Saturday, December 29, 2012

OT: Lights Out for Paris, France

If you venture out in Paris between 1AM and 7AM, bring your torch (flashlight), says UK's Daily Mail.

As France's top court rules his 75% tax rate for the "rich" is unconstitutional, President Hollande goes on, trying to instill "sobriety" in the French by turning off lights in Paris and other cities, towns and villages all over the country.

And save money.

How about saving money by cutting your bureaucracy, Mr. President?

Instead, he will punish people - tradesmen, tourists, locals.

At least in France, rich people are defined as "having 1 million euro income or more", not like the US's 250,000 dollars or worse, Greece's 45,000 euro.

From Mail Online (12/29/2012; emphasis is mine):

Lights to be turned off in France to save money and show 'sobriety'

Paris may lose its trademark glow next year after plans emerged to extinguish its street lighting at night to save money.

French President Francois Hollande and his energy minister Delphine Batho are considering turning out the lights in and outside public buildings, offices and shops in the early hours of the morning.

If the scheme goes ahead, late-night revellers in the city would be advised to carry torches if they venture out between the hours of 1 and 7am.

The rules will also apply to other French cities, villages, and towns.

Batho said the measure would save energy and money, and show 'sobriety', although the plan has proved unpopular with traders.

It follows on from a new rule last July which states businesses must turn off neon lights between 1 and 6am. The measure was introduced as part of the French government's bid to improve its energy efficiency by 20 percent by 2020.

But the proposal was not popular with businesses, who believe that it could kill trade and discourage tourists.

'Visitors and locals follow the light, from one spot to another, all night long,' French chef and culinary consultant Didier Quemener told Quartz.

'My clients don’t want to be in the dark in the City of Light.'

France was visited by more than 81 million tourists in 2011 and the tourism industry employs some 900,000 people, according to government figures cited by

Fearing for the impact on the economy, vice-president of France’s Commerce Council, Sofy Mulle, told Bloomberg there must be a better way.

She said: 'Surely we can work out environmentally friendly solutions that have less impact on our society and economy.'

The plan is already in place at the city’s more than 300 churches, bridges, and monuments, including the Eiffel Tower.

'One of our main objectives is to change the culture,' energy minister Batho told a French TV station.

'We need to end the cycle of producing more because we are consuming more. There should be sobriety in energy use.'

The energy minister Delphine Batho's word sounds ominous to me. To change the culture, to what she and her boss think should be. There should be sobriety, forced by them.

Well, they won the election, so they must be thinking, like the US president and the Japanese prime minister, that they have the mandate.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Lawsuit by US Sailors Against TEPCO: "Goshi Hosono,You Lied!"

It's very interesting to see the reaction of the Japanese people on Twitter. I'd say the overwhelming majority is highly approving of the US sailors (they were not the helicopter pilots who were actually contaminated with radiation), buying all their arguments and sympathizing with them, particularly with the female sailor who was pregnant at that time.

(What was she doing on a nuclear aircraft carrier, pregnant?)

Anyway, the court paper filed on December 21, 2012 is here, for those who are interested. I'm skimming through it right now. So far, very flimsy.

One of their basis that the TEPCO/Japanese government (they use them interchangeably) lied to them was no other than Goshi Hosono, then a personal advisor to Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

Page 21 of the court document says (emphasis is mine):

94. Upon information and belief, as a further direct and proximate result of Defendant's negligence, Plaintiffs have been and will be required to undergo further medical testing, evaluation and medical procedures, including but not limiting to chelation therapy and bone marrow transplants in an effort to seek cure, and will be required to employ extraordinary means to achieve cure.

95. As a further direct and proximate result of Defendant's negligence, the Plantiffs incurred losses and damages for personal injury and property damage, loss of use and enjoyment of life and their property, the need for periodic medical examination and treatment, and economic losses, including wage loss, and the expenditure of time and money, and will continue to incur losses and damages in the future.

96. Plaintiffs also face additional and irreparable harm to their life expectancy, which has been shortened and cannot be restored to its prior condition.

