Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fukushima - in my heart

O yeah!


The spent fuel pool at Fukushima Daiichi Reactor No. 4 is still ready to collapse; one more major earthquake and the pool might drain and 57 tons of nuclear fuel melt down, forever altering our world; perhaps leading to a chain reaction of meltdowns; the end of life on earth?
Tepco, the utility in charge, is not up to the task of dealing with this. Take action:

Email the President and tell him to intervene personally in this crisis; it's a matter of national security

Email the Secretary of State and tell him the same

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Special Update: Water
The contamination of water has become a major issue at the Fukushima power station.  Estimates of up to 900 petaBecquerels of radiation are offered as a measure of the ocean contamination. The truth is, nobody knows how much has been released.  We do know now (and mostly assumed) that water has been leaking directly out from the reactor cores since the days of the meltdowns.  Imagine seawater passing over the molten cores and then merging with the groundwater, all flowing out to sea.  Not to mention the steam, highly radioactive, rising up out of the reactors (some of them open to the sky after the explosions).

So there's a major contamination of the ocean, affecting marine life, and our life.  Seafood from the Pacific is not recommended for the foreseeable future, and it's to be expected that in time, the contamination will spread to the other oceans surrounding the globe. But that's only half of the problem.

The other half is the groundwater within the power station.  This groundwater is radioactive and increases the overall radiation dose that workers receive, thereby shortening their total working time at the station. With the shortage of workers already in evidence, it's an unfortunate development (Tepco was aiming for 12,000 workers this year, but only could find about 6,000; of these, about 1,300 are reaching there dose limits and will have to leave. Tepco has stated that they don't know where they will find more workers).

So far, Tepco has been pumping up the groundwater and storing it in 1,000 ton steel tanks, about 650 of which are welded together, and 350 of which are bolted together with a rubber seal at the flange. One of the bolted tanks lost 1/3 of its water, creating a radiation hazard (2 mSv/h, enough to kill someone in four hours) around it. Those bolted tanks are rated for 5 years, but they're failing already. The story of water leakage and failing containments is a long one, involving tanks, reservoirs lined with plastic sheets and clay, leaking pipes, and sometimes close to 400 billion becquerels of radiation per cubic meter of water.

But that's not all.  Tepco decided to prevent the radioactive groundwater from flowing out to the sea by creating "ice walls" between the individual reactors and the sea, by injecting chemicals into the ground that would "freeze" the soil and/or the water content there.

Unfortunately, this does exactly what it was intended to do; keep the groundwater trapped inside the station, where it is now rising to ground level, thereby A) increasing still further the radiation that must be endured by the workers; and B) turning the ground into soft mud, thereby weakening the already compromised structure of the buildings housing the reactors, and 100 feet above, the spent fuel pools.  The last thing any of us want is decreased stability for the spent fuel pools.

Fortunately, there is word that the ice walls are failing, that the ground water level is rising and falling with the tides.  Despite the contamination to the ocean, for the short run this is the better scenario in my humble opinion. The prevention of a meltdown in the fuel pools trumps all other concerns, until they are emptied of fuel (see following article for details).  Unfortunately, this may take quite some time as the radiation around SFPs 1, 2, and 3 is so high that no one can get near enough to even begin work. Tepco tried to do a remote-controlled operation at SFP3 and lost a section of a crane into the pool. This will make removal of the fuel even more difficult when the time comes.

In reference to the following article, which focuses on SFP4 and the possibility of a chain of events propogated by an event there, another update:
Tepco is now (today is July 15, 2014, never mind the date at the top; it's just to keep the order of articles) working to remove the fuel from SFP4.  They've built a new, boxy containment around and over the fuel pool to prevent any radiation releases (and thankfully it will keep the workers warmer in winter) and they've installed a new crane on this structure.  They've brought in very qualified experts in fuel removal to train their own workers -but we don't know who these workers are.  The run-of-the-mill worker at Tepco these days is supremely unqualified to work in a nuclear plant. As of now the inventory of SFP4 is down from 262 tons to 57.6 tons. Read on...

There are rumors that if two fuel rods touch, it might be the end of the world.  An oversimplification, but that's the gist of it.  I don't foresee any such thing happening, though there could well be problems, greater or smaller.  But I think it would take a very serious accident to ignite the chain of events leading to station abandonment, which is the thing we don't want to see.  The local workspace, SFP4, may have to be evacuated for some time at some point; this is manageable, though every slowdown increases the chance of an earthquake striking before the pool is empty.

We need to see the larger picture, and here is where the hysteria about the fuel removal does us wrong: There are 7 spent fuel pools needing attention (and I don't consider the common pool to be any less demanding of attention; it could as well be compromised by an earthquake or other mishap; see: mouse).
The fuel pools of Nos. 5 and 6 are supposed to be not in such bad shape but the others are disastrous.
No. 3 is supposed to have MOX assemblies in it, containing up to 7 or 8 percent plutonium oxide; one of the most lethal of all radioisotopes.

Let us all pray for the safe removal of the spent fuel and the well-being of the workers. I don't know that any international effort, by a team of scientists or by a worldwide group of activists, can stop what's happening now. Let us all also consider our own disaster relief plan, as the government, wherever you are, is not concerned with such things. Get your iodine supplement ready, study how to use it, and consider having enough food on hand to last you three weeks. Just in case.

We must keep the pressure on, to the government, to our own friends and neighbors, to ourselves. As an activist from Japan said to me, "It's about the energy."  It's not about any one individual action, group, petition, resolution, demonstration, or politician (!). Keep the energy up; and keep your energy up.

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To rephrase our conundrum:
The spent fuel pool above Reactor No. 4 contains 1,533 (now 345) nuclear fuel rod assemblies, each assembly containing 63 fuel rods, for a total of 262 tons (now down to 57.6 tons, thank you) of uranium-238. Of that, 1%, or 2.6 tons, was converted to plutonium-239 during the fission process. 202 of those fuel rod assemblies are brand new, unused.

The building is falling apart. It leans to one side. The pool was cracked during the earthquake, and it's leaking. For a time, TEPCO placed 60 ton metal covers over the pool.  The electrical control panel for the entire place has been placed on a flatbed truck, outdoors, as a temporary measure; for 3 years.  All the piping for cooling water was destroyed in the earthquake and tsunami, and water has been provided since then by PVC hoses, springing leaks constantly and freezing and cracking in winter. They will be replaced by polyethylene hose, but not steel pipe, as it is too radioactive to work in many spots for that long. There is up to 10 miles of hose between water source and fuel pool in some instances.

