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The year 2016 will be special for all those fighting anti-nuclear campaigns. The 11th of March will be the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, and the 26th of April will be the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.
Many groups and people are already preparing activities, publications and actions to mark these anniversaries. We invite artists, journalists, teachers, photographers, musicians, scientists, researchers, filmmakers, politicians, activists and concerned citizens to share with us their ideas and plans. We will start working on the best possible overview of what will be happening around the world.
We hope to help activists and local organizers by bringing ideas and networks together. If for instance a group in France invites a speaker from Japan and we know a group in the UK also wants to have a Japanese speaker, we hope to be able to connect the dots and improve efficiency and make best use of limited resources.
Please share with us your ideas, questions, requests and plans.
− Peer de Rijk, Director WISE
mobile: + 31 6 20 000 626
ph: + 31 20 612 63 68
There were 54 reactors operating before Fukushima, reduced to 43 with the permanent shutdown of the six Fukushima Daiichi reactors and five others. Of the 43 'operable' reactors, the Sendai 1 reactor restarted on August 11 but the outlook for Japan's nuclear power industry remains bleak according to a Reuters analysis.1 The analysis was based on reactor inspection data from the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), court rulings, and interviews with local authorities, utilities and energy experts. Reuters predicts the of the 42 operable-but-not-operating reactors, seven will restart in the next few years (half the number predicted in a similar survey last year), nine are unlikely to ever restart, and the fate of the remaining 26 is uncertain. Former World Nuclear Industry Association executive Steve Kidd said in June 2015 that if "more than half of the 43 operable units return to service, it may be regarded as a good result."2
TEPCO's plan to restart reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa − the largest nuclear power plant in the world (seven reactors, 8.2 gigawatts) − remains stalled due to local opposition led by Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida. On August 24, after meeting with NRA chair Shunichi Tanaka, Izumida repeated his stance that a full investigation is needed into the Fukushima disaster before restarts can be considered. He is calling for the NRA to reinstate the use of an emergency response system known as SPEEDI, used to predict the spread of radiation and to facilitate evacuation planning in the event of an accident.3 In October 2013, Izumida said TEPCO must address its "institutionalized lying" before it can expect to restart reactors.4
Decontamination and waste
The clean-up of sites contaminated by radioactive fallout from the Fukushima disaster is proceeding slowly and has a long way to go. In some regions, radiation doses rise again after decontamination because little or no effort has been made to decontaminate surrounding forests, and radioactive materials are transported from the forests by wind and rain.5
Plans to dispose of the vast amounts of contaminated material from decontamination operations continue to face obstacles. Across the entire evacuation zone, workers have already filled 2.9 million bags.6 The government plans to build landfill facilities for final disposal of radioactive waste in five prefectures − Tochigi, Miyagi, Chiba, Gunma and Ibaraki prefectures − which lack the capacity to dispose of such waste at existing facilities.7
On August 29, about 2,700 residents of Shioya, Tochigi Prefecture, gathered to oppose the government's plan to dispose of waste near the town. In Tochigi, waste is currently stored at about 170 different locations on a temporary basis.7 On September 1, residents of three Miyagi Prefecture towns barred the entry of Environment Ministry officials seeking to carry out survey work for waste disposal.8 People in the towns of Kami, Kurihara and Taiwa stalled the officials' plan to conduct geological surveys, holding banners and signs and yelling "Protect children's future!" and "Get lost!" Plans to start surveys near the towns have been stalled since October 2014, when Environment Ministry officials began visiting them.
Two towns in the Futaba area, Okuma and Futaba, have agreed to accept interim storage facilities, and the shipment of radioactive wastes into the area has begun. But there has been almost no progress acquiring land for this, however, and difficulties are expected in negotiations with land owners.5
In mid-2015 Greenpeace conducted a radiation survey and sampling program in the district of Iitate, which covers more than 200 square kilometers north-west of the Fukushima nuclear plant. Even after decontamination, radiation levels are higher than background in some areas, with typical readings equating to annual doses of 10 mSv/year.9
Jan Vande Putte, radiation specialist with Greenpeace Belgium, said: "Prime Minister Abe would like the people of Japan to believe that they are decontaminating vast areas of Fukushima to levels safe enough for people to live in. The reality is that this is a policy doomed to failure. The forests of Iitate are a vast stock of radioactivity that will remain both a direct hazard and source of potential recontamination for hundreds of years. It's impossible to decontaminate."9
Despite the clean-up efforts, only about one-fifth of the 6,200 displaced residents of Iitate are willing to return, according to a recent survey by town officials. The mayor of Iitate, Norio Kanno, admits that farmers will probably not be allowed to grow food in Iitate for many years to come but says the town is drawing up plans to help them switch to flowers and other crops not for human consumption.6
Among regions where the entire population was forced to evacuate after the nuclear disaster in March 2011, Naraha is the first town to allow all of its residents to return permanently. In early September 2015, the government lifted the evacuation order for the town, but only about 10% of 7,368 registered residents are expected to return.10
Resettlement of evacuees
A Cabinet resolution − 'Towards Acceleration of Fukushima's Recovery from the Nuclear Accident' − was passed on June 12, as was a plan to accelerate clean-up work in contaminated zones. The government's plan would allow two-thirds of evacuees to return by March 2017, the sixth anniversary of the disaster.6
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on June 12: "There is no revitalization of Japan without the reconstruction of Fukushima. It is our responsibility to ensure that the over 110,000 people who are still living as evacuees as a result of the nuclear disaster return to their hometowns as quickly as possible and start new lives."11 Abe pointed to the lifting of evacuation orders for Tamura City and Kawauchi Village, and some progress towards the establishment of interim radioactive waste storage facilities. Nevertheless, he said, "there are still many issues that we must address before we can achieve true reconstruction."
On the basis of the June 12 government announcements, three days later the Fukushima Prefecture mapped out a policy of ending the provision of free temporary housing and privately leased housing by March 2017. TEPCO announced on June 17 that it plans to end compensation for psychological damage to residents of the areas for which evacuation orders had been lifted by March 2018.12
Thus evacuees are facing another injustice. Those relying on subsidised accommodation and compensation payments will have no choice but to return to their previous homes − in areas that are still contaminated and are largely bereft of industry, infrastructure and services.
As the Tokyo-based Citizens Nuclear Information Center noted, the government is "attempting to further strengthen policies of effectively abandoning people to their own devices under the nice-sounding names of 'new life support' and 'support for independence and rebuilding of businesses, livelihoods and lives.'"12
More than 10,000 citizens (mostly evacuees) have joined at least 20 class-action lawsuits against the government and TEPCO. Many are seeking more compensation so they can afford to choose whether to return to their former home-towns or to build new lives elsewhere.6
"This is likely to become a long battle where lawsuits go on for several decades or half a century," said Shunichi Teranishi, a professor emeritus of environmental economics at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo.13
In May, the Federation of Nuclear Accident Victims' Organizations was founded. It consists of 13 organizations, including 10 groups throughout Japan and three observer groups. The Federation says its goals are to "obtain an apology to the victims from TEPCO and Japan's government," to "ensure the victims are completely compensated and can recover their lives and livelihoods," as well as "implementation of detailed medical examinations for the victims, with medical security and reduction of exposure levels," and "pursuit of responsibility for the accident."14
The biggest class action, with 4,000 plaintiffs, seeks to hold TEPCO's liable by proving negligence under Japan's civil law, rather than simply proving harm and seeking compensation.13
Another lawsuit involves 534 residents of Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture, who are challenging the legality of the 20 mSv/year radiation dose limit. The government is encouraging resettlement of areas where annual doses are expected to fall below that level, which is 20 times greater than the pre-Fukushima limit of 1 mSv/year from anthropogenic sources (and about 10 times greater than typical background levels).15
Japanese authorities said in late July that they would move forward with cases against three former TEPCO executives. Prosecutors had twice rejected requests to indict the executives, but a review board overruled their decision and ordered that charges be brought. "We had given up hope that there would be a criminal trial," said Ruiko Muto, who leads the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Plaintiffs Group, an umbrella organization representing about 15,000 people, including residents displaced by the accident and their supporters.16
The three executives are Tsunehisa Katsumata, 75, the chair of TEPCO at the time of the accident, and two former heads of the utility's nuclear division, Sakae Muto, 65, and Ichiro Takekuro, 69. They will be charged with professional negligence resulting in death. A first trial is not expected to start until 2016 at the earliest. The forced disclosure of an internal 2008 TEPCO may affect the lawsuits. The report called for TEPCO to prepare for a worse tsunami than it previously assumed, based on experts' views. The internal document stated: "Considering that it is difficult to completely reject the opinions given thus far of academic experts on earthquakes and tsunami, as well as the expertise of the (government's) Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion, it is unavoidable to have tsunami countermeasures that assume a higher tsunami than at present."13
In another lawsuit, Toshiba Corp., Hitachi Ltd. and General Electric Co. face a claim in the Tokyo District Court lodged by citizens trying to hold them to account for the Fukushima disaster. The manufacturers deny any legal obligation, citing legislation which gives manufacturers immunity from compensation claims, but plaintiffs claim that the law violates the Constitution and is therefore invalid. Under the product liability law and other laws, plaintiffs are demanding a token payment of ¥100 each.7
1. Kentaro Hamada and Aaron Sheldrick / Reuters, 1 Sept 2015, 'Japan nuclear power outlook bleak despite first reactor restart', www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/01/us-japan-nuclear-restarts-analysis-id...
