detected at that time. It plans to measure the radiation of 258 parks later this month to ensure safety for small children.
Yoko Saito, head of the Setagaya-ku environmental office said, "This is a school route to an elementary school, and there are a kindergarten and a nursery school nearby. I think there are parents who may worry. We will respond as quickly as possible, such as decontamination, after we consult with experts."
Who wouldn't be worried? From what I have heard from an acquaintance, the majority of the parents. They are more worried if their toddlers can get into a prestigious kindergarten. (She is considering moving to Australia with her children.)
How is Setagaya-ku going to "decontaminate", anyway? Power-washing failed. They may have to remove the side walk altogether, and take down part of the yard that borders the sidewalk. I wonder if they are testing the soil or sediment on the side walk. There is no news or announcement at the Setagaya-ku government website.
Looking at the NHK video clip that accompanies the article, the particular stretch looks no different from any other stretch. It is bordering somebody's yard with plants. According to the Ministry of Education and Science aerial survey map of contamination for Tokyo, there should be hardly any contamination for Setagaya-ku.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
From the same sample, cesium-134 and cesium-137 were also detected earlier.
Cesium-134: 29,775 becquerels/kg
Cesium-137: 33,659 becquerels/kg
Total cesium: 63,434 becquerels/kg
Isotope Research Institute didn't start testing for radioactive strontium until August 20, according to the Institute's website. Thus the time lag.
At the Institute, it costs 65,000 yen (US$847) (pre-tax) to test one sample for strontium-90 (no separate testing for strontium-89), and it takes one week. No volume discount, the webpage says.
The ratio of strontium-90 to cesium-137 in this case is about 0.58%. In comparison, the same ratio from the samples taken in Fukushima Prefecture was between slightly less than 0.1% to 8.2%. In other words, the ratio varies too much to discern any pattern.
Yokohama City has said it is testing for strontium in the sample taken from the same apartment rooftop but with much higher cesium density (105,600Bq/kg total cesium). But remember there was no official announcement about this high cesium detection because "the apartment building is a private property", according to the city. We'll see if Yokohama will announce anything about strontium-90.
The Yokohama Mayor is having her regular Wednesday press conference, but she has refused to let independent journalists including Yasumi Iwakami, who broke the news, attend the press conference. She only wants to deal with the "press club" members.
For my recent posts on strontium-90 in Yokohama City, go here and here.
#Radiation in Japan: A Shizuoka Tea Plantation Declares "Our Green Tea Is SAFE!" with 175 Bq/kg of Radioactive Cesium
Totally in line with the radioactive chestnut story from the yesterday's post, where a grocer uses a certificate of 44 becquerels/kg of cesium from the chestnuts as a sales promotional tool.
A tea plantation in Shizuoka proudly displays the certificate that says the tea from the plantation contains 175 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, as the proof of safety.
Why safe? Because it is below the provisional "safety" limit set by the national government, of course. The tea plantation says their tea is also exported.
From the website of Ohkuraen tea plantation, which declares "Our green tea is SAFE!":
(H/T William Milberry)
Concerned residents of Yokohama City tweeted their City Assemblymen about the discovery of radioactive strontium in Yokohama, the news broken by independent journalist Yasumi Iwakami. (Read my posts here and here for more.)
One assemblyman, Yutaro Yokoyama, gave an interesting answer to the strontium question. He said on his tweets:
I knew that [discovery of radioactive strontium in Yokohama] since early September. For our political faction, strontium is a thing of the past. I myself touched on the [subject, I hope, not strontium] on the standing committee on September 13, as strontium is highly water-soluble. However, it's not known whether it fell from the sky or was carried by a volunteer (in person or by car).
Radioactive materials can be easily obtained anywhere in Fukushima. It is possible to carry them by artificial means [as opposed to naturally falling from the sky, I guess]. If radioactive strontium came by artificial means, I don't think it is a job of a City Assemblyman to pursue how it got here, so I won't.
He is insinuating that water-soluble radioactive strontium was carried intentionally by a volunteer or by a car driven by a volunteer and released on top of an apartment building, as any radioactive material is readily available anywhere in Fukushima Prefecture. And it's none of his business as a City Assemblyman to figure out how it got there.
Best of luck, citizens of Yokohama.
