News for June 2012

The Japan’s government decided to restart nuclear power in Japan. “The battle has only just begun”, said renowned composer Ryuichi Sakamoto.

After more than a month that Japan without nuclear energy, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda persuaded local politicians – as the anti-nuclear Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto – that it is safe to restart two of the 50 reactors that have been idled.
Two reactors at Oi power plant will be brought back online, ending nuclear shutdown in Japan.
70 percent of Japanese say the government should not rush to restart the idled reactors and say their country should reduce its reliance on nuclear energy. Also 117 lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan oppose the reactors restarts.
The protest outside the prime minister’s office has become a weekly event in the past few months, with the number of participants increasing each time.

The National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC).
Source: NAIIC.

A Diet panel investigating last year’s nuclear disaster harshly evaluated the Kan administration’s immediate response, in sharp contrast with the findings by the Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident, a private panel. The Diet panel’s relation will be published later this june.
This month also Fukushima nuclear power plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), has published a report on the incident. Part of the conclusions of the company responsible for the nuclear disaster are similar to those reached by the Diet’s panel.

Timeline of the main news:

  • Cooling system for Fukushima Daiichi No. 4 reactor fuel pool shuts down
    The cooling system for the spent fuel pool at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant’s No. 4 reactor automatically shut down Saturday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. The utility known as TEPCO has been unable to activate a backup cooling system for the pool, officials of the plant operator said later in the day, adding it is unlikely the temperature will rise rapidly.
    Kyodo News, June 30, 2012.

  • In Tokyo, Thousands Protest the Restarting of a Nuclear Power Plant
    Shouting antinuclear slogans and beating drums, tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the Japanese prime minister’s residence on Friday in the largest display yet of public anger at the government’s decision to restart a nuclear power plant.
    Estimates of the crowd’s size varied widely, with organizers claiming 150,000 participants, while the police put the number at 17,000. Local news media estimated the crowd at between 20,000 and 45,000, which they described as the largest protest in central Tokyo since the 1960s.

    Martin Fackler. The New York Times, June 29, 2012.

  • 150,000 people noisy protest in front the PM’s residence
    全国各地で原発抗議 官邸前「15万人」で騒然. The Asahi, June 29, 2012.

  • 200,000 demonstration from sky. Noda “It’s a big sound.”
    IWJ (Independent web journal), a Japanese independent journalists company chartered a helicopter. Yamamoto Taro reported.
    Mochizuki. Fukushima Diary, June 29, 2012.

  • Protest rally against Noda, Oi restarts intensifies

    Protest rally in front of the prime minister’s office, Tokyo June, 29, 2012. Source: The Japan Times.

    As Kansai Electric Power Co. prepares to fire up a reactor at the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture on Sunday, a massive crowd gathered in central Tokyo to express their anger toward the government and the utility. The protest outside the prime minister’s office has become a weekly event in the past few months, with the number of participants increasing each time.
    Kazuaki Nagata. Photos by Satoko Kawasaki and Sofia Elghazzali. The Japan Times, June 29, 2012.

  • Antinuclear protesters rally near PM’s office ahead of Oi plant restart
    Thousands of people mounted an antinuclear rally on a street near the prime minister’s office in Tokyo on Friday, protesting against the upcoming reactivation of a reactor at the Oi nuclear plant in western Japan, the first such move since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis last year. The street, also near the Diet building and the Kasumigaseki district dotted with government buildings, was crowded with police officers, reporters and protesters holding banners reading, “No Nukes” and, “Nuclear era is over!”.
    “This isn’t just Japan’s problem. It’s an international problem,” said Duncan Callister, a 63-year-old American, who joined the protest that organizers said drew around 45,000 people.

    Mayu Yoshida and Morichika Nakamoto. Kyodo News, June 29, 2012.

  • Plaintiffs seek preservation of TEPCO teleconference videos
    Plaintiffs will seek a court order to prevent Tokyo Electric Power Co. from erasing videos of teleconferences that could clear up lingering questions surrounding the response to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture.
    From reports by Hideaki Kimura, Takaaki Yorimitsu and Tomomi Miyazaki. The Asahi Japan Watch, June 28, 2012.

