1/11 SF Japan Consulate Speak-Out Stop Restarting Japan's Nuclear Reactors Evacuate Children and Families From Fukushima
Wednesday January 11, 2017 3:00 PM
San Francisco Japanese Consulate
275 Battery St./California St.
On Wednesday January 11, 2017, there will be a speak out against the restarting of more than 40 of Japan's nuclear power plants. The government has told the residents of Fukushima that it is safe but independent surveys show that it is still highly contaminated. Over 175 children have already been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and this is expanding. While the government is subsidizing Tokyo Electric Power Company which has had to be nationalized the Abe government is telling families and children that they have to return to Fukushima or their subsidy will be cut. The are economically pressuring the refugees to return to a dangerous contaminated area in order to pretend that they have "decontaminated" Fukushima. Even former prime ministers Koizumi and Kan are against restarting the nuclear power plants but the government is pushing ahead.
Railroad workers who area with rank and file rail unions Doro-Mito (National Railway Motive Power Union of Mito) and Doro-Chiba (National Railway Motive Power Union of Chiba) are also protesting the plans to re-open the rail lines even with the contamination and there have been strikes and protests against this policy.
They also have passed a "secrecy law" that is being used to intimidate and silence reporters and citizens from speaking out and investigating the growing and continuing Fukushima disaster. The cost is monumental yet they are taking action that will lead to another Fukushima with Japan being located on the "ring of fire" where massive earthquakes are certain to hit again.
The Abe government also told the International Olympic Committee and the people of the world that the Fukushima "problem" had been solved. This flagrant and blatant falsification has been exposed again and again following the declaration from the Abe government including the continuing massive costs of supposedly "cleaning up" the catastrophe.
The Abe government is also preparing a "conspiracy bill" that will be used to silence all those who even opposed nuclear power. The people of the United States need to stand with the people of Japan in their efforts to keep the plants shut down and the protection of families and children in Fukushima.
Speak Out and Rally initiated by
No Nukes Action Committee http://nonukesaction.wordpress.com/
Thyroid cancer compensation for Japan Fukushima plant worker http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612170027.html
By YURI OIWA/ Staff Writer
December 17, 2016 at 15:10 JST
A man who developed thyroid gland cancer after working at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has for the first time won the right to work-related compensation.
While the case ranks as the third time a worker at the Fukushima plant has been recognized as eligible for work-related compensation because of cancer caused by radiation exposure, it is the first instance involving thyroid gland cancer.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced its decision Dec. 16.
The man in his 40s, an employee of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., worked at the Fukushima plant after the triple meltdown triggered by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. He was diagnosed with thyroid gland cancer in April 2014.
The man worked at various nuclear plants, including the Fukushima facility, between 1992 and 2012. He was mainly involved in operating and overseeing reactor operations.
After the March 2011 nuclear accident, the man was in the plant complex when hydrogen explosions rocked the No. 1 and No. 3 reactor buildings. His duties included confirming water and pressure meter levels as well as providing fuel to water pumps.
The amount of his accumulated whole body radiation exposure was 150 millisieverts, with about 140 millisieverts resulting from the period after the nuclear accident. Of that amount, about 40 millisieverts was through internal exposure caused by inhaling or other ways of absorbing radioactive materials.
Along with recognizing the first work-related compensation involving thyroid gland cancer, the labor ministry also released for the first time its overall position on dealing with compensation issues for workers who were at the Fukushima plant after the accident.
The ministry said it would recognize compensation for workers whose accumulated whole body dose exceeded 100 millisieverts and for whom at least five years have passed since the start of work involving radiation exposure and the diagnosis of cancer.
Ministry officials said the dose level was not a strict standard but one yardstick for recognizing compensation.
According to a study by TEPCO and a U.N. scientific committee looking into the effects of radiation, 174 people who worked at the plant had accumulated whole body doses exceeding 100 millisieverts as of this past March.
There is also an estimate that more than 2,000 workers have radiation doses exceeding 100 millisieverts just in their thyroid gland.
Labor Groups Protest Reopening of Rail Lines Near Fukushima http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/15/labor-groups-protest-reopening-of-rail-lines-near-fukushima/
DECEMBER 15, 2016
Labor Groups Protest Reopening of Rail Lines Near Fukushima
by WILLIAM ANDREWS
Labor activists have protested the reopening this month of a railway line in parts of northeast Japan where they believe radiation levels are still dangerous.
The Joban Line runs from Nippori Station in Tokyo to Iwanuma Station, just south of Sendai City. It is one of main connections between northeast Tokyo’s major station of Ueno up along the coast through Chiba, Ibaraki and Miyagi prefectures.
This region was severely damaged by the earthquake and tsunami on March 11th, 2011, while the subsequent Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster meant that large areas through which trains pass were contaminated by radiation.
The Joban Line was directly hit by the massive tsunami wave in 2011, sweeping train carriages away. Though parts of the line were quickly reopened that same year, two sections of the line—between Tatsuta and Odaka stations, and between Soma and Hamayoshida—remained closed, with passengers served by buses for some of the stations.
