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A Day of Horror: The March 11, 2011 Japan Earthquake  A Foreigner’s Perspective Bradley Lobue


An Endorsement:
March 11th marks the 6th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Mr. Bradley Lobue, an American living in Japan published an e-book chronicling his experiences not only on that day, but also in the subsequent weeks and months. The book is a detailed account of his experiences with the earthquake and the nuclear crisis. It gives details about the event from his perspective.

A note from the author:
The effects of March 11, 2011 still linger for those of us who remain in Fukushima prefecture. The road to recovery has not been easy and will take more time before many people can reclaim the lives they had before that horrific event.  Thankfully, we have seen signs of life breathing back into Koriyama over the past few years.  Radiation levels have drastically dropped to manageable limits in general, although Koriyama still suffers from “hotspots” (where radiation levels are still well above the norm) in various neighborhoods and locations.  Damaged houses and buildings are being razed and rebuilt.  New roads have been constructed and businesses are returning to the area.  Koriyama is boldly rising from the ashes.

I have written an e-book about that fateful day, as well as the weeks and months following, from my perspective; a foreigner living in Fukushima prefecture. It’s titled A Day of Horror: The March 11, 2011 Japan Earthquake-A Foreigner’s Perspective. The book is for sale on Amazon in countries where available.  I hope that you enjoy the book.

Thank you for your kind support and consideration.
Bradley Lobue



Standing Up For “Life”—In search of a Nuke-free World A summary of a lecture by Rev. Makito Aizawa

Original Japanese lecture by Rev. Makito Aizawa, No Nuke Project

The English below written and arranged by Heeday, based on the original Japanese

The English edited by Rev. Dr. Henry French, ELCA


+++ Standing Up For “Life”—In search of a Nuke-free World+++

This was the title of the lecture delivered by Rev. Makito Aizawa, chairperson of our No Nuke Project, in July 2016, at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Yokohama.

The flyer for the lecture quoted Rev. Aizawa: “I believe we need to see this issue (of nuclear power) in terms of ‘life’ granted to us by God—from the viewpoint of faith, above anything else.”
He began his lecture by saying, “This is an issue we cannot ignore, as we live as Christians and as humans.”

Rev. Aizawa wrote a summary of the lecture, which was delivered in Japanese. The lecture was very easy to understand and full of good viewpoints. In the hope of sharing it with as many readers as possible, the No Nuke Project presents an English summary of the lecture below.


  1. Introduction
  2. The church should stand with life
  3. Issues with the nuclear power system
  4. A nuclear accident is comparable only to a war
  5. “Your thoughts are not of God but of men”
  6. The court decision to suspend the operation of the Oi Nuclear Power Plant
  7. Our standpoint

An English summary of “Standing Up For “Life”—In search of a Nuke-free World,”

a lecture by Rev. Makito Aizawa



“Standing up for “life”—in search of a nuke-free world.” This is a serious and crucial subject. I am not an engineer, and I am not an expert on nuclear power generation. Still, as we live as Christians and as human beings, it is an issue we cannot ignore. So, how should we understand and respond to the system of nuclear power generation?

God provides us all equally with the following three things: Life, Time, and Death. Indeed, we are all equal in these things. This is a solemn truth. Keeping this truth firmly in mind, and with a special focus on “life,” we will consider the issues of nuclear power generation.

God has granted each and every one of us a life. Therefore, we are living in this world.

Precisely speaking, we were created to live, and we only have one life. We can easily see how precious this one life is. Once it is lost, we have no alternative. Another way to put it is to say that it is never permissible to destroy a life.

We naturally say “No!” to any act that destroys life, be it a war, verbal abuse, neglect, or the refusal to live together. I think there are many other ways life can be destroyed. On March 11th, 2011, we were made aware of one more path to destruction. The meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) began to spread deadly radioactive substances. As many say, this tragedy radically changed the way we live and think.

【The church should stand with life】

In Genesis 2:16–17, we read: “You may eat from any tree in the garden except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; the day you eat from that, you are surely doomed to die.” This is a command of God with deep meaning. In this text, we learn that some “fruits” are never to be eaten. In other words, there are some things we must not do.

Now, let us think about this prohibition one more time. As we consider nuclear power, this command of God shows us where we must stand. “The day you eat from that (nuclear power), you are surely doomed to die,” and that is precisely what we humans have done.

Now, do you not experience a tendency in church to avoid things political? How often have you heard it said: “A church is not the right place for politics.” I know well that there are ministers and laypeople who share similar beliefs. Still, let us think twice. Should we really avoid things “political” in church?

The Standing Committee of Catholic Bishops, part of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, gave a clear response to the question in its statement dated April 7th, 2016. I believe we too should listen to their response. Let me cite part of it here.

“There have been criticisms of political remarks made by the Bishops’ Conference. Why does the Conference make political statements? Are such statements not against the principle of separation of church and state? On these questions, as we said, in the first paragraph of the message we issued last year, ‘The church must not remain silent on issues involving the life and dignity of humans.’

The Roman Catholic Church certainly does not stand on any particular political ideology. Still, the Bishops’ Conference has the duty to declare that believers need to be aware of recent political trends in Japan, trends which could someday lead to serious threats to ‘the life and dignity of humans’ in the very places where we live.

Also, ‘separation of church and state’ does not mean ‘separation of politics and religion,’ but ‘separation of a state government and a religious organization.’ The true meaning of the principle is that a government must not hold power over any particular religious organization, and vice versa. No religious organization should exercise any state power, or enjoy a cozy relationship with a government, or receive any profits from it. That is the true meaning of the principle.”

Friends, I hope we can stand on the same foundation. When we hear the criticism that a church must not be engaged in anything political, I suggest we respond: “We are not supporting or disapproving any particular political party. What we are doing is speaking out on issues of life and the dignity of life. We cannot remain silent on such issues.”

【Issues with the nuclear power system】

The heart of the problem of nuclear power generation is that it inevitably produces deadly radioactive substances (“fallout”), which threaten life. Back in the early years of nuclear energy development, there was the hope that we would someday be able to neutralize such substances. By now, however, most experts agree that this hope is gone, due to the immense technical problems and huge financial investments required.

The issues surrounding the processing and storage of radioactive waste will remain with us long after we abolish NPPs. Many radioactive elements have a half-life of some dozens of thousands to millions of years. (Pu239 has a half-life of 24,110 years, and Np237 some 2.14 million years.)

Dozens of thousands to millions of years—time too long for us to imagine. Can we ever safely store deadly radioactive waste over such long periods of time? This is especially critical given that Japan is located in a geological area with frequent earthquakes. In a place like this, it is most probably impossible to safely store the “waste of death” somewhere underground for many thousands of years.