For details on the 42 operable-but-not-operating reactors, see Kentaro Hamada and Aaron Sheldrick, 31 Aug 2015, 'FACTBOX − Outlook for Japan nuclear reactor restarts', www.cnbc.com/2015/08/31/reuters-america-factbox-outlook-for-japan-nuclea...
2. Steve Kidd, 24 June 2015, 'Japan – what is the future for nuclear power?', Nuclear Engineering International, www.neimagazine.com/opinion/opinionjapan-what-is-the-future-for-nuclear-...
3. 24 Aug 2015, 'Tepco bid to restart Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant stymied by governor', www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/08/24/national/tepco-bid-restart-kashiwaz...
4. Antoni Slodkowski and Kentaro Hamada, 29 Oct 2013, 'Tepco can't yet be trusted to restart world's biggest nuclear plant: governor', http://planetark.org/enviro-news/item/70199
5. Akira Hino, 2 June 2015, 'Fukushima's Educational Facilities', Nuke Info Tokyo No. 166 (May/June 2015), www.cnic.jp/english/?p=3082
6. Martin Fackler, 8 Aug 2015, '4 Years After Fukushima Nuclear Calamity, Japanese Divided on Whether to Return', www.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/world/asia/japan-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-i...
7. 29 Aug 2015, 'Tochigi town residents rally against selection as candidate site for final disposal of radiation-tainted waste', www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/08/29/national/plant-makers-deny-responsi...
8. 1 Sept 2015, 'Miyagi residents physically block officials from surveying proposed nuke waste dump sites', www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/09/01/national/residents-proposed-miyagi-...
9. Greenpeace, 21 July 2015, 'Greenpeace investigation exposes failure of Fukushima decontamination program', www.greenpeace.org/japan/ja/news/press/2015/pr20150721/20150721-Press-Re...
10. ABC, 5 Sept 2015, 'Fukushima: Japan lifts evacuation order for radiation-hit Naraha town four years after nuclear disaster', www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-05/japan-lifts-evacuation-order-for-radiatio...
11. 12 June 2015, 'Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters', http://japan.kantei.go.jp/97_abe/actions/201506/12article1.html
12. CNIC, 6 Aug 2015, 'Accelerated Resident Repatriation Policy', News Watch 167 July/Aug 2015 -Nuke Info Tokyo No. 167, www.cnic.jp/english/?p=3137#4
13. Kentaro Hamada, 17 Aug 2015, 'Fukushima operator's mounting legal woes to fuel nuclear opposition', http://in.reuters.com/article/2015/08/17/us-japan-nuclear-tepco-legal-id...
14. CNIC, 6 Aug 2015, 'Establishment of the Federation of Nuclear Accident Victims' Organizations', News Watch 167 July/Aug 2015 -Nuke Info Tokyo No. 167, www.cnic.jp/english/?p=3137#8
15. CNIC, 6 Aug 2015, 'Minamisoma Residents File Lawsuit Requesting Lifting of Evacuation Encouragement Points be Rescinded', News Watch 167 July/Aug 2015 -Nuke Info Tokyo No. 167, www.cnic.jp/english/?p=3137#6
16. Jonathan Soble, 31 July 2015, '3 Former Executives to Be Prosecuted in Fukushima Nuclear Disaster', www.nytimes.com/2015/08/01/world/asia/3-former-tepco-executives-to-be-pr...
New emerging evidence from Fukushima shows that nuclear disasters and their aftermaths kill thousands of people due to necessary evacuations. In future, these deaths from ill-heath and suicides should be included in assessments of the fatalities from nuclear disasters. In sum, the human toll from Fukushima is horrendous: 2,000 Japanese people have died from the evacuations and another 5,000 are expected to die from future cancers.
Deaths from necessary evacuations
Official data from Fukushima show that nearly 2,000 people died from the effects of evacuations necessary to avoid high radiation exposures from the disaster, including suicides.1
The uprooting to unfamiliar areas, cutting of family ties, loss of social support networks, disruption, exhaustion, poor physical conditions and disorientation can and do result in many people, in particular older people, dying.
Increased suicide have occurred among younger and older people following the Fukushima evacuations, but the trends are unclear.2
A Japanese Cabinet Office report stated that, between March 2011 and July 2014, 56 suicides in Fukushima Prefecture were linked to the nuclear accident.3 This should be taken as a minimum, rather than a maximum, figure.
Mental health consequences
It is necessary to include the mental health consequences of radiation exposures and evacuations. For example, Becky Martin has stated her PhD research at Southampton University in the UK shows that "most significant impacts of radiation emergencies are often in our minds".
She adds "... imagine that you've been informed that your land, your water, the air that you have breathed may have been polluted by a deadly and invisible contaminant. Something with the capacity to take away your fertility, or affect your unborn children. Even the most resilient of us would be concerned ... many thousands of radiation emergency survivors have subsequently gone on to develop Post-Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety disorders as a result of their experiences and the uncertainty surrounding their health."4
It is likely that these fears, anxieties, and stresses will act to magnify the effects of evacuations, resulting in even more old people dying or people committing suicide.
The above sections should not be taken as arguments against evacuations: they are an important, life-saving strategy. But, as argued by Becky Martin, "we need to provide greatly improved social support following resettlement and extensive long-term psychological care to all radiation emergency survivors, to improve their health outcomes and preserve their futures".
Untoward pregnancy outcomes
Recently, Dr Alfred Körblein from Nuremburg in Germany noticed a 15% drop (statistically speaking, highly significant) in the numbers of live births in Fukushima Prefecture in December 2011, i.e. nine months after the accident.5 This might point to higher rates of early spontaneous abortions. He also observed a (statistically significant) 20% increase in the infant mortality rate in 2012, relative to the long-term trend in Fukushima Prefecture plus six surrounding prefectures. These are indicative rather than definitive findings and need to be verified by further studies. Unfortunately, such studies are notable by their absence.
Cancer and other late effects from radioactive fallout
Finally, we have to consider the health effects of the radiation exposures from the radioactive fallouts after the four explosions and three meltdowns at Fukushima in March 2011. Large differences of view exist on this issue in Japan. These make it difficult for lay people and journalists to understand what the real situation is.
The Japanese Government, its advisors, and most radiation scientists in Japan (with some honourable exceptions) minimise the risks of radiation. The official widely-observed policy is that small amounts of radiation are harmless: scientifically speaking this is untenable. For example, the Japanese Government is attempting to increase the public limit for radiation in Japan from 1 mSv to 20 mSv per year. Its scientists are trying to force the ICRP to accept this large increase. This is not only unscientific, it is also unconscionable.
Part of the reason for this policy is that radiation scientists in Japan (in the US, as well) appear unable or unwilling to accept the stochastic nature of low-level radiation effects. "Stochastic" means an all-or-nothing response: you either get cancer etc or you don't. As you decrease the dose, the effects become less likely: your chance of cancer declines all the way down to zero dose. The corollary is that tiny doses, even well below background, still carry a small chance of cancer: there is never a safe dose, except zero dose.
But, as stated by Spycher et al6, some scientists "... a priori exclude the possibility that low dose radiation could increase the risk of cancer. They will therefore not accept studies that challenge their foregone conclusion."
One reason why such scientists refuse to accept radiation's stochastic effects (cancers, strokes, cardiovascular system diseases, hereditary effects, etc) is that they only appear after long latency periods − often decades for solid cancers. For the Japanese Government and its radiation advisors, it seems out-of-sight means out-of-mind. This conveniently allows the Japanese Government to ignore radiogenic late effects. But the evidence for them is absolutely rock solid. Ironically, it comes primarily from the world's largest on-going epidemiology study, the Life Span Study of the Japanese atomic bomb survivors by the RERF Foundation which is based in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.7
Negative lottery tickets
The mass of epidemiological evidence from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 clearly indicates that cancer etc increases will very likely also occur at Fukushima, but many Japanese (and US) scientists deny this evidence.
For example, much debate currently exists over the existence and interpretation of increased thyroid cancers, cysts, and nodules in Fukushima Prefecture resulting from the disaster. From the findings after Chernobyl, thyroid cancers are expected to start increasing 4 to 5 years after 2011. It's best to withhold comment until clearer results become available in 2016, but early indications are not reassuring for the Japanese Government. After then, other solid cancers are expected to increase as well, but it will take a while for these to become manifest.
The best way of forecasting the numbers of late effects (i.e. cancers etc) is by estimating the collective dose to Japan from the Fukushima fall out. We do this by envisaging that everyone in Japan exposed to the radioactive fallout from Fukushima has thereby received lottery tickets: but they are negative tickets. That is, if your lottery number comes up, you get cancer. If you live far away from Fukushima Daiichi NPP, you get few tickets and the chance is low: if you live close, you get more tickets and the chance is higher. You can't tell who will be unlucky, but you can estimate the total number by using collective doses.
The 2013 UNSCEAR Report8 has estimated that the collective dose to the Japanese population from Fukushima is 48,000 person-Sieverts (discussed further below).
Unfortunately, pro-nuclear Japanese scientists also criticise the concept of collective dose as it relies on the stochastic nature of radiation's effects and on the Linear No Threshold (LNT) model of radiation's effects which they also refute. But almost all official regulatory bodies throughout the world recognise the stochastic nature of radiation's effects, the LNT, and collective doses.