A word about TEPCO: They have close business ties to the Yakuza, who sometimes dictate policy, as well as provide contractors. It’s estimated that 33% of the workers at Fukushima Daiichi are either Yakuza, or their debtors. Others are mentally ill, developmentally disabled, homeless or minors; now TEPCO is advertising in foreign countries for workers, offering $378 a day for two hours' work -and to live in the 20km zone. Native Japanese have earned from $38 up to $2,000 a day depending on the scarcity of labor, the progress at the plant, and the radiation risks of that day's work. Most of the original staff is long gone.

TEPCO, by the way, asked permission from the prime minister to abandon Fukushima Daiichi, and Daini (another nuclear plant 7.1 miles away), when the reactors first started melting down. The PM demanded they stay. If they had abandoned the plants, you and I and everyone would likely be dead right now.

At this moment, your life is in their hands.

Scientists say that there is a 70% chance of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hitting Fukushima this year, and a 98% chance within the next 3 years. Others are predicting another M.9 earthquake within this year. Fukushima has been experiencing earthquakes from magnitude 4.1 up to 6.2, almost every day for months. If an M.7 earthquake strikes, the building collapses and the pool ruptures and drains, a meltdown will occur releasing at least 10 times, and as much as 50 times the Cesium-137 as Chernobyl.

The molten cores of three of the reactors are now burrowing down into the earth; when they reach groundwater, there will likely be a huge hydrovolcanic explosion. Same result: collapse of the building and fuel pool, and a spent fuel meltdown.

There are also the consequences of something disrupting the electrical systems and shutting off power. A hurricane, flood, X-class solar flare or even a rat chewing through a wire could cause the cooling systems to shut down (NEWS FLASH: Happened at least four times:  First time at fuel pool No. 2; second time it shut down cooling for four spent fuel pools, including the common SFP, for 30 hours, third time a worker caused a short circuit; right now [7-16-14] SFP5 cooling is down, with no foreseeable fix in the works -Reactor 5's cooling system is doing double duty, alternating between reactor and SFP). As the pool heats up, water will boil off and the fuel will melt down. A major loss of electricity, called a Station Blackout or SBO, would affect each one of the reactors and spent fuel pools.

TEPCO started moving the fuel rods out of the pool in 2014. They expect the entire process will take at the very least 1.5 years; so far it's gone well but they are leaving the damaged fuel for last -this is where the problems lie. There's no technology at present to gather and transport fuel fragments.

TEPCO for a long time refused all offers of outside help. The story of foreign nuclear industry involvement at Daiichi is a tortured one, involving rip-offs, "lemons," trade agreements that leave vendors without liability etc. I understand their reluctance, it's more than just a national trait of insularity; but not all offers of help came from major nuclear industry players eager to make a buck (think USA and France). Nowadays TEPCO advertises for outside expertise but the reality of this is very unclear, as everyone's trying to game the situation. Explanation would require a long post of its own.


No one knows how much radiation has already been released. One of the reactors was open all the way to the core, and several fuel pools also, having already caught fire several times. The ground has huge cracks in it, constantly emitting steam.

By now millions of tons of contaminated water have been poured into the ocean, and just as much radioactive waste has been incinerated in ordinary furnaces all over Japan, the ashes dumped into Tokyo Harbor. Highly radioactive black soot is showing up all over Tokyo.

People all over Japan are getting sick. Some are dying.

In all the world, two politicians have come forward to help - The Honorable Ron Wyden; thank you Senator, and His Excellency Mitsuhei Murata; thank you Ambassador.

TEPCO themselves have admitted this is already worse than Chernobyl -with their gift for disinformation, we can conclude that it is much worse than that. And the radiation continually pours out of the reactors, and the fuel pools, and the ground, and into the ocean, and the sky, and will never stop, not for centuries, not for millennia.


Chain reaction: If the fuel pool at no. 4 melts down, the radioactivity will be so intense, everyone will have to leave the plant. If they stay, no matter how courageous they are, they will die, too quickly to do anything.

No one there. Abandoned nuclear plant. That night, the power shuts down. No one to keep it running, it's a makeshift system at this point anyway. The cooling systems, for reactors 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 all shut down. Silence. The cooling systems for the fuel pools 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 and Main fuel pool all shut down.

No one there to inject Nitrogen in the reactors at risk of hydrogen explosion. No one to vent steam. Even robots cannot operate in such high radioactivity, the circuits fail.

Next morning, the sound of explosions; reactors blowing up. More explosions, fuel pools reaching criticality, or just hydrogen explosions. Meltdown has begun. Level of radioactivity now unmeasurable. Lots of steam. In a few hours, cores melting down into the earth.

Evacuation ordered for 100 km around the nuclear plant.  This includes Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant, only 12 km distant.

Fukushima Daini shut off, abandoned in haste. 4 more reactors, 4 more spent fuel pools. Day turns to night. In two days, power shuts off. That night, cooling systems shut down. Next morning, again, explosions occur, some in reactors, some in spent fuel pools. This goes on all day, lessening at the day wears on. At night, sky seems brilliant above the plant. This is caused by Gamma ray shine, visible in ultra-radioactive events.

By now the release of radiation equals about 147 times that of Chernobyl; a conservative estimate.

No one can go near either of these two plants for years, not even for one half hour. Japan's 126 million population begins migrating to other parts of the globe; many die in the interim. It is hard to convince anyone to stay working at one of the 52 remaining nuclear plants in Japan; it is hard to convince anyone to stay for any reason. Automated remote systems to manage the plants are unfeasible.

Over the next year international efforts are made to shore up the operational staffs at these plants. Finally it's decided that Japan is too "hot" to risk the lives of nuclear engineers.  Individual workers abandon nuclear plants all over Japan, skeleton crews try to maintain basic safety; accidents soon happen despite their efforts.

With no one to work at the plants, the government conscription of young people for the Japan Self Defense Forces intensifies, in order to supply a "human wave" of workers to keep the plants from meltdown. As at Chernobyl, a majority of these "liquidators" fall ill...

