Archive for ‘Nuclear issues and Fukushima’

July 13, 2012

Kagoshima Governor supporting the nuclear restart wins the election: Nuclear hype in the media

Kagoshima Governor supporting the nuclear restart wins the election: Nuclear hype in the media

Walter Sebastian, Hiroshi Saito and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

The mass media keeps on telling the world that the majority of Japanese individuals are against nuclear power. However, the recent victory for Governor Yuichiro Ito points to the reality that the nuclear issue isn’t the main concern for the majority of Japanese people. Therefore, despite the hype it is clear that the “nuclear option” is viable just like it was for the past few decades. Also, with the increased imports of energy hitting the Japanese economy hard it is clear that more and more individuals will put the economic well being of Japan first.

After the tragic events of March 11, 2011, related to the brutal earthquake and tsunami which unleashed the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the media spin is often anti nuclear. In fact, major agencies all over the world appear to “pick statistics out of thin air” when stating that the vast majority of Japanese citizens reject nuclear power. Yet clearly the election in Kagoshima, just like other elections, doesn’t back up this “alleged theory.”

In various elections held in Japan it is clear that individual politicians who support the resumption of nuclear power have won. Also, even when politicians won who may be against nuclear power, they were elected not on this reason but related to other factors. Therefore, despite the media hype and other negative postures towards nuclear power it is abundantly obvious that this issue isn’t the main focus for the vast majority of the Japanese electorate.

It also must be stated that over 19,000 people died because of the tsunami which destroyed so many places in the Tohoku region and surrounding area along the coast. On the other hand, the death total with regards to nuclear power remains to be zero. This isn’t to underestimate the seriousness of radiation in areas close to the stricken nuclear facility. The same applies to the local fisheries community and towns within the 30km zone which have been hit hard. However, it isn’t the Armageddon which was pictured by many articles during the early period of the crisis.

Not only this, if you visit Fukushima prefecture you will notice that the commercial capital in Koriyama is thriving. Similarly, while “some media agencies appear to have an agenda” this isn’t helping the local economy in Fukushima prefecture. After all, tourist numbers have been down despite gradually increasing in recent months.

Therefore, for individuals who are concerned about the livelihoods of people in Fukushima many have visited the tourist attractions to over compensate for people who have been manipulated by “false reporting” and over-hyped statements. Indeed, if individuals visit beautiful places like the Urabandai region in Fukushima, then clearly the stunning aspect of nature is a clear reminder that the vast majority of Fukushima prefecture is open to the business and tourist community.

Turning back to the Kagoshima gubernatorial election then Governor Yuichiro Ito was elected for the third time to continue to run this part of Japan at the local level. Yuichiro Ito supports the restarting of two nuclear power stations providing the new safety mechanisms have been firmly put in place. His challenger, Yoshitaka Mukohara, desired to block the return to nuclear energy in this prefecture and then scrapping the nuclear reactors in the future.

However, the vast majority of people selected Yuichiro Ito in Kagoshima despite all the media hype about nuclear power. Individuals elected him based on many factors which were unrelated to nuclear power and this is the point. Even if an individual wins who is anti-nuclear, it doesn’t imply that this was the reason why they were elected. Likewise, if individuals are selected because they support the resumption of nuclear power, it also doesn’t imply that the vast majority of people voted for this individual based on supporting nuclear energy.

The real issue for the majority of Japanese people is economics and not the nuclear issue. Therefore, Yuichiro Ito was elected on the grounds that he is restoring financial health to Kagoshima.

Some politicians, celebrities, the mass media, and so forth, are hyping the anti-nuclear issue because of their own agenda. Yet just like in Tokyo when anti-nuclear demonstrations are highlighted in the media – it is clear that on the very same day more people will be shopping for fashion items in stores throughout major fashion areas. After all, while the “nuclear issue” is important for anti-nuclear individuals despite the tsunami killing more than 19,000 people and nobody dying from the nuclear crisis, it is clear the majority of people are voting with their feat.

 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

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May 5, 2012

Fukushima fashion in Koriyama: stunning boutiques in this trendy part of Japan

Fukushima fashion in Koriyama: stunning boutiques in this trendy part of Japan

Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Koriyama is a buzzing city in Fukushima where the fashion sector is extremely vibrant. Images of Fukushima are often portrayed negatively because of the nuclear crisis that followed the devastating tsunami on March 11, 2011. However, the vast majority of Fukushima is awash with stunning nature and is open for business. Indeed, the fashion angle to Koriyama is extremely stylish and elegant and clearly the younger generation is well served because you have so many stunning boutiques to visit.

Fashion in Koriyama caters for individuals of all ages and you will find many sophisticated boutiques selling luxury items. The choices available are extremely varied and this applies to high-end fashion, new trendy vibes, elegant styles which suit people of all age groups, alternative fashion, and famous international brands. Therefore, for tourists who plan to visit Fukushima because of the abundance of adorable nature, then clearly the fashion angle to Koriyama will take people by surprise.

If you close your eyes you could easily be in trendy Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya, and other buzzing districts in Tokyo. However, this is the strong fashion vibes of Koriyama in Fukushima whereby the following images highlight the trendy nature of fashion in this highly developed city.

