Discussion regarding the future of Skilled Veterans’ Corps for Fukushima
In an upcoming regular monthly Diet meeting, we will discuss the future direction of Skilled Veterans’ Corps for Fukushima.
Last August, under the approval of the Board of Directors, a “Future Project Working Group” was established with the aim of deliberating upon and determining the future direction of Skilled Veterans’ Corps for Fukushima. At this meeting, Mr. Tatsushi Okamoto, Director, Mr. Takayasu Sugiyama, Director, Mr. Masaaki Takahashi, Director, and Mr. Shinobu Naito, Constituent Member, were selected as responsible members. The group has held nine rounds of meeting till last December and presented a set of reports and proposals to the Board of Directors.
Nevertheless, views on the group’s proposal were sharply divided in pros and cons at the Board of Directors meeting which was held on December 15, 2014. The proposal as such was not adopted at that time. Instead, the Board of Directors set forth a transitional period to discuss how SVCF should be in the future on various occasions like in the regular Diet meeting and others. The upcoming regular Diet meeting is seen as a first step for this attempt. In order to make the meeting fruitful, we hereby publish the four members’ thoughts as reference for discussion.
“Has the Supreme Mission of the SVCF been lost?” by Tatsushi Okamoto, Director
The situation has never changed.
There was an opinion during the last meeting insisting that “The situation has completely changed since the establishment of SVCF. Therefore, there are no more opportunities for skilled veterans. Against this view, I understand that “Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is still in a perilous condition even without a possibility of explosion.” Young workers are being hazardously exposed day by day. There must still be an opening for skilled veterans who have a broad range of knowledge and experiences.
I am convinced of increasing needs for skilled veterans’ power down the road. Another opposing view is “It up to us to support on site workers.” I am strongly against this, in view of our original idea “We take over young workers’ hazardous radioactive exposure.” I am afraid that such a view leads to “We eventually push young workers into more radiation.” I dare say that is not our business. However, it shall not be applied to any proposal to improve work environment.
We should not negotiate with TEPCO, but with the Japanese Government.
We have consistently proposed our thought that “a National project should be enacted to cope with the clean-up against the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.” Under the currently renamed entity: “Reactor Decommissioning Promotion Company”, its substance still remains as a multi-subcontracting echelon with TEPCO atop and numerous companies beneath. This naturally contains limits and it has caused a series of accidents and trouble. Even we have just seen the latest fatal accident.
Since the key symposium last September, a motion of dissolution rose among part of the SVCF members, whose ambition to take part in the clean-up in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was thwarted, due to an decisive comment of Mr. Masuda, TEPCO, President of the Reactor Decommissioning Promotion Company; however, we deem it necessary to continue appealing the role of SVCF to the Japanese Government and our society, regardless of Mr. Masuda’s conclusion asserting that there was no room for SVCF.
We need no longer stick to our title of Public Service Incorporated Association
Though there is a privilege regarding the tax deduction on donations, there is no merit as Public Service Incorporated Association in view of the limits of our possible activities. It is necessary to consider returning the title voluntarily; in any case it is useless to fight for maintaining the title. Against a view on “It is difficult to keep our activities on account of monetary dry-up,” we need a “costless reduced management” as our 1st president, late Mr. Yamada, used to say. We should reconfirm the reason for our existence once again, and solely concentrate on voluntarily minded activities.
First steps to open up a way for the next generation
Our presentation of “Don’t expose the young generation to radiation” and “Engage Seniors’ power in the clean-up” is not fading away in the course of a span that reaches beyond decades, and it is always an unavoidable challenge and a crucial issue. The Fukushima accident is not a problem to be completed within the present seniors’ lives. It is our duty to plan out measures to reduce the radiation for the young and open up the way toward actual materialization. I wish you once again to visit our home page and read the spirit described in “the Proposal for the participation of skilled veterans in the clean-up work against the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident”.
My thoughts” by Takayasu Sugiyama, Director
As this year falls on the 20th anniversary of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, the media are producing a rush of coverage.
On March 11, 2011, the “Great East Japan Earthquake” occurred. At a conference I attended, I recall my saying: “It has been 17 years (at the time of my comment) since the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, and reconstruction is still not complete. Will it take 20 years to finish off the reconstruction?” At that time, the accident at the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant had not been announced yet.
After I heard about the nuclear accident, I understood it would take a great deal longer to complete the reconstruction in Fukushima, so I made it a rule to go to Fukushima at least a few times a month. I also joined and worked in the “NPO Supporting Fukushima, the Human-Culture Network” and in SVCF. However, the goal of SVCF, which is to go into Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant to help decommissioning and clean-up, has not been attained yet.
Will we have a chance to help “in the future?” I think it is rather unlikely. We’ve been told by both Mr. Takase of TEPCO and the President of the company in charge of implementing the decommissioning work that we are “not allowed to enter” the power plant premises. Regretfully, I don’t want to give up, saying that the probability is nil. I presume it will take at least 20 years to finish off the reconstruction in Iwate and Miyagi, and I may assert it will take even longer in Fukushima. In order for the completion of reconstruction in Fukushima prefecture, scattered radioactive materials must first of all be removed, so there will be an opportunity for SVCF to be involved in the future.
In fact, aside from the removal work, I think that there are many more jobs that SVCF can take on. Even now, some SVCF members are going individually or in teams to Fukushima, to participate in the reconstruction work. To date, SVCF has defined this sort of work as “peripheral” but I think it would be appropriate to place this portion on the same level as in the actual decommissioning and clean-up at Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. From April, we will plan to hear and collect various requests from local volunteer organizations in Fukushima, to appeal to fellow voluntary members, form teams with supporters, and work alongside them. We will pursue this type of approach for one year.