The plants are finally abandoned when all the workers die of radiation poisoning or are ordered to leave by the government, now only a ceremonial remnant. No containment or decommissioning efforts are made.

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The state of things:

 Not good. I've been writing about Fukushima Daiichi Reactor No. 4's spent fuel pool for months, passing along vital information on Facebook, Tweeting and messaging everyone I can think of, more celebrities than politicians, on the theory that everyone listens to Lady Gaga; no one cares (or even knows) what some Senator says. If by some chance Lady Gaga gets exercised over the immanent destruction of life on earth, well, she's got a podium to pound on. She will get heard.
   And she will mobilize 6 billion people where I can't even mobilize a fly to get off of my coffee cup. But Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Bono, Jon Stewart, George Clooney and so many other stars who I thought of as activists, yes your “rotten Hollywood L.A. liberals” haven't even bothered to acknowledge my pleas, let alone hold a press conference decrying the dangers of nuclear power in general, and this nuclear nightmare going down now.
So the situation is not good. My petition had 92 signatures, and the other petitions I've seen and signed are doing about as well; one reached, if memory serves, about 12,578; it was to the White House and it was rejected: not enough signatures. I've seen about 15 petitions in all, for a total of what, about 22,628 signers, tops? Out of 6 billion? Who are the other people -do they sleepwalk?

I shouldn't complain. I should ask myself what I'm doing wrong. I am not getting through to people. They are not understanding me. They don’t understand when I say their life is at stake. I don't mean someone else's life; I don't mean an abstraction of life. I mean their own life.
   Is it so hard to imagine the end of one's life, of all life? Not anymore; not for me. I've read about it, and I’ve thought about it. To where I've wrapped my head around the concept, and I understand it. I even, sad to say, accept it.
'Cause I realize that even though my efforts and those of many others were made in sincerity, and in enough time to make the difference, it doesn't matter. No comprehension was gained, no understanding reached.

I have a vision of our galaxy, glowing silently in the deep night of space, crowded, massive. Around the galaxy, tiny lights go on, then off, at intervals; ceaselessly, throughout planetary aeons. Warm lights, appearing and extinguishing, again and again. These lights are planets, planets like ours that support sentient, self-aware life; that rise, develop lethal weaponry, and disappear. Perhaps in the universe, planets like ours come and go a dozen times in a day.
   It seems perfectly ordinary to me now, that this planet, peopled with the sort of endearing, confused, perfectly imperfect, lovable, slightly mad, and sometimes bad primates we call human should go lights out pretty soon. And that it would happen not with a bang but in eternal silence, of radiation pouring out of a seedy industrial plant on a far shore, as one by one we go to sleep, not waking. And that the final sound will be waves lapping on the shore for 900 million years, uninterrupted, unobserved.
   Did I say we were charming? We are. We have divine properties, unacknowledged properties, far too unused, far too rare. We are magnificient creatures -let’s help ourselves to a hand of applause; we've done so much for ourselves and for each other, and come so far, in spite of politicians. We should be charmed. We are beautiful.
So why would we off ourselves? Is self-awareness that hard to bear, an anguished state requiring self-extinction? It's hard being human, it's such a complicated burden, being so complex, and it's very hard to make the crawl, to hike the drill up the hill from instinct intuition. But there's more; We can be the winners here.

 What is so hard to understand? I'm asking you to be more selfish, more instinctual, more self-centered, more coldly survivalist, more ruthlessly looking out for No. 1, more of everything that's good for you -hold back nothing for me, I want you to be happy! I want you to thrive. I want you to be at peace -or gloriously undone, cramming whiskey ice cream sundaes into your face! I want you to survive, to go wild, to sprout, blossom, send out new shoots; to live the life of Riley.  Live the dreams of Walter Mitty if you dare.
  But first, you have to take action. If you don't want to, okay; If you don’t mind, we can go.

But I wonder, where do we go? With no human bodies to inhabit, where will we stay? For the next 800 million years, where will we hang out? There will be no suitable primate bodies re-arising for at least that long. Our extracorporeal spirits may find new “life” as intergalactic vagrants, ceaselessly wandering the dark depth, aimlessly traversing cosmic corridors while yearning for a thing we’ll never find. Or more likely that we’ll adapt to the peaceful, frozen existence of bacteria in a sort of suspended animation for most of a billion years, then protozoa, successively inhabiting more complex life forms as they become available-and I assure you they will be in a very mutated state. Do you want to know what the next Homo Habilis will look like? No, you don't.
It's too complicated. We don't want to go there. We can stop it but we have to act now, it won't wait.
Should I continue writing? Is anyone listening? I'll let you carry the ball if you wish. It's not over, yet; it's not finished. There is still one more day.


Nick Thabit

the face of Life: invincible protester Masunaga Sumiko

PS: There isn't a lot any one person can do, but together, we have a chance. Sign this:

And in the U.S., this:

Email the President and tell him to intervene personally in this matter; it's a matter of national security, as well as a humanitarian and ecological crisis:

And tell the Secretary of State the same:

Don't let Japan host the 2020 Olympics!

Send a message to your President or Prime Minister or Monarch wherever you are, asking them
to intervene directly, and swiftly, to avoid such a disaster.

If you're in Japan, take to the streets. But you already know that!

If you come up with a better idea, an action,  please tell me so I can do it too. Tell as many people as you can, let them know the truth; there’s a mainstream media blackout on this.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Stop Incineration of Radioactive Rubble!

My first completely unoriginal post. It's a reprint from a post on Facebook.  I don't have anything to add but PLEASE take the actions recommended here.  People all over Japan are going to die from this.  The people who work at the incineration stations are already dropping dead of heart attacks right after burning.

Japanese government incinerates Radioactivity HELP!

We, therefore, expect your voices of protest to the Japanese government, Osaka municipal office, and other cities that are bullying their way to the incineration!Please sign these petitions against incineration of radioactive debris.

・Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan 
 TEL    03-3580-3311 

・Oosaka City

・Kitakyushu City

・Shimada City E-Mail

・Shizuoka City

・Tsuruga City

・Yamagata City

In addition to radiation, the debris in the East Japan 
Great Earthquake is contaminated by harmful chemical substances and heavy metal.
Already in the U.S. , the detection values of asbestos are soaring. Thus, diseases resulting from these contaminations are anticipated to increase in other countries than Japan as well.

