La Dolce Vita

A few thoughts from Steven Rockford
MAY 31, 2012 9:00AM

Japan to restart reactors?

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Nuclear power - Japan 

Japan Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met with key ministers yesterday to discuss re-starting certain nuclear power facilities in the country.  After last year’s Fukushima disaster, all 54 of Japan’s nuclear power plants were shut down.  As noted in this article in Japan Today, Noda is seeking to re-start at least two plants on the west coast of Japan to help alleviate summer power shortages.  

Japanese officials have been considering re-starting a portion of their nuclear power capacity since the beginning of the year.  There has been much resistance to these efforts from many environmental groups, especially Green Peace which has been protesting this move from the beginning.  In fact, Green Peace used the one year anniversary of the Fukushima disaster and the overall shutdown of the nuclear power program in Japan as a basis for an open letter to all world leaders to “end the threat of nuclear power.”  As stated by Green Peace: 

The (open letter) signatories include: Archbishop Dr. Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate; Marina Silva, former Brazilian Environment Minister; Senator Bob Brown, Australian Green Party Leader, Ralph Nader, US environmental activist; John Hall, former US Congressman; Richard Harvey, international Human Rights lawyer; several artists; leaders of human rights, labour, development and environment organisations, such as Action Aid International, Health Care without Harm, Greenpeace International, World Team Now, Friends of the Earth US, CIVICUS, the Feminist Task Force of the Global Call to Action against Poverty, and many national non-governmental organisations. 

Prior to the Fukushima disaster, Japan relied on nuclear power to provide 30% of its electricity.  It is understandable that they would consider bringing nuclear plants back onto the grid that they feel are in “safe” seismic zones. 

But, are any of their nuclear plants in “safe” seismic zones? 

This map shows the seismic fault lines that surround Japan:


And this map shows the location of nuclear reactors in that country:


The two plants that the Japanese government would like to initially re-start, owned by Kansai Electric Power, are located on the Sea of Japan on the opposite side of the island from Fukushima.  It is generally felt that a tsunami is unlikely in the Sea of Japan because of its small oceanic footprint. 

As has been reported in many engineering studies, and as I noted in an earlier post, Fukushima was designed to withstand at least a 9.5 magnitude earthquake.  But, it wasn’t designed to withstand a ten foot high wall of water created by a tsunami. 

As the seismic map illustrates above, there are two fault zones located in the Sea of Japan not far from the Kansai plants. 

Should Japan roll the dice and hope that potential earthquake and tsunami damages at that site are impossible?  

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They haven't gotten Fukushima-Daiichi under control yet. Instead of logically following nuclear physicists who say fleets of helicopters dropping granules of clay, concrete, boron, and lead is the ONLY way to cap it, they continue to pump seawater into reactor four, which has containment vessels overflowing radioactive water into the seas.

Noted nuclear physicist Michio Kaku calls this tring to halt a raging forest fire with a garden watering bucket. When asked why he doesn't call Tokyo and tell them of the Chernobyl approach described above he said: "Why would they listen to me - I'm only a nuclear physicist?

The latest from the geniuses in Tokyo is to transport nuclear debris across the nation for incineration (spewing further radioactivity into the atmosphere).

Madness, personified, and coming to Your shores and air in greater and greater volumes than now.

Very good points Mark.

Has there been any increase in radiation where you're located as a result of the Fukushima disaster?
Sorry for the late response, Steven, but responding thoughtfully and personally to each person who commented on my blog yesterday, left me wiped out, and now, at 6:26 AM, I am just starting to get in the swing of things.

To answer Your question properly, some background information on Japan would be beneficial to anyone wishing to understand the situation here. If there is any redundancy in any matters I broach, whether I've written them to You personally or You stumbled upon them within my blog, please forgive me.

Of the dozen countries I've lived and worked in, including three other Asian countries, I've witnessed a phenomenon that I doubt exists anywhere else on the planet, and that can best be characterized as being a thoroughly compliant and docile population, seemingly of their own free-will.

Of course, that is not really the case. The reality is that starting at the age of two years old and for minimally the next dozen or more years, the citizenry is indoctrinated into the concept of group harmony above all and at any cost. This can best be summarized by the ancient de facto national motto that "the nail that sticks up will be hammered down."

