SVCF Bulletin No. 56 issued on October 14, 2014

Symposium on the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

On September 27 (Sat) we staged a symposium entitled “Regarding clean-ups and decommissioning of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant – What can we do?” from 13:30 p.m. to 16:30 p.m. at number 15 building on the Waseda University campus.

The panel coming from various fields exchanged lively views and opinions on a variety of topics and problems surrounding the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant.

At the onset Mr. Okamoto broke the ice by introducing the history and role of Skilled Veterans Corps for Fukushima and then panelists in turn spoke up a number of interesting comments.

Ms. Erinoa poured out her feelings about suffered countrymen of Futaba-machi who are still living in provisional housing and wished to express her emotions in songs of her own writing.  Mr. Kishii talked of his activities in this nonprofit organization in which senior generations are the driving force in both the management and in the front line.

Mr. Yoshioka pointed out an importance of theme: “Recruit enough workforce to cope with hazardous work under radiation exposure, in view of the long range perspective for a century.”

Mr. Naka expressed homage to SVCF encouraging: “there still are chances if SVCF could review their potential and establish a good viable system on a thorough health check, physical exercise and regular evaluation, and specialty for their rich human resources.”

Mr. Masuda commented with his wish for SVCF: “Firstly, I would like you, as like parents, to see and support young workers engaged in the on-site. Secondly, I wish you to foster and guide younger generations in terms of your professional knowledge and wisdom in various fields.”

170 people participated in this symposium. Some came from the northern parts of the country, Hokkaido, others from the southern end Kyushu. All seemed to be listening attentively to what the panelists presented one after another. We shall soon issue a detailed report for this symposium.

Featured Panelists

Ms. Erinoa, singer/songwriter
Mr. Tatsushi Okamoto, Director, Skilled Veterans’ Corps for Fukushima
Mr. Shigetada Kishii, journalist
Mr. Yukiteru Naka, President, Tohoku Enterprise Co., Ltd.
Mr. Naohiro Masuda, President, Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant kDecommissioning Company
Mr. Hitoshi Yoshioka, former member of the governmental research and examination committee for the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, Professor of Kyushu University

Facilitator: Ms. Etsuka Yoshida, President, NPO Kanda Trivia University

Anchor: Ms. Izumi Aota, actress


Voice from the audience

A concept of “being senior”: Mr. Takashi Uchida

Since moving to Yamaguchi prefecture, I could for the first time manage time and means to join in this meeting. In the venue I saw many young people, seemingly female students or some male groups attired in craftsman’s fashion.  Is this because of my visiting in Waseda university or is it a recent trend?

I was impressed with Mr. Yoshioka’s comment: “The concept of being senior vanishes in the long term perspective.” A fairly long span of 40 years, when a 20-year young person becomes 60-year old afterward, seems to be a mere short term in the quite lengthy time span drawn for the decommissioning of the damaged nuclear power plant, however, the concept itself renews endlessly so long as people live on.  Thus, a similar concept of “Senior Corps” is not limited to people over 60 but becomes a universal one.

It was quite interesting to hear and notice differences between Mr. Masuda, top of the decommissioning company and Mr. Naka, a president of cooperative company under Mr. Masuda’s echelon, who both dedicated themselves to managing and administering the on-site, in their individual stance of the hierarchy toward this most challenging mission.

As for Mr. Naka I had already read his book before: “Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant – A Testimony by an Engineer”. Contrary to my expectations, I was surprised to find him look much younger than his age.


I wish if much more young people would come and hear: Yoshie Tanaka

It was a great pity for me to see so few young people in the audience. It pierced my heart that Mr. Yoshioka asserted “I don’t think it is somebody else’s problem.” As each panelist’s personality shone out, they naturally posed clear emphasis even in modest deliveries.

In a popular “TBS Sunday Morning” televised the day after, Mr. Kishii, who was among the panelists, opined “Yesterday, I joined in a symposium on the clean-ups and decommissioning of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and learned to my heart the extravagant difficulty beyond our imagination.” I felt it quite favorable to hear him, one of quite influential opinion leaders, speak such a candid message.

As Mr. Masuda’s sincere and frank explanation sounded quite fresh and straightforward, it helped partly lessen my suspicion against TEPCO since the occurrence of the accident. It was also a meaningful occasion for SVCF to leave room for the active role in the future.

It is a festive mood everywhere in Japan with the auspicious news for 3 Japanese Nobel laureates. Development of new technology for decommissioning through trial and error many times will be certainly worth a Nobel prize indeed.  I can only wish for young people to strive devotedly toward such a goal – not a dream but indeed attainable.


Impressed with decommissioning business model: Masataka Seiko

When I joined in “Regarding clean-ups and decommissioning of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant – What can we do?” sponsored by SVCF, my most impressive topic was on a proposal: ”Present clean-ups and decommissioning in Fukushima should be condensed and molded into a business model for the decommissioning of nuclear power plants.”  The March 11 nuclear accident caused several hydrogen explosions to blow off reactor buildings, spewed a horrible amount of radioactive material in the air, and reached the worst level 7 tantamount to the Chernobyl scale, in which we still can’t locate the whereabouts of melted fuel down beneath in the reactor.