Summing up Fukushima
About 60 people died immediately during the actual evacuations in Fukushima Prefecture in March 2011. Between 2011 and 2015, an additional 1,867 people (as of March 2015) in Fukushima Prefecture died as a result of the evacuations following the nuclear disaster. These deaths were from ill health and suicides.9 (In addition, 1,603 people were killed directly by the earthquake and tsunami in Fukushima Prefecture, and approximately 1,350 tsunami evacuee deaths occurred in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures: in the latter cases, the evacuations were not radiation-related.)
From the UNSCEAR estimate of 48,000 person-Sv, it can be reliably estimated (using a fatal cancer risk factor of 10% per Sv) that about 5,000 fatal cancers will occur in Japan in future from Fukushima's fallout. This estimate from official data agrees with my own personal estimate using a different methodology.10
In sum, the health toll from the Fukushima nuclear disaster is horrendous. At the minimum:
- Over 160,000 people were evacuated most of them permanently.
- Many cases of post-trauma stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety disorders arising from the evacuations.
- About 12,000 workers exposed to high levels of radiation, some up to 250 mSv
- An estimated 5,000 fatal cancers from radiation exposures in future.
- Plus similar (unquantified) numbers of radiogenic strokes, CVS diseases and hereditary diseases.
- Between 2011 and 2015, about 2,000 deaths from radiation-related evacuations due to ill-health and suicides.
- An, as yet, unquantified number of thyroid cancers.
- An increased infant mortality rate in 2012 and a decreased number of live births in December 2011.
Non-health effects include:
- 8% of Japan (30,000 sq km), including parts of Tokyo, contaminated by radioactivity.
- Economic losses estimated between US$300 and US$500 billion (€260−430 billion).
The Fukushima accident is still not over and its ill-effects will linger for a long time into the future. However we can say now that the nuclear disaster at Fukushima delivered a huge blow to Japan and its people. 2,000 Japanese people have already died from the evacuations and another 5,000 are expected to die from future cancers.
It is impossible not to be moved by the scale of Fukushima's toll in terms of deaths, suicides, mental ill-health and human suffering. Fukushima's effect on Japan is similar to Chernobyl's massive blow against the former Soviet Union in 1986. Indeed, several writers have expressed the view that the Chernobyl nuclear disaster was a major factor in the subsequent collapse of the USSR during 1989-1990.
It is notable that Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the USSR at the time of Chernobyl and Naoto Kan, Prime Minister of Japan at the time of Fukushima have both expressed their opposition to nuclear power.11 Indeed Kan has called for all nuclear power to be abolished.12
Has the Japanese Government, and indeed other governments (including the UK and US), learned from these nuclear disasters? The US philosopher George Santayana (1863-1962) once stated that those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Dr Ian Fairlie is an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment. He has a degree in radiation biology from Bart's Hospital in London and his doctoral studies at Imperial College in London and Princeton University in the US concerned the radiological hazards of nuclear fuel reprocessing. He was formerly a UK government civil servant on radiation risks from nuclear power stations. From 2000 to 2004, he was head of the Secretariat to the UK Government's CERRIE Committee on internal radiation risks.
Public opposition to reactor restarts, and the nuclear industry more generally, continues to exert some influence in Japan. Five to seven of the oldest of Japan's 48 'operable' reactors are likely to be sacrificed to dampen opposition to the restart of other reactors, and public opposition may result in the permanent shut down of some other reactors.1
However, slowly but surely, the collusive practices that led to the Fukushima disaster are re-emerging. The 'nuclear village' is regaining control.
After the Fukushima accident, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government commenced a review of energy policy. After deliberations in a committee that included more or less equal numbers of nuclear critics, proponents and neutral people, three scenarios were put forward in June 2012 − based on 0%, 15% and 20−25% of electricity generation from nuclear reactors. These scenarios were put to a broad national debate, the outcome of which was that a clear majority of the public supported a nuclear phase-out. The national debate played a crucial role in pushing the DPJ government to support a nuclear phase-out.2
After the December 2012 national election, the incoming Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government repudiated the DPJ's goal of phasing out nuclear power. The LDP government also revamped the policy-drafting committee, drastically reducing the number of nuclear critics. And the committee itself was sidelined in the development of a draft Basic Energy Plan. "From a process perspective, this represents a step back about 20 years," said Dr Philip White, an expert on Japan's energy policy formation process.2
"A major step toward greater public participation and disclosure of information occurred after the December 1995 sodium leak and fire at the Monju fast breeder reactor," Dr White wrote in Nuclear Monitor last year. "Although public participation was not conducted in good faith, at least lip service was paid. It seems that the current government has decided that it doesn't even need to pay lip service."2
The Basic Energy Plan approved by Cabinet in April 2014 contains nothing more than a meaningless nod to widespread public anti-nuclear sentiment, stating that dependence on nuclear energy will be reduced 'to the extent possible'.
Junko Edahiro, chief executive of Japan for Sustainability and one of the people removed from the energy policy advisory committee, noted in November 2014: "Now what we have is a situation where government officials and committees are back to doing their jobs as if the March 2011 disasters had never occurred. They have resumed what they had been doing for 30 or 40 years, focusing on nuclear power. ... In Japan we have what some people refer to as a "nuclear village": a group of government officials, industries, and academia notorious for being strongly pro-nuclear. There has been little change in this group, and the regulatory committee to oversee nuclear policies and operations is currently headed by a well-known nuclear proponent."3
'An accident will surely happen again'
Yotaro Hatamura, who previously chaired the 'Cabinet Office Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations of TEPCO', recently told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper that pre-Fukushima complacency is returning.4
"Sufficient investigations have not been conducted" into the causes of the Fukushima disaster, said Hatamura, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at the University of Tokyo. The Cabinet Office Investigation Committee report called on the government to continue efforts to determine the cause of the nuclear disaster, but "almost none" of its proposals have been reflected in recent government actions, Hatamura said.
He further noted that tougher nuclear safety standards were introduced after the Fukushima disaster, but with the exception of this "regulatory hurdle ... the situation seems unchanged from before the accident."
"It does not appear that organizations to watch [government actions] are working properly," Hatamura said. "There could always be lapses in oversight in safety assessments, and an accident will surely happen again."
Hatamura questioned the adequacy of evacuation plans, saying they have been compiled without fully reflecting on the Fukushima accident" "The restarts of reactors should be declared only after sufficient preparations are made, such as conducting evacuation drills covering all residents living within 30 kilometers of each plant based on developed evacuation plans."
Japan Atomic Energy Commission
In September 2012, the DPJ government promised that a review of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) would be conducted 'with its abolition and reorganization in mind'. The government established a review committee, which published a report in December 2012. After taking office, the incoming LDP government shelved the report and commenced a new review.5
The second review recommended that the JAEC no longer produce an overarching Framework for Nuclear Energy Policy. But an LDP committee has reportedly decided that the JAEC will be tasked with putting together a nuclear energy policy that would effectively have equivalent status to the Framework for Nuclear Energy Policy.5
Two reviews, very little change − and far from being abolished, the JAEC retains a role in framing nuclear policy. Moreover, the government has proposed that the JAEC, a promoter of nuclear power, could acts as a 'third party' in the choice of a final disposal site for nuclear waste. Some experts who attended a ministry panel meeting in February questioned the JAEC's independence.6
Many have called for TEPCO to be nationalised, or broken up into separate companies, but the LDP government has protected and supported the company. The government has also greatly increased financial support for TEPCO. For example in January 2014 the government approved an increase in the ceiling for interest-free loans the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund is allowed to give TEPCO, from 5 trillion yen to 9 trillion yen (US$41.2−74.1b; €39.0−70.2b).7
The government will also cover some of the costs for dealing with the Fukushima accident which TEPCO was previously required to pay, such as an estimated 1.1 trillion yen (US$9.1b; €8.6b) for interim storage facilities for waste from clean-up activities outside the Fukushima Daiichi plant.7
The government has also amended the Electricity Business Act to extend the period for collecting decommissioning funds from electricity rates by up to 10 years after nuclear plants are shut down. The amendments also allow TEPCO to include in electricity rates depreciation costs for additional equipment purchased for the decommissioning of the Fukushima plant.8
Media censorship and intimidation
Japan has steadily slipped down Reporters Without Borders global ranking for press freedom since the Fukushima disaster, from 11th in 2010 to 61st in the latest ranking.9,10
Journalists have been threatened with 'criminal contempt' and defamation suits, and Japan's 'state secrets' law makes investigative journalism about Japan's nuclear industry perilous.11 Under the law, which took effect in December 2014, the government can sentence those who divulge government secrets − which are broadly defined − to a decade in jail.10
Benjamin Ismaïl from Reporters Without Borders wrote in March 2014: "As we feared in 2012, the freedom to inform and be informed continues to be restricted by the 'nuclear village' and government, which are trying to control coverage of their handling of the aftermath of this disaster. Its long-term consequences are only now beginning to emerge and coverage of the health risks and public health issues is more important than ever."11
Reporters Without Borders stated in March 2014: "Both Japanese and foreign reporters have described to Reporters Without Borders the various methods used by the authorities to prevent independent coverage of the [Fukushima] disaster and its consequences. They have been prevented from covering anti-nuclear demonstrations and have been threatened with criminal proceedings for entering the "red zone" declared around the plant. And they have even been interrogated and subjected to intimidation by the intelligence services."11
1. 30 Jan 2015, 'Reactor restarts in Japan', Nuclear Monitor #797, www.wiseinternational.org/nuclear-monitors
2. Philip White, 24 Jan 2014, Japan goes back to the future to affirm energy 'foundation', Nuclear Monitor #776, www.wiseinternational.org/node/4219
See also: 16 March 2013, 'Abe purges energy board of antinuclear experts',
18 Oct 2013, 'Pro-nuclear voices dominate energy policy committee', http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/analysis/AJ201310180073
3. Junko Edahiro, November 2014, 'Toward a Sustainable Japan: Fukushima Accidents Show Japan's Challenges', JFS Newsletter No.147, www.japanfs.org/en/news/archives/news_id035110.html
4. 10 March 2015, 'Ex-panel chief says Japan still hasn't learned lessons from Fukushima crisis', http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201503100048
5. Philip White, 10 July 2014, 'Reform of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission: as if Fukushima never happened', Nuclear Monitor #788, www.wiseinternational.org/node/4244
See also: Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, Jan/Feb 2015, Nuke Info Tokyo No. 164, www.cnic.jp/english/newsletter/nit164/nit164articles/07_nw164.html
6. Kyodo, 17 Feb 2015, 'Government explores options on how to store nuclear waste in the long term', www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/17/national/science-health/final-nucle...