In the meantime, one major MSM newspaper carried the story, and more to follow I hear.
Here's from Asahi Shinbun (3:32AM JST 10/12/2011):
195 becquerels/kg of radioactive strontium has been detected from the sediment on the rooftop of an apartment building in Kohoku-ku in Yokohama City. A private laboratory did the testing. It is considered to have been released from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant after the accident. On receiving the result, Yokohama City has doing its own testing.
It was strontium-90 (half life of about 30 years) that was detected. The nuclide has been detected within 100 kilometers from Fukushima I Nuke Plant in Fukushima Prefecture and the southern Miyagi Prefecture according to the survey by the Ministry of Education and Science. However, this is the first detection in Yokohama City, about 250 kilometers from the plant.
Strontium-90 was detected on the rooftop of a 5-story apartment building which was built 7 years ago. A resident of the apartment building took the sediment in the drain and had it tested at Isotope Research Institute in Tsurumi-ku in Yokohama City. The result may not be easily comparable to the results in Fukushima, as radioactive materials may be concentrated in locations like this one. Nonetheless, it is higher than 77 becquerels/kg of radioactive strontium detected in Fukushima City in April and May.
From the same sediment, 63,434 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium has been detected. The city hasn't publicly released the data as the building is a private property, but when the city did its own testing of the same sediment at Yokohama City Institute of Health, 105,600 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected.
German TV ZDF's "Frontal 21" features Japan's nuclear disaster on a regular basis, and here's the latest from October 4, 2011. The reporters interviewed Fukushima plant workers, whose remarks coincide with what the Fuku-1 Livecam finger-pointing worker has said - that they are kept ignorant of the radiation danger.
They also interviewed Dr. Eisuke Matsui of Gifu Environmental Medicine Research Institute, who talked about potential damage from radiation on the workers at the plant.
They also went to the TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo to ask about the unfair contract that the workers receive (if at all) for their work at Fukushima I Nuke Plant. A junior manager (if that) met them, only to tell them it was none of the TEPCO's problem. It's subcontractors' problem, of course.
The program concludes with these words:
Workers, who for a pittance do the dangerous dirty work at the atomic ruins,
An employer who steals away from his responsibility,
Doctors who recommend smiling as protection against radiation damage.
Contempt for human beings, in Japanese.
That doctor is of course Dr. Shunichi "Damashita" (I tricked you) Yamashita.
Translation of the Frontal 21 segment into English was done by Viola, who also regularly posts comments on this blog. Thank you. Her Youtube channel has many Fukushima-related videos in English and German.
(If you do not see the subtitle, click on the "cc" button.)
In case you missed it, France 24 also had an excellent report on Fukushima workers, which I posted here.
Monday, October 10, 2011
In Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, they all do these fun-filled activities to enjoy and celebrate autumn, just like they did last year and year before, radioactive fallout or not. A minor nuclear accident must not disturb the preset schedule, ever.
At this point, though an increasing number of parents are simply horrified, the majority are quite happily following whatever the school teachers say and accuse the concerned parents as "monster parent" (a Japlish word that they use in katakana) - a troublemaker. The majority are more worried about their children's prospect of getting into prestigious schools.
1. Radioactive school lunch with tastes of autumn, including chestnuts and mushrooms.
The most hilarious and sad is the school nutritionist in Koto-ku, Tokyo where the high radiation spots have been detected which were likely the result of radioactive fallout from the garbage incineration plant.
According to the blog "Protect children in Koto-ku" (link is in Japanese), a grocer that supplies school lunch food items came to Edagawa Elementary School with the test result of the chestnut that the grocer wanted to sell to school. The test result was: 44 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium detected.
And from the "togetter" collection of related tweets on the subject:
Apparently the grocer brought with him the printout of the test result as an "advertisement", of how "safe" his chestnuts were. Looking at the result, the school nutritionist was relieved that it was such a low number and therefore it was safe. So the school bought the radioactive chestnuts from the grocer and served them in lunch to feed 700 children.
They knew the chestnuts were radioactive, and they served them anyway. The producer, the wholesaler, the retail grocer, and the school all seemed to think that anything below the provisional safety limit was literally, genuinely safe. The school nutritionist was a recent college grad with no influence over lunch decision.