However, the operator, East Japan Railway Company (JR East), and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, have been keen to reopen the whole line as part of the northeast Japan reconstruction efforts. The Joban Line represents a valuable source of income from both passengers traveling between Sendai and Tokyo as well as freight.
Following decontamination measures, rail services resumed from Iwaki to Tatsuta in late 2014. However, north of Tatsuta lies the areas located within a 20km radius of the devastated Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which is widely considered a no-go zone.
In July this year, JR East resumed services on the 9.4-kilometer stretch between Odaka and Haranomachi stations as the evacuation order was lifted for the southern part of Minamisoma City, though few residents are willing to return to a community so close to the contaminated area. Media reports suggest only 10-20% are coming back to live in the area.
On December 10th, the previously closed 23.2-kilometer northern section of line between Soma and Hamayoshida reopened for rail services. It means passengers will now be served by a further six stations on the section, though three of these (Shinchi, Yamashita and Sakamoto stations) had to be relocated inland by up to 1.1 kilometers as an anti-tsunami measure. Along with the construction of elevated tracks, the total cost of the latest reopening is said to be 40 billion yen ($350 million).
By spring 2017, the line will be reopened between Namie and Odaka, and then later in the year between Tatsuta and Tomioka. The final section linking Tomioka and Namie, passing through somewhat infamous areas like Futaba, is set to reopen by the end of fiscal 2019 (end of March 2020).
Local tourist bodies are naturally delighted and are pulling out all the stops to attract people. At the newly reopened stations, passengers are able to buy commemorative tickets, take hiking trips, and even try on historical armor.
Lingering Doubts over Radiation
Official announcements say that radiation levels have fallen and clean-up efforts will remove any health risk. Last August, JR East began decontamination tests on parts of the railway between Yonomori and Futaba stations where the radioactivity remains high. It has reported that falling radiation levels can be confirmed at six inspection points along the line, making it confident that decontamination measures are working.
However, the legacy of the Fukushima disaster is a lingering distrust for government and corporate claims about radiation. Activists allege that authorities and JR East are putting profits and the appearance of safety over the genuine health of rail workers and passengers. Just as with the gradual lifting of restrictions on entering the areas around the Joban Line, reopening the railway is, they say, an attempt to encourage evacuated residents to return and tourists to visit even though health risks may remain.
This pressure to reconstruct the region quickly and maintain an impression of safety to Japan and the rest of the world comes from the very top, as demonstrated by the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s now notorious claim that the Fukushima disaster was “under control” in his speech in September 2013 during the final (and successful) Tokyo bid to win the 2020 Olympic Games. Abe also officiated at the opening of the rebuilt Shinchi Station on December 10th.
Protests Against Reopening
The rank and file rail unions Doro-Mito (National Railway Motive Power Union of Mito) and Doro-Chiba (National Railway Motive Power Union of Chiba) have long protested the ambitions of JR East as part of their campaigns against the operator’s growing policies of rationalization and outsourcing.
On December 10th, around 50 activists from Doro-Mito and associated groups opposed the Joban Line reopening by demonstrating at the Sendai branch of JR East in the morning. A small number of train drivers from the union also went on strike that day. This was coordinated with other protests and actions in Fukushima City and Tokyo at JR sites. At an afternoon protest outside the JR East headquarters in Shinjuku, central Tokyo, around 150 unionists demonstrated.
These are just the most recent examples of actions by this network of medium-sized yet feisty unions, which have waged several strikes and protests since JR East began reopening parts of the track following the 2011 disaster. Unionists have fought to block the reopening in order to protect the well-being of workers as well as the general public.
Other unions and labor groups have apparently remained silent on the Joban Line issue, as have the major anti-nuclear power protest organisations. The mainstream media has also given the Joban Line protests almost no coverage, though the reopening itself was extensively celebrated.
Doro-Mito and Doro-Chiba are the largest groups in a network of militant unions called Doro-Soren, affiliated with the Japan Revolutionary Communist League. Other smaller unions have been established in Tokyo, Fukushima, Niigata and elsewhere. While the overall numbers of unionized workers remain only in the hundreds, organizers hope to create a national union in the future.
The unions have held small strikes on the Joban Line issue alongside their regular strikes and protests against labor conditions, as well as participating in general rallies against the restarting of nuclear power plants in Japan. In this way, the issues of neoliberalism and nuclear power have become aligned in a new and invigorating way.
The Doro-Soren network is also associated with NAZEN, which was formed in August 2011 as a youth group to fight the nuclear industry. The various groups have taken part in annual protests at Fukushima on the anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami, regularly mobilizing over 1,000 demonstrators.
Continuing Anti-nuclear Power Movement
Though it peaked in 2012, the anti-nuclear power movement continues in Japan, fighting against attempts to put the reactors back into operation. There are still weekly vigils every Friday night outside the prime minister’s official residence as well as intense protests where the reactors are located.
Until the Fukushima disaster, the anti-nuclear power movement had been largely localized to certain areas around Japan where facilities were located. It was not widely supported by either far-left groups or mainstream parliamentary leftist parties like the JCP until after the Fukushima disaster. Today it is a diverse movement of political parties, labor unions, small civic groups, individual activists, and regular citizens.