  • Japan Reactor Building Is Tilting but Not a Risk, Operator Says
    Kansai Electric Power Co. and three other power companies have said they will implement rolling blackouts in their service areas this summer when power supply capacity is expected to exceed peak demand by less than 1 percent.
    Hiroko Tabuchi. The New York Times, June 26, 2012.

  • 4 utility firms devise plans for rolling blackouts
    A heavily damaged reactor building at the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has a slight tilt, but the tilt does not pose a risk to the integrity of the building, according to the plant’s operator.
    Jiji Press. The Daily Yomiuri, June 24, 2012.

  • Japan protest over nuclear restart
    About 20,000 people gathered in front of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s residence in Tokyo late Friday to protest his decision to restart two nuclear reactors. “The battle has only just begun”, said renowned composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, a leading figure in the anti-nuclear movement.
    AFP. Asian Pacific News, June 22, 2012.

  • A 700 meters column against Oi restart in front of PM’s residence
    About 45,000 people, according to organizers, or 11,000, according to the Metropolitan Police Department, participated to a protest in front of the Prime Minister’s Office asking the government to withdraw the decision to restart Oi nuclear power plant. The column of people gathered on this day reached about 700 meters.
    大飯再稼働:撤回求め官邸前でデモ 列は700メートルに. The Mainichi, June 22, 2012.

  • Monitoring of Oi reactors beefed up
    The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said it will deploy inspectors to an off-site facility near the Oi nuclear plant to supplement monitoring of the reactivation of two reactors. But NISA officials said neither the nuclear watchdog nor Kansai Electric Power Co. plans to immediately inform the media about any unexpected troubles.
    Kyodo, The Japan Times, June 22, 2012.

  • Fukushima residents call TEPCO nuke disaster report ‘sloppy’ and ‘false’
    Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s final report on the Fukushima nuclear disaster has triggered a major backlash from prefectural residents and authorities who call it weak and even laced with falsehoods, it has been learned.
    The Mainichi, June 21, 2012.

  • ‘National security’ amendment to nuclear law raises fears of military use
    Supporters of an amendment quietly slipped into Japan’s nuclear power law saying it should contribute to “national security” are denying it could provide cover for military use of nuclear technology.
    From reports by Akira Ozeki and Seiji Tanaka, The Asahi Japan Watch, June 21, 2012.

  • INTERVIEW: Japan nuclear minister speeds up Fukushima decommissioning
    Workers at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant will begin removing fuel rods from a damaged reactors a year ahead of schedule, a government minister said June 21, a move to address concerns about the risk of a new quake that could cause a further accident and scatter more radioactive debris.
    Reuters, The Asahi Japan Watch, June 21, 2012.

  • Nuclear Operator in Japan Exonerates Itself in Report
    The much vilified operator of the tsunami-hit nuclear power plant at Fukushima released a report on Wednesday that said the company never hid information, never underplayed the extent of fuel meltdown and certainly never considered abandoning the ravaged site. It asserts that government interference in the disaster response created confusion and delays.
    Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times, June 20, 2012.

  • Alarm goes off at Oi nuclear plant, 1st trouble since restart decided
    An alarm went off Tuesday night at the No. 3 reactor of the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, indicating a minor problem, the plant operator and the government said Wednesday during preparations to reboot the reactor.
    Kyodo News, June 20, 2012.

  • Tokyo gov’t rejects proposal for referendum on nuclear reactors
    A proposal calling for a referendum on the resumption of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s nuclear reactors was voted down at a plenary session of the Tokyo metropolitan assembly Wednesday.
    Kyodo News, June 20, 2012.

  • Japanese Officials Failed to Use U.S. Data Tracking Radiation After Tsunami
    The United States shared detailed radiation measurements with Japan in the early days of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that the Japanese government did not make public or use in conducting evacuations, officials acknowledged on Tuesday.
    Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times, June 19, 2012.