Additionally, attempting to store such waste for such a long time inevitably means that we are burdening future generations—who will not benefit from today’s power generation—with life-threatening radioactive substances. Is this ethically permissible? (See a recent Japanese publication titled “Datsu-genpatsu no Tetsugaku” (literally, “Philosophy of Freedom from Nuclear Power”) by Satoh & Taguchi.)

The common uranium contained in uranium ores (U238) has a half-life of some 4.5 billion years. Used nuclear fuel must be kept in isolation for 100,000 years, until its toxicity weakens sufficiently.

Now, let us think of how old the human race is. The first human species named “homo…” emerged some 1.8 million years ago, with “homo sapiens” appearing some 200,000 years ago.

The more we operate NPPs, the more radioactive waste is produced. All of this waste requires storage over astronomical periods of time. The nuclear power generation system leaves highly toxic waste, which cannot be processed, as well as the problem of its storage and all the serious dangers involved, to future generations. The longer we operate NPPs, the more of such waste is left to the future. All these troubles and dangers for future generations are being created just for the sake of our power consumption today. Thus, we have a system in which our easy living comes at the sacrifice of future generations.

Yet another serious issue is that nuclear power generation and the making of nuclear weapons basically use the same technology. Reprocessing and enrichment of used nuclear fuels can produce plutonium, which is the essential material of many nuclear weapons. In short, slow nuclear fission takes place in a NPP, while a rapid outburst of it occurs in a nuclear bomb. Many say that one reason why some nations keep operating their NPPs is that they want to maintain the technology to produce nuclear bombs.

In Japanese we use two different terms – “genshiryoku” (literally, “atomic power”) for power generation and “kaku” (“nuclear”) for weapons. Thus, nuclear power generation is “genshiryoku hatsuden” in common Japanese. However, in Chinese, it is usually核 (nuclear ) 电站. Today, some Japanese speakers prefer to use “kaku hatsuden” (nuclear power generation). But, language aside, the nuclear waste from NPPs is highly dangerous, and it is an inevitable byproduct of “nuclear” power generation.

【A nuclear accident is comparable only to a war】

Now, let us turn our attention briefly to the “Statement of War Responsibility” of the Anglican-Episcopal Church in Japan. With this statement, the Anglican-Episcopal Church in Japan demonstrated its awareness “that we are called to do justice as the people of God, and to become a church that hears the screams and painful cries of a world split apart and in agony, and so become an instrument of peace. And we pray for this transformation.” Thus, we will denounce war, and strive to build up and live in peace.

Now, from the viewpoint of peace and war, let us look at what nuclear power does. We can see that, in terms of severity, scale, etc., a major NPP incident is comparable only to war. In short, a nuclear incident exceeds many other tragedies in our world in terms of cruelty and severity. I learned this from the Japanese publication mentioned above, “Datsu-genpatsu no Tetsugaku.”

Once a major nuclear accident hits a NPP, or another nuclear facility, a tremendous area of land is rendered uninhabitable and some dozens of thousands of lives are threatened. In this sense, a nuclear accident is comparable only to a war.

For instance, see the statistics below from actual major NPP accidents:


Death toll

Chernobyl Forum estimates the death toll ascribable to cancer related to this historic nuclear catastrophe at 4,000 among the 600,000 people who had considerable exposure to radiation in the three countries mainly affected by the accident, namely Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. Greenpeace’s estimate of cancer deaths related to Chernobyl is 93,080 all over the world. The New York Academy of Sciences has 985,000 as the total death toll including causes other than cancer.

  • Emigration

Soil contamination forced some 400,000 residents to emigrate out of an area of some 10,000 km2 (2,471,054 acres) area of land.

  • Economic loss

Belarus suffered a gigantic economic loss equivalent to 32 years of its national budget.

As you see, these figures show a leviathan of catastrophe comparable only to a war.

<Fukushima Daiichi>

  • Refugees

Some 154,000 residents of Fukushima Prefecture left their homes to settle in other places. (As of March, 2013.) This figure is very close to the displacement of people during wars and civil wars.

  • Uninhabitable and under-control lands

An area of some 1,000 km2 (247,097 acres) around the NPP is uninhabitable, with another 14,000 km2 (3,459,353 acres) of land under control for radioactivity. No “accident” other than a nuclear-related one can render such a massive area of land uninhabitable. In terms of scale, only a war is comparable to this.

As shown above, a nuclear accident kills numerous victims with cancer and other issues, renders a huge area of land uninhabitable, and radically destroys the livelihood of the people living there. What is comparable to a catastrophe like this? Only war is.

Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution renounces war. We, the Anglican-Episcopal Church in Japan, have adopted the Statement of War Responsibility. When we consider this, we know what we should do.

Now, once a NPP is put into operation, it produces radioactive waste. Though this is a plain fact that all the experts knew well, it caught the attention of many others after March 11th, 2011. The Anglican-Episcopal Church in Japan, therefore, in the 59th Regular General Synod of 2012, adopted a resolution named “For a World without Nuclear Power Plants – The Anglican/Episcopal Church in Japan Opposed to Nuclear Power Generation.” In essence, the resolution says the church “seeks for a world free from nuclear power,” since it “threatens lives created by God…destroys nature created by God …and deprives people of the peaceful life intended by God.”

Obviously, as the resolution points out, radioactive waste, now existing in huge quantities with no way to neutralize it, threatens the lives of people for many millennia to come. Radioactive substances remained stably underground for millions of years. Now, the nuclear power system has dug them up and is destroying the ecosystem of the planet. Nuclear accidents have destroyed the foundations of all too many people’s lives, people who are now forced to lead a life without stability.

【“Your thoughts are not of God but of men”】

Now, let us hear the word of our Lord. “Get behind me, Satan, for your thoughts are not of God but of men” (Gospel of Mark 8:33).

This is Jesus’ rebuke of Peter. It does not mean we should forget about things human. Rather, it means we have to have our priorities right. Giving a higher priority to things human over things Divine—for instance “money first” over life—can result in a catastrophe, as the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown has proven to us.

In the right sequence of priorities, life comes first. I suppose most people share this belief. Still: “Whether one is completely ignorant of God or a believer in God, a human is susceptible to impulses of rage, jealousy, desires to monopolize and dominate, etc. He/She can be enslaved by money or possessions. Also, without Divine help, a human often looks down on others who are inferior to him/her in power, physical might, intelligence, possessions, etc. and even considers such people’s lives as less important than his/her own.” (p. 13, “Hiboryoku ni yoru Heiwa eno Michi” (literally, “A Way to Peace through Non-Violence), a publication of the Social Committee of Catholic Bishops, part of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan.)

As we think of our Lord’s saying, “Your thoughts are not of God but of men,” in the context of our modern society, it sounds like “Your thoughts are not of life but of money.”

