In one of his most recent questions, Murakami gives his opinion on a very touchy subject in Japan: nuclear power. Instead of calling out for reform or regulations though, he suggests one very simple change: that Japanese people refer to what they currently call “atomic energy power plants” as “nuclear power plants” instead.
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.
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.
In the midst of a severe heat wave, South Korea is facing a terrible energy crisis. And so, in an effort to save power, the government has taken the step of prohibiting the use of air conditioners – the very devices that few of us would ever dream of going without at this time of year – in public buildings for a number of days.
South Korea’s nuclear power industry, ranking fifth in the world in terms of generating capacity at 20,739 megawatts, continues to be rocked by scandal and misconduct. Currently nine of the country’s 23 plants are offline, meaning the supply capacity situation is the worst the country has ever experienced. Though Japan’s power supply is also in a precarious state with only 2 of its 50 nuclear plants operating, the situation in South Korea is said to be much more severe, and many fear power outages such as those experienced in September 2011 will recur.
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. Read More
It as been reported that engineers at Japan’s fast breeder reactor plant Monju made a mistake during testing of the plant’s emergency power generator, which subsequently resulted in the release of black smoke and the ringing of the plant’s fire alarm.
It has come to light that the Japanese government’s Fukushima Daiichi cleanup plan is failing due to problems concerning counterfeit contracts. The government is now left reassessing its human resource strategy and considering how to effectively secure the number of employees required to carry out the work. As it presently stands, more than half of the laborers employed at the nuclear site are suspected of being involved in counterfeit contract work.
How would you like your smartphone to be powered by nuclear fission? Many people probably would not be comfortable with the idea of radioactive material in their shirt pocket. However, they might change their tune to hear it doesn’t need charging or changing for two decades.
Tama-chan, a writer at Japanese news site Byokan Sunday,was perusing the Chinese shopping website taobao.com when he came across just such a battery. It carries a hefty price tag but the benefits are frighteningly good.