  • A stolen life: Fukushima woman looks back on lost peaceful life due to nuclear crisis
    For some 16 years prior to the outbreak of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, 58-year-old Ruiko Muto led a simple, peaceful life surrounded by this rural city’s beautiful, rich nature. Today, 15 months after the disaster, she has lost much of what used to fulfill her life, leaving a growing sentiment of resentment and despair.
    The Mainichi, June 18, 2012.

  • Fukushima evacuees, citizens groups vexed by Oi restart decision
    Among those shaking their heads at the June 16 decision by the central government to resume operations at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture are evacuees in Fukushima Prefecture as well as citizens groups urging energy conservation.
    The Asahi Shimbun, The Asahi Japan Watch, June 17, 2012.

  • Japan nuclear restart gets PM’s approval
    Two reactors at Oi power plant will be brought back online, ending nuclear shutdown that flowed from Fukushima disaster
    Justin McCurry, The Guardian, June 16, 2012.

  • Anti-nuclear petition drive hits 7.48-million mark
    A citizens group behind a drive to collect 10 million signatures to end Japan’s reliance on nuclear power is three-quarters of the way to its goal. To date, 7,481,352 citizens have signed the “10 Million People’s Petition to say Goodbye to Nuclear Power Plants,” the group said June 12.
    The Asahi Shimbun, Asahi Japan Watch, June 13, 2012.

  • Kan fires blog broadside at Diet nuclear disaster investigative committee
    Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan has blasted a Diet nuclear disaster investigative committee which concluded that Kan confused the situation at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in March 2011 with his “excessive intervention.”
    The Mainichi, June 12, 2012.

  • Fukushima residents seek charges against TEPCO, government
    More than 1,000 people filed a criminal complaint against officials of Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the government, saying they should be held responsible for the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
    The Asahi Shimbun, Asahi Japan Watch, June 12, 2012.

  • Diet panel blasts Kan for poor approach to last year’s nuclear disaster
    A Diet panel investigating last year’s nuclear disaster harshly evaluated the Kan administration’s immediate response, saying it paid scant attention to radiation fallout and the safety of residents near the stricken plant.
    It said Prime Minister Naoto Kan and key officials did not release timely information to the public as the crisis unfolded because they were more concerned with averting panic.
    The Diet panel also did not credit Kan with preventing TEPCO’s full withdrawal when he stormed into the utility’s headquarters early on March 15 and ruled out any such action.
    Its critical assessment of Kan’s role came in sharp contrast with the findings by the Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident, a private panel.

    The Asahi Shimbun, Asahi Japan Watch, June 10, 2012.

  • Panel: Government meddling added to Fukushima nuclear crisis
    A panel investigating Japan’s nuclear disaster said on June 9 that the ex-prime minister and his aides caused confusion at the height of last year’s crisis by heavily interfering in the damaged and leaking plant’s operation.
    The panel, which has power to issue subpoenas, also revealed that TEPCO considered evacuating all but 10 workers, but Kan ordered them to keep working. There were about 700 workers from TEPCO and its affiliate companies when the March 11 earthquake struck the plant, destroying its power and cooling system and triggering meltdowns at three reactors. About 70 workers eventually managed to bring the plant under control.

    The Associated Press via AJW, June 10, 2012.

  • Oi restart policy deeply divides ruling party, nation
    Despite Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s personal appeal on June 8 for the restarts of two offline nuclear reactors in Fukui Prefecture, a large group of his own lawmakers appear determined to stage a last-minute stand against the policy.
    The Asahi Shimbun, Asahi Japan Watch, June 9, 2012.

  • Japan’s Premier Seeks Support for Using Nuclear Power
    In a rare personal appeal on national television, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda asked for his nation’s support on Friday in restarting the first of Japan’s idled nuclear plants, saying that keeping the plants offline could cause blackouts and economic chaos at a time when the country’s struggling economy can least afford it.
    Martin Fackler, The New York Times, June 8, 2012.

  • Ex-Tepco chief denies planned Fukushima pullout
    The former president of Fukushima plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co denied on Friday that he had ever considered pulling out all of the plant’s workers as they battled the worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl.
    Aaron Sheldrick, Reuters, June 8, 2012.