7. Kyodo, 15 Jan 2014, 'Gov't OKs new business turnaround plan for TEPCO, to give more aid', www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/140115/govt-ok...
8. Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Oct 2013, www.meti.go.jp/press/2013/10/20131001002/20131001002.html
9. Reporters Without Borders: http://index.rsf.org/#!/index-details/JPN
10. Toko Sekiguchi, 13 Feb 2015, 'Japan Slips in Press Freedom Ranking', http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2015/02/13/japan-slips-in-press-freed...
11. 12 March 2014, 'Japan – Nuclear lobby still gagging independent coverage three years after disaster', http://foreignaffairs.co.nz/2014/03/12/japan-nuclear-lobby-still-gagging...
Children's lives after Fukushima
At the end of October 2014, I visited the Futaba area in Fukushima Prefecture, observed classes, met with the children and learned of the distress in the schools from teaching staff, including principals and assistant principals, and also from related officials such as the local superintendant of schools.
In April 2011 (April is the beginning of the academic year in Japan), a total of 70 schools in Fukushima Prefecture were temporarily closed because they were unable to restart, or had been temporarily relocated. Of these, 38 were elementary schools, 20 were middle schools, 11 were high schools and one was a special-needs school. With the exception of one elementary school, all of these temporary closures or relocations were due to the nuclear power station explosions. A total of 8,013 students and 1,582 school teachers and staff were affected.
Three years later, in April 2014, schools which are still not able to restart and remain temporarily closed are four elementary schools and two middle schools run by Namie Town. The teachers and staff have been reassigned to "additional posts" in different schools all across the prefecture. The number of Fukushima schools that have returned to the original location and have reopened is 15 elementary schools and eight middle schools. Besides these, 19 elementary schools and ten middle schools have borrowed classrooms in other schools, have been closed through amalgamation with other schools, or have reopened by relocating temporarily to private facilities.
Many of the schoolchildren who remained in Fukushima Prefecture are living in temporary housing and are spending an hour to 90 minutes each way in school buses getting to and from school. They leave their homes before 7 a.m. and return in the early evening or sometimes after nightfall. Fatigue is accumulating among the younger elementary school children. Sports activities are limited due to lack of or insufficient school yards. Moreover, the long commuting times mean that all kinds of activities cannot be carried out satisfactorily. Some of the teachers and school staff commute more than 70 km each way to their schools. This was supposed to happen for only one year, but already more than three years have passed. The teachers lamented the fact that there does not seem to be any end to this situation in sight.
− Yukio Yamaguchi, Co-director, Citizens' Nuclear Information Center (Tokyo). Abridged from Nuke Info Tokyo No. 164, Jan/Feb 2015, www.cnic.jp/english/newsletter/nit164/nit164articles/01_fukushima.html
"New" Japan Atomic Energy Commission inaugurated
Revisions to Japan's Act for the Establishment of the Atomic Energy Commission were made in June 2014 and went into effect on December 16. That day, the chairman remarked, "We are launching new Atomic Energy Commission activities." Never mind that it is called "new," the three committee members it comprises were appointed and began their activities in April, prior to the revisions. This is a strange way to arrange affairs, but Japan's government has become more disorderly since December 2012, when the Abe administration came into power, so this is par for the course.
The Atomic Energy Commission was shrunk from five members to three, and its operations were downsized on the basis of reconsiderations made by the previous administration, which we explained in NIT 152. Even though the administration changed hands, legal revisions were made in accordance with the previous administration's views.
Two of the three commission members are clearly supportive of nuclear energy, and they make no effort to hide it. The third specializes in uses of radiation. While she does not actively promote nuclear power, she expresses her ideas poorly. The chairman, Yoshiaki Oka, is a nuclear engineer and is on record in "Chairman's Remarks" at the beginning of his term as saying, "It is important that the excellent nuclear technology our country has cultivated and the hard-earned experience gained from TEPCO's accidents in Fukushima be utilized not only in Japan, but worldwide. Japan should lead the world in the field of nuclear energy."
Instead of creating new general principles for nuclear policy as the previous commission did, the Atomic Energy Commission drafted "Basic Concepts." The "Observations Used in Drafting the Basic Concepts" presented by Chairman Oka at the December 24 meeting of the commission, contains the statement, "How about a motto of ‘Leading the World' (in top-notch R&D and world-class projects)?"
Vice-Chairman Nobuyasu Abe hails from Japan's foreign Affairs Ministry, with expertise in disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, but he exhibits a surprisingly low level of awareness. At the annual meeting of the Japanese branch of the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management on November 22, 2014, Vice-Chairman Abe blithely remarked, "It is said that the increasing amounts of plutonium are a problem, but even if money in a bank increases, the risk of theft stays the same. This is a makeshift solution, but the amount of plutonium in storage is tallied at the end of the year, so it would be okay to begin reprocessing in January and use the plutonium before the end of the year so that the amount is reduced by year end."
Reprinted from Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, Nuke Info Tokyo No. 164, Jan/Feb 2015, www.cnic.jp/english/newsletter/nit164/nit164articles/07_nw164.html
Areva's 2014 revenue down 8%
Areva says its 2014 revenue was €8.34 billion (US$9.5 billion), down 8% from the previous year.1 The company is expected to post a 2014 loss of at least €1 billion, perhaps much more.2 Areva CEO Philippe Knoche said: "The year of 2014, particularly the second half, was a hard time for Areva."3
Areva's mining group took the largest hit in 2014, with revenue down €420 million (US$479 million) on the previous year, with sales volumes down 28%. Revenue also fell at the back end of the nuclear cycle, with a 12.1% drop in the business area dealing with spent fuel and reprocessing.3
Areva warned that it expects to book significant write-downs of assets in its 2014 accounts. The company did not elaborate, but the troubled EPR reactor project in Finland is a likely candidate.1
Areva is reportedly drafting a plan to let EDF take a stake in some of its units (namely reactor exports and spent fuel reprocessing), thus providing a capital boost. The French state has an 87% stake in Areva and 84.5% in EDF.4
EU court adviser says German nuclear tax compatible with EU law
A German nuclear fuel tax is compatible with EU law, a European court adviser said on February 3, in a preliminary decision that could thwart efforts by utilities to recover billions of euros. The provisions of EU law "are not against such a tax", the adviser to the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) concluded. The Court follows the opinions of court advisers in a majority of cases.
Last year, a Hamburg court declared the fuel tax illegal in another preliminary ruling, but requested advice from the ECJ. So far, German utilities have paid about 4.6 billion euros ($5.2 billion) in nuclear fuel taxes.
Vietnam delays nuclear reactor program, again
The government of Vietnam has pushed back the date for breaking ground on its first nuclear reactor by two years from 2017 to 2019. This delay comes on top of an earlier postponement that set the 2017 date. Other reports give a 2020−2022 start date.
Hoang Anh Tuan, head of the Vietnam Atomic Energy Agency, said the delay is necessary because the government isn't ready to manage the project, nor does it have a mature and independent nuclear safety and regulatory oversight agency.
Russia's Rosatom has a contract to build the first two of four planned 1200 MW VVER nuclear reactors at a Ninh Thuan, a coastal site. Most of the financing will be provided by a Rosatom loan. Vietnam also has an agreement with Japan Atomic Power to plan the development of a second 2200 MW power station in the same region.
The latest issue of Nuclear Resister is out now, with information about anti-nuclear and anti-war related arrests and peace prisoner support. Stories featured in the latest issue include:
- Villagers and supporters on Jeju Island (South Korea) were arrested and injured during a crackdown and demolition of a protest site.
- On January 29, Eve Tetaz and Nashua Chantal stood trial before US District Judge Stephen Hyles in Columbus, Georgia. The two had crossed onto Ft. Benning during the annual demonstration to close the School of the Americas. Tetaz received a $5,000 fine while Chantal was sentenced to five years of probation.
- On January 5, four protesters were arrested inside RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire while protesting the continuing use of armed drones.
- Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, turned herself in to the federal prison camp in Lexington, Kentucky on January 23. She will serve a three-month sentence for her June 1, 2014 protest of drone killings at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.