I heard Prof. Hirofumi Uzawa, a theoretical economist, say that the foundations of our lives, the atmosphere, water, forest, soil, etc., are not to be left to the care of the market economy. We can easily see the evidence of this claim in, among many other tragedies, the victims of Minamata disease, whose lives depended upon the Sea of Minamata, which was polluted by a big business. They were forced to sacrifice their lives and health for money. (Heeday’s note: Minamata disease was a severe form of mercury poisoning first discovered in 1956, in a place called Minamata, Kumamoto Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan. A business named Chisso Corporation had a chemical plant there, which released wastewater containing methylmercury into the sea facing Minamata, poisoning many residents there. Their traditional lifestyles depended on seafood.)

Yet another example of such victims are those whose land, which they inherited from their ancestors, was taken in exchange for money, due to the national government’s development policy. Prof. Uzawa’s theory rings loudly as a serious warning. Clearly our socioeconomic system can produce more such victims. The essentials of people’s lives must not be given over to the market mechanism, he says. This is something important we need to learn.

Another scholar, Prof. Takeshi Umehara, in a lecture, described a spiritual idea called “Somoku Kokudo Shikkai Jobutsu” (literally, “Grasses, trees, soil, minerals— everything can become Buddha”). The idea recognizes the nature of Buddha in everything—animals, plants, minerals—which, in turn, means they can all be transformed into Buddha. In other words, this idea proposes a way of life that coexists with nature. The Fukushima Daiichi disaster has made it clear that we now need to reconsider our sciences, technologies, and civilization from the viewpoint of “Somoku Kokudo Shikkai Jobutsu,” i.e., coexistence with nature.

As we live our eternal life, as promised by Lord Jesus, I think we must live together with nature as well. The creation story of the book of Genesis tells us to live together with and take care of nature. Not control it. Don’t forget: our responsibility is to let God-given nature prove its inherent beauty.

Both religiously and ethically, we cannot keep NPPs running. They produce deadly waste, and we have no way to process it into something safe. This alone is a strong enough reason to prohibit NPPs. Insistence on restarting NPPs seems to come from insistence on getting more and more money and profit. Holding economic growth above human life is a perversion. The way we should live is to build up a society that values life, thinking of things Divine first and then things human.

【The court decision to suspend the operation of the Oi NuclearPower Plant】

Now, from this viewpoint, the Fukui District Court’s decision of May 21st, 2014, which suspended the operation of Units 3 and 4 of the Oi NPP, located in Fukui, Japan, was of tremendous significance. Especially notable is the court’s position on “loss of the nation’s wealth,” which I think is in line with what the Bible teaches us.

<Loss of the nation’s wealth>

“Though the defendant (The Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc.) claims that restarting the NPP in question should lead to a stable supply of power and cost reduction, the court believes that the rights of many related to their very existence must not be discussed as a tradeoff with power rates and other issues. Such a discussion in itself is not permissible from the standpoint of legal justice.

Considering the relationship between power generation and nuclear energy here in Japan, we, the court, conclude that suspending the operation of the NPP in question will not result in any serious power shortage, nor would it cause any threat to a human’s life or body. We can safely ignore such a possibility.

Even in the defendant’s arguments, the inconveniences that might result from suspending the operation of the NPP in question are all within the domain of power supply stability and cost. Though some claim that an increase in power supply cost means a loss of the nation’s wealth, even if the suspension of the operation of the NPP in question would result in a large trade deficit, it would not mean any loss of the nation’s wealth. We, the court, believe the true national wealth is both a rich natural environment and people living in that environment with peace and stability. If these are lost irretrievably, it is the true loss of the nation’s wealth.

Also, though the defendant claims that NPPs help in the reduction of CO2 (carbon dioxide) emission and, therefore, are environmentally positive, once a severe accident occurs at a NPP, environmental destruction follows. We have witnessed that the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown is the most serious and greatest incident of environmental destruction in the whole of Japan’s history. Thus, it is utterly illogical to argue that a NPP’s operation should continue for the sake of environmental protection.”

【Our standpoint】

There is a series of daily editorials, called “Vox Populi,” in a major Japanese newspaper named “The Asahi Shimbun.” I found an interesting folk tale in one editorial: A man was living happily with a lovely wife. One day, when a dog barked at the wife, she showed her true self – a fox. (Heeday’s note: In Japan’s fairy tales, a fox often turns itself into a human and deceives people. Ancient China had a legend of a fox-turned monster, which spread into the Japanese archipelago along with Buddhism.) The man, though shocked to learn he had been deceived by a fox, was unable to give up the happiness he enjoyed while he was deceived. So, he asked the fox to turn into the wife again.

I think this tale can be applied to Japan’s relationship with NPPs. “The Fukushima catastrophe has set many people free from the curse of the ‘NPP safety myth’ and revealed the true color of nuclear power. Still, some leaders are unable to give up the ‘happy deception’ and are eager to be deceived again.”

Minako Saitoh, a literary critic, analyzed why Japan has so far been unable to give up NPPs. She has come up with five reasons:

  • Reluctance to give up—“We have worked so hard to restart some NPPs. How can we give up on them so easily!?”
  • Fear that giving up NPPs now would prevent any future restarts
  • Forlorn hope that technologies will overcome current suspicions about NPPs and prove their safety
  • Insistence of the pro-nukes people to “save face” over against those voices calling for abolishment of NPPs
  • Desire of the pro-nukes people to save their own skin, by avoiding all the risks involved in NPP abolishment

In essence, what is driving some people to restart NPPs includes “reluctance, fear, saving one’s face and skin, and forlorn hope.” If this analysis is true, we just cannot accept such things. And I am afraid that the analysis is correct.

In April 2011, Chancellor Merkel of Germany installed the “Ethics Commission on Safe Energy Supply,” which later, on May 30th, 2011, submitted a report saying Germany could abolish nuclear power within a decade. The report’s main points included:

  • No matter how we improve NPP safety, an accident can happen.
  • Once such an accident takes place, nuclear energy proves to be more dangerous than any other form of energy.
  • Leaving radioactive waste to future generations is a serious ethical problem.
  • There are other energy sources safer than nuclear.
  • To alleviate global warming, using nuclear power in place of fossil fuels does not provide a solution.
  • We should gradually eliminate NPPs through the development of renewable energies and by improving energy efficiency. This will create great opportunities for future economic growth as well.

I think what really matters is “determination.” If we make up our mind to abolish NPPs, we will engage in more research, share more ideas, and find new ways to do so. This will accelerate the spread of renewable energies. Small technologies will be developed, one after another.

