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August 25, 2011

Japan nuclear disaster: areas to remain off-limits for decades

Japan nuclear disaster: areas to remain off-limits for decades

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2002
Image: KEI.

Location of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan
Image: Saneef.

Japanese officials have admitted for the first time that certain radiation-stricken areas around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may remain uninhabitable for decades. Japanese media this week reported that embattled Prime Minister Naoto Kan is to visit affected areas within days to tell residents and local officials that it will remain too dangerous to return to parts of Fukushima Prefecture in the foreseeable future.

Cquote1.svg We cannot deny the possibility that there will be some areas where it will be hard for residents to return to their homes over a long period of time. Cquote2.svg

—Yukio Edano, Chief Cabinet Secretary

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said, “We cannot deny the possibility that there will be some areas where it will be hard for residents to return to their homes over a long period of time.”

The dangers of radiation exposure in certain areas are expected to remain unacceptably high well after the plant finally undergoes a cold shutdown in the coming months. A final decision on which areas are to be declared off-limits will be made following detailed radiation monitoring and the creation of a comprehensive decontamination plan. Japanese officials have so far declined to specifically name any areas likely to be affected.

Scientists have for months warned of such an eventuality following the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima site in March. The government, criticised for its management of evacuations in the wake of the disaster, had hoped to lift current evacuation orders for most areas around the plant. However, it cannot do so amidst dangerously elevated radiation readings, including in the town of Okuma, situated about three kilometres from the Fukushima site, where cumulative radiation levels are over 25 times higher than government-mandated limits.

Media reports have also focused on uncertainty surrounding compensation for the many thousands of residents affected by the ongoing evacuations. The government may possibly purchase or rent the properties of those who cannot return to their homes and businesses.

Although the plant operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, has recently claimed radiation leaks from all three reactors have declined, concern continues to mount over the true scale of contamination. Scientists have detected widespread contamination of topsoil on agricultural land, further jeopardising the future habitability of significant areas, and uncertainty remains as to the true extent of radioactivity in numerous areas.

Caesium-137, the main radioactive element thrown out during the various explosions, has a half-life of 30 years, and it is not going to disappear overnight,” said Didier Champion, a French nuclear safety expert.



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August 16, 2011

Japan to use renewable energy

Japan to use renewable energy – Wikinews, the free news source

Japan to use renewable energy

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

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A new law which seeks to utilise reusable energy and minimise cost impact on consumers is under development in Japan. The new law, which would be effective from July 1 next year, would seek to reduce Japan’s dependency on nuclear power.

The new legislation would urge power utilities to cut costs by purchasing renewable energy from outside companies and private businesses. Japan’s decision has been referred to as opening the door on renewable energy, which currently only contributes to six percent of Japan’s energy sources.

Politicians have amended the bill, allowing the revised bill to pass through parliament later this month. Prime Minister Naoto Kan who is pushing for the bill to be passed in return for his resignation, has stated that the ‘feed-in-tariff on renewable energy will be set at a fixed price so that utilities are limited to purchasing electricity from renewable power generators. Kan hopes that this will encourage more business and private corporate partners to enter into the renewable energy market.

“As a medium-term revolutionary energy and environmental strategy, we have decided to start a thorough review of nuclear power policy and draw a roadmap for a reduction of the dependence on nuclear power” Mr Kan said.

Large companies are concerned about the new legislation as it will continue to affect profit margins which are low due to power shortages and high priced exports. The bill was changed to reduce the surcharge for large power companies after complaints from the Japanese steel industry. If the scheme is launched then consumers will face an increase on electricity bills as utilities can pass their costs onto end-users. Despite the governments promise to cap the surcharge for the next ten years, there is no reference to it in the revised bill.

Lawmakers hope that by adding a provision requiring utilities to streamline their operations, the impact on consumers will be minimized.

A third party group will be set up within the under the Agency for National Resources and Energy to ensure that the setting of fixed prices are fair and just.



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March 25, 2011

Situation at damaged nuclear power plant remains \’very grave\’, says Japanese Prime Minister

Situation at damaged nuclear power plant remains ‘very grave’, says Japanese Prime Minister

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Friday, March 25, 2011

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Cquote1.svg We are not in a position where we can be optimistic. Cquote2.svg

Naoto Kan, Prime Minister

Two weeks after a disastrous earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, the situation at the severely damaged Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant has been described by the Prime Minister as “very grave and serious”. In a nationally televised report to the nation on Friday, Naoto Kan said the Japanese government was “not in a position where we can be optimistic.”

Radiation is reported to still be leaking from the plant, in Fukushima prefecture. “The source of the radiation seems to be the reactor core,” said Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency official Hidehiko Nishiyama, adding that radiation was “more likely” coming from the core than from the reactor’s spent fuel pool.

On Thursday three workers stepped into contaminated cooling water in the reactor’s turbine room while trying to replace cables at reactor No. 3, Nishiyama said. The water seeped into the the boots of two of the workers, touching their skin and causing lesions; the third worker’s clothing protected him from the water. The two workers with skin lesions were hospitalized for radiation exposure. The radiation level of the contaminated water measured 10,000 times the level of cooling water in an undamaged reactor.

File:Fukushima I by Digital Globe 2.jpg

The Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant pictured five days after the earthquake.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

Work has been stopped on attempts to reattach a permanent power line to the cooling system in reactor No. 3, and the building has been evacuated. Nishiyama could give no predictions of when work would resume. The possibility that water is leaking from the core of reactor No. 3 increases the danger for workers who attempt to cool the crippled plant. The reactors must be cooled before more safety work can begin.

Japan had been using seawater for cooling since the disaster crippled the power plant’s cooling systems, but U.S. officials were concerned that saltwater could harm the equipment, causing it to seize up and corrode, thereby worsening the situation.

