Category Archives: Nuclear

Japan Resources – No 169

Please click here CUJ-JR-169 for the latest issue of Japan Resources, our English newsletter.

In this issue we introduce our new campaign against genome-manipulated food, part of our strong resistance against GMOs in general. Field trials have started even though the government is slow to act to protect consumers or farmers. The debate about nuclear power is also high-lighted with Monju, the controversial fast-breeder reactor in Fukui Prefecture in the news.

We hope you will continue to stay updated with CUJ’s activities and news on our English website, and support our campaigns!

Contents:

From the Editors: Resistance and Resilience
Campaign Against Genome-manipulated Food
Press Release: Appeal for World Food Day
Food Security: Japan’s Self-sufficiency Rate for Sesame Seed Only 0.1%
Is the Consumer Agency in Fact the Industry Agency?
Pluto and Monju
News Flash: Monju Reactor Set for Decommissioning Lacks Sodium Removal Method

Please download the PDF file or read it here on our English website.

Pluto and Monju

In the old Greek mythology, Pluto was name of the god that ruled the underworld, where souls go after death. Someone who has recently been thinking about this is Nakajima Tetsuen, the head priest of the Buddhist temple Myoutsuu in Obama City, Fukui Prefecture. He currently serves as the chairperson of a local group of citizens that oppose nuclear power in the prefecture.

In December, 2016 the decision was finally taken to decommission and scrap the infamous nuclear reactor called Monju in Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture. To celebrate this, the citizens met on November 5, 2017 where Mr. Nakajima explained: “We should not walk the path to hell of Pluto, but instead follow the path of the Buddha, which is the path of the living.”

In Obama City, there are no nuclear power plants, but nearby, as many as 15 reactors are located around Wakasa Bay. The reason is the strong opposition by people in Obama City, led by Mr. Nakajima. In other locations that accepted nuclear plants, a splendid gymnasium or huge hot spring facilities were built using special government grants, while Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples and old roads greet visitors to Obama City.

The priest of a Shingon temple with traditions dating back from the 9th century uses Buddhist teaching to communicate his message: “Maybe we can believe that Monju (also known as Manjushri) is a compassionate bodhisattva who will wake us all from the nightmare of multiplying hellish rulers…”

By Sugiura Yoko, CUJ

November 20, 2017

Japan Resources – No 166

Please click here CUJ-JR-166 for the latest issue of Consumer Union of Japan’s English newsletter, Japan Resources (pdf). The theme this time is nuclear energy and the many problems facing this country and all of us as energy consumers.

We hope you will continue to stay updated with CUJ’s activities and news on our English website, and support our campaigns!

Contents:

From the Editors: Thinking about Nuclear Energy

Japan on the Wrong Track with its Export of Nuclear Plants

Do Not Shift Nuclear Power Plant Related Costs to Our Electricity Bills

Withdraw the Proposed New System to Shift Nuclear Power Plant Related Costs to Our Electricity Bills

Smart Meters: Saying No, and Yes, You Can Switch Back to an Analogue Meter

Newsflash:

The Ecologist: The Collapse of Toshiba

 

Do Not Shift Nuclear Power Plant Related Costs to Our Electricity Bills

The Japanese government is planning to charge all electricity consumers with the cost of the nuclear power plants that the power companies with nuclear power plants should primarily shoulder. Consumers Union of Japan is requesting the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry to withdraw the introduction of the new system.

We are also starting a campaign to collect signatures to support our message: “Please do not shift the costs related to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident to our electricity bills.” Please cooperate and spread the word among friends and acquaintances. You can download the pdf file with the signature campaign appeal form here (J). The government’s plan seems to be to submit this bill during the ordinary session of the Parliament, so the deadline for Consumers Union of Japan’s signature campaign is January 31, 2017.

 

Withdraw the proposed new system to shift nuclear power plant related costs to our electricity bills

On December 22, 2016, Consumers Union of Japan sent a letter to Hiroshige Seko, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. We pointed out that the new system proposed by the government would spread the financial burden of nuclear accident compensation and reactor decommissioning at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant to new electricity suppliers, who would likely pass on their share of these costs to their customers. The government now estimates the total cost for reactor decommissioning plus Fukushima nuclear disaster compensation at some 8.3 trillion yen.

