Fukushima

The planned “Great Ice Wall” to contain Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant isn’t freezing

The planned “Great Ice Wall” to contain Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant isn’t freezing

More than three years after the earthquake and tsunami devastated northeast Japan and left a major nuclear plant in Fukushima paralyzed, efforts to contain the nuclear disaster are still facing major hurdles as the area around it remains a ghost town. Last week, Tokyo Electric Power Co., better known as TEPCO, revealed that an ice wall that was designed to stem the flow of radioactive water seeping from the crippled reactors at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant isn’t freezing as fast as they hoped.

In the three months since construction began, temperatures in the ground around the barrier meant to contain the contaminated water in underground trenches have only fallen to around 15 degrees (59 degrees Fahrenheit) and TEPCO announced a new plan to accelerate the freezing process—dumping 10 tons of ice every day until the wall forms.

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Yes, the residents of Fukushima really are this “Happy”

Yes, the residents of Fukushima really are this “Happy”

If the rest of the world would have its way, they would have you see only the negative images of Fukushima. But if the citizens of Fukushima would have their way, guess what–they would want the world to know that they are quite happy, thank you very much, and more than keeping their chins up!

Japan’s third-largest prefecture has been at the center of controversy since the nuclear crisis occurred amid the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 2011. But the producer of a new cover video inspired by Pharrell Williams’ megahit “Happy” is out to paint a different picture of Fukushima to the world. One that is not full of sickly people dying from radiation, nor terror-stricken families anxiously fleeing its borders.

She’s out to show the world, quite simply, a “Happy Fukushima.” 

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Nosebleeds, food, and fear: How a popular manga became the centre of a debate about Fukushima

Nosebleeds, food, and fear: How a popular manga became the centre of a debate about Fukushima

In the West, comics are often considered predominantly for younger audiences, and adults who spend more time scrutinising the contents of speech bubbles than printed paragraphs might be looked down on by some. But in Japan, comics are considered a perfectly acceptable pastime whatever one’s age.

More often than not, comics, or manga to use the Japanese term, provide their readers with a break from reality, much like a TV drama or soap, and allow readers to peek into the kinds of worlds that they might not ordinarily be able. But there are times when fiction and reality come together, and real-world events become fodder for a writer’s imagination or in some case the main focus of a story. In the case of popular manga series Oishinbo (美味しんぼ), one particular plotline has raised not just eyebrows but objections on a national level, and what was once just a comic about food has become the centre of a debate about health, radiation, and whether the Japanese government is telling the truth about Fukushima.

Today, we delve a little deeper into the “Oishinbo Nosebleed Problem”, as it has become known, and consider whether, after the resulting backlash, this controversial topic is one that the manga’s writer perhaps ought to have left well alone.

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Food by Fujitsu: Rise of the super veggie!

Food by Fujitsu: Rise of the super veggie!

With Vermont becoming the first state in the US to require labels for genetically modified organisms, more and more people are turning towards natural, organically grown food. People want to know where their food comes from and they want to have the choice to choose foods that don’t use pesticides. But genetically modified food has been paramount to feeding every mouth on this planet. What if there was a way to combine the benefits that science provides but still ensure a natural growing environment with no pesticides used? Fujitsu is taking great strides towards that goal and their first product has been making its way to consumers.

And yes, we really are taking about food by Fujitsu.

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Spooky shots of the abandoned Fukushima disaster area taken with a drone

Spooky shots of the abandoned Fukushima disaster area taken with a drone

Japanese aerial photography company HEXaMedia flew a drone equipped with cameras through Tomioka, Japan, the largely abandoned town that played host to the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.

It edited together a number of spooky shots into a 7-minute video that you can watch here. Check out the most stunning shots in the gallery below.

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Free highway bus for students connects Tokyo and Fukushima for business or pleasure

Free highway bus for students connects Tokyo and Fukushima for business or pleasure

In Japan, the job hunting season is under way. From late December to April or May, students who will graduate in the coming year search for jobs en masse. Companies are busy trying to recruit the best and the brightest to apply to their firms, while stressed students rush here and there attending loads of job fairs, company briefing sessions and employment seminars.

For companies in Fukushima Prefecture, still recovering from the 2011 disaster and subsequent nuclear meltdown, recruiting new applicants is doubly hard. They have to contend with the usual tides of urban migration as well as the negative associations now attached to the area, but one local company, Niraku Corporation, has hit upon an idea to help bring young job seekers in: bus them in for free.

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One filmmaker’s mission to show the world the real Fukushima, and how you can help

One filmmaker’s mission to show the world the real Fukushima, and how you can help

“Forget the reactor. Forget all the bull$#!^ Facebook posts about how radiation is melting the starfish and mutating our sushi. Forget about what it means to be a disaster, and discover what it means to be Fukushima.”

