24 November 2013
Messages of encouragement written by police officers and Self-Defense Forces personnel on the blackboards at the Ukedo primary school in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, were made public on Nov. 23.
A panel of those messages was made public during the Tokaichi festival of Namie town held in the city of Nihonmatsu, also Fukushima Prefecture. It is currently on display at the Namie municipal government's office in Nihonmatsu.
Namie town was hard hit by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami as well as the subsequent nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
Yuichi Harada, 64, head of the Namie Society of Commerce and Industry, proposed to preserve the messages of those who searched for missing people during the hard days after the outbreak of the nuclear disaster.
The Tokyo Nihombashi and Tokyo Shibuya Rotary clubs produced the panel and donated it to the Namie municipal government.
The four-part folding panel, which measures 90 centimeters long and 3 meters wide, contained five photos of the messages of encouragement from the police officers and SDF members.
In the messages, they cheered up students at the Ukedo elementary school and urged them to show the spirit of people in the Tohoku region in its efforts for reconstruction. In some of the messages, the police officers and SDF members vowed to visit Fukushima Prefecture repeatedly until the prefecture is rebuilt.
The panel, quoting notes by teachers, also details how the students evacuated from the tsunami.
19 November 2013
Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, on Nov. 18 started to remove nuclear fuel rods from a fuel pool at the No. 4 reactor building.
Tokyo Electric, or TEPCO, removed four unused nuclear fuel rods from the pool and put them into a large transportation container called a cask. Unused nuclear fuel rods do not release strong radiation and are easier to handle than spent fuel rods.
The start of nuclear fuel removal work means that TEPCO and the government have moved into the second stage of the three-stage work of reactor decommissioning. In the first stage, reactors were placed in a cool shutdown. In the third stage, melted fuel rods from the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors will be removed.
It was first full-scale work to remove nuclear fuel rods from the Nos. 1-4 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant since the outbreak of the disaster in March 2011. Those reactors will be decommissioned.
If the removal work goes smoothly, a total of 1,533 spent and unused nuclear fuel rods in the pool at the No. 4 reactor building will be removed by the end of 2014.
TEPCO said it put the large uncapped cask into the pool at the No. 4 reactor building at 9:50 a.m. on the first day. The cask is capable of containing 22 nuclear fuel rods. It started the work to remove the first nuclear fuel rod in the pool at 3:18 p.m. and put it into the cask at 3:57 p.m. The removal work lasted through around 6:45 p.m.
On the second day on Nov. 19, TEPCO resumed the removal work at 10 a.m. and put 18 unused fuel rods into the cask by 7 p.m.
Later, the cask was raised from the pool and put into a separate pool some 100 meters away from the No. 4 reactor building.
21 November 2013
A group led by a Gifu prefectural government official held a fair for specialty goods from Fukushima Prefecture in the city of Gifu on Nov. 16 to help rebuild Fukushima, which was hit hard by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami as well as the subsequent nuclear disaster.
The official, Shiro Takahashi, was sent to Fukushima Prefecture in fiscal 2012 to help handle applications by municipal governments in the prefecture for damages from Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Even after returning to the Gifu prefectural government in April, Takahashi wished to do something for Fukushima Prefecture.
Takahashi, in charge of overall policy matters at the prefectural government, set up a committee together with some 20 friends to hold a Fukushima fair and made preparations for the event.
The event was held as part of a monthly fair called the Dosan Rakuichi. The group sold out of products from various parts of Fukushima Prefecture, including the town of Naraha.
Takahashi is scheduled to visit Fukushima Prefecture on Nov. 29 to deliver part of the sales revenue from the fair as a donation with a collection of messages from fair visitors.