The chestnuts were grown and harvested in Ibaraki Prefecture, just south of Fukushima.
As to mushrooms which tend to concentrate radioactive materials very effectively, many schools are having some sort of "mushroom festival" lunch - using multiple varieties in a spaghetti sauce for example.
2. Radioactive school cleanup
This still goes to the now-infamous Yokohama City. Schools are still having the students do the autumn cleanup of dead leaves and branches in the school yards and rooftops. In Naka-ku, the air radiation on the school rooftop was 0.56 microsievert/hour, but the city official who came to measure left without doing anything, because it was 0.03 microsievert less than the level where the city would have to take some action (0.59 microsievert/hour).
(There are a whole lot more stories like this at the message board of Yokohama Assemblyman Ota, here.)
3. Collecting radioactive leaves and acorns dropped in the leaves
4. Visiting the high radiation spots in Chiba and dig up sweet potatoes
This is very, very popular among kindergartens and nursery schools in Kanto. Children like small stuff like acorns buried in the colorful, fallen leaves. The teachers let small children have fun collecting the leaves and acorns, with bare hands, no masks. One mother was horrified when her kid came back with an extra bag of acorn that the teacher gave him as souvenir. She said she tried her best to smile, and would throw away the bag when the boy was not watching.
Collecting dead leaves for composting in the school yards is also quite popular. One kindergarten in Kashiwa City was asking parents to bring dead leaves to the kindergarten so that the kindergarten could start a new pile of leaf compost in the school yard.
5. Radioactive "undokai" (school athletic meet)
That's another popular activity. Chiba is famous for sweet potatoes in Kanto. Kindergartners and school children from Tokyo and Chiba go there to harvest sweet potatoes, collect fallen leaves to build a fire and bake the potatoes in the fire. In spring, they most likely did the planting of rice on bare feet in the radioactive rice paddies. In autumn, they get to dig the radioactive soil to get sweet potatoes.
In one kindergarten in Kashiwa City (hot spot), they make children dig sweet potatos with bare hands this year, because many children lost the digging tools that the kindergarten gave them last year. So this year after nuclear fallout, the teachers force the kindergartners to use their own tiny hands. No gloves allowed.
Small children and pupils get to run and play in the dirt school yard for the autumnal athletic meet. Many will get to do certain activities like gymnastics on bare feet (the teachers won't allow them to wear shoes). A parent who begged his daughter's school to at least hose down the dust was totally ignored.
It is as if they were intent on killing their young. It is as if the current radiation level was not high enough to cause immediate damage so they wanted to hasten the onset of the damage by piling radiation upon radiation on the young, at every occasion.
So, if you escape Kanto, you don't need to worry anymore? Yes you do. A resigned mother who fled Yokohama with her children to Okinawa tweets that they use cabbages grown and harvested in Gunma Prefecture in school lunch. People living in Kansai report that the local supermarkets are full of vegetables and fruits from Kanto and Tohoku, a phenomenon that they do not recall ever happening in their area.
Soon, radioactive debris will follow, thanks to the tireless campaign by the Ministry of the Environment which is set to grow so fat (in terms of budget appropriation for the Ministry) from the "decontamination" bubble it is creating.
Some of my twitter followers in Japan are jokingly asking if there's any country that would accept Japanese people as "radiation refugee". To me, they should qualify as "political refugee" because if they stay in Japan, their lives are threatened daily by their own government.
Additional information to what I posted on Sunday, as information is very slowly filtering through to the Internet.
195 becquerels/kg of strontium-90 was detected from the sludge on top of the apartment building in Kohoku-ku, Yokohama City, where the very high level of radioactive cesium was also detected back in mid August, though the news did not break until mid September. (See my post here.)
So in the same sludge sample, there were:
Cesium-134: 29,775 becquerels/kg
Cesium-137: 33,659 becquerels/kg
Strontium-90: 195 becquerels/kg
Yokohama City is supposedly conducting its own testing of the different sample from the same rooftop using the same laboratory, and the result may be announced this week.
The ratio of strontium-90 to cesium-137 in the soil samples within 80-kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant varies widely from less than 0.1% to over 8% - in other words, as the Ministry of Education and Science said in its report on strontium and plutonium, there is no telling if strontium is there if there is cesium.
