Tag Archives: nuclear power plant

The Sacrificial Light – Wakasa’s Tears 3: “Nucleic” and “Archaic” 2 (From The Chunichi, a local newspaper in Nagoya)


wakasa 3     Everyone who lived in the mountains used to be a messenger of God. (“Kokyo (Hometown)” Tsutomu Mizukami)

     Yuichi Hamagami, 65, was scared of the dark when he was a child. His family has lived in Oshima Peninsula, Fukui Prefecture, for generations. The Hamagamis is the guardian for one of 32 sacred forests called “Niso-no-mori” in the peninsula. There is a festival for their ancestors who broke in the area in each forest every November. Yuichi has joined the festival since he was a little child to help his father. Before dawn, little Yuichi was jerked from slumber by his father and went to their forest. There was no street lamp. Yuichi’s role was holding a paper lantern in the darkness. He could not help running because he thought he was seen by something from the darkness.

     It was the latter half of 1960s when villagers in Oshima Peninsula received a construction plan of a nuclear power plant. Yuichi’s father was a town councilor at that time and was the most strident supporter of the project. Some people said he was after money because he owned some parts of the planned site. But Yuichi says, “My father just wanted to enrich our hometown.”

     Yuichi’s father passed away from lung cancer in 1978 just a year before Ohi Nuclear Power Plant’s No.1 reactor started. He was 56 years old. Still young. That is why some says “He was cursed by God in the forest.” Four years before he passed away a bridge called “Aoto-no-ohashi” between the peninsula and hometown was built. The construction of roads was also going on. Motorization was going to come to the remote area. Yuichi’s father cut down a part of the forest and made a car park there. According to the tradition, human intervention is forbidden to the forest. It is a taboo even to take a small twig home from the forest…

     “I don’t believe rumors, but I kind of feel creepy.” After his father’s death, Yuichi built a small shrine in the forest, where there had been just a sacred stone. Besides he has held every rite. But he does not think it is the fault of the nuclear power plant if his father passed away from a curse. Yuichi became a town councilor like his father after he was retired from the town office. He said, “People’s will is in resuming!” in a conference about Ohi Nuclear Power Station’s restart last July. Of course, perfect safe control is precondition for his statement. He says, “Our wish to enrich our hometown is almost fulfilled. We can’t turn back the clock now.” The village has a handsome bridge and smooth roads. Streetlights shine at night. Yuichi is no longer afraid of the dark.

     Koji Morishita, 56, is also one of the guardians for the sacred forests “Niso-no-mori”. He runs a guesthouse for workers related to the nuclear power plant. He used to reply, “Our lives are also important,” to the questions connected in the powerhouse. But he never forgets the sight in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture. He visited there to look at the actual circumstances in the devastated area. He saw children playing in an indoor recreation hall in the town. They looked happy. But he was shocked by the guide’s explanation: Children haven’t been able to play on the ground outside for fear of exposure since the nuclear power plant caused the accident. “I’d never thought of that. I was very shocked that I had never thought of that…” Now Koji hesitates to the pros and cons of nuclear power plants. He cannot answer to the question whether his village needs the facilities yet. He just thinks “God in our forests will get mad if an accident happens in the nuclear power plant.

(The Chunichi May 29, 2013, translated by Moshimoshimo)

The Sacrificial Light – Tears in Wakasa 2: Nucleic and Archaic (From the Chunichi, a local newspaper in Nagoya)


wakasa 2     The nuclear power plant has brought many people from urban area and given an economic development opportunity, but has taken many precious things away, such as traditions, virtues, and the spontaneity villagers used to have. (“Kokyo (Hometown)” Tsutomu Mizukami)

     “Not only strangers like workers in the nuclear power station but also local residents litter.” Empty cans and plastic packages… Staring at litters in the forest, Kozo Nakatani, 60, looked sad rather than angry.

     Oshima is located in the east of Oshima Peninsula facing Wakasa-wan Bay in Fukui Prefecture. This is the only place where a nuclear power plant is in operation in Japan now. There is a small forest called “Niso-no-mori” about one kilo meters from the power station. The Nakatanis is the guardian of the forest for generations.

     “Niso-no-mori” is an evergreen broadleaf forest, where ancestors who exploited the peninsula have been ensured since ancient times. It is a kind of animism, in which people worship big trees as holy. There are 32 such sacred places in the area, and people hold a festival there in November every year. Each place has a guardian like the Nakatanis.

     The Nakantanis is one of the oldest families in Oshima Peninsula. Nakatani did not like his home very much when he was young. People just went fishing in their leisure time. They had to use a boat to go to downtown. The happiest time for little Nakatani was eating sweet rolled eggs that his mother cooked occasionally. His father headed out to sea by his rickety boat at first light. “I don’t want to be a man like my father!” Nakatani ran away from home and went to Osaka when He was 18 years old. When he was taken to a pub by his co-worker and sipped whisky with water for the first time, he thought it tasted urban.