With years of this brainwashing, subconsciously, Japanese have been trained to be obedient to all manner of indignities, and to conform to standards and norms regardless of the logic that lie beneath them. This
conformity can be witnessed in all manner of daily life from the smallest matters to the largest.

The individual is conditioned to never consider thinking "outside the box," and this leads to conformity purely for the sake of conformity.

Furthermore, the language is a hierarchical one, and with three different vocabularies (four, if one includes "Romanji" aka "Japanized" English) indirect discourse is encouraged.

Therefore to say no is in many cases considered a faux pas. The concept of saving face demands one to indirectly reject thoughts and ideas. To give You an example, most Japanese people would rather give You improvised directions as to how to get to a destination than admit that they don't know. In this case not knowing would represent a loss of face.

If I were to propose a business proposition to someone, the response: "It sounds like a good idea; I'll think about it and get back to You," often means, I don't like Your idea, I won't think about it, and I'll not contact You period. Similarly, a response of

'Maybe we should get together next week and discuss it further," could quite likely mean, "if I can delay further discussion, maybe this guy will find someone else to ally with because I'm really not interested.

As looking at someone directly in the eyes is considered bad manners, it is incumbent upon me to use my peripheral vision, and ability to read body language to decipher many daily situations.

Beneath the veneer of a modern westernized society lies a deep seated Neanderthalian mentality, and I say this with little malice, due to the fact that my initial anger as a New Yorker to have to jump through hoops to decipher simple daily activities harbored much resentment in my early years, but now after fifteen years, I recognize that he familiar american jargon; it is what it is applies to me.

The above comments are not meant to imply that there are not exceptions to these generalities, but it is often hard to find them, even within the progressive community.

Having offered a prelude, I can offer an unqualified yes to Your question. We are drowning in radioactivity from numerous sources.

From the earliest days, the newspapers started publishing weekly food stuffs that were unsafe to eat. This would result in our apartment complex trash bin being deluged by broccoli and carrots one week and spinach and tomatoes the following week.

Fruits and vegetables are absurdly expensive, especially in Okinawa, due to the need to import them and the slew of middlemen that control all product distribution. Hence, the land of the thirty dollar small-sized watermelon, and carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes sold in 2-packs for $2 - $4, pre-earthquake prices.

After several months, the newspapers stopped publishing lists of contaminated foods, and those savvy enough to understand knew that this meant the entire food chain was contaminated. As You, likely know, this contamination has now been detected in the west coast of america and Alaska, amongst other areas.

In the immediate aftermath, many countries banned food to be imported from Japan and in Japan imported food prices spiked and were in high demand. Soon the food conglomerates were complaining to the government. Higher levels of becquerels were deemed safe to eat.

Crony capitalism rules here, and we have had six different, and in the six years since Koizumi left office, there have been six successively failed leaders and government bodies.

Under such a chaotic condition it was easy for the food companies to gain permission to mislabel the origin of food products. Most people are aware of this, but in so many things Japanese, it is something not to be discussed. I see disapproval in the eyes of my wife's family whenever I try to broach the topic of minimizing exposure.

At one time, Okinawa boasted a hundred times more varieties of sea coral than the Caribbean. Avid scuba and skin divers flocked here. Forty american military bases consuming ~ 25% of the land area, allowed american nuclear vessels to dock here in contravention of article nine of the Japanese constitution. Tokyo was aware of this, but looked the other way. Soon radioactive leakage started to kill the coral.

After my first few years here, I stopped swimming in the tepid polluted waters, although I so miss the bracing chill of both american coasts. At this pint in time, 90% of the coral is bleached white and dead. One of my private students, several years ago, was a marine biologist researcher working on her doctorate, and she confirmed what I knew to be true.

Amongst the progressive causes I am involved in here is one to save the Dugong. This sea mammal is a relative of the Dolphin, and like Dolphins, they, too are imbued with high intelligence levels. There used to be tens of thousands of them. They can only digest one particular species of a sea grass (not seaweed). As the pollution spread, there came to be only one remaining point of the island where this sea grass could still survive. There are now estimated to be only ~ two dozen Dugong surviving.

This is the prime example of species extinction, here, but there are many others. All these conditions have been severely exacerbated in the aftermath, and continuing tragedy of Fukushima Daiichi.