There is an unconfirmed piece of information on a blog by a Yokohama citizen that the city knew about radioactive strontium in the sludge as early as mid September and dismissed it because the city's radiation advisor said it was impossible to find radioactive strontium of Fukushima origin in Yokohama.
The reality seems more like this, though: Since strontium was not supposed to fly far from Fukushima, so the city bureaucrats didn't know what to do or how to respond. (from communication with the person who ordered the testing)
Yasumi Iwakami, independent journalist who broke the news yesterday, asked the Minister of Education and Science in the press conference on October 11 (in Japan) and asked about strontium in Yokohama. The minister said "Thank you for your information. We may do the testing in wider area if necessary." Other people who was watching the press conference live in USTREAM said the Minister answered "There is no report to me yet."
and everything is dandy now. The whole work took about 5.5 hours on October 9, according to Yomiuri. No information of the radiation exposure for the workers who had to work in the high-radiation Reactor 1 building.
TEPCO, which has caused the worst nuclear disaster in the world since Chernobyl (if not ever), is not at all interested in finding out WHY hydrogen gas was in the pipe.
The information that it was TIG welding came from the independent journalist Ryuichi Kino, who attends almost all TEPCO press conferences.
From TEPCO's handouts for the press on October 10:
(Pipe cutting operation)
(After the pipe was cut: the bottom part was welded shut, but I see duct tape on the top part...)
Good weld, I think. But my understanding is that TIG welding takes more time than other types of welding. I wonder what the radiation exposure for the welder was. I hope he was paid extremely well.
This bottom part of the pipe connects to the Suppression Chamber. The top part is where TEPCO will attach the "gas management" system.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Details in the mail magazine by the independent journalist Yasumi Iwakami (paid subscription). I'm asking if I could translate and post it here.
The number is 195 becquerels/kg, more than 150 times more than the background (1.2 becquerels/kg).
This is probably the lower of the two samples; the other sample is currently being analyzed.
As far as the Ministry of Education is concerned, the southern most detection of strontium-90 was in Shirakawa City, 79 kilometers from the plant. The Ministry doesn't have a plan to test for strontium or plutonium outside the 80 kilometer radius.
On September 30, a government radiation expert appeared on NHK News to tell the viewers that strontium had not flown to the Tokyo Metropolitan area, and the only radionuclides people had to worry about were cesium-134 and cesium-137. In the video clip, the expert looks nervous, so does the male NHK announcer trying to wrap up his remarks.
September 30 was the day when the Ministry of Education and Science released the map of plutonium and strontium in the 80-kilometer radius from the plant. It was also the day when the Japanese government abolished the "evacuation-ready zone" in the area between 20 and 30 kilometers from the plant.
The Japan Tourism Agency under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is competing with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in giving away free trips to Japan to foreigners in the hope of "favorable" coverage on the Internet social media.
From Yomiuri Shinbun (10/10/2011):
The Japan Tourism Agency has decided to invite 10,000 tourists from all over the world in the fiscal 2012, free of charge. The purpose is to help increase the number of visitors from abroad which has plummeted after the March 11 disaster.
The Agency will invite foreigners to apply via the Internet. If the application and travel plan is accepted by the Agency, the applicant will be given a free round-trip ticket to Japan.
The Agency plans to have these tourists broadcast information to the world during their stay in Japan via the Internet. The Agency is hoping the message of how safe it is to stay in Japan will spread to the world by word of mouth. The tourists will be asked to participate in the opinion survey on traveling in Japan after the March 11 disaster and to submit travel plans that can be used as a new model for travel in Japan. For the project, the Japan Tourism Agency is asking 1.1 billion yen (US$14.3 million) in the budget proposal for the fiscal 2012.
The fiscal 2012 year will start on April 1, 2012 in Japan.
So my readers outside Japan, watch out for the formal announcement on the Agency's website, which should come before that date: http://www.mlit.go.jp/kankocho/en/index.html
I don't know if the Agency (or for that matter, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) has the "Plan B" - what if these foreigners do not tweet favorable impression? (Confiscating their return tickets, maybe, or send them off to "volunteer" somewhere north of Tokyo. Just kidding.)
