Japanese Prime Minister Resigns

The Sydney Morning Herald - August 26, 2011


Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has resigned as president of the Democratic Party of Japan, effectively ending his tenure as Japanese leader.

"I resign as the (party) president effective today," Mr Kan told senior party officials, Japan's Jiji press quoted him as saying today.

The long-expected move paves the way for the election of the nation's sixth prime minister in five years as Japan looks to safeguard a recovery from the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and an ongoing nuclear crisis.

A ballot for a new party president, who would then become prime minister, is expected on Monday.

Parliament will then vote the leader in as prime minister on Tuesday next week.

"I will leave the post of prime minister once the new leader is decided," Mr Kan said.

Mr Kan was scheduled to hold a press conference later today.

Japan Faces Costly, Unprecedented Radiation Cleanup

by Yoko Kubota - Tokyo - Reuters - August 25, 2011


(Reuters) - Nearly six months after the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years at the Fukushima nuclear plant, Japan faces the task of cleaning up a sprawling area of radioactivity that could cost tens of billions of dollars, and thousands may not be able to return home for years, if ever.

Fuel core meltdowns at the facility in March, triggered by a huge earthquake and tsunami, released radioactive material into the air which mixed with rain and snow and covered dozens of towns as well as farmland and woods, mainly along the northeast coast of Honshu.

Tokyo has been slow to provide a plan for rehabilitation, leading some residents near the plant exposed to high levels of radioactive caesium in homes and food, have started their own cleanup instead of waiting for the government to act.

Moody's Cuts Japan's Debt Rating on Deficit Concerns

BBC - August 23, 2011

The earthquake and tsunami caused widespread destruction to Japan's north-east coast.

Rating agency Moody's has cut Japan's long-term sovereign debt rating citing concerns about the size of the country's deficit and borrowing levels.

The rating was cut to Aa3 from Aa2, though Moody's also said the country's outlook was stable.

Japan has been trying to recover since the global economic crisis in 2009.

However, it was also hit by an earthquake and tsunami in March, and the rebuilding cost is weighing on growth and state finances.

"The rating downgrade is prompted by the large budget deficits and the build-up in Japanese government debt since the 2009 global recession," Moody's said in its statement.

"Over the past five years, frequent changes in administrations have prevented the government from implementing long-term economic and fiscal strategies into effective and durable policies."

BARDA Supports Development of New Drugs to Treat Radiation Injury

U. S. Department of Health and Human Services - August 1, 2011


New contracts fund drugs to treat gastrointestinal tract injuries of acute radiation syndrome

The first two contracts for advanced development of drugs to treat gastrointestinal (GI) tract injuries associated with acute radiation syndrome were awarded today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

The contracts are part of an ongoing effort to develop diagnostic tools and drugs to protect health and save lives in a radiological or nuclear emergency such as a nuclear bomb or improvised nuclear device. When the GI tract is exposed to high levels of radiation it becomes inflamed, and the drugs being studied under these contracts may prevent or decrease that inflammation.

Bill Compiled to Decontaminate Radiation from Fukushima Nuclear Accident

submitted by Samuel Bendett

asahi.com - August 17, 2011

The central government will decontaminate soil, vegetation and buildings exposed to radiation spread by the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The contents of a special measures bill to deal with environmental pollution from radioactive materials have been agreed to by the ruling Democratic Party of Japan as well as the opposition Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito. The parties plan to submit the bill to the Diet next week so that it gains passage before the Diet session winds up Aug. 31.

Under the proposed legislation, the central government will also remove contaminated rubble.

As of now, there are no laws to deal with contamination of the environment by radioactive materials.

As such, it will become the first law to deal with this problem as the result of a nuclear accident.

The bill's objective is to reduce the health risk posed by radiation contamination.

The environment minister would have the authority to designate special areas that require decontamination measures.

Mountains of Debris Stand in the Way of Quake Reconstruction

submitted by Samuel Bendett

asahi.com - August 17, 2011

The tsunami that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake left 22 million tons of debris and rubble scattered across three prefectures in the Tohoku region. No real steps toward restoration can be taken until it is removed. Last month, Prime Minister Naoto Kan's administration at long last introduced a bill to the Diet to place the national government in direct control of the cleanup. Will concentrated efforts to remove the debris now finally get underway?