I hope this picture-postcard view is a sufficient introduction to answering Your question, and if You would like to pursue any particular area or the big picture further, please feel free to do so.
Steven, it is a shame that my learned colleague resorts to confusing you with false "facts" in order to make a political point, and also that the self-proclaimed anti-racist gives himself a pass to promote racist stereotypes. Coral bleaching is a worldwide phemenon that is attributed to climate change, not radioactive leakage, and it is certainly not limited to Okinawa, which as you should know is about 1,200 miles away from Fukushima. It has also been observed to reverse itself when the sea temperatures change back, and the small amounts of radiation that may have leaked (dubious in any case) from US vessels docking in Okinawa had nothing to do with it.
I give markinjapan some credit for squeezing in every stereotype and excuse why he is unhappy in Japan into a few paragraphs. The FACT is that they have a unique culture and if they want others to adapt to it when in Japan, it seems that they should have that right. True, they have not stood up in force to the leadership and industry that is moving so slowly to make the sutuation better, but what countries have done better in the face of such an enormous disaster? Now it looks like two reactors on the west side of Honshu are going to be restarted. If you live in a place with beastly hot, humid summers you might be more concerned with your a/c working when you switch it on than where the electricity is coming from. Maybe mark is too, except I found out that Okinawa gets all its power from fossil fuels, so he'll never be faced with that choice. As an investor in oil (and gold, silver, and healthcare ONLY) he's probably a happy hippie hypocrite.
Let me save You (you) the trouble of commenting or god forbid writing a devoted blogpost, mij:

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I too noticed that also the last time he wrote about Japan, MIJ has exhibited some intense racist tendencies, despite his remarkable affirmation top and center that he is, among other things,"anti-racist".
He also notes many many times that he "never lies", yet fabrications are rife throughout his posts and comments.
He says he has no family, that THEY are a bunch of racists. Hmmmm, has NO ONE in his family who he can call family.
Sure makes one wonder why??
I presume mr. ordinary has been to Okinawa. I presume that he attended a meeting with the environmental minister for the prefecture of Okinawa as I did, three weeks ago, facts that I didn't mention, when
I wrote the above to Steven, as I didn't find them germane to the discussion. mr. ordinary seems to presume a special knowledge of Okinawan environmental and cultural issues.

I, further presume that mr. ordinary might have lived in the country for fifteen years or more, as he seems to have a vast "store of knowledge" about the country.

mr ordinary presumes that nuclear radiation has no affect on coral reefs; however, perhaps mr. ordinary has access to information to contradict that of Dr. Dai Chang-Feng of Taiwan who said:

"In Taiwan, coral bleaching was first witnessed in the summer of 1986 when the Third Nuclear Power Plant Thermal started operation. Since then, thermal effluent of the nuclear power plant caused repetitive coral bleaching in a local scale every year in summer (from May to September). Changes of coral communities were detected with the disappearance of some branching corals from the shallow water. In 1989-1998, increasing sedimentation from terrestrial runoff also caused severe bleaching or tissue damage to corals. Foliaceous corals were the most vulnerable species to sedimentation pollution. In addition, typhoon disturbances tend to cause high coral mortality over large areas and branching corals are the most susceptible species. The combined effects of these disturbances have destroyed many coral reefs in Taiwan and coral covers in many reef areas are declining."

Dr Dai Chang-Feng is a professor at the
Institute of Oceanography, National Taiwan University, Taipei
Educational Institution; Higher Education industry
August 1988 – Present (23 years 11 months) Institute of Oceanography

Presumably mr. ordinary has similar or superior credentials.

Presumably mr. ordinary has access to my apartment and is able to count the number of fans and/or air conditioners to make further presumptions abut my ulterior motives and living conditions.

Presumably mr ordinary has access to my bank records and can ascertain my wealth, thereby presuming whether my interest in economics stems from my belief that economics is very much a part in analyzing geopolitics or whether I am loaded and a have a significant stock market portfolio.

In no place in my comment does the word "happy" appear, so, once again, we have a case of mr ordinary presuming something that may or may not be true.

"As an investor in oil (and gold, silver, and healthcare ONLY) he's probably a happy hippie hypocrite."