     He was enjoying city life, but he went back home three years later. It was in 1974, when “Aoto-no-ohashi”, a bridge connecting Oshima Peninsula and downtown, was built in exchange of construction of a nuclear power plant. His hometown was about to change a lot. People did not need to use a boat to go to downtown. Nakatani started working as an operator for heavy equipments to build the power station and his father opened a guest house for construction workers. He received a compensation payment and bought a blazing red car. He believed his hometown’s rosy future when he crossed the bridge by his car at that time.

     It has been 40 years since then. Nakatani’s father passed away some 20 years ago. The guest house is still there because of regular customers who are related to the nuclear power plant. There are few families which left for town in his village. “It’s thanks to the nuclear power station…” Nakatani says. He did not join the anti-nuke movement for resuming operation at the nuclear facility in Ohi Nuclear Power Station after the disaster in Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant two years ago. But he has something “small” on his mind. People in his village used to give each other help, but now they are envying their neighbors’ income. Someone litters in a rice field, and the rice field owner throws the garbage away into other’s land. Nakatani has seen those things a lot since the nuclear power plant was built in his area.

     Actually, He has stopped holding a festival in “Niso-no-mori” since his father passed away. The shrine his grandfather had built was broken and surrounded by a large amount of garbage when he noticed. His mother who had been worried about that suddenly passed away at the end of last year. “Why didn’t I show her the festival?” Nakatani is feeling bad about that. He is going to hold a festival this fall. Nokatani is not only person who has a shaky mind between “nucleic” and “archaic” matters.

(The Chunichi May 28, 2013, translated by Moshimoshimo)

The Sacrificial Light – Tears in Wakasa 1: Black and Dark (From the Chunichi, a local newspaper in Nagoya)


wakasa1     “Lively mountains are black,” said Sunao Watanabe, 81, an old painter in Wakasa (Fukui Prefecture). It might sound strange, but he has thought that for more than 70 years since he began painting when he was an elementary school child. He has depicted his home hundreds of times.

     Watanabe was born into a destitute family and was fostered out to a carpenter in his childhood. His foster father came back alive from the battlefront in Philippines, but since then became bedridden. Watanabe became a charcoal burner when he was 15 years old to support his foster family. He built a coal pit in the mountain and cut oak trees and made them charcoals. When night fell, it was just a small lamp to illuminate the darkness. “I didn’t see you last night. Where have you been?” He talked to moths coming to the light and sketched them on rumpled newspaper with cinders.

     He had lived that way until he became 30 years old when it was difficult to make a decent living as a charcoal burner. He is, however, now a well-known painter called “a poet in the mountain.” It sounds like a success story after suffering from poverty. But he says, “The happiest time of my life was when I was making charcoals…” That was an age of high economic growth when people were working like mad for money.

      Watanabe sometimes had a special feeling as if he was surrounded by something huge at midnight in the mountain. Then he realized his tininess and just sketched without thinking anything. It was the happiest time for him. “You can’t understand that if you live by using a lot of electricity.” The mountains which Watanabe has faced cannot be described as just green. So, he says they are “black”.

     “He cares pebbles and nameless weeds when he paints.” Tsutomu Mizukami, a novelist who passed away at the age of 85 in 2004, used to describe Watanabe that way. Mizukami and Watanabe were from the same village in Fukui. They met each other in 1970, when Mizukami, who had become a fan of Watanabe, visited the painter’s house. Since then Watanabe has illustrated Mizukami’s books. Painting and writing. Their means of expression were different, but both of them have depicted their hometown.

     Their home has 14 nuclear power reactors, which is the most all over Japan. Mizukami had been anxious about that. The third and fourth reactors in Ohi Nuclear Power Station restarted last July for the first time after the disaster in Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant. Watanabe wondered what Mizukami would have said about that if he had been alive.

     Mizukami kept suspicious eyes on prosperity brought by Ohi Nuclear Power Station. He expressed his thoughts in “Kokyo (hometown)”, one of his novels: Look, a cape far away and a white dome under the sunshine. (snip) That’s the light of the nuclear power plant. (snip) Nature is holding a product of modern civilization like a small candle light and is silent. The sea is very quiet.

     Watanabe understands Mizukami’s thoughts. “Nuclear power plants are made by human-being.” He cannot feel anything huge from the structures. He rarely paints the nuke plant. But lately he had to paint one because he was asked by an acquaintance. At that time he daubed the background with dark colors. It was not “black”. The surround of the powerhouse looks “dark” through his eyes.

(The Chunichi May 27, 2013, translated by Moshimshimo)

"Hosono Paper" – A Report about Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing – Part 2: "It’ll just heighten chaos."



