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A-bomb survivors question denial of ICAN leader’s request for meeting with Abe via The Mainichi

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the international nongovernmental organization that won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, was denied a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during her current visit to Japan in spite of her request for one, on the grounds of scheduling difficulties.

ICAN was instrumental in the adoption of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Japan has not signed this treaty, but even so, calls have arisen from within Japan, the only country to have been attacked with nuclear weapons in warfare, for the prime minister to meet and talk with the ICAN leader.

Prime Minister Abe is scheduled to return from a trip to Eastern Europe on Jan. 17. Fihn arrived in Japan on Jan. 12, is staying in Tokyo on Jan. 16 and 17, and will leave Japan on Jan. 18. Speaking to reporters after a tour of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima on Jan. 15, she expressed disappointment that she had been denied a chance to meet Prime Minister Abe even though she had been able to meet the leaders of other countries. She noted that Japan, in particular, had been subjected to A-bomb attacks in the past, and said she was keen to talk with the prime minister and figures in the Japanese government. Fihn added she looks forward to a meeting at the next opportunity.

The same day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a news conference that denial of the meeting came down to “the fact that it was difficult in terms of schedules, nothing more, nothing less.”

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The U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons bans the use, development, testing, production, stationing and stockpiling of nuclear weapons, as well as the threat of their use — the basis of nuclear deterrence. The accord was adopted in the United Nations in July last year with the majority approval of 122 countries. However, Japan, which is under the protection of the U.S. “nuclear umbrella,” did not take part in treaty negotiations.

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Meanwhile, Tomoyuki Mimaki, 75, representative director of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo), voiced distrust toward the government. “I’m disappointed in the prime minister,” he said. “Does the government really think that being under the ‘nuclear umbrella’ is the best thing?”

Koichi Kawano, 78, chairman of the Japan Congress Against A- and H-Bombs, commented, “I guess that the prime minister can’t confidently give a reason for not participating in the treaty. As an A-bombed country, Japan should be offering a congratulatory message for (ICAN’s winning of) the Nobel Peace Prize, but instead it’s fleeing without any message.”

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We Need a Complete Nuclear-Weapons Ban via The Nation

The terrifying incident in Hawaii proves that nuclear disarmament is as important as ever.

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We have been taught that these weapons are not meant to be used. We are taught that they protect us from conflict, war, and further nuclear proliferation. This lethal myth is based on the premise that in order to maintain international peace and security, we need certain countries to wield the capacity to slaughter civilians, incinerate cities, and destroy the entire planet. We believe that nuclear war will never happen, that nuclear weapons prevent it.

But many of us—including the majority of the world’s governments—understand that the only way to prevent nuclear war is to eliminate nuclear weapons. The alert in Hawaii could have prompted a nuclear war. So could a tweet from a president with a bruised ego. And so could any number of things. As then–UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in 2013, “There are no right hands for wrong weapons.”

It is in this spirit that 122 governments voted to adopt a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons on July 7, 2017. While the nuclear-armed states currently oppose it, this treaty offers an alternative to nuclear war.

It prohibits the use, threat of use, and possession of nuclear weapons, and sets out a process by which states with such weapons can join and eliminate their arsenals. Significantly, it recognizes that any use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to international humanitarian law. It puts nuclear weapons on the same legal footing as the other weapons of mass destruction (biological and chemical). The treaty makes no attempt to justify the possession or use of these weapons and makes no arguments in favor of deterrence doctrines. Nuclear weapons have been granted an exception for far too long. The 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was supposed to lead to disarmament: The nuclear-armed states agreed to eliminate their arsenals in exchange for the rest of the world agreeing never to develop them. But while proliferation has been limited, the nuclear-armed have failed to deliver on their disarmament commitments. Some have reduced the size of their arsenals only to invest billions of dollars into modernizing them. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons takes a new approach: outlawing these weapons for everyone, under all circumstances.

[…]

Disarmament will not be easy. But what is more of a hassle: engaging in the work of eliminating nuclear weapons, or losing entire cities, continents, the planet?

Read more at We Need a Complete Nuclear-Weapons Ban

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Can this bike project bring tourists back to Fukushima? via CNN

(CNN) — It’s been over six years since the northeast coast of Japan’s Honshu island was hit by a devastating earthquake, leading to a deadly tsunami and nuclear disaster.
 