At the end of June, disaster experts, representatives from the Environment Ministry and officials from affected municipal governments gathered at a conference in Sendai for a meeting on how to dispose of the debris. The gathering, organized by Japan Society of Material Cycles and Wast Management, a scientific group studying the debris problem, attracted 150 people, well above expected numbers, forcing organizers to change the venue to a larger room.

During the Q&A session, municipal government personnel peppered representatives from the environment ministry, which is responsible for dealing with the debris problem, with questions concerning the cleanup.

Researchers Develop Controversial Earthquake Detection Network

Homeland Security Newswire - August 18, 2011


A QuakeFinder network installation // Source: newsvine.com

Researchers at a Silicon Valley company are hard at work developing an experimental network of electromagnetic sensors that could predict large earthquakes as much as two weeks in advance; the theory behind the research is disputed, but Tom Bleier, the inventor and chief engineer behind project QuakeFinder, hopes to prove seismologists wrong.

Researchers at a Silicon Valley company are hard at work developing an experimental network of electromagnetic sensors that could predict large earthquakes as much as two weeks in advance.

The theory behind the research is disputed, but Tom Bleier, the inventor and chief engineer behind project QuakeFinder, hopes to prove seismologists wrong. Under the project, engineers will install roughly 200 five-foot tall sensors near fault lines in California to measure changes in underground magnetic fields and to detect electrically charged particles in the air.

Giant Tent Being Built Over Fukushima Plant's No. 1 Reactor

japantoday.com -August 12, 2011


In this Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011 photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co., building materials are being pulled up by a crane by Unit 1 reactor, seen behind the crane, to build a tent to cover the reactor at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. (AP / Tokyo Electric Power Co.)


The operator of Japan’s damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is building a huge tent to cover one of the worst-hit reactors, officials said Friday.

Officials hope the cover will keep radioactive materials that have already leaked from spreading, prevent rainwater seepage and offer a barrier from possible leaks or blasts in the future.

The tent is being erected to provide a temporary replacement for the No. 1 reactor’s outer housing shell, which was destroyed in an explosion caused by high pressure the day after Japan’s deadly earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

Construction of the tent and its foundation began this week, Koji Watanabe, a spokesman for the power utility, said Friday.

Japan: Government Releases Plan to Deal with Nuclear Ash

The Daily Yomiyuri - August 12, 2011

The Environment Ministry has drafted a plan to bury the ash of incinerated radioactive debris and sludge that is contaminated with more than 8,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram in a carefully regulated manner to prevent leakage in final disposal sites.

The ministry submitted the draft plan to the Disaster-Related Waste Safety Assessment Committee, its advisory body, on Wednesday. The ministry will officially decide its policy on how to bury the radioactive ash by the end of August at the earliest.

In June, the ministry announced it would allow ash with radioactive cesium levels measuring less than 8,000 becquerels per kilogram to be buried. At that time, the ministry advised that ash exceeding that amount be temporarily stored.

Regarding how to bury ash exceeding 8,000 becquerels, the draft plan released on Wednesday said it is necessary to ensure that the contaminated ash would not mix with rainwater or groundwater.

The draft plan has suggested several possibilities, such as using disposal sites with roofs to shield the ash from rain water, a drainage treatment system to prevent underground water from being contaminated, placing the ash in highly durable containers or solidifying ash with cement.

Environment Ministry Gets Nuke Role

The Japan Times - August 12, 2011


Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his Cabinet members agreed Friday to set up a new agency in charge of nuclear safety under the Environment Ministry amid the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The accord comes after the government announced last week its plan to create the new entity and said it was considering whether to place the agency under the wing of the Environment Ministry or the Cabinet Office.

The Cabinet Office was dropped as a candidate because of its "ties" with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which loans officials to the office, according to government sources.

In a bid to undertake a major overhaul of Japan's nuclear regulatory structure, Kan has been calling to separate the current Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency from the industry ministry, which promotes the use of atomic energy.