Surprisingly, Mayor Hashimoto of Osaka city completely dismissed the voices of protest from the citizens, and is forcibly carrying out the outrageous policy of incinerating the radioactively contaminated debris in Maisu plant, a work of Hundert Wasser – an anti-nuclear artist. From there, he intends to spread the contamination to the world.

Hashimoto is notorious for his insulting remarks on art, oppression on the socially vulnerable, and autocratic behavior.
We are trying to stop this policy that starts from November 24, 2012.

At the briefing of incineration of debris in Osaka , four Osaka residents who were protesting the plan have been arrested.
Osaka Mayor Hashimoto is betraying himself as a tyrant.

The Japanese government has not only been neglecting evacuation of the citizens of Fukushima and other contaminated areas in Kanto and Tohoku but also been trying to spread radioactive substances and diseases throughout Japan, by incinerating and burying radioactively contaminated debris all over the country. Actually as of November, 2012, incineration of the debris has been going on in many places with low contamination such as Shimada city Shizuoka prefecture, Kita-Kyushu city Fukuoka prefecture, Tsuruga city Fukui prefecture and many others.

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Following is an excerpt from the report “Dual Falsehood – Expanded Disposal of Debris & Coming Home through Decontamination” by Dr. Kosaku Yamada, former professor of physics at Kyoto University .
The Japanese government is desperately forcing through the expanded processing of debris by giving pressure to municipal governments.

It is scheduled in their plan that out of the 2000 million tons of debris in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, 20% or 400 million tons will be carried out for the expanded incineration. (Note of the blog creator: As of October, 2012, the total amount of the debris has decreased to 1595 million tons. Accordingly, the portion for the expanded disposal has also decreased to 168 million tons.)

The government claims that reconstruction of the disaster areas is hampered by the debris. Obviously, this claim is false judging from the fact that 80% of the debris of the two prefectures is going to be disposed locally, not to mention the 100% local disposal of the highly contaminated debris in Fukushima. That is, there must be another, real reason. What is gathering the public attention – as the real reason – is the interests of large enterprises that can profit from the incineration. What must be done is to benefit local industries and employment – as people insist – through the local disposal.

In the first place, disposal and re-use of the debris must be done as a part of the entire reconstruction plan. For example, debris with low contamination may be used as the base of a breakwater.  The foremost necessities are agreements on acquisition of tsunami-free residential areas and reconstruction aid plans.

And concerning disposal of the debris, the principles of environmental protection must be strictly observed. The fundamental principles are: never spread through thinning out; and measure the entire contamination. Debris should be re-used as much as possible, and its incineration should be limited to the least possible amount. These principles are the lessons we received on the precious sacrifices through the past environmental pollutions. It is beyond our understanding that these principles have been quite easily dismissed and neglected by the Environmental Ministry and in various conferences it has held. What on earth were they meant for? It is very clear that the expanded disposal violates not only the principles of environmental protection but also the International Agreement on Protection from Radioactive Waves.

The international agreement on protection from radioactive waves states: It is prohibited to mix contaminated foods and wastes with non-contaminated things, and to claim them to be “safe” on the basis of a special measure.

At present, the Japanese government violates this non-thinning out agreement protocol with regard to food and debris resulting from the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor accident. The German Councils for Protection from Radioactive Waves urges the Japanese government to urgently withdraw this “thinning out policy.” Otherwise, all the Japanese citizens will be unknowingly exposed to the secondary contamination from Topco’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant accident. Protective measures will be valid only in a waste dump that is separated in terms of space, and is secured and controlled in terms of safety. This applies also to the foods with thinned out contamination. The present measures for the debris and food will spread health hazards among the Japanese citizens.(Sebastian Pflugbeil /President of the German Society for Radiation Protection, November 27, 2011)

The danger becomes even clearer if we specifically examine the issue. It is impossible to detect the radioactive substances contained in the debris only by measuring the superficial amounts. In addition, multiple contaminations by heavy metal, asbestos, PCB and others will expand internal radiation to the whole country. Hence, the expanded disposal means creation of second Fukushima . Already, test incinerations have been conducted in many places including Shimada city, and detections of pine leaves in the city by Dr. Kono of Kyoto University found drastic increase in radioactive contamination. The study eloquently attests to the danger of expanded incineration of the debris all around Japan.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Fukushima beach reopens

Nakoso Beach, Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture

Japan has done it again.  This time, officials of Fukushima Prefecture have decided to re-open Iwaki's Nakoso Beach, 65km (40miles) south of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, to swimmers. This includes children, who are much more vulnerable to the effects of radiation; already 35.8% of children in Fukushima Prefecture have abnormal growths on their thyroid glands.  The maps of radiation "plumes" from Fukushima plant show ongoing release of radioactivity for the last sixteen months.  How the local officials got a reading of 1 Bq/L of water I'll never know.  Fukushima Dai-ichi has been flushing contaminated water into the ocean by the millions of tons.  Scientists say the ocean is irrepairably damaged, if not finished for good.

So how is it that a beach 40 miles away is perfectly fine?  The government has seen fit to post daily radiation readings for the air and water at the beach.  All fine and good, until one remembers that the government has, at every step, published false reading, relying on broken instruments, or simply withholding upsetting data.  There's no reason to trust this latest whitewash.  Many Japanese are in denial bordering on psychosis; they need to think they can rebuild simply by ignoring the radiation.  This doesn't work, unfortunately.
There is going to be a very hard awakening.  Keep them in your prayers.

If this upsets you, outrages you, frightens you, makes you want to fight: do it.  Here's how.  Go to:  fill in the form, and send your message. Form fields, translated: (no widget will translate this https web page, sorry).
1. Do you want a reply from the city?  A. Yes    B. No
2. Subject
3. Body of letter
4. Email address   5. confirm email address
6. Name
7. Furigana (just put: n/a)
8. Address
9. Telephone.
At the bottom are two buttons, click the left. Then page reloads for confirmation. Click the bottom left again.

