Friday 21 June 2013

New Safety Regs. and Father's Day in Aizu

Busy showing you my holiday snaps of Tomioka I've been neglecting my duty to keep you informed of the news over here. And it's been quite an important week for Japan's energy/nuclear policy. A week ago the government produced its annual White Paper on Energy which was conspicuous by its absence of any reference to zero nuclear power. On Monday LDP policy chief Sanae Takaichi, expounding on said energy policy, put her foot in it when she said  no one had been killed as a result of the accident at Fukushima. The Fukushima LDP immediately lodged a protest. The figures are in the paper everyday: direct deaths from earthquake and tsunami 1,599; deaths from the evacuation 1,415. She was careless but again it just seemed to highlight the gap between Us here in Fukushima and Them in Tokyo. 

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has at last decided on new safety requirements for Japan's nuclear plants which will come into effect on 8 July. Plants will have to have filtered venting systems, emergency control rooms at least 5 km away and seawalls. Any reactor built on top of a seismic fault will not be allowed to restart. Reactors are to be decommissioned after 40 years but this can be extended by 20 years in certain circumstances. Of Japan's 50 usable reactors, two are currently in operation. Six plants (12 reactors) are expected to apply under the new system. The key will be enforcement. There was an interesting piece on Hodo Station (TV Asahi) last night. Did you know that in the US (which has 104 nuclear reactors), plants have their own combat forces in case of attack, and a permanent staffer from the NRC who independently constantly checks the plant for safety? Japan's NRA only has 80 staff to check that the new safety requirements are being met. 

To finish here are a few photos of last Sunday when I took my visitor on the Grand Tour as an antidote to the depressing scenes we'd seen the day before in Tomioka. The weather wasn't great but it was a Sunday, Father's Day and everyone was out and about and happy. (If you double click on a photo you can see the series full screen.)
All the best

Fun at Lake Inawashiro
(photo courtesy Jeremy Hoare)

Jet skiers on Lake Inawashiro
(photo courtesy Jeremy Hoare)
Aizu Castle (Tsurugajo 鶴ヶ城)

Don't ask! I have no idea what these guys were up to.
(photo courtesy Jeremy Hoare)
Aizu food (grilled mochi, tofu, herring and a stick of konnyaku) at  O-Hide Chaya (お秀茶屋)
(photo courtesy Jeremy Hoare)
The Samurai school outside Aizu (Nisshinkan 日新館)

Panorama over Lake Inawashiro from the 'Gold Line' tourist road
(photo courtesy Jeremy Hoare)

And to end the day, peace and tranquillity in Ura Bandai

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