Terrie's Take 719 -- Something Fishy Going on in Fukushima, e-biz news from Japan

Terrie's Take terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Sun Jul 21 22:09:09 JST 2013

* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E 'S T A K E * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.

General Edition Sunday, July 21, 2013, Issue No. 719


- What's New -- Something Fishy Going on in Fukushima
- News -- Companies sitting on JPY225trn cash pile
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback
- Travel Picks -- Ushimado resort in Okayama, Treasure in Kyoto-fu
- News Credits

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The Fukushima disaster is far from over, and TEPCO continues to struggle
with everything from racing to build gantry cranes that will remove
hundreds of spent fuel rods from cooling pools in the buildings of reactors
1, 3, and 4, to plugging numerous underground water leaks which are
apparently seeping  tons of contaminated water every day. Nuclear
proponents say that Fukushima has not resulted in a single death caused by
radiation, but considering the  emergency which is ongoing and that
radiation-related diseases can take years to appear, such observations are
disingenuous and only diminish the severity of the situation.

As the media reported this week, TEPCO's priorities don't seem to be
particularly focused on localized radiation problems around the plant. They
have an army of expendable workers and their lack of concern is highlighted
by the news that several thousand of those workers have probably been
exposed to radiation above 100 millisieverts and that less than 5% of the
20,000 or so employees and contractors have had their radiation exposures
measured properly. Instead, TEPCO appears to be more focused on removing
spent fuel rods from their damaged cooling pools before another earthquake
hits. It's an understandable conflict of interest, especially since
disruption of the cooling systems for more than a few hours in the event of
another 'quake might send a surge of radiation into the atmosphere and
potentially threaten Tokyo. Then that would be bad both politically and for

Unfortunately for all of us, the spent fuel rod transfer operations will
take at least until the end of 2014, and so another earthquake in the
meantime is a very real risk.

[Continued below...]

----------------------- MORI LIVING -----------------------


The Roppongi Hills Residence is the perfect place for foreign families to
start life in Tokyo, one of the world`s most vibrant cities. Current
residents agree that it provides comfort, luxury and most of all safety for
the whole family.

"It feels like home," says a wife and mother of three. On-site workout and
medical facilities along with easy access to transportation, schools, and a
variety of community events make daily life simple and fun. Completed in
2003 using state-of-the-art construction, the complex includes a high-rise
office tower, movie theaters, restaurants, designer boutiques, and a
world-renowned art museum. The Roppongi Hills Residence is a spectacular
starting point for life in the city.

Please find out more about the Roppongi Hills Residence and other serviced
apartments from MORI LIVING under: http://www.moriliving.com/en/

[...Article continues]

While it's good to know that TEPCO is worried about atmospheric dispersion
of radiation, the company seems clueless about water-borne dispersion,
something we find quite astounding. Indeed, TEPCO data released over the
last two weeks clearly show a flow of new radioactive material being
carried by ground water from the reactors towards the ocean. While on one
hand the company has rung the alarm bell in revealing the rapidly increased
levels of Strontium and Tritium, we wonder why they were so nonchalant
about seepage in the first place? Originally they said any water from the
waste water ponds (or the plant itself) would take 10 years or longer to
reach the ocean and would be safe by the time it got there. Turns out that
they were wrong yet again and we wish the government would appoint an
independent body to measure radiation and assess risks at the plant,
instead of leaving it all up to TEPCO. Why they don't is one of life's

This lack of information and transparency is a real problem, and of course
makes everyone fearful of what is really going on. We doubt that there is
anyone in the public who actually believes TEPCO anymore. As a result,
consumers, who were just getting used to the idea of eating land-based
produce from Fukushima again, will on hearing the latest news of
radioactive ground water seepage stay well away from eating anything that
comes from the seas around the stricken plant. In fact, they are staying
away from almost anything caught the entire length of the Tohoku coastline
-- with devastating effect on the local economy. Apparently the Tohoku
fishing industry lost about JPY200bn last year, and we imagine that it
hasn't recovered much since then.