Also you can email the Municipal Gov't. of Fukushima Prefecture, here:

Good luck

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hamaoka, 'World's Most Dangerous' Nuclear Power Plant

My sentiments exactly

Yeah, baby.  It's on; now.  Now, one and a half years after the meltdown at Fukushima, after 80,000 evacuated, after grandmothers committing suicide in temporary housing, after 36% of Fukushima children present thyroid abnormalities (up from 0.5%), after 6,000,000 Bq/Kg measured in Tokyo soil; after mortality among high school students includes heart attacks (cesium-137), radioactive rain at 200 mSieverts/hr in Canada, a huge swath of Japan is 3.5 times the legal limit for radiation, and people all over Japan are suffering from nosebleeds, skin rashes, eye problems and hair falling out, after 35% more stillbirths in the NE of Japan, after the government forbade radiation exposure testing or treatment to hundreds of thousands, after Daiichi's fuel pool 4 caught fire, was recognized as a global risk with no solution in sight, and no plan for any of the millions of tons of spent fuel in Japan, after mutated plants are turning up all over Japan and even the U.S., after hundreds of nuclear workers died trying to save Fukushima nuclear power plant.  After all this...

Omaezaki fishermen, chillin' near the plant.
 ...Now, yes now, CEPCO (Chubu Electric Power Co.) is preparing to restart reactors 3, 4 and possibly 5 at Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant in December 2013.  They're building an 18 meter (54 foot) high, six foot thick, one mile long steel and concrete seawall in anticipation of another possible tsunami, although according to recent calculations, a 21 meter high tsunami could hit this region.
But summing up the data obtained after the devastating earthquake in March 2011, an expert panel under Japan’s Cabinet Office came to a conclusion this April that a magnitude-9 earthquake could cause a 35 meter tsunami that might eventually hit Tokyo. Some districts of the Japanese capital would face a 30 meter wave, whereas urban areas of the city would be hit with 3 meter waves.  Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was hit by a 15 meter tsunami.

A proper caption for this is beyond my powers: Chubu seawall demo.
108 foot high waves submerging Tokyo?  The experts say so; and where Japan is concerned, absolutely, you mustn't rule anything out.  If this happens,  the entire plant will be washed out to sea, no debating allowed.  All the Uranium and Plutonium (Reactor No. 3 uses MOX fuel) would sit in the ocean undisturbed for millennia, leaching out radioactivity.  Say goodbye to the ocean. 
Hamaoka is particularly dangerous, explains local activist Yoshika Shiratori, because it is built on a seismic fault line where Japanese government experts have estimated that there is an 87 percent chance of a magnitude 8 earthquake within the next 30 years.

An aerial map, filed by CEPCO along with its government application to build and operate the plant, showed major faults going through Hamaoka, and revealed that the company recognized the danger of an earthquake. They had carefully placed each reactor between major fault lines.

The "bedrock" the plant is situated on, claimed by Chubu Electric to offer solid support even through an 8.5 magnitude quake, crumbles like sugar between one's fingers, as visitors to the site find.
“I am not reassured by the wall they are building,” says Mr. Shiratori, who led an unsuccessful 10-year legal battle to shut Hamaoka down. “The critical issue is the danger of an earthquake, not a tsunami.” 

The unrelenting Mr. Shiratori; thanks to you it's become an issue.
After accidents at the plant, critical articles were published by seismologist Dr. Kiyoo Mogi, and he had a visit from Chubu Electric, which is recounted here.  They wanted him to reconsider his negative views;
Dr. Mogi was unmoved.  He remarks: The Hamaoka nuclear power plants are standing on top of the area where a magnitude eight class earthquake could hit. This is just extraordinary. When I told this to Chubu Electric employees, they whined, "but we do not have any good place for siting nuclear power plants."

The men of CEPCO; nuclear energy is built on human foundations.

Katsuhiko Ishibashi, professor emeritus of seismology at Kobe University said a restart of the No. 3 reactor was "out of the question" until Chubu had fully implemented emergency steps, reports Asahi Shimbun, a nationwide Japanese newspaper. "It is the world's most dangerous nuclear power plant. All its reactors should have been shut down," he said, warning that the ground on which it sits could rise 10-20 feet if struck by an earthquake.

Possibly, reactor no. 5 will be out of service for good.  After 3/11, PM Naoto Kan, in an unprecedented move, ordered the plant to shut down. As the shutdown of the seven-year-old unit, with a capacity of 1,380 MW started, saltwater used for cooling steam from the boiling water reactor entered the core after a burst pipe damaged one of its heat exchangers.  About 400,000 litres (88,000 gallons) of corrosion-causing sea water entered the turbine building, with 5,000 litres getting into the reactor itself.
This extremely rare event set off an investigation that has unearthed widespread corrosion in the labyrinth of piping, pumps and steel partitions in the reactor building and secondary units.

Chubu Electric says no radiation has leaked to the environment but the discovery of radioactive cobalt below a 13-meter-high cooling tank beside the reactor confirms unusually fast corrosion through the walls of the stainless-steel tank.

To aid in facing the expected upcoming challenges, the plant has held "power-out" drills, simulating a complete loss of electric power, to see how operators will respond during the first two hours.  According to Tokyo Shimbun, simulations show that in a nuclear accident, fallout would reach Tokyo in half a day.

If Cepco wanted to destroy the world this would be a fine place to start; a last-ditch desperate effort.  In all  of Japan (or the world), could there not be any better candidate than this for a restart?  Apparently not..

There is a huge wealth of information on the epic failure that is Hamaoka nuclear power plant, here:

A civic group in Shizuoka Prefecture, led by Mr. Shiratori, collected the signatures of 178, 240 Shizuoka residents in two months, starting from May — far more than the legally required minimum of around 62,000–– in order to request a referendum on the restart of the Hamaoka plant.

If the committees verify the signatures as clearing the requirement, which is set at more than one-fiftieth of the eligible voters, the group plans to ask Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu in August to adopt an ordinance to hold the referendum.

Kawakatsu said he intends to submit a referendum proposal to the prefectural assembly in September after verifying the signatures. But he has not clarified whether he will support it.

Activists at Hamaoka shore release balloons to predict the spread of radioactive materials in the event of an accident.

Now, it's time for our referendum.  Two simple emails should start things going.

Firstly, a local initiative in Omaezaki, offers this:

Then, send an email to Chubu Electric Power Company here:

Send an email to Shizuoka Prefectural Government here:


Friday, August 10, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Art of Writing Letters

On the good advice of a friend; the short version:  The spent fuel pool at Fukushima Daiichi's Reactor No. 4 is perhaps days away from buckling; one major earthquake will wreck the pool, the water will drain, and 262 tons of fuel will melt down, and we'll have a nuclear disaster that will end all life on Earth.  No joke.

