Saturday 23 June 2012

Home and Away

Weather settled after the typhoon but still rainy. It is after all the rainy season. But not hot and sticky like in Tokyo. Momentous day for me. Completion of the sale of my old house. It's a big house, where we raised our kids, surrounded by woods, pine and maple. I've been renting it out for 8 years but it's still a wrench to see it go. I'd been thinking of doing the house up and offering it for sale on the internet, perhaps to someone who wanted a retirement home in the country. But the disaster put paid to that idea. The person who was renting it found the buyer, someone who loves the place, and I'm just glad the sale went through. Cleaned the house last weekend and enjoyed the rainy season there. The bark of the pine trees shine red in the wet and the fresh new green leaves are gloriously rich.

Big things happening nationally. Bill to set up a new Nuclear Standards Agency to replace the discredited NISA (Hoanin) finally got passed. The agency will work under a Committee of five experts who would take charge in an emergency. The opposition got their way and the chair of that committee would have ultimate responsibility so there won't be a repeat of the spectacle we saw last March when PM Kan, infuriated at Tepco went by helicopter to Fukushima Daiichi to find out for himself what was going on. The new agency is to be set up by September.

Tepco published its final report on the company's response to the accident. Blamed the PM for causing confusion. Said that the radioactive materials that travelled to the north west emanated from Reactor 2. Odd. There was no hydgrogen explosion in Reactor 2. Radiation still extremely high there (880mSv/hr) so no further details on the cause. Seems a bit premature to issue a 'final report' when they still don't know what's happening inside the reactors. The report got a bad press. No answers to the basic question, 'What lessons can be learned?' and too much putting the blame on other people.

According to Asahi News this evening, anti-nuclear demonstrations have been taking place every Friday night around the PM's office. Starting in March, and going out on Twitter, the demos have been growing in size every week. Tonight there were reportedly 45,000 people there. This and the 7 million signatories to an anti-nuclear petition organised by novelist Oe Kenzaburo would suggest a major popular movement. The government hint at reducing Japan's reliance on nuclear power but then go and re-start the Oi plant. As yet there's no clear indication of the direction Japan's energy policy will take in future so all hell's let loose. I heard someone say they thought restarting the Oi plant was part of a deal: give industry the electricity they need - in exchange for agreement to a raise in sales tax (VAT). Typical. No clear policy. 

Back at home I now need to persuade the buyer of the house to get the necessary qualifications to buy the two remaining fields. Not just anyone can buy agricultural land. To get the qualification, you have to farm 5 tanbu (about 5,000 sq metres) - and be under 65. Radiation is low round there so it should be OK to farm. Endo-san, neighbouring farmer, has had all his produce tested at the new testing centres and says all his produce is safe - except for the shiitake mushrooms he'd just got going after four years work. He was really upset about that.
Sorry this post jumps around a bit.

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