In the S-PAL Department Store you will notice how trendy and stylish the local ladies are because the dress styles are elegant. Throughout this store you have so many fabulous boutiques to visit and for young ladies it is a paradise for shopping. Adorable boutiques include Forest Heart, Index, The Emporium, VIS, E hyphen World Gallery, Earth Music & Ecology, Lowrys Farm, EMSEXCITE, Luccica, East Boy, and so many other stunning fashion companies. Therefore, for ladies who adore fashion a visit to S-PAL is highly recommended.

The S-PAL Department Store is located within the train station and within easy walking distance you have the exquisite Usui Department Store. This high-end department store would grace the most sophisticated parts of Tokyo, Paris, Milan, New York, Seattle, London, and other major fashion cities throughout the world. Therefore, for the people of Fukushima who desire luxury and extravagance then clearly the Usui Department Store provides this in abundance. In saying that, you will also find extremely stylish companies where the prices are very competitive and alluring for people who shop in this lovely department store.

In Usui Department Store you will find exquisite boutiques, jewelry companies, the crème de la crème of cosmetic companies, and so much more. A partial list includes Estee Lauder, Shiseido, Tiffany, Ralph Lauren, Peyton Place, Indivi, Itariya, Kanebo cosmetics, Pride and Unspeck, Swarovski, Lesouk Prix, Ined, ef-de, Coach, Reliant, Powder Palette, Franco Ferrer (b), and a host of other sublime companies. The Usui Department Store is a real gem of a company which highlights the elegance of fashion in Koriyama.

Another lovely fashion store catering for different styles is Molti Department Store which is extremely near to S-PAL. In Molti Department Store you will find many fashion companies catering for both sexes but clearly this store is extremely popular for young ladies. This is because of the stylish nature of the fashion on show and both department stores within the train station area enhance the fashion vibes of both companies.

Adorable boutiques in Molti Department Store include Clef De Sol, Raugefeel, MIX-O, a.v.v., Faunny Luv, Amare MYLEPR, Aspri Classe, Mighty Circle, Love & Peace, Benetton, Amo’s Style, and many others. Also, the international flavor can be found in other areas and this applies to the Body Shop or relaxing over coffee at Starbucks. This store certainly attracts the fashion conscious and the ambience is really nice.

It is also worth checking out the streets near the train station because you also have independent boutiques catering for various tastes. Therefore, Koriyama is certainly a fantastic city to visit from the fashion point of view.

Overall, it is clear that Fukushima needs internal tourists and international tourists to visit the many beautiful parts of this prefecture. The purpose of highlighting fashion in Koriyama is to show a different image to all the negative news about Fukushima. Therefore, by highlighting the fashion sector in this commercial city it shows that business and life is not only ticking but it is also vibrant.

Koriyama is only 55km from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. However, the atmosphere is 2012 is vibrant, energetic, and the fashion scene is extremely elegant. The photos in this article show the “real Koriyama” which is being neglected in the international media. Therefore, the best way to support the recovery of the Tohoku region is by visiting when possible in order to help the local economy.

The Koriyama fashion scene is buzzing and from this modern city you can visit many beautiful parts of Fukushima. This applies to the stunning mountain ranges, the many beautiful ponds which dot the landscape of the Ura-Bandai area, Abukuma Cave, a stunning castle, sophisticated museums, and so much more. Fukushima provides the lot, from adorable fashion in the main commercial city of Koriyama to stunning nature – and because of the Shinkansen train system, it means that it takes only around 80 minutes from Tokyo.

 

Boutiques

http://www.ef-de.jp/

http://www.ehyphen.jp/

http://www.feroux.jp/

http://www.earth1999.jp/

http://www.ined.com/

Department stores

http://www.usui-dept.co.jp/

http://www.s-pal.jp/

http://www.molti-koriyama.jp/

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2012/05/02/japan-tourism-and-fukushima-abukuma-do-koriyama-and-urabandai/

All fashion images belong to Modern Tokyo Times but please feel free to use providing you mention our website.  Thanks!

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

May 5, 2012

Japan tourism and Fukushima: Abukuma Cave, Koriyama, and Ura-Bandai

Japan tourism and Fukushima: Abukuma Cave, Koriyama, and Ura-Bandai

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

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Fukushima is a stunning prefecture in Japan which is awash with amazing landscapes where people can escape the stresses of life. Koriyama is the commercial capital of Fukushima prefecture and for many tourists this city is an ideal base. Also, since the events of March 11, 2011, this part of Japan received international attention because of the nuclear crisis but for the vast majority of this lovely prefecture, life is in full swing and is open for business. Therefore, for internal tourists in Japan and international tourists, it is a great way to support the local economy and at the same time have an amazing holiday because of the stunning nature of Fukushima.

Koriyama is an ideal base because of the amenities available which are top notch. This applies to high quality hotels, modern transport system which is served by the Shinkansen train system, excellent restaurants, stylish boutiques and a buzzing fashion scene, accessible to many places to visit, and a host of other factors. Indeed, it is clear that Koriyama in 2012 is a dynamic city which is the heart of the ongoing development of this beautiful prefecture.