- On January 17, activists from the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action blocked the main gate and staged a mock funeral to "mourn the death of the earth after nuclear annihilation" at the US Navy's West Coast Trident nuclear submarine base. Ten men and women were removed from the roadway and arrested.
- On January 17, peace activists stood in front of the Lockheed Martin complex in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Five people blocked the main driveway entrance and were later cited for disorderly conduct by the police.
- On January 10, Witness Against Torture and Code Pink marked the 14th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Prison with a torture protest on Dick Cheney's lawn. Two protesters were arrested on trespassing charges.
- On January 16, a judge found Henry Stoever not guilty of trespass during a protest at the Honeywell nuclear weapons plant in Kansas City, Missouri. The plant makes, procures and assembles 85% of the non-nuclear parts of nuclear weapons.
To read more and to subscribe to the Nuclear Resister e-bulletin or the print edition, visit: www.nukeresister.org
Meanwhile, anti-militarists are organising a mass lockdown at the Burghfield nuclear arms facility in the UK on March 2. The blockade is part of the non-violent direct action and campaigning against a new nuclear arms program. British nuclear arms are produced, maintained and stored in an Atomic Weapons Establishment in the village of Burghfield, located near the city of Reading. AKL, the Union of Conscientious Objectors Finland, is organising a bus trip to the event from Finland, picking up passengers from various cities including Stockholm, Copenhagen, Hamburg and the Hague.
Nuclear Transparency Watch (NTW), composed of activists and experts from across the European continent, has released the results of a year-long investigation into the preparedness of European governments and nuclear utilities for a nuclear accident. The study collected information on Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R) measures in 10 EU countries.
Michèle Rivasi, chair of NTW and Member of the European Parliament, said:
"The disaster of Fukushima has shed light on a number of very serious dysfunctions: in one of the evacuated city, Futaba, patients of the hospital have been left on their own for three days because the medical staff had run away. The panic made all plans useless, despite the famous "Japanese discipline". Besides the unforeseeable reactions (which will lead in any way to chaos), the theoretical plans revealed totally inefficient. There are numerous shocking facts. Some patients were transported to places without any care facilities and the evacuation zone was ill defined and too small (it jumped arbitrarily from 2km to 3km and then to 10 and 20km, whereas the US authorities ordered their expats to leave from the 80km zone)."
Despite the Fukushima experience, EP&R measures in Europe vary considerably and are generally inadequate. The European Commission and European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group initiated a process of stress tests for all operating nuclear power plants in Europe in the aftermath of Fukushima, but this process did not include off-site EP&R. Later attempts by the European Commission to take action on this issue seem to have come to a virtual halt. EP&R plans in Europe are mostly based on INES Level 5 nuclear accidents and they generally cannot cope with an INES 7 accident, which is the level of the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents.
Specific problems include:
Emergency drills – Many regional and local authorities are not properly prepared for a nuclear accident. Sufficient dedicated staff, accurate evacuation plans and full scope exercises involving the local population are missing. Lessons learned from exercises and drills are not taken into account in new versions of plans, nor are they communicated to stakeholders.
Updating plans – The report notes inadequate updating of EP&R plans regarding spatial changes (new residential neighborhoods, medical centers, schools, roads, etc.) and recent changes in technology (internet, mobile phones, new social media, etc.). EP&R plans inadequately address cross-border issues and the multi-lingual, multi-national and multi-cultural character of contemporary European societies.
Communication – Even during exercises and drills, the communication and notification lines for responsible institutions exhibit deficiencies. Contact details of involved personnel are sometimes wrong or out-dated. Some concerned administration services do not communicate between themselves, and for others, their communication is inadequate or delayed, or even both.
For example, in Germany, the crisis teams of the Federal Ministry for the Environment and the federal states Environmental Ministries failed in a communication exercise in September 2014. The outcomes show that more than one million inhabitants would have been affected by radioactive releases before any public warning by the authorities and some regions would have received instructions (to close the windows, doors, etc.) five hours too late. How are the communication lines supposed to work between two neighboring countries if it is so chaotic already on a national level?
Distribution of iodine tablets – The heterogeneity of measures in different countries
(like the distribution of iodine, evacuation perimeters and zoning) is a crucial transboundary issue.
As an example, in Austria and Luxembourg, iodine tablets can be collected in any pharmacy to be stored at home in the whole territory.
In the Czech Republic, iodine tablets are pre-distributed and stored in houses only in an emergency zone up to 13 km around the Temelín NPP and 20 km around the Dukovany NPP. Today, not all parts of the population in the emergency zone have iodine tablets.
In Belgium and France, iodine tablet pre-distribution zones are established within 20 km and 10 km around the nuclear power plants respectively. For residents living outside the pre-distribution zone, there are centralized stocks, which need to be distributed after the nuclear accident happens.
In Germany, iodine tablets have to be collected by the public itself after the accident. The question is how will the iodine tablets reach the affected population in time?
In Japan, stocks existed locally before the Fukushima disaster. But given the fact that the authorities failed to give appropriate instructions to the public, iodine tablets could be distributed only for a very small number of residents in the area surrounding the damaged plant.
Food standards – There is a need for clarification of food standards and their harmonization especially in the post-accident context. There are several different food standards imposing radioactivity limits per mass or volume. A repetition of the chaos in food standards after the Fukushima catastrophe has to be prevented at all cost.
NTW calls for systematic involvement of civil society in the development of EP&R plans. NTW's assessment makes it clear that the usual top-down approach in EP&R should be changed and that local populations and interested civil society organisations should be actively involved and supported in this participation.
There are many good reasons to oppose the use of nuclear energy. Nuclear power installations are vulnerable for accidents, incidents and attacks. Radioactive material can be disseminated. Radiation is harmfull and can, even in small quantities, be lethal. Contamination with radioactive material can make entire regions uninhabitable for thousands of years.
NM785.4385 Below is Dr Ian Fairlie's preliminary response to a recent report by the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), focusing in particular on the issue of collective radiation doses from the Fukushima disaster. Dr Fairlie, a radiation biologist and independent consultant, is currently examining the report in more detail.
On April 2, UNSCEAR published its long-awaited Report on Fukushima.1 Of prime importance are its estimates of collective doses to the Japanese population. Page 60 of Annex A of the UNSCEAR report contains the following table 8 on estimated collective effective doses and collective absorbed doses to the thyroid for the population of Japan (approximately 128 million in 2010):
Over first year
Over ten years
Up to age 80 years
Collective effective dose
18,000 man-Sieverts (Sv)
Collective absorbed dose to thyroid
These estimates are slightly higher than in the draft UNSCEAR report in November 2013. For example, the 80 year whole body dose was 41,000 man-Sv and thyroid dose was 110,000 man-Sv in last year's draft.
In an early preliminary view, these are realistic collective doses, as they are relatively consistent with some independent estimates in Europe. For example, the most detailed model used by the Report published by IPPNW Germany in late March 2013 estimated 95,000 man-Sv2: i.e. the UNSCEAR 48,000 man-Sv estimate is within a factor of two of this, which is good agreement given the uncertainties in the IPPNW's methodology and in this area generally.
My own estimate in early March 2013 for Fukushima Prefecture (the most contaminated region) alone was 34,000 man Sv.3 If I were to add an estimate for the rest of Japan of ~13,000 man-Sv4, this would total 47,000 man-Sv – very close to UNSCEAR's estimate of 48,000 man-Sv. In fact, the agreement is slightly unnerving!
In terms of the fatal cancers these doses would cause, the new UNSCEAR estimates imply (via the Linear No Threshold theory) that in future ~5,000 people in Japan will die from Fukushima's fallout, if we applied a fatal cancer risk of 10% per Sv. (This is because the UNSCEAR report, like the previous WHO reports, no longer applies a dose rate effectiveness factor of 2 to risk estimates.)
However a more detailed scrutiny will be required of the methodologies and assumptions used in the new UNSCEAR report before a final view can be given.
P.S. The UNSCEAR report on page 60 adds that "The collective effective dose to the population of Japan due to a lifetime exposure following the [Fukushima] accident is approximately 10-15% of the corresponding value for European populations exposed to radiation following the Chernobyl accident. Correspondingly, the collective absorbed dose to the thyroid was approximately 5% of that due to the Chernobyl accident." From this, one can work out what UNSCEAR now thinks the whole body collective dose to Europe was from Chernobyl: i.e. 320,000 to 480,000 man-Sv, leading to ~32,000 to ~48,000 fatal cancers. This has never been stated before by UNSCEAR. These estimates are close to the 2006 independent TORCH report's estimates of 30,000 to 60,000 fatal cancers.5
References and notes:
4. UNSCEAR estimates the average whole body dose to the rest of Japan outside Fukushima Prefecture was ~0.1 mSv. Multiplied by 126,000,000 people outside Fukushima gives a collective dose of 12,600 or 13,000 to two significant figures.
From WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor #785, 24 April 2014
To subscribe to Nuclear Monitor, click here.
Also available as an e-book
'Fukushima' is the story behind the twin catastrophes of the tsunami and nuclear meltdowns, seen through the eyes of witnesses and victims – from the mother patiently excavating the mud and debris left by the tsunami as she looked for the remains of her daughter, to the prime minister of the day, Naoto Kan, to the plant director of Fukushima DaiIchi and his senior engineers, to the elite firefighters who risked their lives to avert the ultimate nuclear nightmare. The book is written by Mark Willacy, a Tokyo-based correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Villains are identified, including the "nuclear village" of power companies, politicians and bureaucrats, aided by a compliant media. And heroes are identified, including the nuclear plant's manager, the 'Fukushima 50' who stayed behind and the 'samurai firemen' who worked to prevent an even bigger disaster, along with the individual officials, scientists, journalists and others who battled against a complacent establishment.