The top priority issue with nuclear energy is safety, I think. Yet one serious question is what “safety” really is. Some people speak of technical safety, scientific safety, and so on.  Yet these so-called “safeties” can confuse relevant discussions. To me, true “nuclear energy safety” can become a reality only after we have the technology to neutralize radioactive waste. And such a technology is only forlorn hope.

In 2006, a Buddhist poet named Shinmin Sakamura passed away at the age of 97. He wrote a poem titled “For those who come after me”:

For those who come after me

For those who come after me

I will toil

I will persevere

I will cultivate the rice paddies

And prepare seeds

For those who come after me

I will keep clean mountains, rivers, and the ocean


Yes, for those who come after us

We all do everything we can


For those beloved ones

Who come after us and those who come after them

For those who inherit the future

Everyone does what (s)he can


(From a collection of Shinmin Sakamura’s poems titled “Shikoku” (literally, “Land of Poems”)

Let me conclude this lecture with an impressive appeal made by a (then) 11-year-old child, who was a refugee from Iwaki, Fukushima and currently resides in Tokyo. This appeal was read at the opening ceremony of the “Tokyo – Hiroshima Route” of the March of Peace of the People against A&H Bombs 2014. The ceremony was held in front of the “Daigo Fukuryu-maru” Museum located in Yume-no-shima, Koto Ward, Tokyo, on May 6th, 2014. (Heeday’s note: “Daigo Fukuryu-maru was the tuna fishing boat that was hit by deadly fallout from a hydrogen bomb test conducted in Bikini Atoll in 1954. One of its crew, Aikichi Kuboyama, died half a year later.)

Here is the whole text of the appeal:

“Since I left my Fukushima home on the day after the meltdown began, I have not seen my home again. In March 2011, when I was a 2nd grader, I became a child living in Tokyo. All the things I cherished, my school, home, friends, and everything else, disappeared. A new life began and I started to go to school from my shelter.

I and my little brother, weeping and vomiting, just did whatever we had to do. Most of us, refugees from Iwaki, are from outside the “specified areas for refugee compensation”  and so receive almost no compensation.* So, most of us are in poverty. Also, most children among us are living separately from their fathers. Their dads have to keep working in Fukushima. Otherwise, we will not be able to make our living as refugees. Without the NPP meltdown, all of us would be leading an ordinary life in our homes. I too spent a year and a half away from my dad. Back then, I was extremely happy on those few days when I met my dad. Yet every time he went back to Fukushima, my little brother covered himself up with “futon” sleeping mats and wept. I felt so sorry for him, because I wanted to cry too.

My dad worked hard, alone in Fukushima, but later he overworked himself and had both physical and mental problems. He had to quit the work and settled down in Tokyo. At long last, we are together. Still, currently we are experiencing many difficulties.

I did hear about what atomic bombs did to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, yet I never imagined my own house would experience fallout from above 69 years later. And the fallout ruined the life of my whole family.

I lost so many things after the NPP meltdown. My house, my family’s smiles, and many other things all disappeared.

I hope a tragedy like this will never happen again, to anyone, anywhere. So, all of you participants in this March of Peace, please keep Japan on the right track, until I and my generation grow old enough to move Japan’s politics. Please let us inherit a safe future, a future without atomic bombs or NPPs. I and my fellow kids will learn everything we can, so we can inherit such a future, a future I earnestly and desperately hope for.”


* “Specified areas for refugee compensations”: Following the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown, the Japanese government granted some compensation to those refugees who fled from the areas specified for such compensation. However, compensation is not given to those who fled, by their own decision, from areas not specified.

(End of this summary)

Here in a Comfy Café

More than five years have passed since the earthquake and tsunami devastated much of eastern Japan in March 2011. Looking back on the past half-decade, we are listening to some of the stories and recollections of those we have been “walking together with,” one by one, since the devastation.
Below is a story from our third speaker in this series, Ms. Chikako Nishihara, a resident of the Izumi-Tamatsuyu Emergency Temporary Housing Complex. St. Timothy’s Support Center, located in Onahama, Iwaki, Fukushima, has been providing help to this complex, and Ms. Nishihara has been working with the support center as a volunteer.

“Here in a Comfy Café”

Chikako Nishihara,
Resident of the Izumi-TamatsuyuEmergency Temporary Housing Complex Member of a group of volunteers
named “Hokkori (comfy)”

“Comfy cafes”
Five years and two months have passed since the tragedies of March 2011. Following the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 11th and the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown, we, the citizens of the little town of Tomioka, without any significant information as to what was going on, were forced to evacuate on the following day, without any known destination. Some of us had to travel between different shelters, living separately from our families, and enduring days and days of bitterness and anxiety.

Then, in September 2011, some of us began to settle down here, at the temporary housing of Izumi-Tamatsuyu. By then, we were exhausted physically and worn out mentally. We had endured months of life in shelters, where anxieties and inconveniences were the keynote day in and day out. Once we were resident in this temporary housing complex, St. Timothy’s Volunteer Center, Onahama, of the Anglican-Episcopal Church in Japan, launched a comfy café for us, a regular event of comfort and consolation. Carrying cups of fragrant coffee, the church’s volunteers spoke to us with gentle words of comfort, such as: “You’ve gotten over so many rainy days. Now, please rest.” They certainly relieved me of the emotional tensions I had untill then, and I almost shed tears.

The comfy café became a good place where neighbors and ex-residents of Tomioka came together. Since the little town consisted of different districts, some people met each other for the first time here. “Nice to meet you” was often followed by a conversation like: “Where were ya livin’ before the disaster? Oh, there? Mah former neighborhood! Great to see you!” Tomioka had its own dialect, and hearing it made me nostalgic.

Thus, the café became so cheerful and noisy that we often had a hard time understanding each other. Among all those cheerful voices, the church’s volunteers went around serving coffee and sweets. While being very thankful to all those volunteers, I knew, since it was something good for us, that some of us should also be helping. When you know you should help, just get into the action! So I asked the volunteer center if could help, and joined the café volunteers.

I am very thankful that they welcomed my offer to volunteer. Since then, helping two comfy cafes every week has been part of my life. I also asked for more of my neighbors to volunteer. Now, we have two groups of volunteers to keep the cafes running.


“A comfy day”
9:30 in the morning. Someone says, “May we come in?” Two come in hand-in-hand. “Here, you take off your shoes. Hold on to my arm.” The two are both aged, yet take good care of each other, bringing a smile to our faces and kicking off the comfy café of the day. By now, they are excellent coffee connoisseurs. “You serve good coffee here. Tastes great!” Also, many churches all over the nation send us sweets which bring lovely smiles to their faces. Often, they do not eat these sweets at the comfy café—they take them home when sweets are hard to find here in Fukushima. Also, when a neighbor does not show up at the café, those who do worry about them and later pay them a visit. They are nice people. Sometimes they teach us lessons as well, out of their experiences—how to make pickles, how to prepare good boiled foods, etc. Talking with people at a comfy cafe gives them some peace of mind and happiness, they say. Many who attend the cafes are now helping each other like a big family, though they used to be strangers in Tomioka.