The Abukuma Cave in Fukushima is a great place to visit because this limestone cave is well looked after and provides amazing views inside. Individuals are given two options which apply to a relaxing walk within Abukuma Cave. Therefore, for individuals who are not so healthy then this walk is advised because you can enjoy at your own leisure. However, if you are healthy and adore a challenge then the complex route is most rewarding. Yet be prepared for two or three very difficult areas where you have to nearly crawl in order to get through and continue your walk.

Scenic views within the cave are enthralling and clearly this limestone cave is well preserved and serves tourism in Fukushima extremely well. The views outside Abukuma Cave are also richly rewarding and you have other tourist attractions to enjoy. Therefore, a visit to Abukuma Cave is extremely rewarding and the history behind the formation of stalactites and stalagmites is very interesting.

Another amazing places to visit in Fukushima is Ura-Bandai and this notably applies to Goshiki-numa (five ponds of color). Of course the entire area is awash with amazing scenary and walks to enjoy. Yet the walk in Goshiki-numa is extremely rewarding and will always stay with you because of the stunning scenary and the richness of color. The reason behind the different colors of ponds, and why you have so many ponds and lakes, is because of the volcanic eruption of 1888 which flowed naturally into the Nagase-gawa which is a major river.

Most notable lakes and ponds that were created after the lava from the eruption in 1888 occurred apply to Nakase-numa Pond, Lake Onogawa-ko, Oguni-numa Pond, Lake Hibara-ko, and Lake Akimoto-ko. You also have a wealth of marsh areas. In total you have more than 100 ponds and lakes within the Ura-Bandai area (Bandai-kogen Highlands) and the Goshiki-numa (five ponds of color) walk is a must for all nature lovers. After all, the richness of different colors is a wonder to behold and the walking trail is really enjoyable and for photographers it is a paradize.

Also, for lovers of art and culture you have a stunning museum to visit called Morohashi Museum of Modern Art. The architecture of this museum is really pleasing on the eye and the backdrop of stunning mountains and a stream passing by the art gallery is truly inspiring and melts the heart.

The Morohashi Museum of Modern Art concentrates on such great artists like Paul Cezanne, Salvador Dali, and Pablo Picasso. Currently, you have a major exhibition which highlights the work of Salvador Dali. Also, within this lovely art museum you have many galleries to explore other artists and you also have a nice place to drink coffee and eat cake. This enchanting museum is a must place to visit because it provides a lovely cultural angle which blends naturally within the stunning scenary of Ura-Bandai.

Throughout Fukushima you have many amazing places to visit and given the circumstances of March 11, 2011, it is essential for internal tourists to support the local economy. The same applies to international tourists because Fukushima prefecture and the Tohoku region needs to recover completely from the devastation of the tsunami which killed so many individuals and caused havoc.

At the same time, tourists will be richly rewarded because Fukushima prefecture is a real gem. In Koriyama you will notice a thriving commercial centre where fashion is a major feature. From this ideal base you can visit many tourist attractions including stunning mountain ranges, lakes, ponds, the amazing Abukuma Cave, Tsuruga Castle, Oyaku-en Garden, and so much more. Simply put, Fukushima prefecture is an ideal location for tourists to enjoy stunning nature and relax by visiting an onsen, whereby you can refresh your body and mind.

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/fukushima/bandaikougen.html

http://dali.jp/english/ – The Morohashi Museum of Modern Art

http://www.tohokukanko-fukkou.jp/en/371.html Ura-bandai and Goshiki-numa

Art image – MARC CHAGALL  – currently on show at The Morohashi Museum of Modern Art

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

January 14, 2012

Japan bows down to America and reduces Iran oil imports: China remains neutral

Japan bows down to America and reduces Iran oil imports: China remains neutral

Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The United States put pressure on China and Japan to introduce sanctions on Iran’s oil industry and sadly Japan showed its weakness once more. However, China showed its independence by remaining neutral. After all, the government of America is an ally of Pakistan despite the complex relationship. Also, it is clear that India and Pakistan continue to spend vast sums on their respective military capabilities, including the nuclear angle. This in itself shows the lack of either sincerity or commitment on behalf of America and other nations like France which lambast Iran over the nuclear issue.

If political leaders in Tokyo believe that Iran is a threat to the national security of Japan or that Iran is an international threat, then clearly Japan must state this categorically and not hide behind the political intrigues in Washington. However, Iran does not have any ill intent towards Japan and clearly with China, India, Israel, and Pakistan, having nuclear weapons in Asia, it is understandable for Iran to be concerned about this reality from their respective geopolitical point of view.

Therefore, Japan should only follow suit on the grounds of national interests and the interest of the international community. However, the national interest of Japan isn’t threatened by Iran and the international community is divided on this issue because of so many internal pressing issues throughout every continent. This fact would imply that Japan bowed down to the “messenger,” US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, because why is Japan deciding on this now?

