July 7, Thursday Tanabata

Posted by Chika On 3:07 PM
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Tanabata night -
all my wishes are
for Tohoku

renku from Origa san

a bridge made from hopes
spans the sea of tears

. WKD : The Star Festival (Tanabata) .

Thursday, July 07, 2011 19:14 - NHK world news
Tanabata star festival observed in Fukushima
Children in Fukushima city celebrated the annual Tanabata star festival on Thursday, replacing natural bamboo leaves normally used with polyethylene alternatives because of radiation fears.
A nursery school in the northeastern Japanese city has decided not to use locally grown bamboo as the decoration, and abandoned a tradition of putting it outside the building.

The children decorated the plastic leaves with fancy paper and strips bearing their wishes. Some wrote that they want to play outdoors.
The nursery school chief said all the windows are closed to keep out radiation and lamented that the children cannot play in the open air.
At Osaka's airport, western Japan, the Tanabata festival was observed by refugees from the March 11th disaster drawing their wishes on the fuselage of a passenger plane. All Nippon Airways hosted the event in a hangar for those who are sheltering in the Kansai region after leaving homes in the disaster-hit areas.
37 evacuees wrote their wishes on pre-painted paper strips on the fuselage. One wish expressed the yearning to return home.
The painted passenger plane left for Niigata, central Japan, in the afternoon as the evacuees waved it off. The plane is to operate on regular flights linking Osaka to Niigata, the northeastern city of Sendai and elsewhere.


Gabi reports:

. . . . . at 0:15
Earthquake M 5.8, off Ibaraki coast

. . . . .

It has been raining very much since last night. The whole of Western Japan, Kyushu and other parts is well inundated, rivers overflowing, roads under water, mudslides sliding ...
And it has been raining quite a lot during the day here too. Driving along small mountain roads, we almost got washed away by the waterfalls suddenly coming from nowhere.

. . . . .

People are making great efforts to save energy.
And there is a fair with new goods that use reusable energy. A lot is now done with small solar panels that can store power in a battery and be used for small electric appliances. There is even a rucksack you carry around all day and can use the energy for listening to a radio or laoding the handy cellphone ...
I have to find more about this fair later.

. . . . .

The plastic bamboo branches for Tanabata in Fukushima are really disheartening to watch on TV tonight.

. . . . .

The new stress tests for reactors still bring confusion to the nation.
see below


Bulletins from NHK Online
source : www3.nhk.or.jp

Wednesday, July 06, 2011 16:35 (yesterday)
Tanabata wishes made for disaster survivors
Victims of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake are making wishes for survivors of the March 11th disaster based on the traditional Japanese star festival known as Tanabata.
Local companies in Kobe, western Japan, are collecting messages written by residents on colorful strips of paper. The organizer aims to collect 10,000 messages.
One of the wishes reads, "Let us live with a dream. People in Kobe are working hard to help and encourage you."
The messages will be sent to the annual Tanabata Festival that begins on August 6th in Sendai, northeastern Japan.
That festival is one of the most popular Tanabata events in the country. Millions of visitors come each year to see bamboo poles decorated with people's wishes.
The organizer of the campaign, Yoshihiro Otani, said he hopes the messages from the victims of the disaster in Kobe will help people in northeastern Japan recover as soon as possible.

Thursday, July 07, 2011 02:57
Utility admits to dishonest e-mails on restart
It has come to light that the operator of the Genkai nuclear power plant had requested its staff and affiliates to send e-mails supporting the restart of the reactors to a meeting to explain the government's safety measures.
On June 26th, the government held a meeting in Saga City to answer questions from residents in preparation for the resumption of the operation of the nuclear reactors.
The meeting was shown live by a cable TV station and via the Internet, and viewers were invited to send in their opinions by e-mail or fax.
On Wednesday, Kyushu Electric Power Company President Toshio Manabe revealed that 4 days before the meeting, its head office instructed some company members and 4 affiliated firms to send in e-mails expressing support for restarting the reactors.
Manabe offered an apology, saying that his company's action undermined the credibility of the meeting.
He said he does not know how many e-mails were sent.
Manabe also said the company hoped to help deepen residents' understanding by stating its opinion as the plant operator.
He said he is responsible for the inappropriate act, but added that he is not considering stepping down as president.
Industry minister Banri Kaieda issued a statement saying it is outrageous to do such a thing and the incident undermines the aim of the meeting.
Genkai 玄海原子力発電所