     This is the continuous article (the former one is here: http://wp.me/p16bjt-nv) about a report of Japan’s nuclear fuel reprocessing project written by a private consultative body of Minister Hosono (for the Restoration from and Prevention of Nuclear Accidents). The original article on the Chunichi (August 3) is written in Japanese.

     Let’s look at the environment in East Asian countries on the assumption that the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Rokkasho-mura of Aomori Prefecture will accept their spent fuel.

     Korea currently has 23 nuclear reactors in operation. They have planned to construct about 20 more reactors and to raise the ratio of nuclear power generation up to 59% by 2030. It is an immense challenge for them to dispose the spent nuclear fuel. Yonhap News Agency, the largest news agency in South Korea, reported last month that Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Company had agreed to call on the U.S. to admit reprocessing used fuel in Korea.

     The U.S.- Korean Nuclear Power Pact will decide about the handling of Korea’s spent fuel in two years because Korea imports the nuclear element of uranium from America. If Korea could get the permission to reprocess their used fuel domestically, they would have at least two merits: 1) They could manufacture nuclear fuel by themselves, and 2) it would discourage North Korea, which is moving ahead with nuclear development. But the U.S. is showing reluctance to admit it because they are concerned about the possibility of Korea’s nuclear development.

     There are 15 nuclear power plants operating in China. They will construct more 26 facilities and have a total of 41 nuclear power reactors in three years. They are going to reprocess their spent fuel independently and to build a reprocessor with Areva SA in France.

     Taiwan has 6 plants and there are some possible countries and areas in Asia, such as Vietnam which has decided to import reactors from Japan, to ask Japan to dispose their spent nuclear fuel. But the reprocessing plant in Rokkasho-mura has not completed yet in spite of spending about 2.2 trillion yen.

     Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. announced on July 27th that they had finished the final test to encase high-level radioactive liquid waste after reprocessing in glass. They may solve some technically difficult problems at last, but will not be able to start to operate the reprocessor in October which is their target month. They have not completed the plant for MOX (plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel), either.

     Besides, reprocessing itself has uncertain prospects. The government provides guidelines about the ratio of dependence on nuclear energy in the future and will choose one of these: 1) 0%, 2) 15%, 3) 20~25%. If Japan chooses 1), we will not have any reasons to maintain the reprocessing plant. And if it chooses 2) or 3), we will not only reprocess the spent fuel but also bury some.

     About accepting other countries’ used nuclear fuel, Mr. Takao Ohsawa in Public Relations Office for Nuclear Energy Regions says, “We recognize the reprocessing plant in Rokkasho-mura as the place for reprocessing domestic spent fuel,” and Mr. Shigehiro Ito, the spokesman in the Tokyo Office of Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., just comments, “We’re now devoting all our effort to complete the reprocessor.”

     Japan has paid lots of money for disposing its spent fuel to England and France. Some thinks the government tries to earn money as the opposite side in spite of the fact that the reprocessing project has not progressed. Mr. Keiko Takeda, the journalist, says, “Probably the idea of overseas development on the reprocessing plant was born to extend the life of the nuclear fuel cycle project which is on the rocks, but it’s a natural evolution. It has a commercial potential because it’s too costly to reprocess the spent fuel internally for the countries which have a few nuclear power plants.”

     On the contraty, Ms. Masako Sawai in Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center opposes against the recommendation saying, “We don’t have any corroborating technical evidences to reprocess the used nuclear fuel. So we shouldn’t accept other countries’ ones irresponsibly. Does the government think that they can sell nuclear reactors with reprocessing system to other countries?” She also appeals, “The countries which buys nuclear power systems from Japan will have plutonium produced by reprocessing fuel. It’ll be a problem from a standpoint of non-proliferation. We haven’t solved the issue of reprocessing our own spent nuclear fuel yet. We also haven’t progressed handling of the nuclear accident in Fukushima yet. Under these circumstances, the idea will just heighten chaos.”

"Hosono Paper" – A Report about Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing – Part 1 : Reprocess other countries’ spent nuclear fuel, too?


     This is an article of the Chunichi (August 3) on a report of the nuclear fuel cycle plan written by a private consultative body of Mr. Goshi Hosono, the Minister for the Restoration from and Prevention of Nuclear Accident. The original is written in Japanese.

     The nuclear fuel cycle program of Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. in Rokkasho-mura of Aomori Prefecture is an unavoidable issue amid the discussion of nuclear power dependence ratio. Despite of the fact that the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant remains incomplete, a report which is an attempt to extend the plan in the name of internationalization has been submitted to Minister Hosono. It demands a drastic reform, but also mentions the acceptance of other countries’ spent nuclear fuel.