97. Solely as the result of the defendant's negligence, carelessness and recklessness, the Plaintiffs, were caused to suffer severe and serious personal injuries to mind and body, and further, that the Plaintiffs were subjected to great physical pain and mental anguish.

Mr. Paul C Garner, who represents the Plaintiffs, seems to be an attorney from New York, specializing in "General Litigation; Corporate Law; Negligence Law; Medical Malpractice; Wills, Estates and Trusts; International Corporate; Entertainment Law; Business Law; Civil Practice; Environmental Law; Asbestos Litigation; Real Estate" (from

USS Ronald Reagan's Facebook post on that day (Sunday, March 13, 2011 at 11:52pm, probably the US time) by Commanding Officer Captain Thom Burke says (emphasis is mine):

Friends and Family of USS Ronald Reagan:

I want to take this opportunity to personally assure you that first and foremost all personnel aboard the USS Ronald Reagan are safe and healthy.

During our mission to assist our close allies of Japan, we were operating near the radioactive plume from Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant. As you may have already heard, radioactivity was detected on 17 personnel from our ship, however, we promptly took the proper precautions and the radioactivity was easily removed by using soap and water. The levels that were detected were very low levels. To put this into perspective, the maximum radiation dose received was equalt to the amount of natural background radiation one would receive in one month from sources such as rocks, soil and the sun.

Ronald Reagan has since repositioned away from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

As a nuclear-powered aircraft carrrier, we have extensive technical expertise onboard to properly monitor such types of risks, and if necessary, rapidly resolve the situation.

We have taken all the necessary precautions to ensure that everyone is safe. We have closely monitored spaces, evaluated everyone who has flown or worked on the flight deck and cleaned the aircraft.

I have not seen any levels of radiation or contamination that would cause me to have any significant concerns at all.

As we continue to assist Japan in this terrible catastrophe, our Sailor's--and your loves ones'-- safety will remain at the top of my priority list.

Capt. Thom Burke

The Japanese would take this as confirmation to their belief that all officials "lie".

All I can think of is how many bento would this money could buy for Futaba-machi evacuees in that abandoned high school building in Saitama. They could build a mansion for each and every one of them. Many of them, just like Mayor Idogawa, were there in Futaba-machi when Reactor 1 blew up and shiny, white particles were falling on them from the sky.

(H/T anon reader for USS Ronald Reagan's Facebook post)

Japan's Nuclear Regulatory Authority Experts Conducting 2nd Field Survey at Ooi Nuke Plant

The geologists headed by Dr. Kunihiko Shimazaki of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority are doing the second field survey in the only operating nuclear power plant in Japan, Ooi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture. They did the first survey last month, but there was an opinion expressed by one of the geologists that the fault may have been caused by a slide, and not an active fault. So they are conducting the second, expanded survey. The size of the trench is 80 meters long, double that of the first survey. (Information from ANN News)

Video from ANN News (12/27/2012):

The NRA has so far declared the faults in Tsuruga Nuke Plant and Higashidori Nuke Plant as "active". Geologists and NRA are almost laughing at Tohoku Electric's claim that what Higashidori Nuke Plant has is not an "active fault" but simply a swelling. They said if Tohoku Electric were correct, there would be an upheaval all around the world, because it would be news to all geologists.

If I remember right, the majority of the experts had declared the fault in Ooi Nuke Plant as "active" after the first survey. Dr. Shimazaki, deputy chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority has said they will need to look at the geological structure under the reactor buildings at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant. Dr. Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of NRA, is quite nonplussed about criticisms from the industry, saying he is simply evaluating, based on science, and giving full freedom to the experts to express their candid assessment.

Who could have known that this organization would be actually doing its work.

The experts are about to start a press conference on site.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

BBC: TEPCO Sued by Eight US Soldiers Over Radiation Disclosure

The soldiers were part of the Operation Tomodachi, which was such a tremendous help to the people in the disaster-affected areas in Tohoku in the early days of the earthquake/tsunami disaster in March last year. Unfortunately, the disaster also involved the nuclear accident, but at that time hardly anything about radiation exposure for the US soldiers, or SDF soldiers, or Japanese and international volunteers, were even mentioned in the news.