Also, at the comfies, some people will describe their experiences from the 2011 disaster to a visiting volunteer, who listens to them with a warm heart of acceptance. Today, the comfy cafes are an event they cannot do without. We, the volunteers, are ever striving to make those cafes even more comfortable, happier occasions for the guests, and we find great joy in that.

“Tomioka Town song”
“♪ Cherries in blossom, azaleas too, now the Forest of Night (*) is in full blossom — -“ Sogoes a song sung at the café amid the fragrance of coffee. Each one present hums along.This is the “Tomioka Town song,” led by its Social Welfare Council. The lyrics describe scenes from the town—the hometown that they can never return to due to the radioactive contamination.
** “The Forest of Night” is a forest belt between the towns of Tomioka and Okuma, both in Fukushima. Since the zone consists of no-return areas and restricted habitation areas, both of which accommodate high radioactivity, some roads into the forest are still barricaded. It used to be a renowned place of azaleas, cherries, etc., cherished by most citizens of Tomioka and thus stood for the town.

Earlier, many of the ex-Tomioka residents at the café wept, hearing this song, and were unable to sing it. Some even left the café, unable to stand just hearing it. Back in Tomioka, they broadcast this song every day at noon. Now, its citizens will never be able to return to that cherished town of theirs. Thus, the song can make them despair. Still, they sing it together, to keep their hometown alive in their memories. Recently, they have become able to sing it without weeping. Still, they can sing only verse 1. Some say, “I can sing it only here, at this café.” Maybe all of us share that feeling.

“Moms are great!”
Our comfy cafes are also where mothers make friends. In addition to the café volunteers, many other mothers voluntarily come to help the café, from site preparation to cooking to dish washing, as well as other activities such as rice cake making parties, outdoor lunch parties, cherry blossom parties, etc. Some events are organized by a neighborhood community, some by the café, yet that does not matter to those moms. No one tells them what to do; each mother does what she enjoys doing while respecting the others. Mothers are great! Also great are their husbands, who help them in all these events.

We met each other for the first time here at the cafe. During the several years that followed, we have become close friends. Once the cafes became so heavily crowded and noisy, we had a hard time having a conversation. Today, after many former neighbors have moved into permanent houses for refugees, some 20 people enjoy themselves at each café.

Some residents of temporary housing have built their own houses, and some others have moved into public-run houses. These are good things, and yet we miss those ex-residents and they miss the cafes. So, some of them come all the way to our cafes from their new houses for conversation, coffee and sweets. Our cafes have provided coffee and words of welcome and warmth, and now happy memories. The comfy cafes have been so precious to so many, and we are all thankful to St. Timothy’s Volunteer Center for all the happy memories.

A new song – “Cherry petals are dancing in our town”
“Cherry petals are dancing in our town” is a new song, written to cheer up those hoping for the town’s rebuilding. It is sung by many citizens of Tomioka today.

Each flower knows when to blossom, and it gracefully follows the right timing. Today, no one is in the town to watch the cherry trees blossom. Still, they clad themselves in lovely blossoms as if they were saying, “Don’t worry, we are waiting for you to come back here.” If—if ever—comes a day when we can return to Tomioka, why not hold a comfy café under full-blossoming cherry trees in the town??

Newsletter “Living Water” No.10





Newsletter of the “Project on Nuclear Power and Radiation” — Part II of the “Let’s Walk Together” Project, the Anglican-Episcopal Church in Japan’s efforts to “walk together” with victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011

“Let’s Walk Together” Project Part II                      Living Water

Volume 10, April 2016 (Linked to the Provincial Office’s website)      world without nuclear Anglican  Search

(Translated into English from the original Japanese by Heeday.
The English translation edited by Rev. Dr. Henry French, ELCA, except for the donation information and the Project’s introduction)

Hooked on Producing Radioactive Waste
~~ Essence of restarting nuclear power plants ~~

 Revd. Makito John Aizawa, Chairperson,
Steering Committee, Project on Nuclear Power and Radiation

In discussions about restarting nuclear power plants (NPPs), people holding many different points of view contradict each other. Some speak from the viewpoint of energy, some from that of the economy, some from concerns for life, and some from many other points of view. Still, to us at the Project, the priorities are obvious. Restarting a NPP, in essence, means continuing the production of nuclear waste. What we have to keep in mind is that such waste does not come from nature and does not decompose back into nature. Worse yet, radioactive waste is something that none of our existing technologies can either decompose or neutralize. In short, a NPP restart creates an ongoing dangerous situation.

Some argue from the economic viewpoint. Are they simply saying, “As long as we can make money, anything goes”?

With respect to energy issues, it is clear that we need to change our systems of energy production, and the relevant parties should support such changes. With such changes, we would be able to move our society towards safer energy sources, e.g., power produced from solar, wind, wave, (geo)thermal, and other sources of energy. Also, obviously, if power production from alternative energy sources brings in monetary profits, more businesses will utilize them.

Now, what matter most is the issue of protecting life. The more we run NPPs the more radioactive waste we produce, a serious danger that we have no way to neutralize. We will be extending a present danger into the future. One anti-nuke poet wrote a “haiku” which goes: “Just restart (NPPs), there is no tomorrow for us.” I find it quite persuasive.

The Anglican-Episcopal Church in Japan, at its 59th General Synod (2012), adopted a resolution named “For a World without Nuclear Power Plants – The Anglican-Episcopal Church in Japan Opposed to Nuclear Power Generation.” It says: “…we call for… a conversion of Japan’s energy policy toward the development of alternative sources of energy.” Let’s stand firmly, once again, on this resolution. We are living today and there will be people living tomorrow. We have to keep this “tomorrow” in mind. We have to create a society that respects life.

Important Notice

Our Project, active over the last two years, terminates with the Church’s General Synod this year (2016). The Project on Nuclear Power and Radiation, begun as “Part II” of the “Let’s Walk Together” Project, has been helping those affected by the March 2011 disasters, as well as spreading information on what nuclear power really is and does. Soon a report will be published on activities conducted over these two years. This is the last issue of the Project’s bulletin, “Living Water.” We thank all of you for having read our bulletin.

Although our activities to help those affected by the 2011 disaster are to be reorganized, we will continue them in some fashion, and we are currently making preparations to do just that. When it is decided how we will continue such activities, we will issue a notice to that effect.

We extend our gratitude to all those who have helped us in our activities, financially and/or otherwise, as we have sought to stimulate more people to be concerned about the dangers of nuclear power. In the coming years as well, every one of us will continue to strive to create a society that “values life.”