     The report is called “Hosono Paper” and written about the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Rokkasho-mura. The title is “The verification and reformation of nuclear fuel cycle”. It claims that the government should lead the discussion about the nuclear fuel cycle program and advance the reform boldly. The nuclear fuel reprocessing plant has not completed yet since it started 19 years ago, and “Monju” the fast-breeder reactor also has not been finished after spending 27 years trying to use it actually. So, the report preaches about the need for the verification of the management structure and the business strategy of Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. In addition, it advocates the internationalization of nuclear fuel cycle, and demands considering that the reprocessing plant in Rokkasho-mura can accept spent nuclear fuel from other countries such as Korea and Vietnam, which is going to start nuclear power generation newly, from the viewpoint of international non-proliferation and the peaceful use of atomic energy.

     Minister Hosono’s private consultative body made the report at the end of May. The leader of the organization is Mr. Tetsuya Endo, 77, who used to be an ex-diplomat and the chairman of the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He says, “I suggested the internationalization of nuclear fuel cycle project at an argument with Mr. Hosono at the end of last year, when he asked me to think about it mainly internationalization.” Then he started a study group with other three specialists to examine the issue of the nuclear fuel cycle.

     “Without reprocessing the spent nuclear fuel, where can we bury them here in Japan?” Mr. Endo and his group members suppose promoting the nuclear fuel cycle project, and suggest that the government should be involved in the management reform because they think that the executive officers from power companies of Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. and Japan Atomic Energy Agency have little sense of belonging to their companies in their report.

     About the internationalization, it will be very difficult. Japan needs the agreement from America because of the Japan-U.S. nuclear energy pact, and Korea won’t agree to reprocess their spent nuclear fuel in Rokkasho-mura since they want to accumulate the technology. Moreover, it is necessary to gain a consensus from Aomori Prefecture, too. However, they think there is a possibility to internationalize the reprocessing by involving IAEA because they believe that the number of nuclear power plants will increase in mainly developing countries and the problems of spent fuel will be more serious in the near future.

     After the accident in Fukushima, many people are demanding no-nuke society. But Mr. Endo and his group say it is unrealistic not to operate the reprocessing plant because Japan already has lots of outstanding spent nuclear fuel. Besides they claim that Japan is the only country which has got the permission for reprocessing among non-nuclear nations. They warn that Japan would never have the right if the country once let it go. Can “Internationalization” become a rationale for continuation of the nuclear fuel cycle amid growing demand for denuclearization?

Buddhist Monks at Eiheiji Temple Raise an Alarm over Nuclear Power: Cherish Our Lives – The way of living that we don’t choose nuclear power generation.


PK2011100702100109_size0      This is today’s article on the Chunichi. (Translated by moshimoshimo)

     Buddhist Monks at Eiheiji Temple Raise an Alarm over Nuclear Power

     Some priests at Eiheiji Temple, which is one of the head temples of Soto Zen (school) in Fukui Prefecture, hosted a symposium on denuclearization on November 2nd. On the other hand, the Noda Administration has resumed operation at the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant (Kyusyu Electric Power Company) and reconfirmed the export of nuclear power generation system to Vietnam. Supporters of nuclear power plants are now hitting rewind, but the symposium with citizens and Buddhist monks might trigger a change in our way of living.

     The elegant image of Guanyin, the Mercy Goddess, on the wall scroll in the middle of the stage was attracting the attention of the audience. There burning incense sticks and candles were in front of the picture, and the sound of reciting the sutras was filled with the place. The symposium – Cherish Our Lives ~ The Way of Living that We don’t Choose Nuclear Power Generation~ began.

     About 300 people including priests got together at the place. The speakers were Mr. Kenichi Hasegawa, 58, the cattle farmer in Fukushima, and Tetsuen Nakajima, 69, the chief priest at Myotsuji Temple in Fukui, who has kept on leading the movement against nuclear power generation for more than 40 years.

     Mr. Hasegawa told about lives in Iidate-mura village, Fukushima after the accident, showing images on the screen. “When I measured radiation dose around my house, the meter indicated over 100 micro Sv and went off the scale. Nevertheless, the government forbid me to say anything about the high levels of radiation to people and invited some experts who just kept saying, “It’s safe,” and they never let people evacuate.”

     He made a heartbreaking decision to destroy his cattle and leave his hometown. He has lost everything he has built for 35 years of his life. One of his friends, who was also a cattle farmer, hang himself, leaving the dying message, “If there had be no nuclear power plant…” An old man at the age of 102 killed himself because he did not want to act as a drag when his family took shelter. As Mr. Hasegawa was talking, some people sobbed in the audience. “Pigs are eating bodies of starved cows. That’s the actual condition in Iidate now,” said Mr. Hasegawa.

