20,000 Protest Outside Noda’s Home Over Nuclear Restarts

About 20,000 people gathered in front of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s residence in Tokyo late Friday to protest his decision to restart two nuclear reactors.“No to the restart!” shouted the protestors, who were led by investigative journalist Satoshi Kamata and Nobel Prize-winning author Kenzaburo Oe, who started an anti-nuclear petition that has so far gathered more than 7.5 million signatures.

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Watchdog Let TEPCO Omit Safety Steps

A newly revealed document shows the Nuclear Safety Commission backed a claim by utilities in a 1992 report that no safety measures were needed to deal with a long-term complete power loss at nuclear plants, illustrating they minimized risk assessments together.

A text written by Tokyo Electric Power Co. was included in the report to revise safety measures compiled by the commission’s working group, and in the end no steps were introduced to counter the loss of key electricity-run reactor cooling functions.

Loss of power was a main cause of the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Three of its six reactors suffered meltdowns after the plant lost most of its power following the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011

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Japan: Journalists Tour Devastated Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Operators at Japan’s earthquake and tsunami-ravaged Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant ushered journalists clad in protective clothing through the plant on Monday, just weeks ahead of the first anniversary of the March 11 disasters.

Reporters from about 30 Japanese and foreign media organizations entered the wrecked facility by bus and were allowed to leave the vehicle once. All carried respiration masks and radiation detectors, as they heard the plant’s director apologize to nearby residents forced to flee their homes last year to avoid radiation contamination.

“We’re deeply sorry about (the) great inconvenience we caused with the accident. It will soon have been a year since the occurrence and when I look back, the worst part of it was that we couldn’t evacuate the local residents from their hometowns and the whole country the fear of radiation.”

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573 deaths certified as nuclear-crisis-related in Japan

A total of 573 deaths in Japan have been certified as “disaster-related” by 13 municipalities affected by the crisis at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

This number could rise because certification for 29 people remains pending while further checks are conducted.

The 13 municipalities are three cities _ Minami-Soma, Tamura and Iwaki _ eight towns and villages in Futaba County _Namie, Futaba, Okuma, Tomioka, Naraha, Hirono, Katsurao and Kawauchi _ and Kawamata and Iitate, all in Fukushima Prefecture.

These municipalities are in the no-entry, emergency evacuation preparation or expanded evacuation zones around the nuclear plant, which suffered meltdowns soon after the March 11 disaster.

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Japan opens up to Nuclear-business with India

A nuclear agreement between India and Japan may be still some distance away, but a high technology relationship between the two Asian countries is taking off steadily. Japan, which used to refuse to do business with Indian entities in the strategic nuclear sector, is getting ready to open up to them.

In its latest decision that could have a significant impact on Indias hi-tech sector, Japan has taken seven Indian entities off its Foreign End Users List, which was issued by Japans METI on Thursday. Now, these entities can have transactions with Japanese companies on nuclear, dual-use and military technology and equipment.

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Japan’s A-bomb survivors turn against nuclear energy

For more than 65 years, the worst event in Japan’s modern history stood alone, with nothing afterward momentous enough to change its lessons. Those who survived the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki decided that similar bombs should never be dropped again. To ensure that outcome, they called for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear power, though, was another matter. Japan’s nationwide survivors’ group never rallied against nuclear-generated energy as such, perhaps because many saw a redemptive justice in using it peacefully. Reactors could power the country’s economy, they hoped, by harnessing the same force that once caused so much damage.

Then on March 11, the damage was reprised. The tsunami-triggered meltdowns at three Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors were nowhere near as acute or deadly as the cataclysm that engulfed Hiroshima.

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In wake of Japan’s Nuclear Crisis, Germany to Close All Nuclear Plants by 2022

The German government agreed on Monday to phase out all nuclear power by 2022, a sharp reversal by Chancellor Angela Merkel aimed at appeasing the country’s intensified antinuclear movement. The announcement came after marathon talks held at the chancellery on a new report by the Ethics Commission for Security Energy that recommended closing all 17 of the country’s nuclear plants.Enlarge This ImageIngo Wagner/DPA, via Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesAnti-nuclear activists protested near the Unterweser nuclear power plant near the northern German city of Kleinensiel, on April 25, 2011.“We want the electricity of the future to be safe, but also to remain reliable and affordable,” Mrs. Merkel said in a statement on the government Web site announcing the change.Mrs. Merkel has been grappling with the sudden deepening of German distrust of nuclear power since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan set off the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl. Within days of the disaster, she reversed a pro-nuclear policy adopted just last year and temporarily shut down seven of Germany’s older plants; one had been taken off line earlier.

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Japan, China, South Korea vow joint work on nuclear safety

Japan, China, and South Korea agreed Sunday to increase cooperation on nuclear safety as Japan works to end a crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

At a trilateral summit in Tokyo, leaders of the three nations issued a joint declaration vowing to help each other, "especially at times of disaster and adversity."

The declaration added that Japan expressed its determination to resolve the nuclear crisis sparked by the March 11 earthquake and resulting tsunami.

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UN nuclear agency experts going to Japan for fact finding trip

U.N. nuclear experts are en route to Japan for a fact-finding trip in the wake of a devastating tsunami that caused major damage and radiation leaks at one of the countrys power plants.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says the mission, which starts Tuesday and ends June 2, will focus on safety issues and include a visit to the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant that was hard hit by the March 11 killer wave triggered by a massive earthquake.

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Japan Crisis Intensifies Doubts on Turning Plutonium Into Mox Fuel

On a tract of government land along the Savannah River in South Carolina, an army of workers is building one of the nation’s most ambitious nuclear enterprises in decades: a plant that aims to safeguard at least 43 tons of weapons-grade plutonium by mixing it into fuel for commercial power reactors.Multimedia Interactive FeatureJapan Earthquake and Tsunami MultimediaRelatedOfficial Defends Japan’s Handling of Crises, Saying They Were Unprecedented April 11, 2011Enlarge This ImageShaw Areva Mox ServicesThe sprawling plant, which is being built just south of Aiken, S.C., is intended to be bigger than eight football fields, and its construction currently employs nearly 2,000 workers.The project grew out of talks with the Russians to shrink nuclear arsenals after the cold war. The plant at the Savannah River Site, once devoted to making plutonium for weapons, would now turn America’s lethal surplus to peaceful ends. Blended with uranium, the usual reactor fuel, the plutonium would be transformed into a new fuel called mixed oxide, or mox.“We are literally turning swords into plowshares,” one of the project’s biggest boosters, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said at a hearing on Capitol Hill last week.But 11 years after the government awarded a construction contract, the cost of the project has soared to nearly $5 billion. The vast concrete and steel structure is a half-finished hulk, and the government has yet to find a single customer, despite offers of lucrative subsidies.Now, the nuclear crisis in Japan has intensified a long-running conflict over the project’s rationale.

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