"There's this view that you're either pro- or anti-nuclear in covering this disaster, and I'm not either," Willacy told Japan Times on July 27. "My reporting is about exposing official corporate and regulatory failings. The government ignored repeated warnings from their own panel members, their own seismologists and their own committees. I find it horribly ironic that TEPCO of all people had the closest, most accurate simulation of anyone − their 15.7-metre tsunami wave forecast was the closest anyone got to what actually happened on March 11."
Willacy argues that Japan has much to learn from the nuclear disaster, including the need for independent regulators, an end to 'amakudari' jobs for bureaucrats in nuclear companies and reform of the 'kisha club' media system that helped prevent scrutiny. He warns that another Fukushima is possible if the lessons of the disaster are ignored.
Nuclear Disaster at Fukushima Daiichi: Social, Political and Environmental Issues
Edited by Richard Hindmarsh
Also available as an e-book
Informed by a leading cast of international scholars, including Japanese scholars on the ground as the disaster unfolded, this collection of essays sets the Fukushima disaster against the background of social, environmental and energy security and sustainability. It provides insights into its background and the disaster management options taken and the political, technical and social reactions as the accident unfolded, and critically reflects on both the implications for managing future nuclear disasters and the future of nuclear power itself.
Contributors note that a history of pro-nuclear government policies led to safety, siting and construction of nuclear reactors compromised in a number of areas that inadvertently invited natural disaster. Post-disaster, the book probes the flawed disaster management options taken as radioactive pollution began spreading; and the political, technical, and social reactions as the meltdown unfolded.
The book is edited by Assoc. Prof. Richard Hindmarsh, an Australian academic and co-founder of the Asia-Pacific Science, Technology and Society Network.
The essay titles are as follows:
- Nuclear Disaster at Fukushima Daiichi: Introducing the Terrain
- Social Shaping of Nuclear Safety: Before and After the Disaster
- Social Structure and Nuclear Power Siting Problems Revealed
- Megatechnology, Siting, Place and Participation
- Environmental Infrastructures of Emergency: The Formation of a Civic Radiation Monitoring
- Map during the Fukushima Disaster
- Post-Apocalyptic Citizenship and Humanitarian Hardware
- Envirotechnical Disaster at Fukushima: Nature, Technology and Politics
- Nuclear Power after 3/11: Looking Back and Thinking Ahead
- The Search for Energy Security After Fukushima Daiichi
- The Future Is Not Nuclear: Ethical Choices for Energy after Fukushima
- Nuclear Emergency Response: Atomic Priests or an International SWAT Team?
World Nuclear News reports that a former worker at the Fukushima Daiichi site has created a manga comic of his experiences. Kazuto Tatsuta won a manga competition held by large publishing company Kodansha.
Why would World Nuclear News report this? It seems the content is quite bland, "an unusual and sober depiction of the accident site and of normal people who continue to work without extreme apprehension about radiation." Workers are shown "going through strict safety and security routines, working among the water storage tanks and relaxing in the basic facilities."
WNN, 1 Nov 2013, 'Manga shows Fukushima worker's experience', www.world-nuclear-news.org/ON-Manga-shows-Fukushima-workers-experience-0...
Who wrote the anti-nuke novel?
A novel released in September illustrates the resurgence of Japan's corrupt 'Nuclear Village' in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster. The book, 'Genpatsu Whiteout: Another Reactor Explosion Is Inevitable: Indictment from An Elite Bureaucrat', tells a story about a rush to restart reactors shut down after March 2011, with government officials and politicians wielding powerful personal connections to fight off opposition from local leaders, activists and the media.
A guessing game is underway over the identity of the author, who appears to have an insider's knowledge of the industry. The novel says the author, Mr. Retsu Wakasugi (a pseudonym), is a graduate of the Tokyo University law department and currently works at an unidentified government ministry.
"A search for the culprit is on," Taro Kono, a politician from the governing Liberal Democratic Party, wrote in a Twitter post on September 17: "Suspected: 'someone who is a senior official at the energy agency with considerable career experience but now with lots of free time maybe as a result of being sidelined.'" Kono himself may be the inspiration for one character in the novel, described as a "lone wolf of the conservative party" with an anti-nuclear stance.
Yuka Hayashi, 19 Sept 2013, 'Fukushima Watch: Who Wrote the New Anti-Nuke Novel?', http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2013/09/19/fukushima-watch-who-wrote-...
Some of these news items are taken from the twice-weekly updates produced by Greenpeace International. You can subscribe to the updates at: www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction or http://tinyurl.com/gp-nukes
Australian public health expert Assoc. Prof. Tilman Ruff has written an important, detailed article, titled 'A Public Health Perspective on the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster', in the Oct−Dec edition of the Asian Perspective journal. It neatly summarises recent (and not-so-recent) research regarding the health effects of ionising radiation and applies that knowledge to the case of Fukushima. We won't attempt to summarise a wide-ranging article here. One point that illustrates the risks: "To provide a perspective on these risks, for a child born in Fukushima in 2011 who was exposed to a total of 100 mSv of additional radiation in its first five years of life, a level tolerated by current Japanese policy, the additional lifetime risk of cancer would be on the order of one in thirty, probably with a similar additional risk of premature cardiovascular death."
Tadamori Oshima, head of the government's task force on disaster reconstruction, says that a target to reduce contamination of land around the Fukushima plant to a level equivalent to annual exposure of 1 mSv may be "informally" relaxed. "After we bring ambient radiation (down) to between 5 to 10 millisieverts and complete the decontamination, we will take thorough measures to manage individuals' dosage and safeguard their health. But a new radiation target would be difficult to publish because it would create a big problem," he said. Radiation levels in the area vary greatly. For example, Tomioka, a township about 12 kms south of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, had ambient radiation levels equivalent to annual doses ranging from 1 to 50 millisieverts by March 2013.
TEPCO said on December 2 it had found radioactive contamination 36,000 times permissible levels in water taken from an observation well. The readings were taken from the well east of reactor #2 and 40 metres from the sea. The contamination measured 1.1 million becquerels per litre. TEPCO says no major changes in the levels of radioactive contamination in the sea have been detected.
TEPCO has also found extremely high radiation levels in an area near a ventilation pipe. TEPCO found the radiation levels − equivalent to exposure levels of up to 25 sieverts per hour − on a duct which connects reactor buildings and the 120-metre-tall ventilation pipe. The estimated radiation level is the highest ever detected outside reactor buildings. A TEPCO official said materials derived from melted nuclear fuel likely entered the piping during venting soon after the accident occurred in March 2011 and have remained there.[4,5]
It has emerged that the water storage tanks that have caused so many problems this year were built in part by illegally hired workers. Workers were told to lie about being hired by third party brokers. "Even if we didn't agree with how things were being done, we had to keep quiet and work fast. People didn't have contracts, so when they weren't needed any more, they were cut immediately," said Yoshitatsu Uechi, a former Fukushima worker who lodged a complaint with labour authorities. His account was confirmed by other workers. One said: "Yes, we did a shoddy job. The quality of what we did was low, but what else would you expect? We had to race to finish up the tanks."[6,7]
A panel established by Japan's industry ministry has warned that plans to deal with the water crisis are still inadequate and that space to store contaminated water will run out in within two years if matters are not addressed. The panel made a number of suggestions including the construction of giant tanks and laying asphalt on the site to help prevent rainwater from entering the ground and flowing into the damaged reactor buildings where it is then contaminated. The panel also warned that some water storage tanks have been built on weak ground that could sink and their stability should be addressed.
TEPCO is currently storing 390,000 tons of contaminated water, growing by several hundred tons each day. There is an ongoing discussion about partially decontaminating the water then releasing it into the Pacific Ocean. It is estimated that it will take at least seven years to partially decontaminate the water already being stored.
Evacuees and decontamination
Japan's parliament passed a bill on December 4 extending the length of time victims of the Fukushima disaster have to claim compensation from three to ten years. The new legislation also says that a person can now claim compensation for any health problems resulting from the accident for 20 years after their symptoms appear rather than for 20 years after the accident occurred as was the case previously.[10,11]
Meanwhile, a science and technology ministry screening panel has compiled a plan to set a cap on compensation to residents who face prolonged evacuation, angering evacuees. The panel on disputes for nuclear damage compensation wants to set limits ranging from 10 million yen to 14 million yen ($97,000 to $136,000).
A survey by Japan's Reconstruction Agency of people who were evacuated from two towns close to the Fukushima plant found that 67% of 2,760 households from Okuma and 65% of 1,730 households from Futaba have said they will not return to their homes. Those numbers are up from 42% and 30%, respectively, in a January survey, which used slightly different wording. Those surveyed cited fears about radiation exposure and the length of time the repopulation process was taking. The latest survey found that only 9% of respondents from Okuma and 10% from Futaba said they want to return.[13,14]
Many of those evacuated from towns close to Fukushima are still living in temporary accommodation. Occupancy rates of the temporary housing built in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures in the aftermath of the disaster are at 85%. "We haven't been making progress in building public housing for disaster victims and acquiring land for projects to relocate entire communities," an Iwate housing official said. "Family members live apart and it's no good. Since we can't go back to our hometown, this is like a living hell. Nothing will change even if we complain," said Yoichi Matsumoto, a resident in temporary accommodation in Iwaki. It is not expected that the situation will improve soon. "There is a strong likelihood that it may take five years or more after the quake to see all occupants move out," said an Iwate official.
