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Smelt ice fishing begins on 2 frozen lakes in Fukushima village

31 January 2016

Smelt ice fishing started on two frozen lakes in the village of Kitashiobara, Fukushima Prefecture, on Jan. 30, about 10 days later than usual due to unusually warm winter.

According to a local fisheries cooperative, the surface water of Lake Hibaru and Lake Onogawa began freezing up around Jan. 20, making it possible to fish on parts of the lake surface where ice grew some 10 centimeters thick. Ice fishing elsewhere will be given the go-ahead once ice is confirmed to be thick enough to be safe, a cooperative official said.

Takashi Kokubun, a 24-year-old company employee from Koriyama city in the northeastern Japanese prefecture, was among the season's first anglers on the lakes. "I really feel on top of the world, being able to do long-awaited ice fishing," said Kokubun, who came together with company colleagues.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

30 January 2016

J-Village to serve as soccer training base for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

The Japan Football Association (JFA) has decided at a board meeting to use the J-Village national soccer training center in Fukushima Prefecture as a base for the men's and women's national soccer teams for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The facility, straddling the towns of Naraha and Hirono, has served as Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s forward base coping with the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster. It is to reopen in full capacity as a refurbished training center in April 2019.

The possibility has arisen that the J-Village may also be used by Japan's national World Cup team and generational squads such as underage teams after the upcoming Olympics.

According to the association, JFA President Kuniya Daini told a board meeting at the end of last year that “generational teams have got a lot of assistance from the J-Village and Fukushima.” Daini, who had broached the idea of using the facility in connection with the Tokyo Olympics, then proposed to “use the J-Village as a training center as it used to be before the nuclear accident.” The board unanimously favored the proposal, agreeing to use the J-Village as a core facility for enhancing team strength, including as a training camp for the Tokyo Olympics.

The JFA leader had indicated earlier at a meeting with Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori and on other occasions that the soccer community would like to use the J-Village as one of the facilities for the women's World Cup in 2023, which Japan is seeking to host. The JFA is poised to continue discussions with a view to using the J-Village after the Tokyo Olympics as a training base for the men's and women's national World Cup squads.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

28 January 2016

Test fishing in Pacific off Fukushima nuke plant to be expanded

 The fisheries industry in Fukushima Prefecture said on Jan. 27 that it is considering expanding soon the area of test fishing operations in Pacific waters from the current 20-kilometer radius outside of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to a 10-km radius outside of the plant. If the safety of fish caught in the expanded zone is confirmed, it will go a long way toward the resumption of full-fledged fishing in the offshore region polluted by radioactive fallout from the 2011 nuclear accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant caused by a massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

The planned expansion of test fishing will be subject to discussions by each member union of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations. The federation will call a meeting of member union chiefs later this month to authorize the plan and decide the species of fish to be caught, fishing methods and other details.

The expansion plan was shown at a meeting of member union leaders held in Iwaki city the same day. Under the plan, the current self-imposed ban on regular fishing in waters within a 20-km radius of the plant will be eased to 10 km and add the area between 10 km and 20 km to a new zone of test fishing operations.

As one of reasons for the move, the federation cited a continued decline in the density of radioactive substances in seawater within a port at the nuclear station and within a 20-km radius of the facility in the wake of the completion of a seaside underground wall built along the plant to block the inflow of contaminated groundwater. Another reason is the fact that tests on radioactive cesium content in sample seafood conducted jointly by the prefectural government, the utility and other parties have found it below the maximum allowable standard of 100 becquerels per kilogram set under the Food Sanitation Act.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

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