It must be stated that September 11, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, have one common theme and this applies to radical Sunni Muslims being involved in the deaths of American civilians and American soldiers. The Shia community in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia have not protected or funded global terrorist networks which were responsible for September 11, London, Bali, and countless terrorist attacks in Iraq and Pakistan. Therefore, the government in Tehran is much more responsible than the ruling elites in Saudi Arabia which have many ratlines and hidden agendas.

The Finance Minister of Japan, Jun Azumi, commented that “In the past five years, we have reduced… the amount of oil imported (from Iran).” He further continued by stating that “We wish to take planned and concrete steps to further reduce this share, which now stands at 10%.”

However, after the devastating March 11 tsunami hit Japan in 2011 this unleashed the tragedy of the nuclear crisis in Fukushima. Therefore, Japan is already facing many energy shortfalls and this political burden will further put pressure on political leaders in Tokyo.

Timothy Geithner commented that ”We are working very closely with Europe and Japan and allies around the world to substantially increase the amount of pressure we bring on Iran…We very much appreciate the support Japan has provided standing with us and the international community in support of this very important strategic objective.”

China took a neutral stance because political leaders made it clear that they hoped for a resolution to be found between Iran and the nuclear watchdog (International Atomic Energy Agency). Also, political leaders in Beijing stressed that oil related issues should not be solved by relating this to the nuclear issue. Liu Weimin a ministry spokesperson for the government of China commented that “To place one country’s domestic law above international law and press others to obey is not reasonable.”

Japan also stressed that they will seek more oil exports from other nations in the Gulf. However, at a time when Shia Muslims are being persecuted in Bahrain and continue to be second-class citizens in Saudi Arabia – then this would appear to be taking an anti-Iran stance for no reason. Therefore, political leaders in Tokyo should think more deeply before becoming entangled in the web of America and Saudi Arabia.

If Japan sincerely believes that Iran is a threat to the national security of Japan and that this nation threatens the international community, then by all means Japan must stand firm with America. However, it would appear that Japan doesn’t believe this and that the only binding factor is the pressure put on Tokyo by political leaders in Washington. The timing for Japan, with internal energy problems, could not be worse and domestic issues should have meant more than the political meddling of America and Saudi Arabia.

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

November 16, 2011

Economic growth in Japan but external factors remain troublesome

Economic growth in Japan but external factors remain troublesome

Joachim de Villiers and Lee Jay Walker 

Modern Tokyo Times

The economy of Japan despite all the scaremongering continues to show great resilience and this is despite many massive internal and external factors. Of course, the events that unfolded on March 11 led to major economic convulsions and the loss of life was enormous but on top of this is also the global economic situation. Therefore, for Japan to rebound when America and the European Union are suffering so much is also remarkable.

Tens of thousands of people died because of the potent and deadly tsunami which was unleashed by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake. This was followed by a huge nuclear cloud which hung over Japan and the mass media didn’t help. Therefore, many embassy staff fled alongside foreign nationals and this uncertainty put enormous strains on the economy.

Also, for major manufacturing companies who were based in the areas hit by the earthquake and tsunami, it was essential to restructure and solve the huge cog in the machinery which was hindering the supply chain. However, corporate Japan and the government pumped vast sums into the economy and the banking system. Therefore, a huge capital base was built in order for Japanese companies to obtain funds internally (applies to companies hit by March 11) and also to expand internationally because of the strong yen.

Not only this, the weakness of the American dollar and the Euro meant that exporters would have been hit badly during natural economic events. Yet despite everything, including typhoon Talas which killed many in Wakayama and other prefectures, Japan’s economy is showing signs of economic growth and a rebound was announced.

This applies to gross domestic product growing by 1.5% and while the government of Japan can’t rest on these laurels, it is still a remarkable achievement given the reality of 2011 in Japan. Of course, the ill-winds of America and the European Union will continue to hinder further economic progress but a base is being built and stability is the first step after such internal disasters this year related to nature.

In an earlier article by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that If you want to study about the uniqueness of Japanese capitalism and how companies respond to enormous adverse conditions, then the Tankan survey by the Bank of Japan will make you fully aware. After all, the devastation caused by March 11 and the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant would have caused most nations to bow down to mass uncertainty.  However, welcome to corporate Japan where the response may seem slow but once the juggernaut starts, then it eats into the crisis and returns to normal.”

“Let us also remember that unemployment in America remains within the 9% range to just below 10% despite enormous debt borrowing and having no internal devastating consequences to face.  Also, remember, that the dollar is very weak and should be helping exporters but in Japan the opposite is happening because the yen is too strong and causing many problems.”

“However, unemployment in Japan is falling despite all these negatives to below 4.5% and it is Japan and not America which is trying to help the European Union and crisis hit Greece.  This applies to buying more Eurobonds and making it fully aware that Japan will step in and help Greece providing a sound economic policy is put on the table.”

Therefore, the announcement that Japan’s economy is picking up is remarkable given the adverse conditions but sadly the economic situation isn’t out of the woods. This applies to external factors like the high yen; the sluggish global economy; recent floods in Thailand hindering Japanese companies with regards to the supply chain; the ensuing crisis in Europe and the “Euro cloud;” and other factors.