Back in January, AFP reported a story of the impact on small companies in
Tohoku. They covered a multi-generational seaweed (nori) producer based in
Iwate-ken, 300km from Fukushima -- about twice as far from the plant as
Tokyo is. Like many raw produce companies in the area, they have their
products radiation tested and certified as safe, but still, sales are just
30% of what they used to be before the 3/11 disaster. The owner of the
seaweed factory bemoaned that customers preferred product from South Korea
or even China, the latter of which has had its own problems with heavy
metals and other contaminants.

Fish are also becoming suspect again, although there appear to be mixed
messages on how unsafe. In 2012, as the power plant situation appeared to
stabilize, fisheries studies by both Japanese and foreign scientific
organizations (such as Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) found that
while Cesium levels in fish were higher than normal, they were still far
too low to have any health impact on the public. Unfortunately, last week,
that aura of confidence was severely jolted when researchers caught some
Japanese sea bass 100km out at sea and found that they had concentrations
of 1,037 Bq/Kg of Cesium-134/137, about 10 times higher than the government
safety limit. The researchers expressed surprise and puzzlement as to how
such levels have persisted.

Those two fish stories made the foreign press, but there are other stories
closer to home which sum up the problem. Since the start of this year the
Japanese media have been following a series of announcements by TEPCO of
fish caught immediately in the vicinity of the Fukushima Port area. Back in
February, some samples of spotbelly rock fish measured concentrations of up
to 500,000 Bq/Kg of CS-134/137. Then just last month more fish were caught
with concentrations of 212,000 Bq/Kg of CS-134/CS-137. These latest ones
are about 2,120 times higher than the maximum permissible limit for

TEPCO reckons the radioactive fish were somehow caught in the surrounds of
the plant then released back into the ocean, and the company plans to
exterminate them all. The Woods Hole folks on the other hand reckon that it
could be that the fish are feeding on Cesium trapped in the sediment of the
ocean floor and are just unlucky. However, there is a third explanation.
We're not scientists, but in light of the water bore data from TEPCO, the
answer we come up with is that radioactive ground water is already seeping
into the Pacific and it's now showing up in the marine animals and plants

If this is happening, it may mean one or more melted reactor cores is
contaminating ground water at deep levels and in high volume and will be
difficult if not impossible to control/remedy -- a situation that would
certainly be damaging for PM Abe's push to reopen all the other nuclear
power plants around the country. So instead we're all supposed to imagine
that the seepage problem is just another close call, and that TEPCO will
save the day, again.

To us the moral of this story is: donate freely to the poor fishermen of
Tohoku, but stay well away from their products for a few more years. The
rehabilitation of Fukushima isn't by any means assured yet.

...The information janitors/


------ English Community Manager for Travel Portal --------

www.japantourist.jp is expanding and is looking for an English native
editor/writer who has previous experience managing online communities and
curating content. JapanTourist.jp was set up to help Japan promote its many
attractions to foreign tourists and in particular to demystify and remove
anxiety by travelers about how to get around and deal with Japan. The site
has been running for 18 months and is now Japan's largest online inbound
travel portal.

The job involves:
- Servicing the needs and concerns of our partners around the country
- Working with Technology to prioritize software development of the site
- Working with Sales to harmonize and integrate the efforts of that team
with the Partners
- Curating the best stories (and occasional editing) for display on the top
page of the site
- Working with contributors to help them improve their writing and
photographic efforts
- Creating content ideas and campaigns to get community engagement by
- Creating incentives and campaigns to re-engage dormant contributors

This position is open to full-time (preferred) and part-time (possible)
applicants, including, potentially, applicants not residing in Japan. You
must be able to deal with the many personalities involved in the community
and have a clear sense of mission and have a self-starter attitude.
Japanese capability is helpful but not essential.

Contact: info at japantourist.jp for details.