Filmmaker Cameron Anderson is on a mission to show the world the real Fukushima. Having spend months exploring the region, he – an outsider arriving long after Fukushima became known the world over as the centre of a tragic nuclear accident – has come to learn what Japan’s third-largest prefecture is really all about. Cameron has also seen how the news, careless comments shared via social networks, and a general fear of the unknown have caused people around the globe to label this land as a giant, black spot on the map of Japan, with stories popping up online every few weeks about tides of non-existent radioactive seawater and the prefecture’s potentially hazardous exports.

Hoping to obtain a special filmmaking grant, it is Cameron’s plan to put together a 10-minute documentary that explores this vast, rich part of Japan and introduce some of its genuinely remarkable residents–both Japanese and foreign. But he needs your help.

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Why increased thyroid cancer rates in Fukushima kids isn’t necessarily a cause for concern

Why increased thyroid cancer rates in Fukushima kids isn’t necessarily a cause for concern

A “cancer cluster” detected in kids near the Fukushima disaster is probably due to the increased examination of these children, not because of the disaster itself, according to epidemiologist Norman Kleiman of Columbia University.

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Remembering the people of Tohoku three years on

Remembering the people of Tohoku three years on

At 2:46 p.m. today, exactly three years will have passed since a Magnitude 9.0 earthquake shook Japan to its very core, moments later sending an enormous tidal wave that claimed tens of thousands of lives in the Tohoku region.

Today is a day to remember the people who are no longer with us, and to think of those whose lives were changed forever–many of whom were displaced from their homes and are still trying to start anew.

But today should also be seen as something of a gift. Those of us who came away from March 11, 2011 unscathed or are fortunate enough never to have known loss like the people of Tohoku are given days like today to pause and take stock of what we have. Whether or not you observe a moment’s silence this afternoon, and wherever you are in the world, try to keep Japan in the back of your mind today, but also try to look a little closer to home. Use today to effect some positive change in the world or in your own life, however small and seemingly insignificant. Donate to a charity you believe in; call your mother; switch off your phone for an hour and look at all of the cool stuff around you; start work on that book that you’ve been crafting in your mind for the past five years; buy some nicotine patches instead of another pack of cigs; book that holiday you’ve been meaning to take; pay for the guy in line behind you in Starbucks; tell your dog that he really is a good boy; make an awesome cake, then sit with a pal and stuff it into your faces while pretending to be dinosaurs.

As dramatic as it may sound, days like March 11, 2011 are firm reminders that sometimes there isn’t a tomorrow to put things off until, so make the most of today. Ganbare, Tohoku!

Need some inspiration? Maybe one of these groups could use some help:

Japan Red Cross Society / Cancer Research UK / (RED) 
Global Giving / Save the Children / World Vision / WWF

New species of mayfly discovered in Fukushima that can never get their prescription glasses

New species of mayfly discovered in Fukushima that can never get their prescription glasses

On 2 March this year, a research group from Fukushima University will present the results of their study in which they believe to have found a new species of mayfly. This particular insect was found in a remote swamp near Lake Hibara. This new species is unique in that rather than living from a day to a week like related mayflies, this particular one has a life span of only an hour.

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In wake of nuclear disaster, world’s largest floating wind farm being built in Fukushima

In wake of nuclear disaster, world’s largest floating wind farm being built in Fukushima

The Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 and subsequent Fukushima nuclear accident have made many in Japan rethink the country’s reliance on atomic energy. Investment in alternative, renewable energy sources is looking more and more attractive to some, and the sentiment is particularly strong among residents of Fukushima Prefecture itself.

Those seeking a less volatile source of power may be getting their wish with the proposed development of what would be the world’s largest-output floating wind farm off the Fukushima coast.

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Sweet, delicious and extra cold: snow apples from the Japanese alps

Sweet, delicious and extra cold: snow apples from the Japanese alps

Japanese apples are legendary for their gigantic round shape, sweet taste and a hefty price tag due to their flawless appearance. Recently, a “new” kind of apple has been getting popular in the mountainous and very snowy prefecture of Nagano. It seems that apple growers there have decided to make the most of the winter precipitation that covers their fields by burying freshly picked apples for several months under a huge pile of snow. The “snow apples” are said to be even juicier, crisper and sweeter after spending the winter months hibernating under the snow.

But how can you make a snow apple, and what other tasty produce can you bury in the snow? Click below to find out!

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Ramen characters prove there’s more to Fukushima than just nuclear sadness

Ramen characters prove there’s more to Fukushima than just nuclear sadness

Before March 11 2011, Fukushima Prefecture was pretty much unknown outside of Japan. Within the country, however, Japan’s third-largest prefecture was known for much more than its nuclear power plant. Along with being a producer of delicious, mouthwatering peaches and home to areas of stunning natural beauty, Fukushima was also known as a hotspot for incredible ramen noodles.