Email the President and tell him to intervene personally in this matter; it's a matter of national security, as well as a humanitarian and ecological crisis:

And tell the Secretary of State the same:

Note: I've changed my thinking about the direction to take.  If you're Japanese, perhaps the following will give you some ideas. If you're from another country, it's best to contact your own President, Prime Minister, Monarch, et al. and ask them to intervene. In every case, the rules of etiquette should be observed.

Now, the long version; with more ways to act:
We have very little time to act, to ensure that SFP4 stays solid, stays full of water.  We have no one to turn to, we feel; or do we?  We will turn to ourselves.  Many people are petitioning the United States government, asking them to intervene.  I did this also (I got all of 78 signatures. I think worldwide, to date, about 3,500 signatures have been collected).  Assuming we can get through to the President, what can he do?  He can appeal to the Prime Minister of Japan, His Excellency Yoshihiko Noda (I'm going to get tired of typing this, so from now I'll refer to him as Noda).  He can ask Noda to accept help from the U.S. and other countries, and to allow an international team of nuclear engineers in to study the problem and devise a solution -quickly.  And then, we proceed to implement said solution.  A heartwarming scenario, with one roadblock:  Tepco and Noda have so far refused all offers of outside help.

We seem to be far from this option this moment, in fact we are left with few options.  We  are scared (at least I am).  It seems to me though, that the nexus of this problem is Noda and Tepco, specifically their reluctance to accept help.  Help would be given, readily, were they to advertise the need for it.  We can help.  It is our job, as writers, to convince Noda and Tepco and also Goshi Hosono and Yukio Edano (and I will mention others here as I find them) that it is no great disgrace to accept help from outside; it does not denote failure.  We might even allude as to how they will be seen as heroes for making sensible alliances.

In writing to the PM (Prime Minister) or the Chairman of Tepco, or the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Hosono, who's also Nuclear Disaster Minister), or even yet the His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito (it's important to learn proper addresses here, your propriety will pass muster with the letter-readers employed by these folks), we must endeavor to understand them, their character and motivations, and at all costs, no matter your upset or your anger or directness of character, we must be polite.

Politeness is the soul of Japanese society; putting the needs of the group before one's own personal needs the backbone.  We have a lot to learn from the Japanese on the subject, as most of us are used to entirely polarized polemic, enjoy controversy, and engage in  heated rhetoric; we want to bludgeon, to be heard raw, uncut, out loud and in the street.  Politess however ensures that your listener actually listens, as opposed to hears.  The gentle approach is the soul of both jiu-jitsu, aikido, judo -and of successful business meetings.  Conclusion: there is nothing inherently weak in being polite; it ensures that others are at ease, enough to let down their guard and consider you a possible friend.  We might meditate at this point on our intentions, which I am sure include good wishes for our readers, the Gov't. and business leaders, whatever we think of their past decisions; we are doing this for everyone and we are sincere in our wishes for their happiness and safety. You could conceive of your interaction as a quiet performance of sorts, weaving a gentle spell that will be appreciated by your reader as a momentary escape from the stresses of everyday life.  Government officials and Tepco bosses are under attack all day, every day.  If we can make them feel that we are on their side, and just happening to be offering some friendly advice, that is all to their benefit, we can be heard.

At this time (or long before perhaps) you will be asking, since when is the PM or MOE or Emperor going to be reading my letter? Fat chance of that!  Of course, you are right -at first. Your letter will be read by an underling hired to make a general assessment of the trend of thought out there, log any threatening messages, look for any opportunity for their boss to look good ie: a chance for a photo op as a result of some citizen's satisfied desire, etc.

Your job is to give these readers pause; to make them read it again; to say to the fellow in the next cubicle, Hey, look at this.  The most you can hope for is that someone will look at your letter twice, and perhaps comment on it, or make a detailed note on it.  Remember you will be competing (not exactly competing, but..) with very many gentlemen and ladies of Japan who also feel that this, SFP4, and the entire nuclear industry there, is a pressing, troubling matter.  And they are well practiced in the art of conversation and etiquette, though they may be emotional on this issue.

If by some chance your letter gets past the first barrier and is read by a higher-up, or even passed to the addressee, great; it happens, occasionally.  But you can be contented to know your letter is part of a collection of letters of the same mind, to be taken seriously.  Occasionally when there are enough such letters, the official in question will ask to see some of them; will read a few for reference.  Make sure your letter is up to the occasion, just in case.
                                             *                             *                             *
Noda is a tough, shrewd, self-made man, with a black belt in Judo. About Hosono, there is very little information; his public "face" seems determinedly remote, though congenial. Yukio Edano, Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry leaves us not much to go on either.  We know he stayed up for weeks dealing with the Fukushima crisis, although he may have been involved in holding back valuable radiation data. The new Chairman of Tepco, Kazuhiko Shimokobe, is a cipher; one can find word only of the high points of his resume. Naomi Hirose, President of Tepco, likewise.  Emperor Akihito is a different story; for a man in such an isolated position, his story is far more accessible.  This quiet yet outgoing man who wants to bridge the gap to the common people is a respected biologist, was tutored by an English librarian and author, and after 311 gave a speech to Japan that was censored by NHK.  His words? These: "As this earthquake and tsunami caused the nuclear power plant accident, those living in areas designated as the danger zone lost their homes and livelihoods and had to leave the places they used to live. In order for them to live there again safely, we have to overcome the problem of radioactive contamination, which is a formidable task."
The Emperor is obviously not beholden to a paranoid nuclear industry.  The others are pragmatic businessmen/politicians whose prime aim in all this is to look good.  So we proceed accordingly.

It's important to maintain the correct tone with the Prime Minister in your correspondance.