Thursday, July 07, 2011 02:57
Japan's nuclear crisis affects farm exports
Japan's exports of farm, marine and forest products in May posted a year-on-year plunge of more than 16 percent, due to the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry says exports in the 3 sectors dropped 16.6 percent from the same month last year to 378 million dollars. That's the second straight month of a drop of more than 10 percent.
The ministry attributes the plunge to restrictions imposed by 41 countries and territories on imports of foodstuffs from Japan since the nuclear crisis began in March.
Total food exports to China dropped 48.4 percent, to South Korea 40.4 percent, and to Hong Kong 22.3 percent.
Shipments of salmon, trout, bonito and other fish to Asian countries plunged 29.6 percent while shipments of apples, yams and other agricultural products dropped 9.8 percent.
The Ministry says the discharge of radioactive contaminated water into the ocean after the nuclear accident prompted many countries to restrict fish imports from Japan. The Ministry says it will further urge those countries to make decisions based on scientific evidence.

Thursday, July 07, 2011 02:57
Tokyo parents demand safe school lunch
Parents of schoolchildren have petitioned the mayor of Tokyo's most populous ward to take measures to secure the safety of school lunches.
They met Nobuto Hosaka, the chief of Setagaya ward, at the ward office on Wednesday to submit a letter of request and a list of signatures. The parents took the action amid rising concerns about school lunch safety among parents in the wake of the ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
In their letter of request, the parents asked the ward to not only set up a checking system to detect radiation in vegetables, fish, milk and other foodstuffs used in school lunches but also to procure these items only from limited areas.
They handed the mayor a list of about 6,000 signatures in support of their requests.
The mayor told them that no milk has been found tainted with radiation so far and that the harvest areas of foodstuffs will be disclosed at all schools in the ward.
One of the parents said they cannot trust the safety of food, although the authorities have explained that the current provisional legal limit for radioactive substances in food are higher than in other countries. The parent said they all want the ward to set its own rules.
Hosaka said he understands the parents' concerns and promised to convey their requests to the national government.

Thursday, July 07, 2011 07:57
Reactor cooling to be accelerated in August
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says a new cooling system is now working well so it will accelerate the cooling of the plant's reactors in August.
The system, which recycles decontaminated radioactive wastewater, suffered a series of problems at its launch in late June.
But Tokyo Electric Power Company says it has been working almost as planned since the start of this month.
The utility says that with radioactive water still leaking from 3 reactors, it had to limit the amount of wastewater used in the system. The leaks mean that the level of toxic water already accumulated is not decreasing.
The utility says if the water decontaminator keeps working properly, the water level will drop over one meter below the risk of overflowing by next month.
That in turn would allow it to ease restrictions on the amount of water used to cool the reactors.
But the company is still concerned about the extent of damage to the reactor containment vessels. Injecting more water into the damaged vessels could release more radioactive steam into the environment.

Thursday, July 07, 2011 10:07
Local governments react to nuclear stress tests
Local municipalities hosting nuclear plants say they are puzzled by the central government's decision to carry out new safety tests at all nuclear power facilities. Two-thirds of the country's nuclear reactors remain off-line after the Fukushima accident.
Industry minister Banri Kaieda announced on Wednesday the plan to conduct the so-called "stress tests" that will assess the ability of nuclear plants to withstand severe accidents. The new tests are to be modeled on simulations introduced by the European Union for its nuclear power plants following the Fukushima accident.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the new safety assessment will be carried out in an effort to reassure residents.
It adds that emergency measures taken after the March disaster are sufficient to ensure safety.
The government's Nuclear Safety Commission asked the agency to draw up a plan within a week on conducting the stress tests, which are designed to examine the effectiveness of safety measures implemented so far at nuclear facilities.
The governor of Saga Prefecture, Yasushi Furukawa, says he cannot understand why the government decided on a new measure at this time. He is preparing to decide whether or not to give his approval for a utility to resume operation of suspended nuclear reactors in his prefecture.
The governor of Ehime Prefecture, Tokihiro Nakamura, says he cannot make any comment as information is not available on the central government's stance on the stress tests.

Thursday, July 07, 2011 12:58
Saga governor asks govt to clarify conditions
The governor of Saga Prefecture has asked the Japanese government to clarify conditions for resuming operations at a local nuclear plant.
Governor Yasushi Furukawa met Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano at the prime minister's office on Thursday. The meeting comes a day after the central government decided to conduct the so-called "stress tests" on all nuclear power plants in the country.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordered the tests even though industry minister Banri Kaieda had earlier assured local residents that the Genkai plant was safe for a restart.
Governor Furukawa said that although the additional safety checks are welcome, the residents of Genkai town are increasingly confused by the apparent disagreement within the Cabinet.
Edano apologized for the mishandling of the matter, and promised to sort things out as soon as possible.
Furukawa later told reporters the biggest problem is that there's no way of knowing the government's real intentions. He said if the government can accept keeping the Genkai plant idle, there is no reason to resume operations.
The governor added that a restart of 2 suspended reactors at the facility will be postponed until after the stress test. Plans for the tests are expected to be drawn up in about a week.