By the end of October, only 28.5% of houses, 33.2% of roads and 12.3% of forests around the Fukushima plant had been cleaned, according to the Fukushima Department of Environment. The Japanese government has extended the time-frame fpr the clean-up of the exclusion zone around the plant, initially due to be completed by March 2014, until 2017. Officials have cited several difficulties as reasons for pushing back the timetable, including finding space to store contaminated waste. Endo Kouzou, Supervisor for Decontamination Operations at the Fukushima Department of Environment, said: "It is very hard to earn support from locals in terms of where to put the contaminated materials. This is the biggest problem. Another thing is that, despite various decontamination operations, radiation cannot be eliminated once for all."
State secrecy bill
The lower house of Japan's Parliament approved a state secrecy bill on November 27 that imposes stiffer penalties on bureaucrats who leak secrets and journalists who seek them. The bill was approved after hours of delay due to protests by opposition lawmakers. The bill allows heads of ministries and agencies to classify 23 vaguely worded types of information related to defense, diplomacy, counterintelligence and counterterrorism. Critics say it might sway authorities to withhold more information about nuclear power plants. Under the bill, leakers in the government face prison terms of up to 10 years, up from one year now. Journalists who obtain information "inappropriately" or "wrongfully" can get up to five years in prison.
The legislation has triggered protests from Human Rights Watch, the International Federation of Journalists, the Federation of Japanese Newspapers Unions, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and many other media watchdogs. Academics have signed a petition demanding it be scrapped.
Reporters Without Borders accused Japan of "making investigative journalism illegal". It said in a statement: "How can the government respond to growing demands for transparency from a public outraged by the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear accident if it enacts a law that gives it a free hand to classify any information considered too sensitive as a state secret?"
During deliberations in November, Masako Mori, the minister in charge of the bill, admitted that security information on nuclear power plants could be designated a state secret because the information "might reach terrorists."[17,19]
Residents of Fukushima Prefecture are angry over the railroading of the bill through the lower house. At a public hearing in Fukushima on November 25, all of the seven local residents who were invited to state their opinions voiced opposition to or concerns about the bill.
Elsewhere in Japan
More than 1,900 people have joined a law suit against Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) demanding the company permanently shut down its Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, western Japan. The suit was filed with the Kyoto District Court last November.
 7 Dec 2013, 'Record outdoor radiation level detected at Fukushima plant', http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201312070041
 Antoni Slodkowski, 5 Dec 2013, 'Insight - Fukushima water tanks: leaky and built with illegal labor', www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/05/us-japan-nuclear-fukushima-labour-ins...
 10 Dec 2013, 'Panel sets limit on compensation to Fukushima evacuees', http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201312100062
 7 Dec 2013, 'Over 60% of evacuees from Fukushima towns don't plan to return home', http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201312070045
 4 Dec 2013, '1,000 days after Fukushima: residents of crisis zone frustrated by slow clean-up', www.euronews.com/2013/12/04/1000-days-after-fukushima-residents-of-crisi...
 David McNeill, 26 Nov 2013, 'Japan cracks down on leaks after scandal of Fukushima nuclear power plant', www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/japan-cracks-down-on-leaks-after-s...
 Justin McCurry, 6 Dec 2013, 'Japan whistleblowers face crackdown under proposed state secrets law', www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/05/whistleblowers-japan-crackdown-sta...
 Mari Yamaguchi, 26 Nov 2013, 'Japan secrecy law stirs fear of limits on freedoms', http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_JAPAN_SECRECY_LAW?SITE=AP
 27 Nov 2013, 'Fukushima residents furious at lower house passage of contentious secrecy bill', http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20131127p2a00m0na0130...
Nuclear Monitor #791, 18 Sept 2014, www.wiseinternational.org/nuclear-monitors
Japan−India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement
NM791.4415 Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and the Indian prime minister Nrendora Modi discussed a proposed Nuclear Cooperation Agreement during Modi's recent visit to Japan, but the two countries have yet to finalise the agreement. In addition to ongoing work to finalise a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, the prime ministers affirmed their commitment to work toward India becoming a full member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.1
Negotiations on a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement began in 2010 but they were suspended after the March 2011 Fukushima disaster. The resumption of negotiations was announced during a May 2013 meeting between Abe and India's then prime minister Manmohan Singh.
According to a former Indian ambassador, obstacles include Japan's insistence that no reprocessing of spent fuel would be done in India, and that in the event of a nuclear test by India, the components supplied would be immediately returned to Japan.2
According to Reuters, Japan wants more intrusive inspections of India's nuclear facilities to ensure that spent fuel is not diverted, and explicit Indian guarantees not to conduct nuclear weapons tests.3 Japan wants something stronger than India's self-imposed moratorium on weapons tests. India refuses to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards apply only to that part of the nuclear program that India considers surplus to military ''requirements''. IAEA safeguards inspections in India will at best be tokenistic. For example a leaked IAEA document states: "The frequency and intensity of IAEA inspections shall be kept to the minimum consistent with the aim of improving safeguards." That is standard diplomatic jargon – it means that safeguards will be infrequent or non-existent except in circumstances where the IAEA wants to test novel safeguards technologies or procedures and India agrees to take part.4
It is likely that another complication is India's law regarding nuclear liability. The law does not completely absolve nuclear suppliers of responsibility in the event of nuclear accidents. Nuclear suppliers and their governments are seeking to avoid any liability whatsoever.
355 organisations in 22 countries have signed a petition calling for the Japan−India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement to be scrapped.5
Reactor restart debates
On September 10, Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) announced that it had approved Kyushu Electric Power Company's design and safety features for the two Sendai reactors. Kyushu received draft NRA approval in mid-July. Two smaller regulatory approvals remain before the Sendai plant can restart. The NRA said that it will now review the detailed design and construction of the reactors and related facilities, as well as operational safety programs and procedures for accident responses. These final stages could possibly be completed by the end of the year according to the World Nuclear Association.1
Once those steps are complete, the NRA would be able to issue its final approval for operation. Kyushu would also need to gain approval from political leaders in Kagoshima prefecture − though that is not a legal requirement. The federal government has the final say on whether nuclear power plants operate.1
Greenpeace said: "The decision really means that Kyushu Electric has moved restarting the Sendai reactors forward a bit, but it's still not a restart approval. It doesn't mean the NRA has certified the reactors as safe to operate or that they will restart anytime soon."2
Sendai, at the southern end of the island of Kyushu, is 50 kms from an active volcano. "No-one believes that volcanic risks have been adequately discussed," said Setsuya Nakada, a professor of volcanology at the University of Tokyo, in June.3 The inadequacy of evacuation plans, and the NRA's unwillingness to consider evacuation plans in its reactor restart decisions, is another bone of contention.4
The pro-nuclear governor of the prefecture where the Sendai plant is located and the mayor of Satsumasendai, the plant's host city, are likely to approve the restart of Sendai reactors, but many nearby townships are opposed. More than half of the 30,000 residents in Ichikikushikino, a coastal town 5 kms from the plant, submitted a petition mid-year opposing a restart.5
None of Japan's 48 'operational' reactors are currently operating; none have operated since the Ohi 4 reactor in Fukui prefecture was shut down on September 15 2013. Reactor restart applications for 18 other reactors have been submitted to the NRA.1
A Reuters analysis earlier this year concluded that fewer than one-third, and at most about two-thirds, of the 48 reactors will pass NRA safety checks and clear the other seismological, economic, logistical and political hurdles needed to restart. The analysis was based on questionnaires and interviews with more than a dozen experts and input from the 10 nuclear operators.6
According to Reuters: "Some reactors can essentially be ruled out, like Tepco's Fukushima Daini station, which is well within the Daiichi plant evacuation zone and faces near-universal opposition from a traumatised local population. Also highly unlikely to switch back on is Japan Atomic Power Co's Tsuruga plant west of Tokyo. It sits on an active fault, according to experts commissioned by the NRA. Twelve reactors will reach or exceed the standard life expectancy of 40 years within the next five years, probably sealing their fate in the new, harsher regulatory climate. These include reactor No. 1 at Shikoku Electric's Ikata power station. The outlook is less clear for about a third of the other 48 reactors."6
RBC Capital Markets analysts Fraser Phillips and Patrick Morton argued in June that 28 reactors − just over half − will be online by 2018.7 Similarly, energy industry consultant (and former CEO of Ontario Hydro International) Thomas Drolet, said in February: "I don't believe predictions that most of the 49 reactors will come back. My prediction is that about half of that, about 25, will eventually come back, gradually and carefully over the next five years. The basic rationale for that is some of the reactors, the Mark I BWR, may never get re-permitted in Japan. Secondly, some local governments just don't want them."8
Some government and industry representatives are openly discussing the permanent shut-down of ageing reactors. For example, Yuko Obuchi, the minister for economy, trade and industry, said in early September: "For myself, I would like to proceed with smooth decommissioning (of some plants) and at the same time the restart of nuclear power stations certified as safe."9 Kansai Electric Power Co. is one of the utilities considering that strategy. Kansai is considering decommissioning two ageing reactors at its Mihama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, but is intent on restarting two others at its Takahama plant in the same prefecture.10
Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University's Japan campus, told Reuters in April: "I think the government is incredibly clever by doing the restarts in the most modern, advanced places that have the most local support and are yet far from centres of political activity. Then you use that to create momentum for the agenda of restarting as many reactors as possible."6
Some reports suggest that around a dozen reactors may be permanently shut down because they are either too old or too costly to upgrade.11 Twelve reactors began operation in the 1970s.12 A survey of utilities earlier this year by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper found that there was no near-term likelihood of restarting 30 reactors. Thirteen of those, mainly due to their age, are having particular difficulty in complying with the new standards according to the survey, and are likely to be decommissioned.10
Academics Daniel Aldrich and James Platte noted in an article in August: "By the end of 2020, 13 reactors will have reached the 40-year limit of their operating licenses, and an additional 10 more reactors will be 40 years old by 2025. Unless the NRA begins considering license extensions, it seems reasonable to assume that most of these older reactors will not restart. Thus, one could estimate that 25 to 30 reactors would restart in the next five years or so, and this does not account for newer reactors that the NRA or local governments could declare unfit for restart. While restarting some reactors will help generate revenue for Japan's struggling power utilities, the cost of decommissioning about half of Japan's pre-Fukushima reactor fleet will be significant. Despite the nuclear revival ambitions of the LDP and industrial leaders, Japan's nuclear sector appears to have a long, difficult road ahead of it."13
Most of these news items are taken from the twice-weekly updates produced by Greenpeace International. You can subscribe to the updates at: www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction
The first batch of 22 nuclear fuel assemblies removed from the reactor #4 storage pool at the Fukushima Daiichi plant have been placed in a more secure storage pool 100 metres away. The assemblies moved to the new location were unused. The next 22 to be removed, however, will be spent fuel. The fuel assemblies are the first of over 1,500 to be removed from the storage pool in work that is expected to take around a year.
