TT-668 -- Anti-nuclear Demo Gains Momentum, ebiz news from Japan

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

General Edition Sunday, July 01, 2012, Issue No. 668


- What's New -- Anti-nuclear Demo Gains Momentum
- News -- More problems with Fukushima No. 4 reactor
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback
- Travel Picks -- Okayama & Kagoshima
- News Credits

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It takes a lot to get the Japanese riled up and to start
organizing into large public pressure groups. But that's
what the restarting of the nuclear reactors at Oi in Fukui
by the Noda government has done to tens of thousands of
people here in Tokyo. A group called the Metropolitan
Coalition Against Nukes has been holding regular Friday
evening protests for 3 months outside the Prime Minister's
residence in Nagatacho, Tokyo, and while it started out as
a small fringe group of 300 people, something extraordinary
appears to have happened on Friday June 29th, when an
estimated 30,000-40,000 people (the organizers say there
were up to 150,000 and the police just 17,000) gathered to
say "no to nukes".

Apart from the size, what made this demo unusual is that
it wasn't organized by a specific political group. So rather
than right-wingers or students, you had moms with babies,
salarymen, senior citizens, Buddhist priests, and people
from all walks of life. Bloggers and news commentators alike
kept commenting on how it seemed to be a demonstration
by the people for the people. A news segment by TV Asahi's
Houdou Station (in Japanese), provides a good overview of
the demonstration and can be found here:

Interesting that there was barely any coverage in the more
conservative media, though. We presume most people found
out about the demo via Facebook and Twitter, and certainly the
next one is likely to be widely publicized in "citizen media".

[Continued below...]

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[...Article continues]

Now that the Coalition is drawing such a growing following,
it's clear that something bigger is going on, and we will
certainly be attending the next rally, hoping to see
history in the making. While we understand there will
be regular rallies every Friday, the next big one is
scheduled for July 29th (Sunday, not a Friday), at 15:30 in
front of the Diet. That's the one we plan to attend.

The Coalition Against Nukes says that on July 29th it plans
to completely surround the Diet with a human chain, and
ensure that the politicians can hear (literally) just what the
regular population wants -- if not a complete shutdown of all
nuclear reactors, then at least some leadership to show
how the country will move forward and learn from
Fukushima that nuclear may not be appropriate for Japan.
Really, it's no wonder that people are upset. Even as late
as last week, media reports said that Japan Nuclear Energy
Safety Organization, body tasked with setting the new
regulations for power plant safety, had omitted a meltdown
scenario from their safety drills because, it might "stir
concerns among local residents"...! What do they think a
safety drill is for, if not to raise awareness? It seems like the
powers that be just want to go back to business as usual
and forget that Fukushima ever happened.

One good thing the demo's are doing is to make the regular
public ask if the country really needs nuclear power. Much like
increased consumption taxes, most people think it does, but
only to the extent that it should be a temporary fix and
that a vision for a much safer future needs to be mapped
out. A few reactors here, a few years there, and some
mutual sweating each summer by the population as it does
without air conditioning, is probably the middle ground at
this point. Certainly voters are expecting Noda's
administration to create more policies that accelerate
alternative energy installations. The preferred feed-in
tariff rate for alternative energy is a good start and will
create about JPY11bn in new revenues for all 44 solar and
wind projects so far approved for construction by the

But the feed-in legislation is only part of the equation.
Japan also urgently needs land-use and geothermal rights
regulatory changes, as well as specific subsidies to
manufacturing firms to produce low-cost solar/wind/sea
power devices. It's difficult to understand why the Noda
government doesn't seize on these popular concerns and
outline a future that makes people feel safer. OK, they
got distracted with consumption tax, but people are more
motivated to march for no nukes than they are for taxes,
and the DPJ seems to have lost its instinct for self
preservation. Speaking of which, did anyone notice that
Hashimoto in Osaka suddenly went silent on the subject
of the Oi reactors? We wonder if he doesn't have some
dirty laundry that was quietly pointed out?