Thursday, July 07, 2011 12:58
Nitrogen injection could be delayed at Fukushima
The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi power plant is having trouble injecting nitrogen gas into one of the reactors to prevent a hydrogen explosion.
Tokyo Electric Power Company on Wednesday examined the No.3 reactor to see if it can connect injection pipes to the containment vessel.
A camera-mounted robot was used for the operation because high radioactive levels are preventing workers from remaining in the reactor building for long periods.
But TEPCO failed to confirm the situation because the robot couldn't reach the necessary part of the reactor.
Radiation levels as high as about 50 millisieverts per hour were registered in the area. The reading means a worker would be exposed to radiation on par with the government-set 250-millisievert safety limit in 5 hours.
TEPCO is now considering sending personnel or a robot into the reactor building to conduct another survey. The new survey would happen on Friday at the earliest.
There is a growing likelihood that the planned nitrogen injection will be delayed.

Thursday, July 07, 2011 12:58
Kyushu Electric employee questioned over e-mails
The president of the operator of the Genkai nuclear plant in Saga Prefecture says he will make a decision on stepping down next week.
A senior employee of Kyushu Electric Power Company instructed staff and affiliates to send e-mails supporting the restart of the plant at a government-hosted briefing session for local residents on June 26th.
Kyushu Electric President Toshio Manabe questioned the employee on Thursday.
Manabe told reporters earlier in the day that he would decide next week whether to step down after consulting with company Chairman Shingo Matsuo, who's due to return from an overseas trip on Sunday.

Thursday, July 07, 2011 13:19
Genkai mayor retracts nuke plant restart consent
The mayor of Genkai Town in southwestern Japan says he will retract his approval for the restart of 2 reactors at a nuclear power plant in his town.
Mayor Hideo Kishimoto on Monday gave the green light to Kyushu Electric Power Company which operates the Genaki plant. The 2 reactors at the plant remain idle after routine check-ups were completed in April.
But on Wednesday, the central government announced it will conduct a so-called "stress test" at all nuclear power plants in Japan. The test will assess the ability to withstand severe accidents.
At a news conference on Thursday, Mayor Kishimoto criticized the government for adding the stress test as a condition for plant restarts. He noted the central government had previously said that it was safe for the Genkai plant to resume operations.
The mayor said his earlier decision to approve the reactors' restart appears to have been made in vain and feels nothing but anger at the government.
Genkai town assembly on Thursday approved the mayor's intent to revoke his approval for the Genkai plant restart. Kishimoto said he will convey the decision to the Kyushu Electric president during the day.
The Genkai plant was to be the first in Japan since the March 11th disaster to be given the official go-ahead by the hosting municipality to resume operations.

Thursday, July 07, 2011 14:04
Kaieda ready to step down over Genkai confusion
Japan's industry minister Banri Kaieda says he will resign from his post at an appropriate time to take responsibility for the confusion over a restart at the Genkai nuclear power plant.
Kaieda was responding to questions by an opposition lawmaker at an Upper House committee meeting on Thursday.
The questioner said the central government requested that local governments hosting the Genkai plant approve of the restart after assuring them of the plant's safety.
He went on to say that it is outrageous for the government to follow this request with the sudden announcement that it will conduct additional safety tests. The tests will involve all nuclear plants around the country, including Genkai.
Kaieda responded that he will take responsibility by stepping down from his post at an appropriate time.
But he defended the government's decision, saying the safety tests are advocated by the International Atomic Energy Agency and are intended to give local residents a further sense of security.
Kaieda also said the government will make a final decision on whether or not to resume operations at the Genkai plant after learning of the test results.

Thursday, July 07, 2011 15:35
Shark fin factory resumes operation
A shark fin processor has resumed operations at a makeshift factory in northeastern Japan nearly 4 months after its original plant was devastated by the tsunami.
5 employees were busy steaming shark fins on Thursday at the factory set up on higher ground in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture. The workers used boilers taken from the damaged factory.
The company is the first of more than 10 shark fin producers in the city to resume operations. All the companies were severely damaged on March 11th.
The firm cannot use sharks caught in local waters because none have been landed in Kesennuma since the disaster. The port used to boast Japan's largest hauls of shark and fresh tuna.
Company executive Hisashi Ishiwata says he is happy to be back in business for the first time in 4 months. He adds that he will do his best to deliver products to consumers, although it will take more time for the company to return to full-scale operations.