If the global economy was in a healthier condition and the international exchange rates of major currencies were based on realism; then Japan would have more hope for optimism. However, it is hard to imagine other nations rebounding so quickly from such a traumatic event and for this fact alone it is clear that Japan can recover quickly from major internal convulsions.

The next quarter may show that all is not well because of external factors and consumer spending internally remains problematic. Yet the scaremongering of the demise of Japan can be seen for what it was.

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.clom

November 1, 2011

Paying Homage to the Spirit of Japan seen in the Fukushima 50

Paying Homage to the Spirit of Japan seen in the “Fukushima 50”

James Jomo and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The March 11 earthquake which triggered the brutal and devastating tsunami which in turn created the nuclear crisis in Fukushima remains vivid in the memory. This tragic day will never be forgotten in Japan and the same applies to the international community which witnessed the tragic events which followed.

Sadly, despite enormous reconstruction and redevelopment taking place in the worse effected areas you still have many ongoing problems. This applies to the nuclear facility in Fukushima and radiation issues which remain, to more natural daily issues of people living in temporary accommodation and trying to find employment.

Any government in the world hit by this tragic event would be challenged to the full and in fairness to Japan, a lot of support mechanisms have been put into place but of course for people hit by this tragic event then so much more is needed.

In the midst of the nuclear crisis you had the “Fukushima 50” who did everything in their power to prevent a nuclear meltdown. These brave souls should never be forgotten because during the height of the crisis they worked day and night and at any time they could have been killed. Also, the reality of radiation means that we still don’t know if many of these brave souls will die from cancer in the future caused by radiation.

Irrespective if you are anti-nuclear, pro-nuclear or you believe that nuclear energy is a practical choice, it is clear that the “Fukushima 50” deserve the support of everybody. While alarming comments were being made and very natural dangers could have killed all members of the “Fukushima 50,” they merely got on with everything and worked around the clock in order to protect local citizens and to prevent a complete nuclear meltdown.

In an earlier article by Modern Tokyo Times which was published on March 18 it was commented that “Images of Fukushima have spread all over the world but the people who are trying to prevent a nuclear meltdown remain faceless and out of sight.  Therefore, they have been named the “Fukushima 50” in honor of their valor and loyalty to the cause.”

“All members of the “Fukushima 50” understand that death awaits them if the internal conditions become uncontrollable.  However, for the “Fukushima 50” they are thinking about the people of Japan and they understand that they are in the frontline and that if they perish, then countless others will follow from the worst case scenario.”

“Of course you will have tens of thousands of other “faceless individuals” who are giving everything in order to help people and many are working in dangerous and terrible conditions.  In this sense, but not from the personal danger that the “Fukushima 50” face; the “Fukushima 50” represent all individuals who are working against the clock in order to help the people of Japan.”

The article was written within 7 days of the March 11 tragedy and being based in Tokyo then Modern Tokyo Times tried its best to support Japan. After all, many embassies were closed and many people left Tokyo in panic. However, at all times the core of Modern Tokyo Times remained in the heart of Tokyo and visits were also made to Fukushima and other areas hit.

However, unlike the “Fukushima 50,” we had the luxury of being based far away and the admiration of these brave souls can’t be overstated. After all, how many people would risk their-own-skin in the face of so much carnage? This collectively applies to the knowledge that the high radiation may give you cancer in the future or that at any time the plant could have just blown up completely.

In the “valley of death” the “Fukushima 50” walked tall and showed the beauty of humanity. 

It matters not if you are pro-nuclear or anti-nuclear; the real issue is their bravery, dedication and giving everything in order to protect the people who reside in Japan.

They must never be forgotten because unlike the “heroes on television” who are actors and actresses, the “Fukushima 50” are real heroes and in the “valley of death” they never flinched. 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com  

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2011/03/18/spirit-of-japan-seen-in-the-%e2%80%9cfukushima-50%e2%80%9d/

October 2, 2011

Fukushima and sound early advice by Sir John Beddington helped many

Fukushima and sound early advice by Sir John Beddington helped many

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

March 11 in Tokyo was a very eventful day because the powerful 9.0-magnitude earthquake violently shook the capital of Japan many times. Having resided in Tokyo for many years then earthquakes are nothing new and usually you just go with the flow and soon it is over.  However, this day was very different because the force was enormous and it felt like the ground was going to open up.

The first few hours witnessed aftershock after aftershock and it seemed like it wasn’t going to end.  In Yurakcho and Ginza, where I was aimlessly wandering around, the high octane nature of fashion suddenly felt unimportant and the notion of reality was like an illusion.

After several hours of uncertainty people in Tokyo were still unaware about what was happening in distant Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima.  The news on television was mentioning that a tsunami had followed the original earthquake but information was patchy. Therefore, during this period most people in Tokyo believed that tens of people or a few hundred people may have died but nobody could have imagined the real devastation.

Not only this, but Fukushima was not even on the radar in Tokyo during the early period and most people, me included, just watched the breaking news on wide television screens in buildings where they are available.  The train system was in shut-down mode and the aftershocks were many, therefore, it was all about biding your time and trying to contact friends if possible or somehow finding your way home.