Now, some of the more prominent ramen restaurants in the area have banded together to remind us all that the real heart of Fukushima has always been fuelled by ramen power. And they’ve even got shiny, new anime characters to prove it!

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More than two years on, many in Japan still uncertain about food from around Fukushima

More than two years on, many in Japan still uncertain about food from around Fukushima

When the announcement was made that Tokyo would host the 2020 Olympic Games, there was much reason for celebration in Japan. Leading up to the decision, the Japanese leader for the Olympic bid emphatically stressed that the Fukushima disaster would have no impact on life in Tokyo–a claim that was reiterated after the bid was won.

Around that time, a cartoon appeared in a French newspaper depicting mutating sumo wrestlers in front of radiation suit wearing spectators. The Japanese government took issue with it and angrily reaffirmed the safety of the rest of Japan. Still, among many of the citizens, there is sneaking yet widespread suspicion over how safe the Tohoku and Kanto regions actually are, especially with regards to their food products.

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Fukushima Corporation unveils new mascot with an unfortunate (but hilarious) name

Fukushima Corporation unveils new mascot with an unfortunate (but hilarious) name

Meet the newest mascot at Fukushima Industries! This cute, winged egg is the perfect face for a company that manufactures the kind of industrial refrigerators, blast chillers, freezers and refrigerated showcases that you might find in a restaurant or a supermarket.

The name they chose for this little egghead, though, probably needed a bit more work…

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Nearly 290,000 people still living in shelters two and a half years after the Tohoku disaster

Nearly 290,000 people still living in shelters two and a half years after the Tohoku disaster

The devastation from the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami will not soon be forgotten. It has left an indelible footprint on the collective consciousness of Japan and, indeed, the rest of the world. While photos of Japan’s speedy response in many of the stricken areas are certainly inspiring, it’s important to remember that the prefectures worst hit by the natural disaster are still in the process of recovery, with a great many citizens continuing to live in refugee shelters.

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Scaremongers strike again: “mutant” vegetables wrongly attributed to Fukushima

Scaremongers strike again: “mutant” vegetables wrongly attributed to Fukushima

“Attack of the mutant vegetables!! Are these our new tomato overlords?? Let’s all boycott the struggling Fukushima farmers for, oh, say 100 years or so.”

Actually, despite the attention they’re receiving and hits they’re no doubt generating online, the following photos don’t seem to originate from Fukushima at all…

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Why’s Prime Minister Abe so healthy? It’s all the food from Fukushima!

Why’s Prime Minister Abe so healthy? It’s all the food from Fukushima!

Ah, election season in Japan! While for other countries this might mean a deluge of angry black-and-white TV commercials, in Japan it mostly means street-side speeches.

Last week, Prime Minister Abe swung by Fukushima City in Fukushima Prefecture to support local candidate Masako Mori, who’s the current minister of the Consumer Affairs Agency. And what did he talk about?

How great Fukushima-produced food is, of course!

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Incidences of thyroid cancer on the rise among Fukushima children

Incidences of thyroid cancer on the rise among Fukushima children

According to Kolnet, an online media source focused on the Tohoku region of Japan, the number of under-18s in Fukushima Prefecture diagnosed with thyroid cancer has increased to 12, while the number of possible cases has reached 15.

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Japanese Documentary Tells the Real Story of the Daiichi Nuclear Plant Evacuees

Japanese Documentary Tells the Real Story of the Daiichi Nuclear Plant Evacuees

Two years after Japan’s great earthquake and the Daiichi nuclear diaster comes a documentary that tells of the citizens who still can’t return home to Iitate Village in Fukushima due to the high levels of radiation.

Over at our sister site, Pouch, film critic Kaori Saito was given the opportunity to check out the film production of “Iitate Village, the Problem of Radiation and Returning Home” (in Japanese “Iitate-mura hoshano to kison”) before it was released to the Japanese public on May 4. Kaori comments that the work deserves particular credit for its delicate treatment of the continuing problem of radiation and the depiction of the struggles of the inhabitants affected.

For the readers who are unfamiliar with Iitate, it is a village that is located 30 kilometers from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant within the prefecture of Fukushima. While it is reasonable to believe that the level of radioactive contamination would be comparatively low for an area this far from the power plant, due to the strong winds, snow and rain that occurred directly following the disaster, the actual levels of contamination far exceeded original estimates. For Japan and Iitate Village, unprecedented levels of radiation poured down, making the land uninhabitable and thus leaving the former residents no alternative but to abandon their village and seek refuge elsewhere.
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