Sunday 31 March 2013

Pinch into Chance

The NHK World programme 'Booked for Japan' is being broadcast today. I'd been apprehensive but it's very well done and eloquently encaptures the feelings of people here, the trauma we went through and the new determination to be self reliant and in control. At the hour of writing there are still two repeats, so catch it if you can.

Front page headline in the local paper yesterday: Tepco has eventually decided to cancel plans to build a new nuclear power station in Fukushima. The plans were first unveiled in 1967. Billions of yen have been spent on purchasing land and now, some 45 years later, they announce that in the face of local opposition it won't be possible to construct the plant. But why did the whole thing take so long? It doesn't exactly inspire confidence in those deciding our nuclear future. More to the point, the decommissioning of reactors 5 & 6 at Fukushima Daiichi and reactors 1 to 4 at Fukushima Daini is not included in Tepco's plan for the next fiscal year.

Front page headline in the local paper today: in response to a question in the Diet the Prime Minister has said that even if reactors 5 & 6 at Fukushima Daiichi and reactors 1 to 4 at Fukushima Daini meet the new safety standards, re-opening them will be difficult in view of the feelings of people in Fukushima. Well, well, he was listening when he came here last week. 

A few days ago the prefecture put forward its Three Year Plan for industry and jobs. Now we have robotics. Universities and businesses are to work together to get this industry going. Yes, lots of robots will be needed to decommission the damaged nuclear plants. A new Fukushima brand? There's a saying here that people use a lot, about turning a 'pinch' into a 'chance'. I think it must be a baseball phrase and I'm wholly ignorant of baseball so can't explain - but I think you get the idea. All the world knows Fukushima now, so let's put that name to good use. 

Got the bike out for the first time this season and took some pictures. The old wing of the town hall was badly damaged in the earthquake but has just been repaired. The offices had to move to several other facilities after the disaster which added to the general chaos. The city gymnasium too is about to re-open. Not very attractive buildings, but I was rewarded by the sight of plum blossom at the nearby Museum of Literature.

City Hall. This was the site of Koriyama's only earthquake fatality. The ceiling fell down in the
observation deck and killed a man. They didn't find him for a week.
This is the kind of work they do to make buildings earthquake proof. You see it a lot in schools.
Some private houses too. Not very pretty but it makes the buildings safe.
Putting finishing touches to the repairs to the gymnasium

Plum blossom outside the Koriyama Museum of Literature. Lovely scent.


  1. Hello Anne. I saw your programme today from England. I'd be interested to talk to you if you have time. I know Koriyama well as my wife is from the city and usually spend the summer there.... until 2011, that is.

  2. Hello Anne, I am also from England and I am delighted to say that I saw your programme yesterday - it was very interesting. I am enjoying reading your blog and I thank you for sharing your ideas and interests.

  3. Dear Ms. Kaneko,
    I really enjoyed your interview on NHK World, Booked for Japan. Thank you for sharing your story, which gave me strong heart. In the United States, there is very little information 2 years out about what is happening to recover from the Great East Japan Earthquake, especially what is happening regarding the radiation and response to the Fukushima Diiako Reactor. I live 60 miles east of Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, USA. On March 28, we will have our 34 anniversary of the 3 mile Island meltdown. I was pregnant and very frightened. There is still controversy about what happened to people and animals who were exposed on that day. I hope everyone is able to be safe, and that there can be good and honest discussion on how to prevent such dangers in the future. I look forward to following your blog, and will connect other people in my country who are interested in the information you are providing.

  4. Thank you all for watching the programme and for your kind comments. They keep me going! It's hard for me to strike a balance between being normal - after all life goes on here just the same - and discussing the difficult issues we face in a calm and rational way. But I'll keep trying!
    Thanks for your support.

  5. The Keystone Garter12 April 2013 at 06:01

    There are new leaks in the underground storage pits. The water currently there is to be transferrred to new storage bins in a month or two. After the water has been transferred, the location of the leaks should be evident to a Geiger Counter is the leak location will have channeled radioactive water; I'm assuming the leak location will be more radioactive. In April 2011, leaks in subsurface piping were sealed using melted glass. Perhaps the leaks in the polymer tarps can be sealed using melted glass. At that point, at least one of the underground pits might be suitable once again for storing radioactive water, at least "temporarily".