     Next, Priest Nakajima pointed out the “sin” of the nuclear power plant which has made more than 470,000 workers exposed to radiation for 40 years. He claimed, “At the root of this problem, Japan has walked the path of modernization by making “Escaping Asia for Europe” its national policy without looking at the negative side. We should start with transforming our societies away from being wasters of energy.”

     Mrs. Yoko Watanabe, 62, a participant at the symposium in Fukui, said, “Many meetings for anti-nuke have been held here and there, but today’s one is meaningful because it’s held by a Buddhist temple.” There are, however, many nuclear power plants along Wakasa Bay, and lots of Soto Zen believers work at those plants. That is why, most people involved in the nuclear power plants said in a passive tone about denuclearization.

     Some journalists asked the relation between Eiheiji Temple and the nuclear power plants at the news conference after the symposium. There is an episode about naming the prototype fast-breeder reactor Monju and the advanced thermal reactor Fugen. Both reactors are in Fukui Prefecture, and Monju and Fugen are names of Bodhisattvas. The previous chairman of Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation has visited the temple and said, “We named the reactors Monju and Fugen because we want to get the power from those Bodhisattvas.” At that time, the Zen Master at the temple replied, “That’s nice.” Journalists asked the temple, “Does it mean the temple accepted the nuclear power plants?” Priest Matsubara answered to the question, “No, we don’t think so. But it is true that we have not done anything about the nuclear power generation. We have realized that the nuclear power generation goes against life on the earth.”

     Priest Wajo Kansya in Fukuoka Prefecture, acclaimed the symposium, saying, “It’s unprecedented. I think Eiheiji Temple did a great thing.” He leads denuclearization under his wife influence, who published a book on anti-nuke after the nuclear accident in Chernobyl in 1987. He said, “The movement of rethinking about the nuclear power generation has begun in the world of Buddhists, not only in Soto Zen. I have a high degree of expectation for the movement.”

Save Subcontract Workers: The dangerous permissible exposure to radiation level and inadequate emergency medicine system at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima


exposed workers      Providing electricity is of increasing concern without nuclear power generation as it’s becoming hotter and hotter here in Japan. The government has no intension of stopping all of the nuclear power plants, but citizens don’t want to rely on atomic power generation anymore. The issue of Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant hasn’t still settled yet… I’ll translate an article on the plant into English below…

     This is an article of the Chunichi on June 1: There has been no end in sight of the issue in Fukushima First Nuclear Power Plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company yet. Fuel of Unit 1 Reactor has been leaking from the pressure vessel since the accident on March 11, and the contaminated water has been increasing. Unit 4 Reactor’s spent fuel pool is approaching its limit. The power plant is also facing a labor shortage. The subcontracts have been forced to be exposed to radiation without safe control. In the summer, the work environment must become worse. We need manpower. It’s urgent to establish safety management.

     If you search in some job offer websites on the Internet, you’ll find some information in which places of work are Futaba, or Okuma in Fukushima Prefecture. In those two small towns, Fukushima First Nuclear Power Plant is built. The job information is making no mention of “the nuclear power plant”, but it’s obvious those employment offers must be related to the plant. According to the information, the jobs are operators for remote-controlled robots, electrical workers, and common labors, and so on. The wage is dependent on the job, but it’s around 130,000 to 240,000 yen a month to common labors. 


★Health Hazardsnagao

     It is expected to take a long term to settle the issue and concerned to have adequate human resources for it in Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. The biggest obstacle, however, is a problem of exposure. Usually permissible exposure level is less than 50 mSv a year and less than 100 mSV in five years, but it has changed up to 250 mSv a year as an emergency measure since the accident. But Ms. Mikiko Watanabe in Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center has declared, “It’s terribly high level and unacceptable.” According to the center, 10 people who used to work in nuclear power plants have already been admitted as victims of industrial accidents. The late Mitsuaki Nagao, one of them, suffered from multiple myeloma. He was exposed to 70 mSv of radiation in about four years. Even a person, who was exposed to 40 mSv of radiation, has been admitted as a victim. It is clear the present scale is how lax and dangerous.



     Most of the victims are subcontract workers. According to the data in 2009 of Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, subcontract workers were about 75,000 in 85,000 of the workers in Japan’s nuclear power plants. Mr. Kenji Higuchi, the cameraman who has interviewed workers in nuclear power stations for about 40 years, says, “Someone have to enter into the atomic reactors, and only subcontract workers do such dangerous tasks. It’s common that sub-sub contractors and sub-sub-sub contractors do the job. Japan’s all nuclear power plants are built on the sacrifice of those people.”

     According to Professor Takeo Kinoshita of Showa Women’s University, Tokyo Electric Power Company progressed contract work system in 1960’s. Their employees had worked on power poles, but some of them sometimes died from electricity and the workers’ injuries became their problem. Their union has demanded to use contract workers at dangerous places instead of them and then they have started using service contract for dangerous tasks.