The Liberal Democratic Party, led by Shinzo Abe, returned to power at the end of 2012, and reversed the Democratic Party of Japan’s pledge to phase out nuclear power in the future. Abe’s government has instead pushed to restart reactors and even export nuclear technology to other nations such as Vietnam.
As such, the Joban Line protests represent a notable intersection of the labor movement with the anti-nuclear movement in Japan as well as anti-Abe protest movement. The former has a strong association with the railways and was heavily weakened by the privatization of the National Railways in the 1980s, which resulted in the group of JR operators that exists today.
In the run-up to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, the post-disaster reconstruction efforts will accelerate, driven by the national and regional governments as well as JR East and other corporations. However, vigilant activists will also continue to protest any attempt to sweep the ongoing Fukushima crisis and the nuclear issue under the rug.
William Andrews is a writer and translator in Tokyo, and the author of Dissenting Japan: A History of Japanese Radicalism and Counterculture, from 1945 to Fukushima.
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William Andrews is a writer and translator in Tokyo, and the author of Dissenting Japan: A History of Japanese Radicalism and Counterculture, from 1945 to Fukushima.
Government to help fund Fukushima decontamination, easing Tepco’s burden http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/20/national/government-help-fund-fukushima-decontamination-easing-tepcos-burden/#.WFln8BSAW-Q
DEC 20, 2016
The Cabinet decided Tuesday that the central government will help pay to decontaminate areas worst hit by the 2011 Fukushima reactor meltdowns, marking a shift from earlier rules requiring Tepco to foot the bill.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s team endorsed a plan to set up a reconstruction hub in the most contaminated, off-limits areas in Fukushima Prefecture and secure about ¥30 billion for decontamination work in the fiscal 2017 budget.
The cost of the work could total around ¥300 billion in the next five years and grow further depending on how it progresses.
The plan is in line with proposals made in August by the ruling coalition, but no government panel review or Diet deliberations have been held on it, raising the prospect that it could be criticized as a bailout for Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.
The government decided to add the decontamination work, including soil and tree removal, to infrastructure projects for making the affected land habitable again, but the special law on decontamination states that Tepco should shoulder the expenses.
The government will have to revise the special law on rebuilding Fukushima to accommodate the shift.
The move to help pay for the decontamination came after the expected price tag surged to ¥4 trillion from the previous estimate of ¥2.5 trillion, which did not include the cost of cleaning the areas with the highest levels of radiation.
If the government-funded cleaning area expands, the use of taxpayer money is likely to balloon to several trillion yen.
Meanwhile, in an effort to turn Tepco’s business fortunes around, the government proposed that the battered utility work together with other companies in operating nuclear power plants and distributing power.
A panel of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry urged the company to launch talks with other power companies next year and set up a joint venture in the early 2020s to eventually consolidate their businesses.
“Tepco reform will be the basis of reconstruction in Fukushima and could lead to a new, stronger utilities industry,” said industry minister Hiroshige Seko.
“We will profoundly accept the proposal and drastically carry out reform,” said Tepco President Naomi Hirose.
Reactionary Nationalist Abe and LDP Pushes "conspiracy bill" To Terrorize Political Opponents and Opposition
Gov't mulling submitting 'conspiracy bill' in upcoming Diet session http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170106/p2g/00m/0dm/005000c
January 6, 2017 (Mainichi Japan)
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a meeting of senior members of the ruling coalition Thursday that the government plans to submit to the Diet a bill aimed at punishing those who abet terrorism, an initiative that has previously drawn criticism as a potential vehicle for human rights violations.
Several bills proposing the addition of a conspiracy charge to the existing law on organized crime have floundered in the past, amid concerns the change could encourage more invasive state surveillance and allow investigators to arbitrarily punish people who have not committed any crime.
Abe said the government plans to submit the bill in the next ordinary Diet session to be convened Jan. 20, according to an attendee at Thursday's meeting between senior government officials and members of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito.
The bill would aim to enhance Japan's ability to ward off terrorism connected to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
Under current Japanese law, people can be charged for inducing another person to commit a crime, or inducing someone to induce a third party to commit a crime.
The conspiracy charge proposed in the previously scrapped bills would punish those connected with the planning of serious crimes, even if they are not directly involved in the crimes' commission.
The Justice Ministry has held that such a change would better protect the public from serious crimes, while legal advocacy groups have said a change is unnecessary and could be used to crack down on civic groups.
The government may try a new approach in the wording of the bill to address such concerns.
"With (the Olympics and Paralympics) now just three years away, we must take every measure to prevent organized crime, including terrorism, in advance," Suga said at a press conference.
"We're making final arrangements reflecting the opinions that have previously come up in the Diet," the top government spokesman said.
The government views the introduction of such legislation as a prerequisite for Japan to ratify the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, adopted in 2000.
Suga pointed out that Japan is among a small minority of U.N. members -- and the only member of the Group of Seven industrialized countries -- yet to have done so.