We oppose this proposal because energy problems are important issues that concerns our lives deeply. It is unacceptable that the Parliament will not properly deliberate Japan’s future energy plan in a democratic way, instead sticking to nuclear power generation. The proposal to relieve the current energy power companies of their responsibility goes against all common sense. We urge the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry to not include nuclear power in the base load power supply, and instead focus on renewable and sustainable energy sources.

Five Years after the Nuclear Disaster in Fukushima

Epidemiological Studies Show a Rapid Increase in the Occurrence Rates of Thyroid Cancer

CUJ interviewed Okayama University professor Toshihide Tsuda, who published an epidemiological study on the occurrence rate of thyroid cancer in Fukushima prefecture in October, 2015. Dr. Tsuda is known for his expert opinions on a range of pollution related cases, including the Minamata disease. He held a press conference on October 8, 2015 to discuss the findings of his team, revealing a rapid increase of 20-50 times in the rate of thyroid cancer among infants in the disaster-stricken prefecture compared to national levels. While media in other countries published reports about his concerns, the Japanese press did not seem to take his warnings seriously.

Q: What can you say about the health risks associated with the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011?
A: It hasn’t been reported much, but a risk assessment was done in 2013 by the World Health Organization (WHO). They noted that the health risks involve thyroid cancer, leukemia, breast cancer and other types of cancer. We have now reached the incubation stage when it would not be strange or surprising to begin to observe the frequent occurrence of thyroid cancer or leukemia.

When we calculated the rate of thyroid cancer that was found in medical examination of infants and children younger than 18 years old in Fukushima prefecture, there is a large area, excepting the north-eastern towns, where the occurrence rates are 20-50 times higher than the national average. We also note that this is happening at a faster pace than we had expected. Also, from the Chernobyl accident, we know that the rates continue to increase beyond when people reach 18 or 19 years old, so we can expect the same for Japan in the years to come. In my view, since the rates are already high in the southern parts of Fukushima prefecture, we also ought to examine children in neighboring Ibaraki prefecture.

Q: Meanwhile, the government is saying that it is difficult to conclude that the nuclear accident is the cause of the frequent occurrence.
A: It is clearly proven that radioactive Iodine easily gets concentrated in the thyroid gland and that it is a major cause of thyroid cancer. It is also clear that radioactivity can cause other health problems and diseases. But for each case, we won’t have the actual proof until people start dying, which is obviously too late. I don’t know what the people in charge should be doing or saying. I suppose it is best to follow the same protocol as when we have a large-scale food poisoning case. We should be defending the health of the people; that is the first rule. So, while we assume that damage has already been done, I think we need to do more.

Q: What can we do as citizens?
A: Even if you can’t move away from the areas in question, there are ways to reduce the exposure as much as possible. It is important to be aware of the amounts of radioactivity in the place you live. It seems that right now, there is not so much sharing of ideas going on. But as time goes by, with a continued increase in occurrences, we may even run out of operation equipment. At present, about one student in every high school in Fukushima prefecture is diagnosed with thyroid cancer, but there are places where it is as high as three students already. Soon that number could be one child in each class.

When we are talking of probabilities, there is a huge difference after you have been told that you have cancer. Then your number is 100%. It is also true that while people rarely die from thyroid cancer, you will have a scar for life after the operation, and you will have to take medicines. The problem is not that it can be removed through surgery. What we should do is to prevent the frequent occurrence of this disease through proper measures.

Read more:

The Mainichi: Experts divided on causes of high thyroid cancer rates among Fukushima children

The Japan Times: New report links thyroid cancer rise to Fukushima nuclear crisis

PBS Nova: Study Suggests That Children Exposed to Fukushima Accident Are Developing Thyroid Cancer

 

(Interview by Yoko Sugiura. Article first published in CUJ’s newsletter  Shouhisha Report No.1582 Feb 20, 2016)