The hardest hit of all the affected prefectures, Fukushima is still fighting to lure tourists back to its beautiful natural landscapes.
 
Among the locals helping revive the local travel industry is Jun Yamadera, founder of bike share company Fukushima Wheel, based in the prefecture’s capital of the same name.
 
[…]
 
Like other bike share systems, Fukushima Wheel encourages citizens and tourists to explore the city on a shared bicycle. But there’s so much more to the project.
 
It also serves as a cost-effective way to collect big data from the city through citizen science. An environmental sensor has been mounted on each bike, measuring data such as radiation levels, temperature, air pollution and more.
 
The wheels are equipped with LED displays that can be customized to show advertisements.
 
The project also comes with a complementing smartphone app that doubles as a city guide, offering points-of-interest and discounts to the venues around you. It also measures how much you’ve exercised and carbon emissions.

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ICAN事務局長来日 安倍首相、なぜ会わぬ via 毎日新聞

菅官房長官「日程上、難しい」 被爆者「逃げ回っている」

 昨年のノーベル平和賞を受賞した国際NGO「核兵器廃絶国際キャンペーン」(ICAN)事務局長で来日中のベアトリス・フィン氏(35)が、安倍晋三首相との面会を政府に求めたが、日程を理由に断られた。ICANの尽力で実現した核兵器禁止条約に日本は参加していない。それでも、唯一の戦争被爆国トップとして会って話をすべきでは、との声が上がっている。【竹下理子、浅野孝仁、岸達也】

首相は東欧を歴訪中で17日に帰国の予定。12日に来日したフィン氏は16、17日と東京に滞在し、18日に日本を離れる。フィン氏は15日、広島市内で原爆資料館を見学後、報道陣に「他国の指導者たちとは面会できたこともあり大変残念。特に日本は(被爆という)独自の経験があり、首相や日本政府の方々と話をしたいと思っていた。次の機会に期待している」と語った。

 一方、菅義偉官房長官は同日、記者会見で「日程の都合上難しいということで、それ以上でもそれ以下でもない」と語った。ICANはフィン氏が東京滞在中に首相と面会できるよう、内閣府へ昨年12月以降、文書で2度要請していた。

 なお、安倍首相と海外のノーベル賞受賞者の面会は、2014年のポール・クルーグマン氏、15年のロバート・マートン氏、16年のジョセフ・スティグリッツ氏(いずれも経済学者)の例がある。

 核兵器禁止条約は核兵器の使用、開発、実験、製造、保有や、核抑止力の根幹である威嚇を禁じ、国連で昨年7月、122カ国の賛成多数で採択された。米国の「核の傘」の下にいる日本は交渉に参加しなかった

(略)

日本原水爆被害者団体協議会の箕牧(みまき)智之代表理事(75)は「首相にはがっかりだ。政府は『核の傘』の下にいるのがベストだと思っているのか」と不信感を口にした。

 長崎の被爆者で原水爆禁止日本国民会議の川野浩一議長(78)も「首相は条約に参加できない理由を自信を持って説明できないのではないか。被爆国として本来はノーベル平和賞への祝辞を述べるべきなのに、述べずに逃げ回っている」。同じく被爆者で日赤長崎原爆病院の朝長万左男(ともなが・まさお)名誉院長(74)も「日程上の都合なら仕方ないが、重要なのはフィン氏のメッセージを政府が受け止めるかどうかだ」と語った。

フィン事務局長「日本が核兵器禁止条約の議論主導を」

 フィン氏は13日に長崎市内で、安倍首相に会えたら何を伝えるかとの記者の質問に、次のように答えた。

        ◇

 北朝鮮で核兵器が使われれば地理的に日本にも影響がある。核兵器の問題では米国の多数の同盟国の中でも特に日本にリーダーシップを発揮してほしい。日本こそ唯一の戦争被爆国で、実体験者はワシントンでもモスクワでもなく長崎、広島にいる。核兵器が使われるとどんな状況になるのか、皮膚がどのように溶け、どんな臭いがするのか分かっているのは日本人だけだ。日本が核兵器禁止条約に署名しても米国との固い同盟は保てる。2国間同盟は一方通行ではないはずだ。安倍首相のリーダーシップで、条約参加のために国民的な議論を開始してほしい。

全文はICAN事務局長来日 安倍首相、なぜ会わぬ

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Pentagon Suggests Countering Devastating Cyberattacks With Nuclear Arms via The New York Times

WASHINGTON — A newly drafted United States nuclear strategy that has been sent to President Trump for approval would permit the use of nuclear weapons to respond to a wide range of devastating but non-nuclear attacks on American infrastructure, including what current and former government officials described as the most crippling kind of cyberattacks.