     Mr. Higuchi says, “There’s discrimination that they treat nuclear plant workers as unpersons. This issue has been neglected for more than 40 years. If this discrimination existed, it would be difficult to gather workers in nuclear plants. And if there was no stringent radiation protection, workers would be afraid of health damage. Real tragedy of that accident will start due to exposure to radiation and labor shortage.”robot

     Mr. Youichi Masuzoe, a member of the Upper House and the former Health Minister, says, “Workers in Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant had insufficient food and place to rest at first. It looked like Imperial Japanese Army.” He pointed out at the Upper House Budget Committee last April that the workers at Fukushima Plant would need to store their own hematopoietic stem cells to save their lives. But the Prime Minister Naoto Kan rejected his opinion and just said, “They should be careful not to exposure to high dose of radiation to prevent that happening.” Mr. Masuzoe is irate and says, “It’s disregard for human life. If the prime minister had to go to the plant, he would pick up cells on ahead. We should never make workers become “kamikaze pilots”.” A worker in his 60’s died from a heart attack at the plant last May. Mr. Masuzoe has stressed the need for emergency medical system as well. 


★Urgent Proposal

     Medical front also says the necessity for the workers’ health condition. Professor Masahiro Kami of the Institute of Medical Science in the University of Tokyo, says, “Workers whose parents have had cancers increase anxiety. It’s necessary for them to have medical checkups and counseling. If we had heard from the worker who died from a heart attack on his condition in advance, we might have prevented the attack.” The Health Ministry has established a management office for making a database of workers’ exposure level. But Professor M. Kami has pointed out, “It’s meaningless unless experts check and care the workers.” Professor T. Kinoshita of Showa Women’s University has appealed that the Health Ministry should send the labor standard inspector or set the consultation service.


★Local Input

     According to a subcontractor, which has sent workers to Fukushima First and Second Nuclear Power Plant, it’s expected to have a labor shortage this summer. There is not another place that hot except for the plant. Goggles are steamed and you can’t see anything there. If the reactors are covered by sheets, the temperature will soar up. No one will be able to stand it. Some construction companies have started declined works related to Tokyo Electric Power Company. Equipments are construction companies’. They don’t want their things to get contaminated by radiation because they can’t use them at other places anymore and TEPCO has never mentioned about compensation. Now workers at the nuclear plant have dosimeters, but they turn them off. If they didn’t switch them off, the alarm would start to ring instantly and they couldn’t do anything. Their protective clothing is ineffective in external exposure. No one write the real number of exposure level on the note. If they wrote the truth, their permissible exposure level would cross the bounds and they wouldn’t be able to work soon. TEPCO used not to use workers in 60’s before, but most of the workers are in the generation now because they can easily avoid having the issue of work related death. The actual condition is common knowledge among workers, but no one appeals that because they are afraid of putting others in trouble. Now workers in the power plant are pinched for money or are driven by a sense of mission. It’s a matter of time there to face shortage of manpower.

Egregious Practices on the Construction Site of the Nuclear Power Plant: Witness of an ex-engineer



     “It’s an absolute lie that nuclear power plants have been built with cutting-edge engineering,” said Mr. Yoichi Kikuchi, the ex-engineer engaged in the construction of the Reactor 6 of Fukushima First Nuclear Power Plant, in an interview with a journalist of the Chunichi. This is the shocking article about the nuclear plant on the newspaper on 15th. I’ve translated it into English as below:

     “I don’t know when and where severe accidents occur, but it’s inevitable, and it’s happened to be in Fukushima. That’s all.” Mr. Kikuchi is seeing the accident of Fukushima First Nuclear Power Plant, which has been out of control by loss of power, coolly at his home in Kushima, Miyazaki Prefecture.

     He was born in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, which has been destroyed by the tsunami caused by the Great Northeastern Japan Earthquake this time. After graduating the university, he had done consulting work on construction, but got a job with U.S’s General Electric Company (GE) in 1973 because an acquaintance of his asked him, saying “Give assistance to the peaceful uses of atomic energy.”

     Mr. Kikuchi has engaged in building the Reactor 6 of Fukushima First Nuclear Power Plant and Japan Atomic Power Company’s Tokai Second Nuclear Power Plant (Tokai-mura in Ibaraki Prefecture) for about seven years until 1980 when he left the company. Fukushima First uses boiling light-water reactors, which was designed by GE but was built by Japan’s builders. He was the administrator of schedule for the construction and had to complete the buildings within the assignment timetable. It took four years for building a nuclear reactor at that time. He was involved in Tokai Power Plant for 4 years and Fukushima for the last one year. “The atomic technology wasn’t established at all at that time. Everything was reckless and wild.”