The next few days felt extremely strange in Kanagawa, Tokyo and Saitama, where I am based.  Also, more details were emerging about Fukushima and the Daiichi nuclear plant and this story was picked on by the global media.

At the same time it was becoming more apparent that thousands of people had perished and by the end of a week or so then clearly this figure was rising to the tens of thousands. Images of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima were being shown daily and the footage was horrendous. This applies to images of the tsunami sweeping away villages and towns and the ongoing nuclear crisis in Fukushima.

Many international news agencies were painting a picture that was genuine with regards to the tsunami but completely over the top when it came to Fukushima.  This created a panic and many embassies closed and vast numbers of foreign nationals began to leave.

Of course, at no point was I going to leave because Tokyo is my home and for better or worse it is my shared city along with my beloved Manchester.  However, just like in all events you had a voice of reason amidst the scaremongers and this voice of reason belonged to Sir John Beddington.

In my earlier article called British scientific adviser: nothing to fear outside of Fukushima exclusion zone which I wrote on March 17 in Tokyo, I highlight this man of wisdom and deep knowledge.  I commented that “The British Embassy in Tokyo on March 15th invited the Government’s Chief Scientific Professor, Sir John Beddington, to answer deep and difficult questions related to the Fukushima nuclear power plant.  Sir John Beddington replied and gave detailed information about the most likely outcome and his opinion about events which have been reported in the press.”

Sir John Beddington stated “…what I would really re-emphasise is that this is very problematic for the area and the immediate vicinity and one has to have concerns for the people working there. Beyond the 20 or 30 kilometres, it’s really not an issue for health.”

Therefore, after reading the full transcript of what Sir John Beddington stated I felt re-assured and completely vindicated about telling people to stay in Tokyo. This applies to a few individuals I know who hit the panic button.

Turning back to my article I stated that “at all times, it appears that the British point of view is that Tokyo is very safe and the same applies to all areas outside of the exclusion zone of the Fukushima nuclear plant but 30km was mentioned to be extremely safe, therefore, the exclusion zone may be added if developments become severe and meltdown actually happens.”

Sir John Beddington was a tower of strength in the following days and weeks after March 11. Of course some of his views may have changed given the release of further information but the fundamentals will remain the same.

On the other side you had scaremongers and one writer for the BBC was clearly out of order.  Therefore, in another article I commented that “According to Rupert Wingfield-Hayes you would believe that all Tokyoites are panicking and are in a flux because of events since the devastating earthquake.  He states in his article called “The eerie quiet of Tokyo hides Japan’s shock and anxiety,” which was published by the BBC, that “The threat to Tokyo’s 30 million people is invisible.  Everyone is now asking themselves the same question.  When does the crisis unfolding at the Fukushima nuclear plant 150 miles (240km) to the north cross that invisible line when you decide the risk of staying here is too high?”

Sadly you had many Rupert Wingfield-Hayes who were adding fuel to the fire but luckily words of wisdom were being stated by people of deep knowledge like Sir John Beddington.

Therefore, relatives and friends in many lands were hanging on his words and if only the media heeded his sound advice.  However, you have many agendas and this applies to environmentalists, anti-nuclear lobby, and many other factors.

Yet for people like myself, I followed the advice of Sir John Beddington and after reading his pearls of wisdom I just knuckled down and got on with life.  After all, Tokyoites were very lucky to escape the ravages of the earthquake, tsunami and radiation from Fukushima.

The British Embassy in Tokyo  http://ukinjapan.fco.gov.uk/en/

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2011/03/17/british-scientific-adviser-nothing-to-fear-outside-of-fukushima-exclusion-zone/

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2011/03/21/the-reality-and-unreality-of-tokyo-amidst-the-hype-of-the-media/

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
 
 

 
September 27, 2011

Pro-nuclear Mayor wins despite anti-Nuclear lobby in Japan

Pro-nuclear Mayor wins despite anti-Nuclear lobby in Japan

Olivier LeCourt and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The crisis in Fukushima at the Daiichi plant made no difference in the mayor election in Kaminoseki. Therefore, the pro-nuclear mayor was re-elected once more and he will continue to push ahead with plans for a new nuclear plant to be built.

Fukushima is a “nuclear football” where scaremongers over-hype the crisis and desire to make Japan non-nuclear.  Issues certainly need to be raised and mismanagement at this nuclear plant was a clear factor in the ongoing crisis.  However, the earthquake of March 11 which unleashed the tsunami is being used for political purposes and it is difficult to find the truth amidst the propaganda.

It is abundantly clear that safety measures were woefully inadequate and this fact is disputed by few people. Therefore, many individuals still support the nuclear energy sector but their voices are being neglected on the whole because you have a slick anti-nuclear lobby campaign.

Dr. Vojin Joksimovich, who is a PhD holder in nuclear engineering and is a retired nuclear safety specialist, is very skeptical about short-term policies which seek to dismantle the nuclear sector in Japan.  He comments in his article titled EU, US, & Japan: Dysfunctional Leaderships are Gambling with leading Capitalist Economies, that “The Japanese nuclear establishment has overlooked the need to provide a need for adequate tsunami protection. San Onofre nuclear power plant in my neighborhood is protected by a 30 foot high tsunami wall. The Tohoku earthquake originated in a subduction zone and the tsunamis generated in a subduction zone are much larger than those resulting from earthquakes in a strike slip geologic fault systems such as faults near San Onofre.”