For decades, American presidents have threatened “first use” of nuclear weapons against enemies in only very narrow and limited circumstances, such as in response to the use of biological weapons against the United States. But the new document is the first to expand that to include attempts to destroy wide-reaching infrastructure, like a country’s power grid or communications, that would be most vulnerable to cyberweapons.

The draft document, called the Nuclear Posture Review, was written at the Pentagon and is being reviewed by the White House. Its final release is expected in the coming weeks and represents a new look at the United States’ nuclear strategy. The draft was first published last week by HuffPost.

[…]

Gary Samore, who was a top nuclear adviser to President Barack Obama, said much of the draft strategy “repeats the essential elements of Obama declaratory policy word for word” — including its declaration that the United States would “only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners.”

But the biggest difference lies in new wording about what constitutes “extreme circumstances.”

In the Trump administration’s draft, those “circumstances could include significant non-nuclear strategic attacks.” It said that could include “attacks on the U.S., allied, or partner civilian population or infrastructure, and attacks on U.S. or allied nuclear forces, their command and control, or warning and attack assessment capabilities.”

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原発事故時の不安に対応、大学が放射線観測網 via Yomiuri Online

 原子力発電所での事故や核物質を使ったテロの発生時に備え、放射線施設を持つ全国の大学が協力し、放射性物質の飛散データをきめ細かく観測する組織作りに乗り出した。

緊急時には、大学の専門家がデータを収集、住民避難や被曝ひばく医療などに生かすとともに、住民への説明も担う。長崎大や東京大など10大学がすでに参加を決めており、さらに参加大学を募ったうえで数年以内の発足を目指す。

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国費で原発事故対策に賛否 「電力会社の責任放棄」「避難対策は国の責任」 玄海関連受注、九電側に利益 via 西日本新聞

 今春にも九州電力が再稼働を目指す玄海原発(佐賀県玄海町)周辺の離島を中心に、重大事故に備えた放射線防護施設の整備事業が進んでいる。2013年以降を調べると、九電のグループ会社5社が総事業の2割に当たる約11億5200万円の建設工事や関連事業を受注。一連の事業は国が全額負担し、結果的に電力会社側が事故対策で一定の利益を得る構図となっている。そもそも原発の安全対策は税金で賄うべきなのか、原発事業者が負担すべきか-。識者の見方は分かれている。

放射線防護施設の整備は、福島の事故を教訓に原子力災害対策特別措置法などに基づく防災計画の支援策として、国が自治体などに補助金を全額交付して進めている。施設は放射性物質を除去するフィルターを備え、機密性の高い窓や扉を使った構造。原発周辺の自治体などが学校の体育館や高齢者施設の改装、専用の建物新設で対応している。荒天のため船で避難できない離島の住民や、寝たきりで即座に動けない高齢者の一時避難を想定している。

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原発「適合」に抗議 via しんぶん赤旗

日本共産党新潟県委員会(樋渡士自夫委員長)は15日、県民要求の政府交渉をし、その中で、東電柏崎刈羽原発に原子力規制委員会が「合格証」を出したことなどについてただしました。井上さとし、武田良介両参院議員、藤野保史衆院議員が同席しました。

新潟県では米山隆一県知事が昨年、三つの検証委員会(福島事故原因、事故の健康・生活への影響、避難方法)を立ち上げています。規制委が昨年12月、柏崎刈羽6、7号機が新規制基準に適合するとの審査結果を出したことについて「県が検証している最中にもかかわらず、なぜ『適合』と判断したのか。新潟県民の過半数は原発を認めていない。抗議したい」と訴えました。

それに対し規制委は、新規制基準に基づいて判断したと述べるにとどまりました。交渉団は「仮に事故が起こっても規制委は『安全と判断したわけではない』という。自分たちの判断に責任を負わない態度だ」と重ねて迫りました。

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Report: Illinois’ aging nuclear reactors have been ignoring regulators via The DePaulia

There is an invisible, looming threat lurking alongside Illinois’ rivers and lakes. Nuclear power plants that have outdated backup power systems and are vulnerable to flooding, but the state’s nuclear reactors have been ignoring years of warnings, according to a Better Government Association (BGA)  investigation.