The fact that I am generally considered amongst the top-ten non-
Okinawans in fluency in the native language of Okinawa, Uchina Guchi, might be considered by some to refute mr. ordinary's implications of my alleged racism.

So what we have here is a bunch of presumptions few if any that mr. ordinary can back up or refute.

As for hypocrisy, mr ordinary is arrogant enough to claim on his bio: "admit when I'm wrong and have many weaknesses. Such as.... hmmm, can't think of one. OK - intolerant of spelling mistakes,"

mr ordinary is concerned with spelling mistakes, the only flaw he detects in his character, however history hardly matters!

(Incidentally, a cursory view of his comments, he has only blogged once in ~four months, reveals a slew of HIS mis-spellings, so perhaps mr. ordinary should amend his bio to read intolerant of others spelling mistakes.)

"Wasn't everyone surprised in 1999 when Hong Kong reverted to China? ordinaryjoe
MAY 04, 2012 11:06 PM

"Oh and by the way, the world was not surprised when Hong Kong reverted to China in 1999. Perhaps, you were.

The world may or may not have been surprised at the reversion in 1997." markinjapan
MAY 05, 2012 05:24 AM

As joe never admitted he was wrong, he is also a liar.

Fulminate and foam at the mouth, if you wish, I have no intentions of responding, further, to a fact-averse, brain-dead ordinary guy like you.
Fluency in a language proves one is not a racist?? That's quite a stretch.
Posted too soon.
Fluency in a language proves one is not a racist?? That's quite a stretch. I am sure many of the British colonists were fluent in the languaage of those they oppressed, yet that did not make them non-racist.
Oh, and by the way, who is actually foaming and fulminating at the mouth, now?
Posted too soon.
Fluency in a language proves one is not a racist?? That's quite a stretch. I am sure many of the British colonists were fluent in the languaage of those they oppressed, yet that did not make them non-racist.
Oh, and by the way, who is actually foaming and fulminating at the mouth, now?
Posted too soon.
Fluency in a language proves one is not a racist?? That's quite a stretch. I am sure many of the British colonists were fluent in the languaage of those they oppressed, yet that did not make them non-racist.
Oh, and by the way, who is actually foaming and fulminating at the mouth, now?
Thanks for posting. Hopefully Japan will decide to follow the lead of those countries phasing out nuclear energy. It seems that China and India have the greatest plans for adding more plants, at the same time as quite a few other countries are planning to phase them out.
Mark seems to think that thermal effluent from nuclear power plants (of which there are none in Okinawa) caused the bleaching. Does he understand the difference between thermal effluent and radiation? Apparently not. Maybe he should be protesting the effects of sunshine.
...or maybe that information came from the 500 books he read in the 3 years he lived on a mountaintop (location not ever revealed) without electricity or running water. How can someone whose pants are almost always on fire live without running water... duhhh!
chrallen a sock-puppet, who made his first comments today - I wear your disdain as a badge of merit.
"With all due respect, I suggest we agree now, not to comment to each other -we have NOTHING in common."

MAY 05, 2012 05:24 AM
"markinjapan, since you clearly feel it is necessary to point out my errors, I will also, and I will also comment on your frequent distortions and occasional whopper if I feel it is useful. Otherwise, I appreciate the compliment that we have little in common, and will try hard to desist."

MAY 05, 2012 09:01 AM

Try harder, mr ordinary - you fail at this as you seem to fail at most things.
You "wear my disdain as a badge of merit" is a cute way of avoiding the issues. Why do you not respond directly to having noticed that your comments are racist to the core, that you lie at will, that your family-lessness is a noteworthy aspect to consider?
Hey, chrallen; most likely you are a friend of mr. ordinary's enlisted to engage in a gang-bang - you ain't worth my time - go elsewhere to engage your fantasies.
@Daddy Warbucks - Quit pitching low, slow, and outside, and I might quit swinging.
oh joe, you're so freakin' ordinary.
Don't know Mr Ordinary at all, not personally nor online, outside of having read a few of his comments here and there.
I've simply been following from the sidelines for a while, and figured it's time to mention a few things. Especially the racist thing. Now that he noticed it as well, it became more significant to me.
Still avoiding the issues, huh?
@chrallen: all those radioactive tomatoes have made him paranoid.