From Fukushima to Monju

Suddenly the world is a awash in eminent nuclear disaster.


Either that or we’re finally just beginning to wake up to how fragile this technology really is.

I do find it difficult to believe that Japan would actually be trying to bring it’s fast breeder reactor back online after Fukushima.

Arnie Gundersen on Fukushima: Be Prepared to Leave

Yesterday Chris Martenson posted an excellent interview he conducted with Arnie Gundersen of Fairwinds Associates.

Chris Martenson Interviews Arnie Gundersen on Fukushima

In it Arnie warns:

I have said it’s worse than Chernobyl and I’ll stand by that. There was an enormous amount of radiation given out in the first two to three weeks of the event. And add the wind and blowing in-land. It could very well have brought the nation of Japan to its knees. I mean, there is so much contamination that luckily wound up in the Pacific Ocean as compared to across the nation of Japan – it could have cut Japan in half. But now the winds have turned, so they are heading to the south toward Tokyo and now my concern and my advice to friends that if there is a severe aftershock and the Unit 4 building collapses, leave.

Emphasis mine.

Half-way in to part one of the interview Arnie reminds us of the Sumatra quake:

…let’s say there is a severe aftershock, Unit 3 and Unit 4 are in real jeopardy. And if you remember the Sumatra earthquake, that was a nine plus about three or four years ago. The biggest aftershock occurred three months afterwards and that was an eight six, so aftershocks even though we are two months into this, if the Sumatra event is any indication, aftershocks are still possible.

And what a severe aftershock could mean:

Brookhaven National Labs did a study in 1997 and it said that if a fuel pool went dry and caught on fire, it could cause a hundred and eighty-seven thousand fatalities. So it’s a big concern and probably the biggest concern. I now the Chairman of the NRC said that the reason he told Americans to get out from fifty miles out was that he was afraid that Unit 4 would catch fire, that exposed fuel pool would volatilize plutonium, uranium, cesium, and strontium. And if the Brookhaven Study is to be believed could kill more than a hundred thousand people, as a result.

We are well beyond where any science has ever gone at that point and nuclear fuel lying on the ground and getting hot is not a condition that anyone has ever analyzed.

The wind is going to push it south this time and so the issue is not the total radiation you might measure with a Geiger counter in your hand, but hot particles.

In other words, if there is an aftershock big enough to wreak further havoc — and it’s only been two months since the tsunami — such that the completely uncontained Unit 4 were to catch fire or worse, with the winds now blowing south towards Tokyo there is the potential for wide-scale long-term illness at a level for which the human race has no benchmark.

If you are in Tokyo, be aware that extremely radioactive car filters are being discovered. (It turns out that car filters are an excellent tool for trapping and detecting radiation in a given area.) These filters are picking up “hot particles”; not radiation in wave form as we typically think of it. This is radioactive particulate matter released by the previous detonations at Fukushima. Fallout.

If ingested, these particles can be devastating to long-term health.

SOS from Minami Soma City

As if a massive earthquake, tsunami, and (avoidable) nuclear disaster aren’t bad enough, it may be traditional red tape and bureaucratic incompetence now putting tens of thousands remaining in the Fukushima exclusion zone at risk. From the Mayor of Minami Soma-shi:

Here’s a BBC report that predates Mayor Sakurai’s plea:

Arnie Gundersen from Fair Wind Associates explains that the situation may be growing worse. Similar information in Japanese.

Note Arnie’s comment about “chlorine-37”. Last week TEPCO switched from trying to cool exposed spent fuel with seawater. I learned through the grapevine that this decision was made because the “salt” in seawater was heating up the fuel. TEPCO is now barging in massive quantities of fresh water to use in place of seawater, courtesy of the US Navy.

What I can’t figure out is if the switch to fresh water is because the chlorine-37 exacerbates the problem somehow.. or if it is because chlorine-37 generates evidence of a much greater problem that Japan — and by extension the US — would much rather conceal.