The Agency's catchphrase is "Japan. Endless Discovery."
When Goshi Hosono, Minister of the Environment and Minister in charge of Fukushima nuke accident, said "It's a great endorsement by the United States government on the Japanese government effort in winding down the accident", he was talking about the supposed decision by the US government to "shrink" the area for the US citizens in Japan to avoid from the 80-kilometer radius from the stricken plant to the 20-kilometer radius.
Here's what Yomiuri Shinbun quoted Hosono on October 8 as:
Hosono, Minister in charge of the nuclear accident, commented in the morning on October 8 on the US government announcement to shrink the area that the US government recommends for the US citizens in Japan to avoid. "We have been discussing with the US government for a very long time to come to a consensus on the evacuation area. This decision by the US government is a symbolic event that we welcome. It shows the international communities consider our effort in a positive light".
(Effort? What effort? Oh that one about spreading the radioactive debris all over Japan?)
And the US government decision as reported (10/8/2011) by the same newspaper which grew to one of the largest newspapers in Japan under the leadership of a known CIA agent and Japan's first Director General of the Science and Technology Agency (Matsutaro Shoriki):
The US State Department announced on its October 7 Travel Alert that it will shrink the area for evacuation recommendation for the US citizens from the 80-kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant to 20-kilometer radius.
Outside the 20-kilometer radius, the State Department asks the US citizens to avoid the "planned evacuation zone" [between 20 and 30-kilometer radius] and "specific spots recommended for evacuation" [outside 30-kilometer radius in Fukushima]. It also advises that pregnant women, children, and the elderly should avoid residing within 30 km of the plant.
The US government set the evacuation recommendation zone of 80-kilometer radius from the plant on March 16, assuming that the emission of radioactive materials would continue. As the situation of the reactors at Fukushima I Nuke Plant has stabilized, this loosening of the evacuation recommendation [by the US government] is in line with the Japanese government's 20-kilometer radius "no entry zone".
Isn't it interesting that the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan invited Dr. Wade Allison right before this announcement to assure the US businesses in Japan that there's nothing to worry about the radiation contamination in Japan, by suggesting 1.2 sievert/year exposure is still totally safe.
In line with the Japanese government, that's for sure.
But what did the State Department actually say? It said more than the select reporting by the Japanese MSM, which is the part about shrinking the original 80-kilometer radius evacuation recommendation. Here's from the actual State Department "Travel Alert" on October 7, 2011:
Other Areas Within 80km of Fukushima Daiichi Plant
TEMPORARY VISITORS: Government of Japan data measurements show varying levels of radiation in land areas outside of the area described above, but within 80 kilometers of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. The U.S. government believes the health and safety risks to temporary visitors to these areas are low and exposure does not pose significant risks to U.S. citizens making visits of less than one year. We recommend U.S. citizens contemplating travel to these areas consult with Japanese authorities regarding local conditions at the proposed destination.
LONG-TERM RESIDENTS: The risks may be higher for U.S. citizens who reside for more than one year within 80 kilometers of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. Out of an abundance of caution, we recommend that U.S. citizens who choose to reside for more than one year within 80 kilometers of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant consult with local authorities to receive current guidance on expected levels of radiation and recommendations for reducing exposure to radiation. In addition, pregnant women, children, and the elderly should avoid residing within 30 km of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant.
So, the US government is saying that living within the 80-kilometer radius for more than one year may increase the risks, and should the US citizens choose to do so at their own risk they should get the information about radiation from local authorities. (Good luck with the last one.)
The Japanese government is entertaining the IAEA Decontamination Mission right now within that 80-kilometer radius. It will be also inviting 10,000 foreigners to Japan, free of charge, so that they spread the word via the Internet that "Japan is safe". I'm not sure if this is different from the previously announced project of inviting the social media writers with big followers to the disaster-affected area, but judging by the number of foreigners it intends to invite, it is a separate project.
(OK, it is a separate project. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will invite social media writers, and the Japan Tourism Agency under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism will invite 10,000 foreign tourists. Total 2.6 billion yen giveaway, courtesy of the Japanese taxpayers.)
A full-on "safety" campaign is on in Japan right now, using various media outlets (more later). The details of the US State Department's announcement are just that, details. Who cares about the details?