From here on, and for many decades or centuries in the future, an exorbitant level of clean-ups and decommissioning goes forward. Taking advice from Professor Yoshioka and President Naka, saying that what we have learned from the Fukushima accident, is that we should capitalize on cleaning up this nuclear plant accident, decommissioning the reactor, as well as extending “research on reactor decommissioning” and “reactor decommissioning business”, and also how we can educate the public to cooperate to stop separation and conflict among the residents in the area, I would like to be involved in supporting Fukushima, seriously, as one of the senior generation.


A symposium should be held every year: Koichiro Shinohara

I was moved to see full house despite of inconvenience of the venue. I pay much respect to the concerned parties for their effort to realize such a wonderful symposium. I had been worried about such a lineup of varied panelists, but I found it wonderful to see every panelist seriously hoping for cleaning up the Fukushima nuclear power plant, from his or her specialized field.

I think three ladies; coordinator Ms. Aota, facilitator Ms. Yoshida and panelist Ms. Erinoa, managed a wonderful symposium to let participants think themselves, instead of just speaking; that is rare in a symposium.  I think that President Masuda, Reactor Decommissioning Company, Mr. Kishii, Mr. Naka, Mr. Yoshioka, and SVCF Director Okamoto, became more brilliant under the able moderation by those three ladies.  The symposium was a great success since it became a cornerstone to review and think how we Japanese should be involved in the cleaning up of Fukushima accident in a long range perspective in the future, seriously.  I hope this symposium will be held every year.

My only request, if acceptable, is to hire a simultaneous interpreter from the next time, and invite foreign media to join and cover heated arguments, can’t you?  I think such a symposium is too valuable to be held only in Japan.  What position should SVCF activity take regarding long-term action to reduce the radiation exposure of the cleaning up workers? I felt that some kind of action should certainly be required for SVCF from the panelists and among the attendees.


Doing what you can: Kenichiro Nakajima

TEPCO’s Mr. Masuda, while maintaining his position as the president of the company, is distressed over the current situation, (the site is to become decommissioned), and Erinoa speaks of the loneliness experienced by her friends in Hamadori, which is becoming increasingly fragmented and isolated (I’m sorry, I haven’t listened to the song, yet), Mr. Naka laments about the fears, resignation, and hopes he experienced as a technician involved in Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Mr. Kishii, a journalist, talks about how he has decided to work to prevent people from forgetting about the continuing FUKUSHIMA, and Mr. Yoshioka has rightly abandoned it. The acronym AFW (Appreciate FUKUSHIMA Workers) has been created to combine these works, and Mr. Yoshikawa’s words have been read out loud.

The first to participate was a young (though he is no longer a youth) activist friend, whose sentiments will be described here as my own.  There was no pre-established harmony among the varied panelists’ positions, so I was able to enjoy their talks.  What I gathered from the discussion, without my rose-tinted glasses, is that instead of having the radioactive contaminants collected, and avoiding it because it’s too difficult, we need to figure out what we can do ourselves, no matter how small, in order to get the nuclear power plant decommissioned.

And, we need to be thankful to the workers who are currently working at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant dressed in protective gear and working toward the decommissioning.”


It was a very interesting “lecture”: Hiroshi Watanabe

I was not expecting the reading of Mr. Yoshikawa’s work, but what I appreciate is that at the next Diet meeting, Mr. Yoshioka will read it himself.

Singer Erinoa had a bright and upbeat voice, and during the middle of her delivery, Tochimaru wanted to lead everybody in an exercise number.

Mainichi Shimbun’s Mr. Kishii (70 years old) has been enthusiastic about the replanting efforts in his nonprofit organization, and announced his participation in this symposium the very next morning on TV.

The symposium mainly centered on and around questions for TEPCO’s Mr. Masuda (57), but it didn’t seem like he was trying to hide information on behalf of his company.

And, I readily agreed with the efforts to give heartfelt gratitude to the workers who were working directly at the site of the nuclear power plant.

There was also an announcement about the Nuclear Power Advisory Council, a civic organization, from Mr. Yoshioka, of Kyushu University (61 years old), and it made me think that I would like to get involved.

Mr. Naka (72 years old), from one of the subcontractors, explained during the break that he was hard of hearing, and it made me realize the importance of writing, précis writing, and subtitles as a means of communication support in this type of public meeting.

I was impressed with Mr. Okamoto, a SVCF member, who at 64 years of age has been applying for the work at the nuclear power plant.

This experience, sitting in a classroom with a blackboard, took me back to my high school days, where 40 years ago, I had come here for a high school festival.  Thank you very much.


From Erinoa

Thank you for all that you did at the SVCF symposium.  I thought it was a great experience for me to be able to participate as a panelist.

This symposium was a way for me to reflect on what I’ve done so far as a supporter since the earthquake, as well as an opportunity for me to think about how I can support going forward.