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March 15, 2011

Fukushima reactor suffers multiple fires, radiation leak confirmed

Fukushima reactor suffers multiple fires, radiation leak confirmed

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan
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Fires broke out at the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s No. 4 reactor in Japan on Tuesday, according to the Tokyo Electric Power Company. The first fire caused a leak of concentrated radioactive material, according to the Japanese prime minister, Naoto Kan.

The first fire broke out at 9:40 a.m. local time on Tuesday, and was thought to have been put out, but another fire was discovered early on Wednesday, believed to have started because the earlier one had not been fully extinguished.

In a televised statement, the prime minister told residents near the plant that “I sincerely ask all citizens within the 20 km distance from the reactor to leave this zone.” He went on to say that “[t]he radiation level has risen substantially. The risk that radiation will leak from now on has risen.”

Kan warned residents to remain indoors and to shut windows and doors to avoid radiation poisoning.

The French Embassy in Japan reports that the radiation will reach Tokyo in 10 hours, with current wind speeds.



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2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami
Effect of 2011 Sendai earthquake in Tokyo (cropped).jpg
  • Japan suggests dumping Fukushima waste at sea as radiation hits lethal levels
  • Estimated 300-ton radioactive leak at Fukushima rated ‘serious incident’ by watchdog
  • Tokyo Electric Power Company releases first figures on the extent of Fukushima leakage
  • U.S. Coast Guard unleashes cannon fire on abandoned Japanese ship
  • Japan nuclear disaster: areas to remain off-limits for decades
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March 13, 2011

Death toll rises from Japan quake

Death toll rises from Japan quake – Wikinews, the free news source

Death toll rises from Japan quake

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

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The death toll from the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan on Friday has risen to more than a thousand, with many people still missing, according to reports issued over the weekend.

While Japan’s police says that only 637 are confirmed dead, media reports say that over a thousand people have been killed, with several hundred bodies still being transported. Thousands more are still unaccounted for; in the town of Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture alone, up to 10,000 people are missing. Four trains that were on the coast have yet to be located.

In the aftermath of the disaster, evacuations of around 300,000 people have taken place; more evacuations are likely in the wake of concerns over a damaged nuclear power plant. According to Prime Minister Naoto Kan, around 3,000 people have been rescued thus far. 50,000 troops from the Japanese military have been deployed to assist in rescue efforts.

The tsunami generated by the quake has destroyed communities along Japan’s Pacific coast, with up to 90% of the houses in some towns having been destroyed; at least 3,400 structures have been destroyed in total. Fires have also sprung up among the impacted areas.


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Japan facing \’most severe crisis since World War II\’, says prime minister

Japan facing ‘most severe crisis since World War II’, says prime minister

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2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami
  • Japan suggests dumping Fukushima waste at sea as radiation hits lethal levels
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  • Tokyo Electric Power Company releases first figures on the extent of Fukushima leakage
  • U.S. Coast Guard unleashes cannon fire on abandoned Japanese ship
  • Japan nuclear disaster: areas to remain off-limits for decades
  • Renewed concern over nuclear response following atomic bomb anniversary
  • Japanese nuclear plant operators ordered to compensate affected families amid calls for prime minister to resign
  • Crisis at stricken Japan nuclear plant escalates to level of Chernobyl; six killed in aftershock
  • Australia to lose $2 billion due to Japanese disasters
  • Japanese nuclear officials race to avoid disaster as radiation levels in sea rocket

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Amongst the aftermath of a magnitude 8.9 earthquake which struck on Friday, followed by a tsunami, Naoto Kan, the prime minister of Japan, claimed that the country is experiencing its largest difficulties since the end of World War II in 1945.

Cquote1.svg The current situation of the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear plants is in a way the most severe crisis in the past 65 years since World War II Cquote2.svg

Naoto Kan, Japanese prime minister

“The current situation of the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear plants is in a way the most severe crisis in the past 65 years since World War II,” Kan said. Speaking on television, he stated that “[w]hether we Japanese can overcome this crisis depends on each of us. I strongly believe that we can get over this great earthquake and tsunami by joining together.”

Kan reported that there were limited supplies of electricity due to the closure of numerous power stations, including a nuclear power plant located in Fukushima Prefecture. According to NHK, a broadcasting organization in Japan, approximately 310,000 individuals have been transported to safety in shelters that, in various cases, do not contain electricity.

The Government of Japan has reported the deaths of one thousand individuals, although thousands of others have not been taken into account. The police have claimed that the death toll in the Miyagi Prefecture as a result of the earthquake and tsunami could be in excess of ten thousand. 100,000 troops – which equates to approximately 40% of the country’s armed forces – are said to have been committed to assisting with the survivors of the disasters.

The nuclear agency of Japan consider the circumstances at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant to be Level 4 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, which is an accident with local consequences. According to BBC News Online, incidents like this usually cause one person to die from causes related to radiation. No individuals from the power plant are reported to have died.



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June 5, 2010

Naoto Kan elected new Prime Minister of Japan

Naoto Kan elected new Prime Minister of Japan

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Naoto Kan.

Naoto Kan was elected as the 94th Prime Minister (PM) of Japan on Friday. He replaces Yukio Hatoyama, who resigned last week as PM and as member of the Democratic Party of Japan.

Hatoyama’s cabinet resigned to allow the election of the new PM. Kan was elected as President of the Democratic Party and as official candidate to the position of Prime Minister. Later, an extraordinary session took place in the Diet, where Kan was elected with a large majority. PMs are formally appoited by the Emperor, but the Japanese Constitution requires him to appoint the person “designated by the Diet.” Emperor Akihito is expected to appoint Kan in mid-June.

Kan, who is 63, will have to face a growing public debt and an aging population, among other issues..



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