The Project on Nuclear Power and Radiation

This is a committee of the Anglican-Episcopal Church in Japan, founded upon the work and direction of the “Let’s Walk Together!” Project and the 2012 General Synod resolution “For a World without Nuclear Power Plants.”

Executive Committee: Revd. Makito Aizawa (chair), Revd. Akira Iwaki, Revd. Kenzo Koshiyama, Revd. Tazuru Sasamori, Ms. Hiroko Miyawaki
Secretary General: Kay Ikezumi
Office location: 2-9-23, Hayama, Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture 963-8876 Japan
Phone: +81-249-53-5987   Fax: +81-50-3411-7085

 Report on the Project’s Activities in 2014 and 2015

The activities below are what we have accomplished, thanks to your help and prayers

[Research and Publicity Team]
So far, the Team has been studying what nuclear power truly is and does and sharing what we have discovered with the world. In addition to this bulletin, on November 1st, 2014, we published the 3rd impression of a revised edition of “NO-NUKE Q&A,” which is also available in Korean and English. To see the “Q&A,” you can visit the “Q&A” pages of our Project’s website. Those pages are also linked to the Provincial Office’s website. Furthermore, the Project’s website and weblogs on activities to help temporary housing residents have been spreading the “honest opinions” of those “walking together” with victims of the meltdown in Fukushima. We earnestly intend to let as many people as possible know both what is happening in Fukushima and how devastating a nuclear plant accident can be. Also, we want people to learn from the disaster and to live wisely.

[Support Team]
1.Refresh (Retreat) programs
These regular outing programs for kindergarteners enabled children from Fukushima to refresh their bodies and minds by playing outdoors free from worries over radiation. Also, people from some other Dioceses of the church have provided both help and encouragement, creating cherished memories for the children and their parents. In addition, we have been holding support programs for mothers of Fukushima who are experiencing an extremely tough time raising their children amid fears of radiation.usiima1

▲Moved by songs and sign language messages of Ms. Kazumi Ushijima from the Kyushu Diocese

・Kindergarten outings

▲Enjoying the season and refreshing one’s mind and body in nature

Singing and dancing with “Rocket Crayon” from the Kobe Diocese
  • Programs for mothers and their kids

    ▲Massaging their babies with aromatic oil, mothers relax together with their babies

    Assistant nurses from the Okinawa Diocese help the kindergarten face tomorrow amid all the difficulties confronting Fukushima
    Assistant nurses from the Okinawa Diocese help the kindergarten face tomorrow amid all the difficulties confronting Fukushima
    • Summer holiday “refresh” (retreat) programs

      Voices from families that participated in the retreat in Takashima,
      Nagasaki (Kyushu, Japan) in 2015

      • I enjoyed diving again and again in the sea. I loved it so much that I hated having to go back home.
      • Takashima’s sea was so beautiful! Fish were swimming around my legs, to my pleasant surprise. Also, I caught a cicada named “kumazemi” (a species of cicadas native to Japan), which is hard to find in Fukushima, and I still show it off to friends today.
      • I was amused and amazed to find some “sapphire devils” (tropical fish) in the sea there. Thanks for the precious time. I had great fun!
      • That was the best summer vacation I ever had. The sea, the sunset, and — everything was just gorgeous!
      • Swimming and diving in the crystal clear sea; I enjoyed so many things I did over there. I still appreciate the love all of you showed to us!

2.Support to temporary housing residents
“Support Center Shinchi Gangoya”

Some of the Center’s staff resided in temporary housing located in Shinchi, Fukushima, in order to provide many kinds of help to the residents.

  • “Comfy” events (weekly to monthly)
    Physical exercise for health, movie shows, mini-concerts, counseling, programs for kids, visits to evacuated hometowns, and many more activities

    • Annual events
      summer camps, street performances, artistic creation, and more.

      “Shamisen” (Japanese banjo) performance.
      “Shamisen” (Japanese banjo) performance.


    • Visits, learning, interviews, pilgrimages
      Visits to hard-hit areas, fellowship with others affected by the 2011 disasters.2015年6月18日

      ~~ Voice from an on-site staffer ~~

      Now, five years after the 2011 disasters, more and more refugees are finding new houses. However, most of those who are still resident in temporary houses are evacuees from the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown. Those residents share a strong sense of isolation, feeling “abandoned.” Their sense of insecurity about their future, coupled with stress from poor housing conditions, is creating serious problems. Some are experiencing unwanted conflicts with local residents who are not refugees. I do see that the need for mental care for those evacuees is growing greater and greater as time goes by. In a situation like this, our weekly Wednesday Café provides a good opportunity for fellowship among the residents. We run many other seasonal programs as well, to bring the residents together.

      From my experiences, I can say that the best help to the residents here, who are victims of the meltdown, is providing opportunities for them to share their questions, anger, etc. with those visiting them.

      St. Timothy’s Support Center, Onahama
      This Center has been holding “Comfy Cafes” and running programs participating in local events that enhance fellowship among residents at two temporary housing complexes.

      • Izumi Tamatsuyu Temporary Housing Complex
        (for evacuees from Tomioka, a town close to Fukushima Daiichi)


      •  Hiruno Temporary Housing Complex, Watanabe Town
        (for evacuees from Okuma, a town at the foot of Fukushima Daiichi)

        Comfy café
        Comfy café

        ▲ Third and second-year children of St Timothy’s Kindergarten visited the temporary housing to sing and enjoy fingerplays together with residents.

        ~~ Voice from an on-site staffer ~~

        Recently, we are having less and less fun events here in the temporary housing. Our “Comfy Cafés,” therefore, have become something that many can count on for fellowship, while they wait for their turn to move into publicly-owned houses for refugees. Many around the nation send snacks and goodies to encourage the residents, who appreciate them very much at every café.

        • Support to those residents moving into publicly-owned houses
          We have been providing help to those aged and/or disabled residents of temporary housing with whom we have built up good relationships. We help especially with those issues that welfare administrations and social welfare councils often fail to notice, such as buying and assembling furniture for them, listening to their problems, etc. At the public houses they are moving to, they do not have many opportunities for fellowship like Comfy Cafes. This is one thing we are worried about for the years ahead.