Asahi Shinbun reports that these soldiers were on board USS Ronald Reagan.

See, people in Japan, this is how much you should also sue TEPCO for - demanding US$10 million each (860 million yen), plus punitive damage of US$30 million. Add one or two zeros on your claim form.

The problem of course is that that money, or any money being demanded out of TEPCO, will eventually come from Japanese taxpayers' pockets, now and in the future. TEPCO is owned by the national government.

USS Ronald Reagan was in the Korean Peninsula region when the March 11, 2011 disaster struck. The carrier was diverted to Japan, and was used as a floating base off the coast of Sendai, Miyagi. From Wiki entry:

The ship departed for an Asian deployment on 2 February 2011. On 11 March 2011, Reagan was in the Korean peninsula region for a long-planned exercise off Korea, but was redirected towards Japan to provide support after the massive 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. The ship, stationed off Sendai, was used as a floating refueling station for Japanese military and coast guard helicopters flying relief missions in the area.[28] US Navy helicopters also flew relief missions from the carrier. On 14 March 2011, the ship was forced to relocate to avoid a radioactive plume from the Fukushima I nuclear accidents which had contaminated 17 crewmembers of three helicopter crews.[29][dead link] On 23 March, the Reagan's crew conducted a radiation decontamination operation to remove any further radiation hazards from the ship, which included scrubbing down any surface that could have been contaminated, including the flight deck and aircraft.[30]

The report on March 14, 2011 about the ship relocating is here. It says the 17 helicopter crews were exposed to one month worth of background radiation, and they were on a relief mission to Sendai, Miyagi.

From BBC (12/27/2012; emphasis is mine):

Japan's Tepco sued by US sailors over radiation

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), owner of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, has been sued by eight US sailors over radiation exposure.

They claim that Tepco lied about the threat posed by the leaks after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami damaged the plant.

The soldiers were involved in relief operations after the natural disasters.

They have each sought $10m (£6m) in compensatory damages and $30m in punitive damages from Tepco.

The soldiers, who have filed the case in a US Federal Court in San Diego, also want Tepco to set up a $100m fund to pay for their medical expenses.

They have claimed that the utility provider created an impression that the level of radiation leaks from the nuclear plant did not pose any threat.

As a result, the sailors say they went to areas that were unsafe and were exposed to radiation.

When contacted by the BBC, Tepco acknowledged that it has been sued, but said that it had not received the actual complaint and so was not in a position to comment.

The lawsuit is the latest setback for Tepco which is already facing billions of dollars in compensation claims.

The radiation leaks resulted in thousands of people and businesses being evacuated from the areas surrounding the plant.

On Thursday, the firm said that it now expects the compensation costs to total at 3.24 trillion yen ($38bn; £23bn), up 697 billion yen from its earlier projection.

The firm has already received nearly 1tn yen in government aid.

The utility was, in effect, nationalised after the government took a 50.11% stake in the group in exchange for the capital injection.

In September this year, the US Department of Defense set up a special registry for the participants of the Operation Tomodachi.

Bloomberg News: Toshiba in Talks to Sell as Much as 16% of Westinghouse

From Bloomberg News (12/26/2012; emphasis is mine):

Toshiba Corp. is in talks to sell a stake of as much as 16 percent in its Westinghouse Electric Co. nuclear-power unit, the Japanese company said.

The company is in talks with three parties over the possible sale, Toru Ohara, a spokesman for Tokyo-based Toshiba, said by phone today, confirming comments by President Norio Sasaki, reported earlier by MarketWatch.

The Japanese company said in October it had “received interest” from potential partners about acquiring a stake and was open to talks on the condition that Toshiba retains majority control. Toshiba is set to acquire 20 percent of Westinghouse from Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Shaw Group Inc. (SHAW) next month for 125 billion yen ($1.5 billion), bringing its total stake to 87 percent.

Toshiba paid $4.16 billion for 77 percent of Westinghouse in 2006. It nows owns 67 percent after Kazatomprom, Kazakhstan’s state nuclear company, purchased 10 percent in 2007.