[…]

Illinois has the most nuclear power plants of any state in the country, and ignoring regulators’ warnings has the potential to lead the state, and the nation, into a disaster if a mishap occurs.

Nuclear power plants use the energy from nuclear material to boil water, similar to the way a coal plant works. They also need water to keep the reactors cool, so this large appetite for water means the plants have to be near abundant fresh water, like rivers or lakes.

Yuki Miyamoto, a DePaul professor who specializes in nuclear ethics, said that it is critical for the owners of these plants to follow safety regulations because they are aging and require more attention.

“Nuclear power plants originally have a life of 40 years,” Miyamoto said. “But now we are extending the limit, as we have not built any new ones since the Three Mile Island accident.”

Two reactors the NRC found problematic were in Byron, IL and Braidwood, IL, which is only 53 miles southeast of Chicago. The NRC found faulty valve systems that are designed relieve water pressure in the event of an accident, according to the BGA’s report. These faulty valve systems, and the dismissal of their critical conditions, were what led to the nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island in 1979.

If a reactor floods, radiation could seep into the rivers and lakes that the power plants use to keep the reactors cool. But people also depend on those water sources for drinking water, and contamination could cause a national emergency.

“Not knowing the magnitude of the flood, it is extremely hard to know what to expect and how far it would reach,” Miyamoto said. “I do know even as the spilled radiation would affect the lives of residents of Chicago, the authorities would assure people, ‘It’s not dangerous.’”

Laura Hood is a DePaul student who is from Dresden, IL – where there is a nuclear power plant the NRC has deemed vulnerable to floods along the Illinois River. She said growing up that close to a nuclear reactor didn’t cross her mind until she was in high school and the Fukushima reactor melted down in Japan.

“It was always one of those things that you never really noticed,” Hood said. “Just another weird building in the middle of nowhere. But they are really dangerous and knowing my family still lives so close to one makes me nervous.”

Hood’s family is in the agriculture business, growing soybeans on their farm about 8 miles away from the Dresden reactor.  If an incident occurs, it could contaminate farmland for thousands of years. Depending on the severity of the accident, it could leave farming communities with radiation-laden soil.

When told the reactor near her family’s home is susceptible to flooding, she said she “can’t believe no one is doing anything about it.”

Michael Serrano, a chemical engineering student, believes that nuclear power is effective if used properly, but should not be put near any community’s drinking water.

“The risk-reward for having a reactor on Lake Michigan is extremely low,” Serrano said. “Millions of people would be out of drinking water (if an incident occurred).”

 

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Nuclear-capable B-52 bombers join B-2s, B-1Bs on Guam amid tensions with North Korea via The Japan Times

The U.S. Air Force announced Tuesday that it has deployed six of its powerful B-52 strategic bombers to Guam amid tensions with nuclear-armed North Korea.

The six planes, accompanied by 300 airmen, join three of the air force’s B-2 stealth bombers that were also recently dispatched to the U.S. island territory, home to Andersen Air Force Base, a key American outpost in the Pacific.

The base is also currently hosting several B-1B heavy bombers. While both the B-52 and B-2 are capable of carrying nuclear payloads, the B-1B has been modified to carry conventional ordinance only.

The deployment, conducted “in support of U.S. Pacific Command’s (PACOM) Continuous Bomber Presence mission,” according to a U.S. Pacific Air Forces statement, is likely to raise eyebrows in North Korea, which last year threatened to fire missiles near Guam.

[…]

“The B-52Hs return to the Pacific will provide U.S. PACOM and its regional allies and partners with a credible, strategic power projection platform, while bringing years of repeated operational experience,” the U.S. Pacific Air Forces said in its statement.

“This forward deployed presence demonstrates the U.S. continued commitment to allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region,” it added.

[…]

Overflights of the Korean Peninsula by heavy bombers such as the B-52, B-2 and B-1B have incensed Pyongyang. The North sees the flights by what it calls “the air pirates of Guam” as a rehearsal for striking its leadership and has routinely lambasted them as “nuclear bomb-dropping drills.”

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