Sign of the Times
– Column on Current issues


The Fukushima Daiichi disaster has taught us a lesson, namely that every nuclear power plant must have a disaster countermeasures base in order (1) to protect those workers counteracting the disaster from radiation, (2) to store food and materials, and (3) to maintain communication with the relevant authorities, etc. Such a countermeasures base, built to be earthquake-proof, is required by the new safety standards for nuclear power plants (NPPs). The Tokyo Shimbun newspaper, however, conducted its own survey, as described in its article in the February 7th, 2016 edition, and has discovered that Kyushu Electric Power has abandoned a plan to build such an earthquake-proof base in the Sendai NPP, which it restarted in December 2015. The same power company has abandoned a plan to build such a new building for its Genkai NPP as well. At 11 of those 16 NPPs for which an application has been made for a restart inspection by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the safety enhancement plan has been altered to do without an earthquake-proof countermeasures base. The reason is obvious—building such a base entails an enormous cost.

Standing firmly upon the conviction that every citizen’s awareness and determination can affect the course of his/her country’s future direction, it is my sincere hope that every citizen will join the movement to abolish nuclear power. By switching the foundation of our economy over to renewable energies, our economy can thrive.

“An Appeal from Wakasa, Fukui”

Revd. Tetsuen Nakajima
Priest at Myotsuji Temple, located in Obama, Fukui

(Note: Wakasa is a region in Fukui Prefecture, Japan, some 40 to 50 miles north of central Kyoto. The region hosts many nuclear power plants.)

Thanks to a provisional ruling by the Ohtsu District Court, Takahama Nuclear Power Plant’s Units 3 and 4 are currently out of operation. Its operator, Kansai Electric Power, however, has filed an objection to the ruling, calling it “absolutely unacceptable.” Should the power company win the case at the upper court, Kansai Electric says it will demand payment of compensation for the financial loss (JPY10 billion or so?) inflicted on the company while the two units have been out of operation from those citizens who petitioned for the ruling.

At the previous mayoral election in Takahama Town, which hosts the nuclear power plant (NPP), one major issue was whether or not to host the NPP. The power company asked many employees of its subcontractors and general contractors to move their citizen registrations over to Takahama so they could vote in the mayoral election. Thus, Kansai Electric helped the incumbent mayor, who supports the NPP, win the election. He is now serving his fifth term.

Also, before restarting the Takahama NPP this time, the power company held a concert performed by the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra at a hall in Takahama, inviting some 500 residents of the town, free of admission. Then, around the end of 2015, along with three other organizations—the Association of District Leaders of Takahama, the town’s Chamber of Commerce, and the Tourism Association—the power company asked the assembly of Takahama to permit the immediate restart of the NPP.

In Fukui Prefecture, a petition was submitted “not to permit the restart” to Governor Nishikawa The petition was signed by some 300,000 petitioners, including some mayors from outside Fukui, the greatest number ever among similar petitions there. Nevertheless, in Takahama Town , the signature collection faced some very tough problems. Historically, when Kansai Electric built Takahama’s Units 1 and 2, and when it added Units 3 and 4, Takahama Town’s mayors did not just say “yes” to the power company. Many residents of Takahama and neighboring municipalities, including many young mothers, held powerful protest movements against the NPP. In short, however, their protest activities were brought down by megabucks from the pro-nuclear camp—enigmatic “cooperation money,” gigantic fixed asset tax income which becomes available to the hosting municipality once a NPP is built, national subsidies to the hosting municipality, etc. Also involved were the jobs provided by the NPP’s many subcontractors. Thus, the local economy of Takahama has become more and more “addicted” to the NPP, and its residents are now reluctant to criticize nuclear power.

A local situation like this was still understandable right after the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown. Still, now five years after that, Takahama’s local situation has not changed much. I have to call it “NPP megabuck fascism” and “domestic colonization.” The Wakasa Region hosts 15 NPP reactors today, however, the power produced by them is consumed by the greater Kansai Region (Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto and their vicinities).  Fukushima Prefecture hosts 10 reactors, whose power is consumed by the greater Tokyo Region.

Now, in the court case to suspend the operation of Takahama, the plaintiff citizens of Shiga Prefecture (southern neighbor of Fukui) showed the world what an “action from conscience” is, and the judges of the Ohtsu District Court made an exemplary decision. They have greatly encouraged us, citizens of Wakasa. Both “hosting municipalities” and “consuming municipalities” will be victims of a major NPP accident. Before that happens, there should be a movement, supported by the majority of the nation’s citizens, opposing NPP restarts and the prolongation of nuclear power. Such a movement is something to be equally participated in by both Christians and Buddhists, in solid friendship and in prayer.


Kansai Electric restarted its Takahama NPP’s Units 3 and 4, located in Takahama, Fukui, in January to February of 2016. Twenty-nine residents of neighboring Shiga Prefecture filed a lawsuit at the Ohtsu District Court, asking that the two units be stopped. The Court’s chief judge, Yoshihiko Yamamoto, judged in favor of the plaintiffs and gave a provisional ruling to suspend the two units’ operation, on March 9th.

In essence, the ruling said —

  • Good efficiency in power generation cannot compensate for immeasurable devastation caused by a major NPP accident.
  • The investigation of the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown has yet to identify the true causes of the tragedy. They still do not even know whether the earthquake or the tsunami, or both, was the true cause.
  • If we face the Fukushima disaster seriously, we need to establish a brand-new safety standard for NPPs, standing upon the principle that no severe accident should lead to irretrievable devastation. The current “new” standard lacks such a principle, and the escape plans and other measures are not sufficient.

Traditionally in Japan, a court judge has had to risk his/her professional career to make a decision to suspend a NPP. This brave new ruling by Mr. Yamamoto, however, has established a good precedence, one which hopefully will open up a new era when a judge with good common sense can suspend the operation of a NPP. We, the Project, sincerely hope this ruling will accelerate the movement to “go nuke-free.”

Since the meltdown, chronic diseases have been on the rise in the two cities of Soma and Minamisoma

Original Japanese written by  staffer
The English below translated from the original Japanese by Heeday
The English translation edited by Rev. Dr. Henry French, ELCA 

(Based on an article from the February 6th, 2016 edition of the Fukushima Minpo newspapers)
▼Click the image to enlarge it.

A survey team consisting of a physician at Soma Central Hospital, Dr. Tomohiro Morita, and Drs. Masaharu Tsubokura and Akihiko Ozaki of Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital, along with other medics, published, on February 5th, their survey results on chronic diseases in the cities of Soma and Minamisoma, before and after the meltdown of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi. The team found increases in diabetes and hyperlipidemia after the meltdown among both evacuees and non-evacuees.

A survey team of medics published, on February 5th, 2016, survey results on fluctuations in occurrences of some chronic diseases among the citizens of two cities in Fukushima, Soma and Minamisome, before and after the meltdown of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi. The survey discovered that, among both evacuees and non-evacuees, the number of diabetes and hyperlipidemia patients has been on the rise since the meltdown.