+++ NEWS

- Brinksmanship over East China Sea gas fields
- Companies sitting on JPY225trn cash pile
- 80% believe another nuclear disaster likely
- Online campaigning a failure
- Bonuses up just 1.64%

=> Brinksmanship over East China Sea gas fields

In response to Chinese escalation of natural gas exploration in the East
China Sea near the disputed Senkaku islands, METI has ordered both of Japan
Oil, Gas, and Metals National Corporation's (JOGMEC) geological survey
ships to prepare to deploy to the area. The two ships will provide Japan
with the presence needed to blunt any efforts by China to dilute Japan's
claims over the area. ***Ed: Who knows, while they are there maybe they'll
even find a major gas field or two? Actually, we often wonder why Japan is
so slow in surveying and tapping the resources in this area. Are they
keeping it for the future?** (Source: TT commentary from reuters.com, Jul
18, 2013)


=> Companies sitting on JPY225trn cash pile

Good article in the Wall Street Journal about the huge pile of cash that
Japanese companies are hoarding away, while the government figures out how
to get more money into the pockets of employees and thus the economy. The
article surmises that most companies do not believe in Japan's potential
for future growth, and are also skittish about the global economy in
general, and thus want to be liquid in case things go bad. In March, METI
surveyed 1,000 major exporters, and over half of them said they had no
plans to return production back to Japan (i.e., little or no additional
capital investment here). Currently Japanese companies have about JPY225trn
in cash -- a staggering 26% more than the US$1.8trn of cash and liquid
assets maintained by US non-financial firms -- yet the US economy is 250%
larger than Japan's. (Source: TT commentary from wsj.com, Jul 19, 2013)


=> 80% believe another nuclear disaster likely

A private survey conducted by a professor at Tokyo Women's Christian
University and presented to the Japan Atomic Energy Commission has found
that about 80% of Japanese believe that if Abe goes ahead and reinstates
the country's nuclear reactors, as he has said he would, then there is
likely to be a repeat crisis similar to what happened at Fukushima. Of the
1,200 people surveyed across the country, 23% were certain that another
crisis would occur, while 57% it will probably occur. Natural disasters and
threat of terrorist attack were given as the most likely causes for such
pessimism. (Source: TT commentary from japantimes.co.jp, Jul 18, 2013)


=> Online campaigning a failure

Despite today being the first election where political candidates can stump
online, apparently efforts to stimulate interest by online visitors have
fallen flat. A Nico Nico campaign video site apparently only had 42,000
streams, and a Dwango-sponsored debate of party leaders was viewed by just
90,000. A similar debate last December drew 1.4m viewers. ***Ed: This all
lends credence to the commentary that young people are totally
disinterested in politics and that Abe's victory is a foregone
conclusion.** (Source: TT commentary from e.nikkei.com, Jul 19, 2013)


=> Bonuses up just 1.64%

In another sign that companies are not going to loosen their purse strings
any time soon, a Nikkei survey of 2,186 firms (of which 695 responded),
about the state of summer bonuses, found that on average employee bonus
would rise just 1.64%. Auto maker bonuses were up 10.66%, other
manufacturers up 3.35%, and non-manufacturers down 4.14%. (Source: TT
commentary from e.nikkei.com, Jul 16, 2013)


NOTE: Broken links
Some online news sources remove their articles after just a few days of
posting them, thus breaking our links -- we apologize for the inconvenience.


------ The Robert Grondine Memorial Scholarship Fund ------

In 2011, we lost a great friend and colleague, Bob Grondine. Bob made
considerable contributions in Japan to the legal and business community as
well as important civic and charitable efforts. Not only was Bob a
wonderful friend, family man and mentor, he was also a role model as a
leader in US-Japan relations.

Among a number of US-Japan causes, Bob was an important supporter and chair
of the Japan Advisory Committee of the United States-Japan Bridging
Foundation, an organization established to grow global leaders through a
program providing scholarships to American college students to study in
Japan. Students designated as Grondine Scholars will be selected for their
ability to emulate Bob's intellect and spirit as well as his dedication to
US-Japan relationship. The fund will keep his mentoring spirit alive and
memorialize his great legacy.

Donations of all amounts are welcome. To learn more, visit
www.bridgingfoundation.org or click on the link below. Thank you.



=> BiOS, a leading bilingual IT services and resourcing company, is
actively marketing the following positions for customers setting up or
expanding in Japan, as well as other employers of bilinguals.


BiOS is urgently looking for an Account Manager with experience in
recruiting and account management for IT infrastructure service delivery,
at our BiOS office in the Minato-ku area. The candidate will be responsible
for supporting the continued development and management of our existing
clients, and serving as the BiOS frontline and primary point of contact for
new clients and onsite staffs, as well as networking and developing
opportunities with potential clients. You will also be responsible for
providing a permanent recruitment support.