I think by now you have an idea what I'm talking about so I'm not going to labor the point.  I will merely offer and example of my own writing as an outline of the concept.  Feel free to copy, revise, ignore or edit and return.  Writing is a game of mental chess, you're trying to see three steps beyond any impression you have of your reader, to foresee any possible objections or sensitivities you may offend, keeping aware that your reader doesn't wish to be manipulated.  Here's my letter to the former Chairman of Tepco, a Mr. Katsumata:

Chairman Katsumata,

I know you are concerned about the possible dangers associated with the status of the spent fuel pool at Reactor No. 4, Fukushima Daiichi. It is a problem that concerns us all. I want to commend the steady effort made by Tepco to address the situation, and the attention given to the condition of the pool at all times. Workers at the plant do their very best to bring the situation to a safe conclusion. There is no question in my mind that Tepco is doing their utmost.

With respect to the predictions of seismologists that Fukushima will be struck by a M.7+ earthquake within the next few years, there is still a need for a cogent, timely solution; given the timetable you are working with, it seems reasonable to explore every avenue of available resources. It is reasonable to think that with the right planning and resources the fuel can be safely removed and stored, even before any such eventuality is slated to occur.

It is with this in mind that I wish to respectfully suggest that you approach Prime Minister Noda to consider a request to other nations and to the international scientific community for assistance with the engineering, construction and nuclear-scientific solutions with regard to the moving and storage of the spent fuel. There are many nations, scientists and engineers ready to help; and sufficient sponsors to provide whatever means or materials
are needed.

I respect Tepco's heroic efforts during and after the tsunami, and I understand the wish to prevail in the current circumstances by relying on one's own strengths to meet one's responsibilities. History shows that heros have traditionally done whatever was necessary for their people, forming alliances at will to ensure their continuous protection; with regard to such achievements it is desirable that your plans also make the widest possible
allowance for a wise council and a satisfactory outcome.

I hope you will take these matters to heart and begin to engage with the international community. Thank you for taking your valuable time to read this.

Sincerely yours,

                                             *                            *                      *

A letter to  Mr. Goshi Hosono:

    Mr. Hosono,

    I want to thank you for your attentions to the Fukushima plant, the concerns of the country and the world. We are assured that you are doing your best, with full concern for the welfare of the people and the environment. However, I still feel fear, an anxiety caused by the knowledge that the timeline for repair of the damage to the reactor and spent fuel pool may be very limited. Even with Tepco's good work, there is still so much to be done to escape danger, before a crippling earthquake, or hurricane, or groundwater explosion destroys the fuel pool, that I think a reassessment may be in order. To properly devise a plan that could ensure safety in the limited amount of time to spend, we could look at enlisting the skills of other experts at nuclear engineer and construction outside Japan. They are willing to help and have the expertise necessary to create a working plan. We may also use the donation of men and materials offered toghether with the plan to ensure a quick and efficient route to safety for all of Japan and all the world.

    This extraoridnary circumstance is beyond anybody's reasoning and expectation. If your best friend encountered an equivalent circumstance in his own life would you not ask to help? Would he be shamed for accepting your help in such overwhelming need? It doesn't need to be said that such concerns would be swept away immediately!

    We know also that you would not consider your friend, struck by such unforeseen and catastrophic circumstance, to be shamed by asking on his own power, for the help. You would thank him for informing you of his distress so that you may be of timely service.

    Every day brings new dangers. The time to act is now. Please ask for help with the damages to spent fuel pool 4 and let us all rest easy with the knowledge that the government is handling the crisis in a mature fashion, utilizing any resources at hand, from any place, sacrificing all other concerns to the one real concern; putting the health and security of the residents on "high ground," well above the reach of the caprices of Nature.

    The task of removing 1,535 fuel assemblies from a battered building within one year is formidable for anybody, I'm sure you'd admit; almost impossible. By the magic of cooperation this is made managable.

    I wish you Godspeed in your efforts to keep the people safe. They are such wonderful people, I have gotten to know some of them. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope the summer finds you happy and healthy, and loved ones as well.

                                          *                                *                             *

A letter to Mr. Yukio Edano:

Mr. Edano,

I want to personally thank you for your tireless attention to the Fukushima Daiichi crises; I was very impressed with your stamina and concentration during the first few weeks after the tsunami.

I know of your continued concern for the state of Reactor No. 4 building, the spent fuel pool in particular. It seems to me that Tepco is making a superior effort to address the problems of stability and to remove the fuel befor disaster strikes. The courage and dedication of those workers cannot be overstated. I salute them. I suppose most of us do not consider their 24 hour a day predicament during our usual day.

My only concern is that the seismologists have predicted major, magnitude 7+ earthquakes within the next year or so in Fukushima region. I don't think Tepco, even on their expedited schedule, can complete the work on time. To do so would be a highly technical challenge for even the most highly skilled and experienced engineers and scientists on earth, with access to the greatest resources, both human, technological, and material.

Let us consider a new proposal, that you enquire of the Prime Minister whether he will consider asking assistance of the other countries involved in the nuclear endeavor, the European states and the United States. I am sure once he made initial enqueries, the response would be agreeable and accommodating. I think, with regard to the nuclear question, we are all in this together.

Prime Minister Noda has shown himself to be forthright in his response to the challenge of Fukushima. His well-known views on friendly relations with other nation-states encourage me to believe he will act wisely, and in a timely manner to avoid the unspeakable. There is a heroic streak in him, graced with the pragmatism to surpass even his own reluctance to share such a burden with others. I hope you will share my faith in him to take the one action necessary to secure the safety of the nation, and of our world.

Respectfully yours,

                                   *                                              *                                         *

Akihito is less formal, but inaccessible.

Here are some email addresses for the various people mentioned, where I could find them.  I wish you luck.

Email the Prime Minister of Japan, His Excellency Yoshihiko Noda, and ask him to accept
help from other countries, here:

Write to Goshi Hosono, Nuclear Disaster Minister and also PM Noda's Minister of the Environment :  or, write to The Ministry of the Environment; Minister of the Environment -English Mailing form :    (Special thanks to Uiko Hasegawa for contact info).

Email Yukio Edano at METI:

Email TEPCO at their headquarters and ask them to accept help from other countries,
You can address it to either: Attn: Kazuhiko Shimokobe, Chairman        or, Attn: Naomi Hirose, President.
 I had a hard time getting messages through their email form, I hope you have better luck.

The Emperor is hard to get hold of, the closest I came being the email to the Imperial Household Agency,
who are so unlikely to forward it but I'll post it here:
The proper form of address:  Your Imperial Majesty.
Send a message to your President or Prime Minister or Monarch wherever you are, asking them
to intervene directly, and swiftly, to avoid such a disaster.