The survey covered a total of 6,406 citizens of the two cities, aged 40 to 74, who received a “medical checkup for seniors” both before and after the meltdown. The survey team divided the samples into two groups, those within the evacuation zones and those outside. The medics compared chronic disease occurrence rates during the three years following the 2011 meltdown, 2012 through 2014, with those during the three years before, 2008 through 2010. Those figures are shown in the table.

【Chronic disease increase rates after the meltdown】

Inside evacuation zones Outside evacuation zone
2012 X 1.21 X 1.11
2013 X 1.55 X 1.33
2014 X 1.60 X 1.27
2012 X 1.16 X 1.03
2013 X 1.30 X 1.12
2014 X1.20 X 1.14

* With “1.00” being the average over the three years immediately preceding the meltdown, for each disease

(Prepared by Heeday for the Project, based on the table in the newspaper article above)

With the average occurrence rates before the meltdown as the baseline, the samples within the evacuation zones showed a rise in diabetes by 1.21 to 1.60 times, and an increase in hyperlipidemia by 1.16 to 1.30 times. Those residents outside the evacuation zones also showed similar rising trends, 1.11 to 1.33 in diabetes and 1.03 to 1.14 in hyperlipidemia. The rates of increase tended to be greater among the residents of the evacuation zones than among those outside the zones.

Based upon those results, the survey team explained that “those rises in chronic diseases have to be, at this point, ascribed to changes in the residents’ lifestyles, social situations and environments.” The team also said, “After a major disaster, control of long-term, chronic diseases is a major issue.”

Following the Chernobyl disaster, we heard about increases in many diseases, not just those related to the thyroid. Compared to figures before the disaster, during the two years following the Chernobyl accident, cases of diabetes, chronic bronchitis, ischemic cardiac diseases, nerve system problems, stomach ulcers, chronic respiratory problems, and other diseases doubled to quadrupled among adults around the nuclear power plant. (This is based on a report made by the then Minister of Health of Belarus, at an unofficial meeting of the IAEA that convened in 1989.)

Today, more than 29 years after the Chernobyl disaster, many diseases are still on the rise. Some doctors in the region say that, in the current stage of related studies, especially with cancer cases, it is still too soon to make conclusive remarks on the actual health damage done to citizens by the disaster.

Then、with only some five years since the Fukushima tragedy, we are only seeing the beginning of the history of health damages from the meltdown. It will probably be decades before we can come to any conclusions about the cause-effect relationship between the meltdown and health hazards. So, facing this tough reality, what should we be doing now?

“Restart the nuclear power plant, or we’ll cut your subsidies!” Japan’s national government pushes local governments to restart nuclear power. Pressed especially hard is reluctant Niigata Prefecture.

Original Japanese written by  staffer
The English below translated from the original Japanese by Heeday
The English translation edited by Rev. Dr. Henry French, ELCA

(Based on an article from the January 5th, 2016 edition of the Akahata newspaper)

Japan’s national government is pushing local governments hosting a nuclear power plant (NPP) to restart the plant, with a “restart-or-subsidy-cut” threat. Hit especially hard is Niigata Prefecture, whose Governor is reluctant to restart the NPP located in the prefecture.
Japan’s national government is pushing local governments hosting a nuclear power plant (NPP) to restart the plant, with a “restart-or-subsidy-cut” threat. Hit especially hard is Niigata Prefecture, whose Governor is reluctant to restart the NPP located in the prefecture.

▲Click the image and read the caption

Japan’s national government is applying pressure on local governments hosting a NPP to restart them, with a threat: “restart, or get a cut in the subsidy (from the national government).” Prime Minister Abe’s Cabinet, now preparing the FY2016 budget draft, has changed the method of calculating subsidies granted to local governments hosting a power source. In this revised method, a local government hosting a NPP, yet refusing to restart it, will suffer a drastic cut in the subsidy it receives from the national government. The prefecture to suffer most severely is Niigata Prefecture, whose Governor is reluctant to restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP located in the prefecture.

The power source subsidy system was established in the name of financial assistance to local governments accommodating a power plant. Shortly after the meltdown of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi of 2011, one NPP after another went idle throughout the nation. The issue emerged of what to do with power source subsidies, whose amounts were set to the quantity of power generated.

Until 2015, the national government applied a flat “deemed operation rate” of 81% to the idle NPPs in its calculation of the amount of power generated. From FY2016 onwards, it employs the average operation rate of each NPP over the decade prior to the Fukushima disaster. This rate has an upper limit of 68% and no lower limit for prefectural governments, while, for municipalities, there are some measures to alleviate changes in the subsidies they receive, such as a lower limit of the operation rate. Thus, this new calculation method is based on a double standard.

If a local government has restarted the NPP it accommodates, the subsidy it receives from the national government is re-calculated based on the actual power generated. Of all the 43 reactors in Japan, 18 have an average operation rate below 68%. Thus, many NPPs, if restarted, can bring in greater subsidies to their host municipalities than before. This might tempt many hosting municipalities to restart their NPPs.

TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP, located in Niigata Prefecture, suffered many suspensions of operation during the 2000s, due to a major earthquake and for some technical problems covered up by TEPCO, among other reasons. Thus, its seven reactors had an average rate of operation of around 48%, more than 30% below the “deemed operation rate” applied until 2015. The Niigata Prefectural Government’s section responsible for issues with power source subsidies from the national government said, “We will face serious subsidy cuts, which should affect many things.”


~~ Mr. Shigeaki Koga, former official of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, said: ~~
“The new calculation procedures of NPP subsidies have been prepared by officials at the Ministry of Economy who, I suppose, tried many different simulations. Also, I suspect they were thinking of the prefectural governor election of 2016. Since the current governor of Niigata has been reluctant to agree to a restart of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, I suspect that those officials intended to bring down the governor’s popularity before the election. In short, they intend to lure local governments into restarting their NPPs with attractive subsidies, while giving the cold shoulder to those reluctant to restart.”

Today, all over the world, many countries are switching to renewable energies, as well as to power generation and supply systems that are distributed, rather than centralized, and mainly powered by renewables.

Japan has nine times more renewable energy resources per unit area than Germany.  Japan’s power generation with renewable energies is, however, only 1/9 of Germany’s. Since March 11th, 2011, Germany has shut down 41% of its NPPs, and has made up for 3/5 of the power loss with renewable energies. This drastic difference between the two nations comes not from human resources or technologies. The difference is ascribable to political, economic, and social systems.


Japan suffered great loss in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and consequent NPP meltdown. One goal that it should now try to achieve is to enable its regions to obtain self-sufficiency in energy by taking advantage of renewable energy sources that each region finds easy to use.
Already, some small municipalities in Japan are striving to gain energy independence. Against such moves, the national government is trying to lure municipalities into restarting NPPs. We, the people, need to discover who are getting the profits from NPP restarts. We have to make the government follow the people’s will.