Unskilled Workers

     According to him, changing plats always happened. “We couldn’t go ahead with planned action at the actual construction. We had to rewrite plats many times.” They sometimes juggled the construction with brute-force construction technique. They spent 6 billion yen for the Reactor 6.

     There were many sloppy works at the construction site as well. Most workers urinated in the bottom of the nuclear containment vessel of the Reactor 6 when they were building it. It was troublesome for them to go up to the toilet at the top of the vessel. There were quite number of unskilled workers, and some of them worked muttering, “I have no confidence.” “All of them weren’t workmanlike. Many of them just wanted to go home for the day.”

     Most of workers didn’t report their mistakes to builders or Tokyo Electric Power Company. If they had talked to them the truth, they would have lost their jobs next time. Naturally, flaws which might cause severe accidents lie neglected. Mr. Kikuchi has found a serious flaw at the Reactor 6. It was a pipe where a stopcock for investigation was bulging 1.8 cm inside. If there were bulging parts inside, the circulation couldn’t go smoothly and fractures might happen suddenly. He reported to the quality control manager, but the problem became “unqualified”. “No one had noticed until I found it out. There were many things we shouldn’t have done nonchalantly.”

Risk of Exposure c175e705

     Mr. Kikuchi has engaged in the repair work on Fukushima First Nuclear Power Plant before. According to him, there were always risks of exposure to radiation at the site.

     Workers cleaned the contaminated vessel after the spent nuclear fuel rod was removed from the nuclear reactor pressure vessel. They went into it by an iron gondola and washed inside with a hose. The diameter of the pressure vessel is about six meters. The gondola was swaying by the water pressure. Mr. Kikuchi has been to the top of the vessel. “I was scared. I bet the workers felt more scared. People don’t know about the reality of the situation on exposure to radiation.” The repair work was sealing a crack at the joint between the pressure vessel and the pipe. Pipes shake while the reactor is working. “There’s often a crack without noticing. It may be natural because of the sloppy works.”

     Mr. Kikuchi has engaged in constructions of oil factories in Middle East after leaving GE, but nuclear power plants stuff has been burned into his brain. “I had a nightmare about an accident of nuclear power plants almost every night. In the dream, the pipe of the pressure vessel breaks suddenly and…” He has begun joining in anti-nuke movements since the accident occurred at Fukushima Second Nuclear Power Plant in 1989. He couldn’t help appealing the risk of nuclear power generation. “Neither the government nor the electric power companies understand the reality situation of the nuclear power plants.”

Concerned about Hamaoka

     The containment vessels of the Reactors 1 to 5 at Fukushima First Nuclear Power Plant are called Mark I and have flask-like forms, the Reactor 6, in which Mr. Kikuchi has been involved, is called Mark II and has a bell shape. Fukushima Second’s Reactor 1 to 4 and Kasiwazaki-Kariwa’s 1 to 7 are Mark II. It’s revealed that Mark I has more load than expected if a severe accident happens because it is small in capacity. Mark II is 1.6 times in capacity. “Mark II is much safer than Mark I, but they have built five Mark I vessels one after another. It was a big mistake.”

     So, are there no problems in Mark II? “Designers of GE concern about severe accidents sufficiently, though Japan’s government and the electric power companies just say, ’Nuclear Power Plants are safe.’ However, the measure for safety of Mark II is not enough because no one could save it once the reactor became out of control. It’s wrong to think to try to save it. If it’s possible for the purpose of calculation, we are behind in construction technology.”

     Mr. Kikuchi had lived in Shizuoka for a year in 2002 for appealing for stopping Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant, which would be damaged by Tokai Earthquake in the near future. He is now living in Kushima to block a project of construction of a nuclear power plant of Kyushu Electric Power Company. He is worried about Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant. “If an inland earthquake hit there, Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant couldn’t stand. Its damage could be more catastrophic than Fukushima.”

Save Japan: I Wish I Could Use Magic! Popopopon!


     The situation is getting worse and worse after the greatest earthquake, which hit Japan on March 11, on record. According to the National Police Agency, as of 10 o’clock in the morning of the 29th, the number of dead is 11.063, missing is 18.321, and people taking shelter is over 181.000. Miyagi prefecture has 6744 deaths, the greatest number of dead, and has a large amount of rubbles which is equivalent to its quantity of refuse of 23 years.