Toshiba rose 3.2 percent to 321 yen at the close of trading in Tokyo, while Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 0.9 percent. The stock has advanced 1.9 percent this year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Japan Future Party Leader Kada Says She Will Split the Party by Year's End

(UPDATE) Jiji Tsushin reports (12/27/2012) that it's been decided by the deputy leader of the party Tetsunari Iida and Mr. Ichiro Ozawa that Mr. Ozawa's followers in the party, 15 of them including the Upper House councilors, will leave the party. Ms. Kada will have one Upper House councilor (she left Social Democratic Party to join Ms. Kada's party), but according to Jiji, Ms. Kada says her group will retain the name of the party and the party logo. Which means her party with only one elected official will receive all the government subsidy money for political parties, and Mr. Ozawa's new party, when he or his followers formally announces the formation, will have none. Good deal for Ms. Kada. What a joke.


So much for her pre-election talk of her being capable of "taming and controlling Mr. Ichiro Ozawa".

Faced with the opposition to her dictatorial ways of running the party ("No dissent allowed", said Ms. Kada), the leader of the "graduating from nuclear" party now says she will split the party by the year end, so that she and her small and mostly unelected party leaders will have their own way (while probably keeping the political party subsidy from the national government - taxpayers' money), and Mr. Ozawa's followers their own way by forming a new party (thus losing the subsidy even though they are the vast majority in the party).

After having no action, no comment from her after the disastrous election on December 16 when only 9 candidates managed to hold their seats while all of her own candidates lost, the first official political act by Ms. Yukiko Kada, the leader of the party that anti-nuclear Japanese citizens had pegged so much hope on, is to split the party.

Again, as with many instances since the election, she spoke to the press, without bothering to speak first to her party members, whom she apparently considered to be plotting a coup d'etat against her for daring to oppose her unilateral decision on party appointments.

The run-up to the meeting, and what transpired after the meeting, suggest that seasoned politicians with influence like Mr. Shizuka Kamei and Mr. Ichiro Ozawa made a grievous mistake joining her. So much so that Mr. Kamei has already decided to leave the party.

By the way, on December 26, the Shiga prefectural assembly passed the non-binding resolution demanding her to choose between the governorship and the party leadership. Ms. Kada's answer is that she will continue to hold both positions, as the resolution is non-binding. There was a talk of a binding resolution (no confidence), but the parties in the assembly decided to tone it down for some reason.

There are some who say Mr. Ozawa has lost his touch for having chosen her. I have been wondering why he, and for that matter Ms. Kada, decided to form a political party whose only distinct platform is "graduating from nuclear". (The rest of their so-called policies look no different from those of DPJ or LDP.) My feeling is that they were blinded by the supposedly overwhelming support for their position on the Internet. They themselves don't look to be particularly Internet-savvy but their lieutenants most likely are.

As usual (since March 11, 2011), there are die-hard online fans of the party, accusing anyone who dare criticize their dear leader (in this case Ms. Kada) who has promised she will take them to the post-nuclear Japan in 10 years.

"Fool me n-th time, shame on you", they would say to infinity.

(Links are in Japanese.)

#Radioactive Japan: Futaba-machi Mayor Idogawa Fights No Confidence Vote, Dissolves Town Assembly and Calls for an Election

I reported about the mayor and his town assemblymen who unanimously passed the no-confidence resolution against Mayor Idogawa on December 20.

Mayor Idogawa has decided to fight for his townfolks, some of whom are still living in an abandoned high school building in Saitama Prefecture, 21 months after the start of the accident. They have to pay for their own boxed meals, and over the New Year's holidays the bento vendor will be closed for business.

From Nippon Television News (12/26/2012):


Futaba-machi, whose municipal government has been temporarily moved to Kazo City, Saitama Prefecture following the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, has dissolved the town assembly at the order of Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa.


The no-confidence resolution against Mayor idogawa was submitted during the regular assembly meeting on December 20. The resolution was unanimously passed. The mayor will lose his position in 10 days after the vote, unless he dissolves the assembly. On December 26, Mayor Idogawa held a press conference, and announced that he has dissolved the assemly.