Due to the technical nature and demanding work environment, this position
is suitable for someone with solid experience in recruiting, sales, account
management, or similar client-facing tasks, preferably in IT. In addition,
since this role requires direct communication with both internal staffs and
clients who are bilingual in English and Japanese, fluent English and
Japanese will be required.

Remuneration is JPY3.6m - JPY4.5m plus commission, depending on your
experience and skill level.


- Chief Web Creator, bilingual outsourcing services provider, JPY4M - JPY6M
- Helpdesk/Desktop Support Engineer, global food product services provider
, JPY3M - JPY4.5M
- Project Leader (E-Commerce), Japanese e-commerce services provider, JPY5M
- JPY11M
- Staffing Consultant (Recruiting), BiOS, JPY3M - JPY4M
- Server (Windows/LINUX) Engineer, Japanese IT services provider, JPY4M -

Interested individuals may e-mail resumes to: tomohiro.kimura at biosjp.com.
Check out the BiOS web page for other jobs: www.biosjp.com/careers.php.

** BiOS Job Mail

Every 2 weeks BiOS sends out a regular communication to its job seeking
candidates, called BiOS Job Mail. Every edition carries a list of BiOS's
current and most up-to-date vacancies, with featured entries containing a
short job description and every job being linked to the main entry on the
BiOS home page. Regardless of whether you are unemployed and searching,
thinking about a career change, or just curious to know if there is
something out there that might suit you better, the BiOS Job Mail
newsletter is an easy and convenient way for you to stay informed. If you
would like to register for the BiOS Job Mail, or to find out more, please
email tomohiro.kimura at biosjp.com.



------------------ ICA Event - July 24th-------------------
Speaker: Dr Greg Story, President, Dale Carnegie Training Japan

Title: "Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm - How to Create Engaged Employees"

Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/

Date: Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
Time: 6:30 Doors open, Buffet Dinner included and cash bar
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members). Open to all No sign ups
at the door!!!!!!!
RSVP: RSVP by 5pm on Sunday, July 21st. Venue is The Foreign
Correspondents' Club of Japan




In this section we run comments and corrections submitted by readers. We
encourage you to spot our mistakes and amplify our points, by email, to
editors at terrie.com.

=> No corrections or comments this week.



=> Ushimado Coastal Resort Town, Okayama

Ushimado town is a seaside resort town that hugs a coastline ripe with
sparkling bays and verdant hills. The locals are very friendly and love to
help out travelers, even if the amount of English language is close to
zero. There are hidden shrines, yacht ports, Mediterranean olive gardens
and island hideaways to keep you busy. Like many of Japan's resort towns,
Ushimado is best experienced in the summer when the weather is fine and all
the shops are open. The town is best explored by car, though walking serves
well if you're fit and keen.

Getting into the town via public transport is a surprisingly patchy process
given how near it is to Okayama city (the biggest transit hub in the area).
>From Okayama Station you need to take the JR Ako line to Saidaiji station,
where you transfer on to a Ryobi bus. The bus leaves from directly outside
the Saidaiji station at irregular intervals. It's typically hourly, but
it's occasionally half-hourly and sometimes only once per hour and a half,
so it's a bit pot-luck as to how long you have to wait (check the bus
timetable to line up your train).


=> The must-see Miho Museum, Kyoto-fu
Ancient treasures, amazing I.M. Pei

Nestled in the dense, green hills of Shigaraki about an hour's drive from
Kyoto is one of Japan's least-known architectural gems. In the 1970s,
Mihoko Koyama, wealthy benefactor and the leader of a religious
organization (dare I say, cult) Shinji Shumeikai, commissioned
world-renowned architect I.M. Pei to design a bell tower for the religion's
headquarters - in fact, the bell tower can be seen from the Miho Museum.

Mihoko, or Miho for short, was so impressed with Pei's bell tower (HER
bridge between earth and heaven) that, she called upon him again to design
and build "paradise on earth", an outrageous concept to display and
warehouse her vast, personal collection of rare and ancient artworks. When
Pei initially surveyed the site in the 1990s, he apparently remarked, "This
is Shangri-La."




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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)

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