Well, you might ask, are you crazy?  I wonder.  What is writing polite letters going to do?  I have looked into all the options and it comes down to this.  If you are in Japan, go to the streets. Stay in the streets until you prevail. For the rest of us, I see no other option. If you have a better idea, tell me too -I want to do it.  Peace

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Look at them.  They are well seated, relaxed...there.  Does my heart good.

This man's posture is excellent. I admire his concentration.  He's obviously into meditation for the long haul, as is the whole class.  They are blessed to find the center, the very breath of our life, the light of our minds.  If someone asked me, what was the greatest gift I could ever give, I would answer without hesitation: meditation.  It's worth more than gold or silver, more than diamonds.  Eternal values: Without peace of mind, what do you have?  Can you enjoy anything with your mind running full speed 24 hours a day?  Looking at the world, can you see peace?  It's a driver-absent train running at full speed with no stop signals, and no brakes.

Meditation gives you a chance to get off your train of thought, for a brief spell.  To think that one's train of thought never, ever stops makes me nervous.  How can one question one's self? Where is  the enjoyment in never-ending judgemnts, anxieties, ruminations?
Meditation is for you, and for me. It's for this world, torn up by Fukushima, and so much else. It's now.

I'm going to give you a lesson in meditation, what it is, and what it is not.

Meditation is effortless.  All you have to do is maintain the posture; that's all there is to it.  And if your mind starts acting up, you can follow your breath.  Never fails.

To begin: Sit on a cushion, from 2-4 inches high or thereabouts, on a carpeted floor, or the grass; somewhere comfortable, quiet.  Sit with your legs folded under you, left leg first.  Or, sit in a chair if need be.  Even in a chair, you should lightly cross your legs at about the ankles, left leg under, and let them fall back toward the chair so your calves are resting at about a 45 degree angle, whatever feels right; your sitz bones under you should flatten out and not be on end -this is important for a good sitting experience, even when not meditating.  Yoga postures are not necessary (Incidentally, I'm only teaching meditation, not religion, not Hinduism or Buddhism or Taoism. You can think of meditation as being like brushing your teeth, only for your mind and emotions; clearing the crap off each day so it doesn't accumulate and calcify).

When you're sitting comfortably, lean a bit side to side to feel if your spine is straight up in the center.  Arch your back then let go; better a slight arch than a slump forward.  Take a deep breath, slowly, and raise yourself up to your full height. Exhale and relax, slowly.  Nod your head side to side, be sure it's straight up the middle.  Tuck your chin in and release gently - you should be looking straight ahead.  If you find your head tilting back, as is common, bring it back again; always looking straight ahead.

Now you are ready to meditate. What to do? Nothing. Just sit. You can think, if you want.  You can pray, you can contemplate whatever, or simply do nothing: it doesn't matter. You are just waiting for your mind to quiet down, to get tired, like a cow wandering a field, finally relaxing, and lying down.  Then comes quiet.  The time you are waiting can be peaceful if you are enjoying your thoughts.  But if not, you can follow your breath: each time you breath in, think: "Breathing in..."  Each time you breath out, think: "Breathing out..." This becomes a habit very easily and is very effective at quieting your mind, even if you've only been sitting a short time. You can use it while walking too.

So just sit.  No effort whatsoever. The only problem you may face is squirminess, the desire to jump out of one's skin, the itchy feeling. I get it sometimes; I persevere. You just have to put up with it. It passes.

So you've sat for 20 minutes, or 40 minutes, or 10 minutes; whatever feels natural to you is right. When you're done, it's important to ground yourself, because your energy has been rising all this time, and you have to come back to yourself, your heart space, your ground. Imagining a small hole in the center of your chest, breathe in and out of your spiritual heart for a minute, imagine a warm feeling there and tell yourself, my heart is wide open; my heart feels good. Very soon you begin to feel it. 

Now reorient yourself and take a moment to say to yourself: I am back in the world and I am ready to face the world. I am grounded, I am here and my heart is open.  Then get up, slowly.

Prayers for Japanese earthquake and tsunami victims, Katmandu, Nepal

That's it.  You've just meditated.  Good for you. 

                                                   *                  *              *

Question: What do I do with my hands?
Answer:  They should rest in your lap, palms up, right hand nestled in left.  Or turn them over, palms
               down, in a natural way; hands and arms should always be relaxed, supported, natural.

Q: When I close my eyes and start to meditate, I feel like I'm flying away; I can't stand it!
A:  You're becoming aware of just how stirred up and engaged your mind and emotions are.  You are
      living like this everyday but you don't notice it; now you become aware. Good. The solution:
      meditate with your eyes open for now, every so often close them for a minute and take your mental
      -emotional 'pulse', just to see where you are at.

Q: I don't have time for meditation!
A: It can be tough to find time.  But even a few minutes of absolute non-doing is essential to breaking
     the train of thought.  Do it, a few times each day.

Q: Every time I meditate the phone rings! Or, I have to go to the bathroom.
A: Keep your cell phone, pen and notepad next to you when you sit, and visit the WC before you start.

Q: You said earlier, I will show what meditation is not. What is it, not?
A:  Meditation is not walking on the beach; reading books (especially books about meditation); making
     art; cooking; or a million other things that don't involve sitting in meditation posture, silently, for a
     length of time.  Don't kid yourself.  After 40 years I find myself sometimes thinking, Gee, I'm in a
     meditation space, and I'm just riding the bus staring out the window-or some such.  All fine and well,
     but I know that if I don't do proper sitting every day, I'm useless.

Address any additional questions to me here in the comments, I'll do my best to answer them.  No personal problems, please -I'm not a wise man.  We're going to get through this Fukushima thing one way or another;  I think this is one of the best resources we have.

                                                     *                    *                       *

Mediation strengthens us for doing the important tasks in life, such as: doing away with nuclear power.  Take action on one of the following items:

Email the President and tell him to intervene personally in this crisis; it's a matter of national security

Email the Secretary of State and tell her the same

Send a message to your President or Prime Minister or Monarch wherever you are, asking them to
intervene directly, and swiftly, to avoid such a disaster.

If you are in Japan, go to the streets. Stay in the streets until you prevail.  For the rest of us, I see no clear options.  If you have a better idea, tell me -I want to do it.  Peace