Mayor Idogawa said, "I have dissolved the assembly. I have been weighing things as best I can, and this is a gut-wrenching decision. It would have been a peaceful town if it hadn't been the nuclear accident. I am very disappointed."


The town election is to be held within 40 days.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

#Radioactive Japan Under LDP: Shintaro Ishihara's Son to Become Minister of the Environment and Minister for Nuclear Plants

What an in-your-face insult to citizens of Japan, particularly for people in Kanto and Tohoku contaminated by radioactive materials from the nuclear accident, and even more so for the workers at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

Nobuteru Ishihara is the eldest son of the irascible ex-Governor of Tokyo Shintaro Ishihara, for now teaming up with the boy-wonder of Osaka City. (He didn't inherit his uncle (Yujiro Ishihara)'s good looks or charisma, unfortunately.)

In the early days of the nuclear crisis last year, Mr. Nobuteru Ishihara was the one who said that citizens should be banned from measuring radioactivity using their personal survey meter. His ostensible reason was that the survey meters may not be "accurate". It turned out the government's monitoring stations have been inaccurate.

In June last year, he was the one who called the anti-nuclear movement as "mass hysteria".

He was also the one who compared Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant to Aum Shinrikyo, a cult that was responsible for the sarin gas attack on the subway in 1995. Ishihara referred to Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant as "Fukushima I Satyam". "Satyam" is the word that Aum Shinrikyo followers used to designate their facilities.

(Aum Shinrikyo is alive and well, by the way. The name has been changed, and they are increasing followers in Japan.)

Under the prime minister whose proof of being fit to govern was to gobble up the curry rice with pork cutlet on top, Ishihara will be in charge of decontamination (or lack thereof) and ending the nuclear accident (probably by ignoring it). Needless to say, he is all for restarting nuclear power plants.

It won't be long that people start thinking fondly about Goshi Hosono and his disaster debris craft dolls. (At least Hosono is better-looking.)

I wonder if Ishihara is going to receive double salaries for the double positions. A minister in a Japanese cabinet makes about 37 million yen (about US$434,000) a year. For many workers in Japan, that would be 10 years worth of salaries.

Even Goshi Hosono declined to receive two salaries for his double duty as Minister of the Environment and the Minister in charge of nuclear plants/Fukushima accident.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

It is the second Christmas since my blog was overtaken by the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.

Taking the opportunity, I just want to thank you for your continued readership.

Contrary to occasional comments, this is blog is not supported by TEPCO or the Japanese government. It is financially somehow supported by my meager work, and it is morally supported by readers who care enough, after 21 months, to come here, read, and comment. Thank you.

Contrary to what the algo-infested US stock market may indicate, the real economy around the world is not doing too great, thanks to incessant printing by the US, European, and Japanese central banks. Despite that, there are these readers from different parts of the world who have found it in them to donate, in addition. Thank you.

Concerto Grosso in G-minor Opus 6 No.8, "Christmas Concerto", by Arcangelo Corelli, Allegro and Largo, played attacca (from 8:19), for no other reason than that I played this for the Christmas chamber music concert earlier this month, and love the music.

Merry Christmas.

Obama FDA Declares GM Salmon as "Safe as Food"

Now that the presidential election is over, say the supporters of this salmon.

I suppose. Huge multinational ag companies and food companies were busy doing the smear campaign to successfully defeat California's GMO labeling proposition.

The AquAdvantage salmon by AquaBounty Technologies contains genes from two different fish so that the growth hormone is produced all year round, instead of just during warm weather.

From New York Times (12/21/2012):

Engineered Fish Moves a Step Closer to Approval

by Andrew Pollack

Government regulators moved a big step closer on Friday to allowing the first genetically engineered animal — a fast-growing salmon — to enter the nation’s food supply.

The Food and Drug Administration said it had concluded that the salmon would have “no significant impact” on the environment. The agency also said the salmon was “as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon.” While the agency’s draft environmental assessment will be open to public comment for 60 days, it seems likely that the salmon will be approved, though that could still be months away.

The environmental assessment is dated May 4. It is unclear why it took until now for it to be released, but supporters of the salmon say they believe it is because the Obama administration was afraid of an unfavorable consumer reaction before the election in November.