Vitamin D More Effective than Flu Vaccines

Here’s some good news: A clinical trial led by Mitsuyoshi Urashima and conducted by the Division of Molecular Epidemiology in the the Department of Pediatrics at the Jikei University School of Medicine Minato-ku, Tokyo found that vitamin D was extremely effective at halting influenza infections in children. The report, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, follows up on a hypothesis posed over three years ago that deficiencies in the “sunshine vitamin” may leave those deficient susceptible to infections, and this includes the flu.

Ironically, most people in the developed world are chronically deficient. Which isn’t surprising given lifestyle and constant fear marketing about how the sun is out to get us.

So forget about the big pharma vaccines, get some sun and drink your milk, raw if you’ve got it. And remember, when it comes to flu vaccines and “herd immunity,” really it’s a herd of lemmings that big pharma is after..

Japan Going Bankrupt?

According to Hideo Kumano, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, Japan’s “debt to budget ratio is more than 50 percent” and without issuing more government bonds would be bankrupt by 2011.

This comes on the heals of strange reports from friends working in the Japanese IT industry. Supposedly Japanese tax collectors are showing up, unannounced, at medium and large-sized IT gaishikei, rifling through the books and insisting to peak into the accounts of executives.


Michael’s Pizzaがオープンしました!



After two years of planning, some old friends of ours from Yokohama, Michael and Naomi, have at long last opened their own pizza place in Saginuma!

I can vouch that Michael makes some great pizza.  Be sure to check it out if you’re in the area!

Michael’s Pizza
Yayoi Building 102
Arima 9-3-14
Miyamae-ku, Kawasaki
☎ 044-856-7075

Open 11:30 ~ 14:30, 18:00 ~ 21:30; Mondays closed

Tell them Evan sent you!

$1 USD is 99 Japanese Yen!

Closely on the heals of my breaking story about $300 cherries, I noticed today that the yen has broken the one dollar mark. To the best of my knowledge this hasn’t happened since ’round about 1995, back when I was living in rural Miyazaki in a small house infested with giant Japanese house spiders that always reminded me eerily of the spider head from John Carpenter’s The Thing. (The Thing tagline: “Man is the warmest place to hide.”)

Oddly enough, the spider head was once available from and apparently featured “an incredible sculpt that captures the spirit of this character.” Which would therefore be the spirit of a diabolically murderous shape-shifting alien entity bent on infesting all of humanity. Talk about craftsmanship.

Fortunately with the new exchange rate I can leverage my Sumitomo savings and back order a dozen or so.  I might even be able to afford a Ghosts of Mars action figure or two..

40 cherries for $300. Bargain.

From our remote correspondent in Tokyo.


30,000 JPY for 40 Cherries

30,000 JPY for forty cherries. Almost $300 dollars.

Now I’m sure that each cherry was individually encased in protective polystyrene cushioning, perfectly cooled, and personally serenaded to sleep each night by various members of the Tsunk Family, but still… I think this is a little excessive.

Hoppy, the Japanese Beer Alternative

hoppy.jpgI can’t believe I lived in Japan for ten years and am just now discovering Hoppy.

I had seen Hoppy around over the years and had always just assumed it was another low-end beer, kind of like Sapporo’s Drafty. Recently while exploring local ramen shops in Gotanda, however, the master asked if I wanted to exchange my beer ticket for a beer or Hoppy. “Or”? I figured I better try the Hoppy.

It turns out Hoppy is a low-alcohol carbonated beer-flavored concoction for mixing with shochu. I’m told that Hoppy was the working man’s alternative to beer some fifty years ago, back when beer was still too expensive for the average Japanese. Why pay for beer when you can have beer-flavored shochu?

Surprisingly, Hoppy is not too bad. It tastes somewhat like a weak beer, though thanks to the liberal amounts of shochu it is most often mixed with, is a deceptively strong drink. That said, since shochu doesn’t give me a hangover like beer, and adds only 10 calories per 100 millimeters, Hoppy may a new standby for the prerequisite beer pounding during trips back to Tokyo.