Dr. Vojin Joksimovich also comments thatNuclear power plays an important role in the world’s energy mix. It is clean, as the world seeks to reduce carbon emissions. It is steadier than renewables, such as solar and wind, which require a more expensive and sophisticated power grid. In addition, the solar and wind energy storage facilities still need to be developed. The nuclear power, like coal, provides inexpensive source of base power, while solar and wind are useful as supplementary energy sources. The third largest world economy cannot afford to abandon nuclear power. Japan in future could focus on building inherently safe high-temperature gas cooled reactors.”

Therefore, when the pro-nuclear Mayor Shigemi Kashiwabara was re-elected in Kaminoseki against his opponent who is anti-nuclear, then people should take note.  After all, images of Fukushima are still in the memory and even now the crisis continues in Fukushima but despite this the majority of people in Kaminoseki remained loyal to the local mayor who supports the building of a new nuclear plant.

Even the reporting of this event is being manipulated by language and excuses are being made.  Example, comments stating that “much of the electorate is elderly” and some “small pockets who support nuclear plants remain” – implying that only negative factors won the election.  However, it is not some small pockets because the electorate is divided despite all the scaremongering. 

Even in Kaminoseki it isn’t so simple because many locals also oppose a nuclear power plant being built and demonstrations took place way before the nuclear crisis in Fukushima.  However, the majority did support Kashiwabara but clearly this is a hot topic and very delicate.

The planned Chugoku Electric Power Co hopes to build a new nuclear plant and the major is focused on the needs of the people he represents and obtaining much needed revenue.  It is obvious that many towns and cities in the countryside need to attract investments and nuclear power enabled rapid economic growth in Japan along with other sources of energy in the past.

China, India, and South Korea are all focused on expanding nuclear facilities and many Japanese companies are heavily involved in this sector.  The current economic crisis throughout the world also needs pragmatism and if Japanese politicians desire to scrap the nuclear sector then it should only be based on feasible alternatives.

Mayor Kashiwabara comments “What is wrong in hoping for a decent living?”  

It is a fair question and many parts of the countryside need economic stimulus and while this should not rely on any one particular source of revenue, it is clear that the nuclear option is a source of possible economic support. 

In another article published by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that  “Alternative energy can enhance the energy demands of Japan alongside a well maintained nuclear sector but the phasing out of nuclear energy appears to be over dramatic and ill-considered in such a short space of time.” 

It would appear that Prime Minister Noda shares the same thinking because he clearly believes that the nuclear sector will remain to be an important source of energy for the next few decades.

However, if a genuine policy of alternative energy is put on the table whereby it makes economic sense and which is obtainable, then the water will no longer be muddy.  At the moment, this isn’t happening and nuclear energy isn’t the big evil which it is perceived to be by the anti-nuclear lobby.

Fukushima was about human failure and a freak potent tsunami which destroyed many coastal regions where the earthquake hit.  The safety mechanism failed and the defensive structure was inadequate amongst other major failings.

The re-election of Mayor Kashiwabara is a reminder that the nuclear issue is very complex and that many people still believe that this sector is viable and needed.

http://moderntokyotimes.com

September 22, 2011

Typhoon Roke not so potent like Typhoon Talas: fewer deaths and devastation

Typhoon Roke not so potent like Typhoon Talas: fewer deaths and devastation

James Jomo and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Typhoon Roke hit Japan and while many reports were involved in scare mongering prior to the latest typhoon to hit Japan, it is clear that Typhoon Talas was much more devastating and potent.  This is not to undermine the chaos caused by Typhoon Roke but many agencies stated over 1 million to be evacuated and danger to Fukushima.

In Tokyo you had major disruptions to the transportation network and this notably applies to train services and airports which serve Tokyo and the surrounding region. However, unlike many reports, most of Japan was working and in Tokyo the vast majority of businesses remained open during the typhoon but some companies did allow people to go home early.

Today in Tokyo it is hot and sunny and it seems like a million miles away from yesterday. Therefore, it is business like usual and Tokyo is ticking to the usual normalcy and the transportation system is in working order.

Several people were killed by Typhoon Roke but the numbers are much less than Typhoon Talas which was extremely potent and caused untold damage to vast areas of the Kii Peninsula.  Therefore, many evacuation plans were cancelled when it was realized that the potency wouldn’t be so threatening like it was feared in many quarters.

Reports about the threat to the Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima were unfounded and the report by Modern Tokyo Times prior to Typhoon Roke was more realistic. This applies to focusing on areas which would be hit the hardest, for example Nagoya and the surrounding region, and ignoring the so-called threat to Fukushima which was based on alarmism.