It really made me think that we can’t let people forget what happened, and in the long run, we have to reach out to the younger generation.  I look forward to working with you in the future.


As a property man of this symposium: Hidekazu Miura

I had joined in SVCF at the time of establishment and done voluntary work onward in Fukushima, however, I was away from SVCF since we could not join in the actual clean-ups in the stricken TEPCO nuclear power plant and was bored with a repetition of the fruitless arguments regarding pros and cons of nuclear power.

In April this year, I got a phone call from a SVCF Board Director, Takayasu Sugiyama, reporting that SVCF was excluded from the clean-ups in the Fukushima plant and in a perilous condition.

To overcome an impasse, Mr. Sugiyama proposed during a weekly meeting a possibility of symposium to succeed to original objective and stance of the 1st President, Mr. Yasuteru Yamada, who was under medical treatment in a hospital, to review and grasp whole previous SVCF activities, and to set a guidelines for the future.  This was approved by both fellow Directors and Mr. Yamada.  That’s why I was asked to join in the preliminary planning stage.

The reason why Mr. Sugiyama nominated me was probably due to my professional skill as a playwright. To tell the truth, I was afraid that it would be beyond my hands in materializing self-indulgent views, opinions, and requests by practical SVCF members. I dared to accept the offer anyway.

Since the 1st round of regular meeting in early May to the 13th round together with frequent separate meetings, arguments sometimes became heated, similarly talking points deviated from the mark, new material or views were always brought in, and the scenario in making often had to be returned to the start.

Fundamentally, this must have stemmed from differences between “desperate action to stop nuclear reactor explosion” in the very early stage immediately after the SVCF establishment, and “orderly action as systemic corps” after the perilous stage based upon perception and analysis for the actuality as times went by.  In other words, these worthwhile or worthless arguments would be by-products from designing this symposium.

In fact, once a tentative scenario was presented, everybody agreed immediately to share a visualized image, Mr. Shigeru Makita introduced a text from Mr. Akihiro Yoshikawa, ex. TEPCO employee, focal points soon jelled up in a concrete structure, and Mr. Masaaki Takahashi epitomized the process and results precisely.

On the day of staging, it was a success with 170 attendees including high school students. Thanks to well managed progress by emcee, Ms. Izumi Aota, and flexible direction by facilitator, Ms. Etsuka Yoshida, we felt a sense of friendliness from time to time despite the tense atmosphere; panelists spoke up candidly or came to tears unwittingly, and we felt sharing a common sense to help and stabilize Fukushima even in our individually different thoughts and beliefs. In a nutshell, this was a good opportunity that we induced various hints to reply to a profound theme of “What can we do?”

It is for certain that the SVCF is stepping forward at a new pace.


The 35th Diet Meeting

On September 18th (Thursday), from 11:00 a.m., the 35th Diet meeting was held at the Upper House Building, room B107. Diet members Mr. Hiroshi Sakurai (lower house, LDP) and Mr. Shina Takeshi (lower house, DPJ) were present.

The topic of the meeting was “organization for compensation for nuclear damages and decommissioning,” which was launched on August 18th, and how to move forward on efforts to deal with radioactively contaminated water, as well as working toward decommissioning.

To this end, we invited Mr. Yasuhiro Nakai, Deputy Director of the Nuclear Power Plant Accident Clean-up Division of the Electricity and Gas Industry Department at the Resources and Energy Agency and Assistant Manager of the Policy Department, Mr. Hidenori Fukuzawa, Chair of the Compensation for Organization for Nuclear Damages and Decommissioning Group, Mr. Tokuyoshi Muro, and the Assistant Director of the Management team of the General Decommissioning Group’s, Mr. Hiroyuki Yamagata to participate in the meeting.

First, Mr. Yamagata spoke for 30 minutes on the “basic functions of the support group for the decommissioning project”, “the roles surrounding the decommissioning and cleaning up of the contaminated water at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant’s”, “the immediate tasks faced by the support group for the decommissioning project”, and the “technical committee members for the decommissioning project” and had a question and answer session immediately following the talk.

Seventeen members participated in the session, and the format was half questions, half comments. The topics ranged from the roles and relationship between the organization and the government and TEPCO (the decommissioning company), the positioning between the three, the organization’s authority as the control tower, the number of employees, positions, and the organization’s leader’s term in office and budget, and the job history of the contracting officers mentioned above, but the main topic was issues relating to the workers needed for the decommissioning work, such as how to secure the number of workers required, and train them.

It appears as though the organization has researchers and engineers in mind for the “employees,” but it appears as though there is somewhat of a disconnect between the organization’s thinking, and those of the SVCF, who would like to participate in the clean-up efforts.

In any case, I really appreciated that the questions and advice that the organization of elderly put out were responded to by the younger generation, who are in charge. Sometimes, their responses to our recommendations were, “we will take home the important advice you have given us, and make it a point of discussion”, but we hope that this wasn’t just a lip service, and I sincerely hope that this Diet meeting will be the beginning of a strengthened relationship between the SVCF and the organization.