The Board of Directors has agreed to consider renouncing the title of “Public Service Incorporated Association.” In the 4-member committee, I learned a lot in the discussion focused on the law of “Recognition of Public Interest Corporation.” The law being what it is, we shall have to satisfy required legal obligations. On the other hand, there are some advantages as long as we keep this status. In other words, what matters is people. Though I hate to rely on others, I came to think that our best option would be to invite someone with managerial experience from an organization similar to ours, and ask that person to manage SVCF in a way that would be in compliance with the law.
“Asked whether SVCF should be dissolved or have its basic objective changed” by Masaaki Takahashi, Director
I propose as follows. This has an effect similar to the one outlined in the Working Group report.
(1) We shall give up the title of Public Interest Corporation at the end of 2015.
(2) We will discuss during the year whether SVCF should be dissolved or continue after the alteration of its basic objective, and reach a conclusion by the end of 2015.
1. Why should we give up the title?
The foremost reason is that actual SVCF activities have deviated far from the original business plan, that is, (1) Monitor the environmental radiation level inside and around the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant; (2) Dispatch experts to the “Decontamination Information Plaza” or a jointly established entity by the Japanese government and Fukushima prefecture; (3) Educate and enlighten people about radioactive materials and radiation.
By the influence of the deviation from the original business plan, it is getting ever-increasingly difficult to issue an annual report and business plan for the following years. Further, those who engage in the actual work to be planned and reported are getting fewer in number. This abets the difficulty in carrying out the business.
2. Why do I propose a motion of SVCF dissolution or of change in its basic objective?
This is because the initial objective of SVCF, that is, “seniors will take over the radiation exposure in place of young workers in the recovery and clean-up under the highly radiated conditions caused by the Nuclear Power Plant accident”, has lost actual ground now.
It was immediately after the accident, during the highest “emergency” when the most urgent priority was to cool down the stricken nuclear reactors by any means (even at the risk of the safety and life of the workers ) to prevent further explosion, that the late Mr. Yasuteru Yamada, 1st President, called for the formation of SVCF. However, at present the system of clean-up has been secured somehow, and the safety management is established as well. The workers’ radiation exposure is being monitored, to avoid exceeding the safety limit. The workers are in shifts to level off the total dosage of exposure to the utmost extent. Under such circumstances, SVCF’s motto: “seniors take over the radiation exposure in place of the young people” has become vapid and impractical. In addition to the above, it was quite decisive in the last September symposium that Takahiro Masuda, President of the Reactor Decommissioning Promotion Company, publicly announced that they would not admit SVCF to take part in the work.
3. Future direction
My personal opinion is that it will be meaningful for SVCF to modify its principal objective and to continue acting as a general entity, the reason being that it will be important to appeal to the public on the ongoing reality in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, while social interest in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is rapidly fading despite the fact that the accident has not been completely cleaned up yet. In that case, the new objective of SVCF will be “Support the workers and TEPCO employees engaged in the clean-up and the victims of the nuclear accident”.
However, there may be some opposition to such an idea, as a matter of course. There may be a dissent stressing “I volunteered to be a SVCF member strictly for the purpose of real work in the premises of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. If SVCF changes that objective, it should be dissolved.” “If you want to start new activity for another purpose, you should start from some other organization.” I want to discuss this issue during the coming year.
”After 4 years of activities, it is time finally to decide whether we should quit or not.” by Shinobu Naito, Constituent Member
SVCF was formed in April 2011, its aim being: “seniors mainly consisting of engineers over 60 years old, to engage in the clean-up in the premises of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.” However, SVCF soon faced a turning point, only some months after the date of establishment.
Immediately after the start, SVCF contacted TEPCO and the government people to negotiate in participating in the accident site with over several hundred SVCF members. However, despite favorable compliments: “Such a commendable willingness” or “You have a precious proposal,” there was no real offer toward the participation.
Then, in July 2011, five members were allowed to visit and observe the site, but after their visit there was no progress toward the participation at all. Under such circumstances, various approaches started in SVCF in order to achieve its objective. Although SVCF had an objective: “Participate in the clean-up in the Nuclear Power Plant accident”, I dare say that it neither had an idea from the beginning to assume the role as a corporate entity nor an internally structured organization.
SVCF’s strategy and efforts were focused on attainment of an authorization as “work force” from TEPCO or as a part of a national project. However, as the on site employment system has remained in a complete subcontract structure, consisting of primary, secondary and tertiary layers, there was no room to employ work force directly. Therefore the SVCF executive office considered a possibility of offering a subcontractors’ work force, even though such an approach may not be acceptable to the SVCF members.
Further, SVCF tried another direction such as participating in the engineering work related to radiation rather than being “subcontracting worker.” The approach led to the advent of a monitoring team, to develop and establish methodology and technology on the radiation monitoring. In due course, SVCF started monitoring the residential houses upon request from local residents in the neighboring area around the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, with the aim that this work would be extended to the nuclear power plant premises in the future.
In addition to such an approach to take part in the clean-up, SVCF proposed the legal establishment of a “National Project” claiming that Fukushima accident was a nationally tackling issue, rather than an enterprise matter to be handled by TEPCO. SVCF also argued publicly that “seniors should take part in the on site work, where radiation exposure is inevitable”.
Four years have passed since SVCF was started. Supported by a Diet Member, Ms. Hiroe Makiyama, House of Councilors, precious sympathizer of SVCF activity, SVCF has called a monthly in-house meeting and continued various activities described above with so much effort. However, the participation within the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant is still not in sight. Up until now, SVCF has thoroughly exploited all the means that can be carried out with its current resources. We are now forced to decide whether SVCF should be dissolved or not.