Tuesday 23 April 2013

Happy Golden Week!

Woke up on Sunday to snow, heavy snow that continued until noon. Tourists were treated to the sight of cherry blossom weighed down with snow (the second time this season) though fortunately neither the flowers nor the trees seem to have suffered any adverse effect.

We've also had a spate of earthquakes. Last Wednesday night, just as the 9 O'Clock News was expounding on a day of earthquakes on Miyake island south of Tokyo, the earth shook here. Followed a couple of days later by the strong earthquake in Sichuan in China. The ones in Japan we were told were aftershocks from the big one two years ago and not connected but they're unnerving.

Yesterday saw another power outage (for four hours) at Fukushima Daiichi, and two more dead rats(!). It was also the day the IAEA team gave a preliminary report on their week checking decommissioning work there. They said the reactors and spent fuel pools have been made stable and there's a good plan in place but stressed the difficulties in the long term, for example the need to develop robots and ensure workers' safety in view of high levels of radiation. They recognised that dealing with contaminated water is the most pressing problem at the moment and said more permanent facilities were needed. Finally, they stressed the need for better relations with the public especially as the decommissioning is going to take decades. Quite. We're fed up and worried by the catalogue of troubles at the plant. 

An old lady I know, a friend of a friend, is in excellent high spirits. Not because it's spring, but because her nest egg on the stockmarket, after years in the doldrums, is rising in value with each passing day. It seems to be the best medicine there is! But Abenomics hasn't affected my life yet. New figures show that the population for the prefecture as a whole, which fell below two million after the disaster, has now fallen below 1.95 million. (The actual figure will be lower as it includes people who have moved away but are still registered here.) April 1st figures show 7,000 fewer people than the previous month. When the population goes down, the economy shrinks, and it's harder to sell goods and services. Apart from construction and decontamination work, business remains tough here.

But if you'll excuse me I'm taking a holiday from nuclear and seismic fallout. I'm off to Blighty to see my folks so there won't be any Fukushima blogs for the next ten days. I return to Japan on 5th May.
In the meantime, take care and enjoy the Golden Week holiday.

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