In my article called Typhoon Roke to hit Japan: the ravages of nature once more I commented that “Typhoon Roke may trigger more floods and landslides in the Kii Peninsula after the devastating Typhoon Talas which killed many people and caused massive damage. Typhoon Talas hit the Kii Peninsula very hard and many were killed in Wakayama and Nara.  Apparently, Typhoon Roke will reach the island of Honshu on Wednesday and Nagoya and the surrounding region is expected to be hit hard.”

“Therefore, local authorities in Aichi and Gifu are preparing for the worse-case scenario and local residents have been warned.  Nagoya is also worried about the consequences of Typhoon Roke and called for the evacuation of Moriyama and Kita wards.” 

Once many areas understood that the worse-case scenario wasn’t going to happen the evacuation was cancelled. However, it was correct for all precautions to be taken and the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry did a good job of monitoring events and responding to areas which faced the most danger.

More details will emerge in the next 24 hours but the death toll and devastation is much lower than anticipated. Therefore, Japan can breathe more easily today and continue to focus on areas hit by Typhoon Talas.

http://moderntokyotimes.com

September 15, 2011

Yoshihiko Noda speaks candidly on his blog: Fukushima to Wakayama

Yoshihiko Noda speaks candidly on his blog: Fukushima to Wakayama

Lee Jay Walker 

Modern Tokyo Times  

Typhoon Talas

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda speaks candidly and openly about his first week in office on his blog and he must be a little spellbound by the speed of events.  This does not only apply to being the new leader of Japan but to the reality of concerns at the moment.

PM Noda visited the disaster areas which were hit by the devastating earthquake and tsunami and the sad legacy of the nuclear crisis which continues in Fukushima. Not only this, he also visited areas hit by the recent typhoon and saw the devastation at first hand.  All of this will have hit home to PM Noda the reality of the ongoing problems that many people face in Japan in areas hit by natural disasters. Also, in the case of Fukushima it is part “man-made” or fully “man-made” depending on your thinking but nature triggered this crisis and human failings added to the nightmare.

Therefore, the new leader of Japan could be forgiven if he thought he was in a war stricken country with so much devastation happening this year in Japan.  However, this is not the case because this is the reality of the potent forces of nature which have killed tens of thousands of people in Japan this year.

The new leader of Japan took office on September 2 and immediately he focused on understanding the “real needs” of people who have suffered so much.  On September 8 he visited Fukushima and this was followed by visiting Mie, Nara, and Wakayama, the following day and on September 10 the new leader of Japan visited Miyagi and Iwate.

During his visit to Fukushima he inspected TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and the protective clothing will have brought home to him how brave the workers are and how loyal they are.  PM Noda commented that “The devoted efforts of the workers at the site are supporting this country.  With these feelings of appreciation, I encouraged the persons involved to the fullest extent of my power.”

PM Noda also witnessed how locals in Date are trying to decontaminate radioactive materials and on September 9 further funds were promised with the announcement of a 220 billion yen budget aimed at the decontamination of radioactivity. He also stressed the need for the central government to cooperate with local municipalities and to target this funding on areas which had been designated for evacuation.    

PM Noda also told the Governor of Fukushima, Yuhei Sato, that “Without the revival of Fukushima, there can be no revitalization of a vibrant Japan.” Yuhei Sato relayed important information and requests were stated in order to restore faith in Fukushima. It is also important for the central government to relate to local politicians and people who have been hit by this tragedy and this meeting was a good way to show the sincerity of the new Cabinet.

The visit to Mie, Nara, and Wakayama, on September 9 applies to the devastation and loss of life caused by Typhoon Talas. PM Noda commented that “I felt very poignantly the depth of the traces of the damage from Typhoon 12 and the horror of the concentrated heavy rain and landslides.  I instructed that, with lifesaving as the foremost priority, all-out efforts are to be made towards emergency countermeasures for this disaster, including the relief and rescue of the victims, that it is imperative to strive to grasp the situation of damage in a rapid and accurate manner, and that efforts are to be made with a sense of urgency, in cooperation with the related prefectural offices and local authorities.”

The prime minister also met Mayor Teramoto of Nachikatsuura who lost his daughter to the destructive typhoon and on September 9 his wife had still not been found. PM Noda was deeply impressed by Mayor Teramoto because while politicians are often lambasted you also see the human face and real bravery of individuals like Mayor Teramoto.

The following day took the prime minister to Iwate and Miyagi and in Rikuzentakata (Iwate) the leader of Japan saw the utter devastation that was created by the tsunami. In the fishing port of Kesennuma a more optimistic note was seen because the fishing sector is starting again and PM Noda commented that he “…could feel vitality towards reconstruction” and that “the critical issues for my Cabinet are recovery and reconstruction from the earthquake and tsunami disaster, including bringing the situation at the nuclear plant under stable control.”  

The new leader of Japan is under no illusions about the problems that he and his Cabinet faces and he also appears to be more determined to focus on the debt issue.  The mass media in Japan is mainly unforgiving but the early steps by the new leader of Japan show compassion, sincerity, the need to listen to people on the ground and a call to collective responsibility.

http://nodasblog.kantei.go.jp/  – Prime Minister of Japan – Yoshihiko Noda’s blog 

http://moderntokyotimes.com