  • NISA OKs operating Mihama nuke reactor beyond 40 years
    The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) has concluded that measures to protect the Mihama reactor in a major earthquake, and KEPCO’s maintenance plan are adequate to extending the operational life of the decades-old Mihama nuclear plant’s No. 2 reactor by 10 years.
    Hiromitsu Ino, professor emeritus of materials science at the University of Tokyo who is a member of the expert panel, criticized the decision: “It is not appropriate for NISA to conclude that the extension is OK,” he said. “It’s not NISA’s job to draw such conclusions. That decision should only be given after a new nuclear regulatory agency (to replace NISA) is set up.”

    The Asahi Japan Watch, June 7, 2012.

  • 30% of DPJ lawmakers ask Noda to reconsider reactor restarts
    The extent of opposition in the ruling party to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s push to restart nuclear reactors became clear on June 5, with nearly a third of his party’s lawmakers putting their names to a petition asking him to reconsider his policy.
    The Asahi Shimbun, Asahi Japan Watch, June 6, 2012.

  • Water in Fukushima No. 4 spent fuel pool warms after pump troubles
    The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant said Wednesday that the temperature of water inside the No. 4 unit’s spent fuel pool rose to 42 C as of 5 p.m. following problems with the water circulation system pumps.
    Kyodo News, June 6, 2012.

  • TEPCO to deny inadequate response in final Fukushima nuclear crisis report
    Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, will deny in its final report on the crisis that its response to trouble involving the plant’s No. 1 and 3 reactors was inadequate, it has been learned.
    TEPCO’s in-house investigative committee on the nuclear accident, comprised of Vice President Masao Yamazaki and seven other executives, is putting the finishing touches to the report.

    The Mainichi, June 5, 2012.

  • Japanese Wary of Nuclear Energy. Survey Report

    The Japanese public opinion over the use of nuclear power in Japan. Source: Pew Research Center.

    The number of Japanese who believe Japan should reduce its dependence on nuclear energy has surged to 70%, while support for maintaining nuclear power use at current levels has fallen to fewer than half that number (25%). Just 4% of Japanese say the country should expand the use of nuclear power.

    A year ago – in the weeks following nuclear meltdown – Japanese were divided over whether the use of nuclear power in Japan should be reduced (44%) or maintained at its current level (46%). Only 8% said reliance on nuclear power should be increased.
    Pew Research Center, June 5, 2012.

  • 71 percent against hastily restarting Oi nuclear plant: Mainichi poll
    The Japanese government is set to decide this week to reactive two of the Oi Nuclear Power Plant’s reactors in Fukui Prefecture, but 71 percent of respondents to a survey by the Mainichi Shimbun say the government should not rush to restart the idled reactors, compared with 23 percent who are in favor of an early restart.
    The Mainichi, June 4, 2012.

  • 3 experts on Monju panel received donations from industry
    Three academic members of a panel examining the safety of the Monju fast breeder reactor received 16.1 million yen ($206,000) in donations from the nuclear power industry over five years, The Asahi Shimbun has learned.
    Satoshi Otani, Asahi Japan Watch, June 3, 2012.

  • Rolling blackouts possible even if Oi reactors are restarted

    The Oi nuclear power station in the Fukui Prefecture. Source: Google Maps.

    The government is planning for rolling blackouts in the Kansai region and other areas even if two idle reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture are brought back online before summer.
    Asahi Shimbun, Asahi Japan Watch, June 2, 2012.

  • Hashimoto shifts stance to allow restart of Oi nuclear reactors
    After espousing a staunch anti-nuclear stance that included threats to bring down the ruling party, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said May 31 he would approve the restart of two reactors in neighboring Fukui Prefecture.
    Asahi Shimbun, Asahi Japan Watch, June 1, 2012.

  • Related pages:
    See also the news and analysis archive for 2012 and 2011.

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    About Backyard World

    Backyard World is an art and information architecture project on the Fukushima crisis. The project was started March 17, 2011.
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