     Plutonium has been detected in the ground of Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, which means fuel rod failure clearly. Some bodies found within 10 km of the facility cannot be retrieved because they are contaminated with high level of radiation. Fields and water sources are also radiation-polluted. Many people can’t use the tap water and either sell or buy vegetables, fruits, and milk in Kanto area. Tokyo Electric Power Company hasn’t been able to control its nuclear reactors yet…

     Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures have suffered from liquefaction damage. A lot of people cannot use either the tap water or sewerage still now because the liquefaction phenomenon has destroyed pipes underground. So, some of them cannot use the gas, either. Tokyo Disney Land is in Chiba prefecture and they have no prospects for restarting. Its vast parking lot has become rough and been covered sand spewed from the earth. In addition, they need a great amount of electric power, but now power has been cut because of the huge trouble of Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

     Because of all the gloom, most of the companies in Japan have stopped advertising on TV. So, all the commercial TV stations have aired spots made by AC (Advertising Council Japan) instead of usual CMs. Recently AC has released some new spots made after the quake because many people complained about same ones repeated over again and again, but before that there were about five kinds. That’s why, most Japanese have been able to sing a song, and many of them sometimes must be singing the song unconsciously. It’s called “Aisatsu no maho”, or magic of greetings.


Thank you,

Magic words will bring you

Many wonderful friends,


     The song has soothed people in spited of this tragic situation… Ah! If I could use magic like this song, I would stop and cool the nuclear reactors, wipe out harmful radiation, and put everything back into place! Popopopon!

The Northeastern Japan Earthquake: We will recover from this crisis soon! -Operation Yashima and Ueshima


地震      The Northeastern Japan Earthquake hit on March 11 when I thought I was going to write something on this page. I felt something strange in my room around 2:45 in the afternoon. It was as if something blocked my ears suddenly. Earthquake! I thought that, but the shakiness didn’t come soon. So, I started thinking I was wrong, when it came very slowly like a huge snake slithering underground. The quake was felt for about three minutes. I’ve never experienced such a long and powerful earthquake before. The quake with the magnitude 9.0 is the largest in Japan since records began in 1879.

     Next morning, it was revealed that things were getting worse and worse. Not only the earthquake itself but also tsunami triggered by the quake have destroyed many towns and killed a great number of people. Moreover, the earthquake and the tsunami have severely damaged the Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima. According to a report today of March 26, 10.151 people are dead, and 17.053 are missing, and 17 workers at the power plant were radiation-exposed. The number must increase day by day. 原発

     Japan and Tokyo Electric Power Company haven’t controlled the nuclear reactors yet, and which have leaked radiation. Various sources of rivers, fields and the ocean are radioactivity-contaminated, and numerous people are facing lack of water. Lots of farmers have been ordered to stop shipping vegetables in Kanto area because of the radiation pollution. That’s why people who are not disaster victims cannot get water, vegetables and many supplies easily in Japan. 

     Kanto area including the Tokyo metropolitan district has been forced to cut powers. It is taking a huge toll on not only economies but also daily lives. So, now we are working on ways to save electricity. It is called Yashima Sakusen, or Operation Yashima in the youth. It means saving electricity, for example, disconnecting unnecessary plugs from the wall outlet, or avoiding cooking and taking a bath in evening, when many people use the power. eva

     The name of Yashima Sakusen (Operation Yashima) comes from an episode of “Neon Genesis Evangelion”, a Japanese animation in 1995. In the story, robots operated by boys and girls inside fight to enemies. In the episode six, the robots base faces power shortage, and it collects power from all over Japan, and then robots defeat the enemy. It is called “Yashima Sakusen (Operatin Yashima)” in the animation. So, you may find notices like “We are saving electricity by Operation Yashima” here and there in Japan. By the way, the word of Yashima is a place name and the original operation in the animation comes from an old war in Japan in 1185.

     Actually, there is another ダチョウcampaign called Ueshima Sakusen (Operation Ueshima) among young people. It means stopping panic buying. After the earthquake, many people have started buying up, such as pet bottled water, flashlights, dry cell batteries, rice, dried noodles, rice cake, instant rice, crackers, cookies, canned foods, toilet paper, tissue paper, diapers, and fuel etc…It’s difficult to buy those above even outside devastated area now. Ueshima Sakusen (Operation Ueshima) appeals people, especially for elders, not to buy things if you don’t need them really.

     The name of Ueshima Sakusen made after Yashima Sakusen. Ueshima is a member of a comic trio named Dacho Club. “Dozo, dozo,” is one of their gag lines. “Dozo, dozo,” means “Please go ahead.” Other two members, Higo and Jimon, bid for something difficult or nasty mission, saying “Me! Me!” while Ueshima is hesitating to volunteer. But Ueshima raises a hand and says, “Me!” in spite of himself later. Then the rest of the two start saying, “Go ahead, please,” and let Ueshima do the mission. So, the campaign suggests giving over.  折りヅル

     Radiation leak is not only a domestic problem. It’s a big issue for all over the world. I hope those nuclear power plant will be under control as soon as possible.The current situation in Japan is really disastrous and people are far from over. But we haven’t forgotten smiles and humors yet as you see above. Japan is now trying to get back on its feet with support of a great number of countries and areas and people. Thank you for your help and support.