Environmental and consumer groups quickly criticized the federal agency’s conclusions.

“The G.E. salmon has no socially redeeming value,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, a Washington advocacy group opposed to farm biotechnology, said in a statement. “It’s bad for the consumer, bad for the salmon industry and bad for the environment. F.D.A.’s decision is premature and misguided.”

But the decision was long in coming. AquaBounty Technologies, the company that developed the salmon, has been trying to win approval for more than a decade.

“We’re encouraged by this,” Ronald Stotish, the chief executive of AquaBounty, said on Friday. However, he added, “We’re not so foolish as to be wildly enthusiastic” that Friday’s action will definitely lead to approval. Among other things, some members of Congress have tried to block the agency from approving the fish.

The AquAdvantage salmon, as it is called, is an Atlantic salmon that contains a growth hormone gene from the Chinook salmon and a genetic switch from the ocean pout, an eel-like creature. The switch keeps the gene on so that the salmon produces growth hormone year round, rather than only during warm weather. The fish reach market weight in about 18 months instead of three years.

(Full article at the link)

AquaBounty Technologies is based in Maynard, Massachusetts. The company is listed on London Stock Exchange (FTSE), whose share price skyrocketed on the news, almost tripled from the recent low.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Sanjo City's Detection of Plutonium in the Iwate Debris and Soil Causing Excitement on Twitter

I saw several tweets (like these) today that has links to articles, posts about detection of strontium and plutonium in the fly ashes before and during the test burning of the disaster debris from Iwate Prefecture in Sanjo City, Niigata Prefecture. The city also disclosed the strontium and plutonium measurement of wood chips and soil samples from Iwate. There are even those retweeting an English article based on the Sanjo City test result, as if that gives some legitimacy to the fact that plutonium has been found.

Yes indeed, strontium and plutonium (Pu239+240) have been found. What these articles and tweets do not mention is that the levels are well within the background; they are actually much lower than the background measured in the past.

21 months after the nuclear accident, there are still enough people who see these articles and posts and freak out, "Look, there is plutonium detected! See how bad the Fukushima accident has really been! They've been lying to us!"

I know I'm totally wasting my breath here, as people believe what they want to believe anyway. But first, the PDF file from Sanjo City:

Plutonium 239+240 in wood chips from Otsuchi, Iwate, 0.0019 Bq/kg.
Plutonium 239+240 in soil samples from Otsushi, Iwate, max 0.13 Bq/kg.

Here are tables created from the Japan Chemical Analysis Center database.

Plutonium 239+240 in soil in Iwate Prefecture, from 1999 to 2010: Highest in 2004 at 2.6 Bq/kg. 0.27 and 1.6Bq/kg in 2010.

Plutonium 239+240 in soil in Niigata Prefecture, from 1999 to 2010: Highest in 1999 at 0.45 Bq/kg. 0.15 and 0.22 Bq/kg in 2010.

Strontium 90 in soil in Iwate Prefecture, from 1987 to 2011 (grassland picked for comparison, as Pu measurement is mostly on grassland): Highest in 1987 at 20.35 Bq/kg, 6.5 and 7 Bq/kg in 2011.

Strontium 90 in soil in Niigata Prefecture, from 1963 to 2011, intermittent (grassland): Highest in 1964 at 49.284 Bq/kg. 0.46 and 0.58 Bq/kg in 2011.

If the fly ashes only measured 0.016 Bq/kg of plutonium 239+240, that's actually low, considering the incineration condenses the per-kilo radioactivity by 100 to 300 folds.

Someone else in Japan recently fabricated the story that Hawaiians are suing the Japanese government and TEPCO because uranium of Fukushima origin has been detected from the urine. That spread very quickly on Twitter among people who do not/can not read English. I found out that the original English article was about depleted uranium in the army base. This someone is one of the few in Japan who clearly get a kick out of spreading false information.

For people who do not read or understand English well, these pieces of information accumulate like scums clogging the sewer, with no means to clear it.

For people who are not that curious to ask questions like "What was the background before the Fukushima nuke accident?", I don't know what to do.