TEPCO has announced that it will permanently close the undamaged reactors #5 and #6 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after a request to do so from Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in September. The reactors were closed for maintenance when the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami hit the plant. TEPCO will not decommission and dismantle the reactors. Instead they will become "test platforms" and used as research facilities to help plan for the removal of fuel from reactors #1, #2, #3 which suffered core meltdowns.
Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority has begun safety assessments of two nuclear reactors at TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant this week. There are many issues involved and the process is not expected to run smoothly. There are geological faults below the plant although TEPCO says they are not active. NRA chief Shunichi Tanaka has warned TECPO that the assessment process could be halted if events at the Fukushima Daiichi plant take another turn for the worse. Niigata Prefecture Governor Hirohiko Izumida − who effectively holds a veto over TEPCO's plan to restart reactors at the Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant − said TEPCO must give a fuller account of the Fukushima disaster and address its "institutionalized lying" before it can expect to restart reactors.
Japan's government has proposed a change to its policy towards disposing of nuclear waste. The policy of waiting for towns and cities to volunteer to host final disposal facilities for nuclear waste has failed, with no candidates stepping forward. The policy has been in place for over 10 years. Instead, the government is proposing to draw up a list of candidate sites for storage facilities and then measuring public support in those places.
Government sources have told the Japan Times that plans are being drawn up to purchase 15 square kilometres of land around the Fukushima Daiichi plant to use store radioactive waste from cleanup and decontamination operations. The lack of storage facilities for the waste has meant decontamination efforts have not progressed as quickly as the government would have liked. However, the purchase of the land is expected to affect landowners and may prevent evacuees from eventually returning to their homes. The plan is expected to cost one trillion yen (US$9.84 billion).
Almost eight out of 10 South Koreans have reduced the amount of fish they eat over possible safety concerns associated with a leak of radioactive water from Japan's Fukushima plant, a poll showed Monday. An online poll released by the Korea Rural Economic Institute found that 77.5% of those questioned said they reduced their fish consumption by nearly half since August. Since September, South Korea has blocked all fishery imports from eight prefectures surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi plant.[3,4]
Only one-third of people evacuated from areas near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are willing to return to their homes, even if evacuation orders were lifted now. Parts of Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture, are designated evacuation zones. The city and the Reconstruction Agency conducted a survey in August and September of 5,677 households originally from the evacuation region. Among them, 3,543 households, or 62%, responded. When asked if they will return home once the evacuation orders are lifted, 29% said they want to do so, 44% said they are undecided and 26% said they will not go back. When the undecided group was asked what is needed to make a decision, many said information on things such as when schools, hospitals and shops will be reopened. They also want to know when radiation levels will go down and how much decontamination work has been done.
 Yonhap, 11 Nov 2013, http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2013/11/11/38/0302000000AEN2013...
 Kwanwoo Jun, 14 Nov 2013, 'Fish Is Off the Menu in South Korea Over Radiation Fears', http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1000142405270230328990457919689370...
 NHK World, 25 Nov 2013, 'Only a third of evacuees want to return', http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131125_18.html
Dodging responsibility for nuclear disasters
Greenpeace reports that the US is offering to provide assistance with ongoing work at Fukushima, in particular the multiple problems with contaminated water, but only if Japan first signs the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC).
According to Dr Rianne Teule, a radiation expert with Greenpeace International: "This is an international treaty that supposedly provides an international regime on nuclear liability − the who-should-pay-for-a-nuclear-accident issue. But the real aim of the CSC, along with other international conventions on nuclear liability, is to protect the nuclear industry. It caps the total compensation available after a nuclear accident at a level much lower than the actual costs. The companies that supply nuclear reactors and other material are exempt, they don't have to pay anything if there is an accident. The operators of nuclear plants are the only ones accountable for paying damages but the CSC protects them too by not requiring them to have enough money or financial security to cover the costs of an accident."
Japan signing the CSC would have two important benefits for the US: it would reduce the chances that General Electric can be sued for damages for the Fukushima accident; and it could secure future business opportunities in Japan for US nuclear suppliers. Dr Teule writes: "The US is not offering help to Japan out of the kindness of its heart, but to give a lifeline to its dying nuclear business. The US has been pushing ratification of the CSC in other countries where they hope to expand their nuclear business, such as India, Canada, Korea."
In September, a freedom of information request lodged by Greenpeace turned up documents from 1960 revealing that nuclear companies pressured the Japan Atomic Energy Commission to make sure they were exempted from all responsibility for a nuclear accident, except in the case of a deliberate act. Greenpeace states: "GE, Hitachi and Toshiba, the big companies that all built reactors at Fukushima based on a flawed GE reactor design, have not paid a cent to help TEPCO and have done little to nothing to help the victims of the disaster. So, Japan's taxpayers have to step in to pay the billions upon billions of yen needed to deal with the industry's gross negligence."
 Greenpeace, 5 Nov 2013, www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction/cynical-...
 Justin McKeating, 10 Sept 2013, 'Proof that the nuclear industry has been dodging its responsibilities for over 50 years', www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction/proof-th...
Draft legislation targets whistleblowers, media
Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe is planning a new State Secrets Act that could suppress publication and dissemination of information about the Fukushima nuclear disaster and other contentious issues. The Act is being referred to by campaigners as the Fuk-hush-ima Law. A draft of the new law was approved by Cabinet in late October and is likely to be passed in the current Parliamentary session, which ends on December 6, since Abe's Liberal Democratic Party enjoys a majority in both houses of parliament. The law would impose harsh penalties on those who leak secrets, or even try to obtain them. Journalists found to be breaking the law could be sent to prison for five years while government employees releasing secret information could be imprisoned for a decade.[1,2]
Media and legal experts say the law is both broad and vague, giving the Japanese government enormous scope to determine what would actually qualify as a state secret. Furthermore the law makes no provision for any independent review process. The proposed law names four categories of 'special secrets', which would be covered by protection − defense, diplomacy, counter-terrorism and counter-espionage.
Under the new legislation a ministry may classify information for a five-year term with a possibility of prolongation up to 30 years. Extension beyond 30 years would require Cabinet approval. Cabinet added a provision to the draft which gives "utmost considerations" to citizens' right to know and freedom of the press, but critics have dismissed those as window dressing.
Sophia University political science professor Koichi Nakano said: "This may very well be Abe's true intention − cover-up of mistaken state actions regarding the Fukushima disaster and/or the necessity of nuclear power."
In early 2013, Japan fell from 22nd to 53rd place in the Reporters Without Borders' ranking of media freedom. This was attributed to a single factor − the lack of access to information related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Many reporters have met with restricted access, lack of transparency and even lawsuits while TEPCO has consistently barred access to documents and to people.
 Oliver Tickell, 30 Oct 2013, 'State Secrets Act to supress Fukushima information', www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2139614/state_secrets_act_to_sup...
 Kiyoshi Takenaka, 24 Oct 2013, 'Factbox: Japan prepares for new law to protect national secrets', www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/25/us-japan-secrecy-bill-factbox-idUSBRE...
 25 Oct 2013, 'Fuk-'hush'-ima: Japan's new state secrets law gags whistleblowers, raises press freedom fears', http://rt.com/news/japan-state-secrets-law-712/
 Linda Sieg and Kiyoshi Takenaka, 24 Oct 2013, 'Japan secrecy act stirs fears about press freedom, right to know', www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/25/us-japan-secrecy-idUSBRE99N1EC20131025
 Reporters Without Borders 2013 World Press Freedom Index, http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2013,1054.html