Thursday, July 07, 2011 19:49
Event to help disaster-hit Tohoku opens in Tokyo
An event to help with the reconstruction of the disaster-hit Tohoku region in northeastern Japan has opened in Tokyo.
The event organized mainly by UNESCO as part of its Peace of Mind Campaign features products from the region as well as photo displays.
Among the products is a dressing from Iwate Prefecture whose maker had to carry out production in a rented space after its shops and factories were swept away by the tsunami. Also on display are cell phone accessories made by evacuees living in temporary housing.
The event is scheduled to run through Saturday at the Shiodome Shio-site in Tokyo's Minato Ward.

Thursday, July 07, 2011 19:49
Governors criticize central govt's nuke response
Japan's prefectural governments have criticized the central government for hastily deciding to order safety so-called stress tests at all nuclear power plants.
In Tokyo on Thursday, a committee of the governors of 25 prefectures, mainly those hosting nuclear power plants, held its 1st meeting since it was set up in May following the Fukushima Daiichi plant disaster.
An official of the industry ministry's nuclear safety agency briefed the committee about the stress tests, which the government abruptly announced on Wednesday.
One governor said distrust in the government is growing as it has repeatedly changed its handling of the nuclear crisis.
Another questioned what he called the government's hasty decision to implement the stress tests without adequate preparation.

Thursday, July 07, 2011 21:15
Govt defends decision to introduce stress test
Japan's industry minister Banri Kaieda says he hopes municipalities hosting nuclear plants will understand the need to conduct additional safety tests of all reactors in the country.
Speaking at a Diet committee meeting on Thursday, Kaieda said he's very sorry that the government's abrupt decision to introduce stress tests forced the mayor of Genkai Town to retract his decision to approve resumption of 2 reactors there.
Kaieda said he personally assured the mayor about the safety of the reactors during a visit to the town in late June, but that the situation has changed.
Kaieda added that the mayor of Karatsu City and others in neighboring municipalities are not yet convinced about the safety of the reactors, and that the government must do more to win their support.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan explained to the Diet why he instructed Kaieda and nuclear crisis minister Goshi Hosono to work out a new set of standards that idle reactors must meet before they can be put back online.
Kan said the problem under the current law is that idle reactors can be restarted with approval by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and the industry minister, but that the agency was primarily responsible for the failure to prevent the Fukushima Daiichi accident. He added that he instructed the 2 ministers to propose new safety rules that people will accept.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at a news conference on Thursday that the government may suspend operations of active reactors that fail the stress tests.


Voices from around

Japan Times :

All nuclear plants face 'stress tests'
The government plans to require "stress tests" on all nuclear power plants to assure the public of their safety, industry minister Banri Kaieda says.

Kan under fire in wake of Matsumoto's resignation
Prime Minister Naoto Kan accepts responsibility for appointing Ryu Matsumoto as reconstruction minister, only to see him resign a week later after disparaging the disaster zone he was tasked to mend, but vows to stay on as leader until his conditions for leaving are met.

Reactors kept on full test run; no formal nod
Kansai Electric Power Co. and Hokkaido Electric Power Co. are operating two nuclear reactors without approval, four months after the Fukushima disaster raised safety concerns about the atomic power industry.

Job 1 for Hirano is rebuilding public trust


How the first 24 hours shaped Fukushima nuclear crisis

Heavy rain triggers flooding, mudslides

Toyota to fully restore output a month ahead of schedule

Fuji Heavy expects 30% profit fall due to Tohoku disaster, high yen

Crisis will slow nuclear growth: CH2M Hill

Quake survivors stock up on pest-fighting goods as bugs wreak havoc

SENDAI — As the summer heat begins to intensify, swarms of flies have added to the difficulties facing the disaster-hit Tohoku region.
As sanitary conditions worsen amid the sweltering heat, the area has become infested with flies, and demand has surged for insecticides, flyswatters and screen doors, according to Naoki Asashi, a clerk at a store run by house product retailer Homac Corp. in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture.
Meanwhile, electric fans are also in big demand, as many consumers try to cut power usage due to expected electricity shortages, and have sold out at an outlet of K's Holdings Corp., a home electronics retailer in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture.

Minister chokes on hard tack
Reconstruction minister Ryu Matsumoto resigned Tuesday — his ninth day as minister in charge of rebuilding of the Tohoku region hit by the March 11 quake and tsunami and the nuclear crisis — over his remarks that offended many Tohoku people.
Clearly he failed to carefully consider how to behave. But his resignation also shows that Prime Minister Naoto Kan is not exercising proper control over Cabinet members.


Tanabata wishes -
the branch too small
to carry them all

. WKD : The Star Festival (Tanabata) .

Tanabata horses -
so many souls to carry
in Tohoku

. Tanabata uma 七夕馬 horse for Tanabata



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