NISA has been criticized for lax government supervision of nuclear facilities and a slow response to the Fukushima plant crisis, which was triggered by the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Rice Futures Trigger Circuit Break in Tokyo Debut

Bloomberg - By Jae Hur and Yasumasa Song - August 7, 2011


An official from the Chiba Prefectural Government Offices shows a sack of rice samples bound for radiation tests at a field in Katori City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan.

Rice futures in Tokyo surged on the first day of trading after a seven-decade halt, triggering the bourse to suspend trade, on concern radiation from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant may spread to crops and curb supply.

No deals were concluded on the Tokyo Grain Exchange after prices hit 18,500 yen per 60 kilograms from the opening, compared with the bourse’s reference price of 13,500 yen. The surge triggered trade to be suspended.

The exchange listed rice contracts today for the first time since the start of World War II to boost flagging volumes and profit. The resumption comes as fallout from the Fukushima Dai- Ichi power plant may spread after it was found cattle had been fed cesium-tainted rice straw.

Kan Vows Nuclear-Free Future for Japan on 66th Anniversary of Hiroshima Atomic Bombing

ABC News - japantoday.com - August 6, 2011


Doves fly by the Atomic Bomb Dome, center in background, preserved as a landmark for the tribute to the A-Bomb attack, following a speech delivered by Prime Minister Naoto Kan, marking the 66th anniversary of the world's first atomic bombing, at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on Saturday.  AP

Japan's prime minister Naoto Kan renewed his pledge to help make Japan nuclear-free as Hiroshima marked the 66th anniversary of the US atomic bombing amid the Fukushima crisis.

After the March 11 quake and tsunami triggered the nuclear accident that left radiation leaking into air, soil and sea, Mr Kan said the country must reduce its reliance on atomic power with the goal of eventually becoming nuclear-free.

"The large-scale, long-running nuclear accident has triggered radiation leakage, causing serious concerns not only in Japan but also in the world," Mr Kan said at a memorial ceremony in Hiroshima's Peace Park.

IAEA International Fact Finding Expert Mission of the Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP Accident Following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami


Report to the IAEA Member States

Tokyo, Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP, Fukushima Dai-ni NPP, and Tokai Dai-ni NPP, Japan

24 May - 2 June 2011

By agreement with the Government of Japan, the International Atomic Energy Agency

conducted a preliminary mission to find facts and identify initial lessons to be learned from

the accident at Fukushima Dai-ichi and share this information across the world nuclear

community. To this end, a team of experts undertook this Fact Finding Mission from 24 May

to 2 June 2011. The results of the Mission will be reported to the IAEA Ministerial

Conference on Nuclear Safety at IAEA headquarters in Vienna on 20 24 June 2011.

During the IAEA Mission, the team of nuclear experts received excellent cooperation from all

parties, receiving information from many relevant Japanese ministries, nuclear regulators and

operators. The Mission also visited three affected nuclear power plants (NPP) — Tokai Dai-

ni, Fukushima Dai-ni and Dai-ichi — to gain an appreciation of the status of the plants and

the scale of the damage. The facility visits allowed the experts to talk to the operator staff as

Video - IAEA Chief Surveys Progress at Fukushima Accident Site

IAEA.org - July 25, 2011

At the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano received on 25 July 2011 an extensive briefing and visited key locations at the nuclear accident site.

Eyewitnesses at Fukushima

Gov't to Make Radioactive Material Concentration Map for Farmlands

submitted by Janine Rees

The Mainichi Daily News - August 5, 2011


Chiyoko Kaizuka, 83-year old farmer, weeds a spinach field Sunday, March 20, 2011 in Moriya, Ibaragi Prefecture, Japan. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO (Kyodo)-- The government said Tuesday it plans to draw up a radioactive substance concentration map for farmlands and conduct a study on contaminated debris as part of measures to deal with radioactive material released from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The measures are to be implemented by the end of this year, with government ministries and agencies strengthening cooperation to deal with radiation contamination from the disaster-struck Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

But the government did not show how it will use findings from the study to decontaminate areas near the almost destroyed power plant.

According to measures compiled Tuesday, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will analyze farm land at about 500 sites mainly in Fukushima Prefecture, where the wrecked nuclear plant is located, and draw up a radioactive material concentration map by the end of this month.


Subscribe to Japan RSS
howdy folks