In-Focus Japan: More than a decade of AEC closed-door meetings undocumented – Ohi restart further delayed by jellyfish problem

Atomic Energy Commission held undocumented, closed-door meetings for more than a decade

The Japan Atomic Energy Commission has held closed preparatory sessions for more than 10 years prior to its open meetings every week, sometimes deliberating important matters of nuclear energy policy without keeping minutes, former commissioners and government sources said Saturday.

An official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said the meetings “played a role in framing ideas within the nuclear power village (the nuclear power industry) and to fill voids that opponents (of nuclear power) could take advantage of.”

Source: The Japan Times

Govt. reports Ohi reactor is back to full capacity

The government and the operator of the Ohi nuclear power plant on the Sea of Japan coast say that the Unit 3 reactor’s output reached full capacity at one o’clock in the morning.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said on Monday that the government would ease the target in areas served by Kansai Electric, from more than 15 percent to more than 10 percent.  Kansai Electric plans to have the Ohi plant’s No.4 reactor at full capacity on July 25th, but will still be pressed to provide enough power this summer.

 

On Sunday, Kansai Electric feared it might be forced to further delay bringing the reactor back to full operation, after a swarm of jelly fish were found blocking the intake of coolant water forcing operators to lower the power output temporarily. But decided to keep the operation schedule unchanged after work to remove the jellyfish.

Operators of nuclear power plants have often experienced caused by a swarm of jellyfish being sucked into water intakes, which may disrupt the supply of water used for cooling, forcing operators to reduce power output to curb heat generation.  Many plants now have filters or equipment to remove sea creatures at the intakes. But these measures do not work perfectly when a massive bloom occurs.

Source: The Japan Times

Source: JiJi Press

Source: NHK

Source: JiJi Press

Source: NHK

Source: The Japan Times

Source: NHK

Understanding the value of public access TV news coverage

Mamoru Ito, author of “Terebi wa Genpatsu Jiko wo Do Tsutaetanoka” (“How TV Reported the Nuclear Accident”) and Professor of Media & Cultural Studies at Waseda University in Tokyo, suggests that though TV stations had sent hundreds of reporters to disaster-hit areas, including Fukushima, and had TV crews covering the government and Tepco 24-hours a day, their news almost always repeated the official line, of which the public were growing suspicious.

“The most serious issue (which caused insufficient reporting of the disaster) was TV stations’ keen lack of awareness of the danger of possible accidents at nuclear plants,” Ito said in a recent interview with The Japan Times. “Of course, it was not only TV news programs. Other media had the same problem.”

Source: The Japan Times

 Fukushima Prefecture Technical Committee set to start verification of nuclear disaster

At a meeting held at the prefectural government offices, an independent verification committee was appointed, to investigate the biggest causes of the disaster, and determine that there was not a leader with responsibility.

Source: Niigata Nippo

Fast breeder reactor far costlier than regular nuclear power generation

If the development of the controversial Monju prototype fast breeder reactor is continued, its costs will swell to over 1.4 trillion yen and its power generation costs will be 10,000 yen per kilowatt hour, roughly 1,000 times greater than a regular reactor, according to data compiled by Kyodo News.

The government’s Japan Atomic Energy Commission was apologetic, suggesting that no checks were imposed on controlling costs for the development of the fast breeder reactor.

Source: The Japan Times

Source: Power Engineering

Renewable Energy

Rakuten to Sell Home Solar Panels Online

Rakuten Inc. announced on Monday that it will sell home solar power panels through its online shopping mall, and will also offer panel installation service.

Source: JiJi Press

State to pursue offshore wind farms, storage cells

The government plans to pursue green growth policies centered on wind power, next-generation vehicles and storage batteries to power future economic expansion.

Source: The Japan Times

Oil

Japan to Start Test Drilling for Shale Oil

Japan Petroleum, known as JAPEX, will team with Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp., or JOGMEC, to start the drilling in the Ayukawa oil and gas field in Yurihonjo as early as fiscal 2013, which begins next April.

Source: JiJi Press

Economy and Politics

Japan’s current account balance continues downward trends

Japan’s current account balance tumbled for the 15th consecutive month, as energy imports continue to affect the nation’s trade deficit.

The Finance Ministry said in its preliminary report on Monday that the nation’s account surplus stood at about 2-point-7 billion dollars. That’s down nearly 63 percent in yen terms from a year ago.

The nation’s income account surplus fell 11.7 pct to 1,273.7 billion yen.

Source: JiJI Press

Source: NHK

Noda Cabinet disapproval rate rises to record 56%

An NHK poll shows the approval rate for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s Cabinet remained at 27 percent, the same as the previous month. But the disapproval rate rose by 5 points to 56 percent, the highest level since his Cabinet was inaugurated last September.

NHK conducted a telephone survey of 1,676 people aged 20 or older, randomly selected across Japan from Friday through Sunday. 1,089, or 65 percent, responded.

The record high 52 percent, up by nearly 5 points replied that they support no particular party. This is the first time that more than half of those polled replied “no particular party support” since NHK began carrying out surveys in their current form in July 2004.

Source: NHK

Business sentiment among Japanese workers worsens 3rd month in row

A government survey shows that business sentiment among Japanese workers deteriorated for a third straight month.

The Cabinet Office asked about 2,000 workers in retail stores and other businesses how they view the economy compared to 3 months earlier. The sentiment index for June stood at 43.8, down 3.4 points from the previous month.

Further concerns were expressed due to the threat of rolling blackouts, and a lack of subsidies for eco-friendly vehicles.

Source: NHK

Machinery orders log record fall

Japan’s orders for machinery in various sectors showed the largest decline in May since comparable data became available in April 2005.

The Cabinet Office says rebuilding work in the quake-hit region has not led to as much corporate investment as predicted.

Source: NHK

Source: JiJi Press

Chinese group tours unprofitable

Japan’s government has set a goal of attracting more tourists from China as one of its main growth strategies.  The government says about 614,000 Chinese tourists visited Japan in the first 5 months of this year. Nearly 80 percent came in group tours.

Japanese travel agencies say the problems lie with price-cutting, and a lack of interest, pointing to the fact that the price of a 6-day tour to Tokyo and Osaka has almost halved from 5 years ago, when it was about 1,250 dollars.

Source: NHK

US Secretary of State Cheers Up Japanese Students from Disaster-Hit Areas

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cheered up Japanese students from areas hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami last year at an event held in Tokyo on Sunday as part of the Tomodachi Initiative youth exchange program (Tomodachi means friends in Japanese) between Japan and the United States.

The public-private initiative was launched to support Japan’s recovery and held at U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos’ official residence, bringing together a total of 21 Japanese and American students aged between 16 and 24.

Source: JiJi Press

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