In closing, while researching this week's Terrie's Take we
spent several hours going through the location of each
nuclear power plant in Japan, trying to find one that
doesn't have some problem with possible nearby active fault
lines. The Genkai plant in Saga meets most of the criteria
of seismic safety, in that Saga is considered very
geologically stable. And yet, even there, there are
thousands of people in the surrounding area who are named
in class action lawsuits against the plant and who are
trying to have it shut down on the grounds that it might
be hit by a severe earthquake.

The fact is that Japan is a country of earthquakes and the
fault lines that cause them (many of which are still yet to
be found). After Fukushima, the public has decided the
risks are not worth it. So maybe it's time for the
authorities to accept that nuclear power plants have no
place in such an environment and that they need to create
an infrastructure that is more resilient and appropriate?

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+++ NEWS

- Overseas travel up 10%
- 15-year construction project for Shibuya Station
- Alcohol spending falls to record low
- Ghosn has top CEO salary
- More problems with Fukushima No. 4 reactor

=> Overseas travel up 10%

A survey done by the Nikkei has found that the number of
people booking trips abroad is surging an average 10% over
last year. Conventional agents such as JTB and HIS say
that they are up 10%-30%. These companies handle about half
of the nation's bookings. On the other hand, web agent
Rakuten Travel says that it has had a 44% increase in
bookings. Totally this means about 3.5m people will go
abroad during July and August, which will be a record
breaker, exceeding the previous record of 3.38m people in
2001. (Source: TT commentary from, Jun 30,

=> 15-year construction project for Shibuya Station

We're not sure what it will do to shopping in and around
Shibuya, which is sure to be disrupted, but nonetheless
Tokyu Corporation and JR are planning to significantly
make over the station itself and areas in and around the
station. The project is expected to take up to 15 years
and some of the things that will happen include:
* The Toyoko line will be moved underground and
connected to the Fukutoshin line -- sometime this year.
* The space where the Toyoko line platform is now will be
used for a new Saikyo line platform, so that the JR and
Saikyo lines can be closer together.
* The Ginza line platforms will be moved closer to the
Fukutoshin line and widened.
* There will be a 4-level sidewalk built from
Miyamasuzaka to Dogenzaka, which should be rather
* Most of the Tokyu department store buildings will be torn
down and rebuilt
(Source: TT commentary from, Jun 29, 2012)

=> Alcohol spending falls to record low

According to a report from Shinsei Financial, the monthly
eating/drinking allowance given to salarymen by their wives
has fallen to an all-time low of JPY39,600 a month, a far
cry from the peak of JPY76,000 in 1990. On the upside, this
means that the guys are only spending an average JPY2,860
on each night out getting drunk with their buddies. The wives
appear to have relented a bit when it comes to nutrition,
though, because the average lunch allowance has risen
slightly from JPY490 to JPY510. The average monthly salary
for workers was JPY296,800 in FY2011, down 3% from 10 years
earlier. (Source: TT commentary from, Jun
30, 2012)

=> Ghosn has top CEO salary

In line with the new regulation for public companies to
reveal CEO pay over JPY100m, Carlos Ghosn of Nissan Motor
has emerged as the highest paid CEO in Japan, with a
package excluding stock options, of JPY987m. Nissan says
that although this is high for Japan, when compared to
other international auto company CEO's, Ghosn's salary is a
relative bargain (Ed: And a lot better than a bankrupt
company with tens of thousands on the pay roll). Ghosn was
also paid JPY120m by Renault as CEO of that company. In
comparison, Toyota President Akio Toyoda earned JPY136m
for the year. ***Ed: Of course, given the fact that the Toyoda
family own a decent chunk (2%) of Toyota shares,
perhaps Akio's salary is not the main consideration.**
(Source: TT commentary from, Jun 25, 2012)

=> More problems with Fukushima No. 4 reactor

TEPCO had a major problem with the cooling system for the
No. 4 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi power plant. The system
broke down on Saturday morning, and TEPCO took until
Sunday afternoon to get it running again. ***Ed: With a water
temperature of 31 degrees C when the cooling failed, the
coolant pool was rising at around 0.26 degrees per hour, and
would have hit 65 degrees on Tuesday, which is the upper
limit per Japanese nuclear safety regulations. (Source: TT
commentary from, Jun 30, 2012)

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



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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

=> No feedback this week.


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