Volcano near Sendai nuclear plant is shaking and may erupt: Japan weather agency

REUTERS

Authorities warned on Friday that a volcano a few dozen kilometers from the Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture was showing signs of increased activity and may erupt. It warned people to stay away from the summit.

The warning comes nearly a month after another volcano, Mount Ontake, erupted suddenly while it was crowded with hikers, killing at least 57 people in Japan’s worst volcanic disaster in nearly 90 years.

Ioyama, a mountain on the southwestern island of Kyushu, has been shaken by small tremors and other signs of rising volcanic activity recently, including a tremor lasting as long as seven minutes, an official at the Meteorological Agency’s volcano division said.

STORY

City Assembly Approves Sendai Nuclear Plant Restart in Japan

MENAFM.COM

MENAFN – Qatar News Agency – 21/10/2014
Repost

(MENAFN – QNA) A special panel at a city assembly in southern Japan has approved a petition to allow a local nuclear power plant to resume operations.

The panel at the Satsuma Sendai city assembly in Kagoshima Prefecture discussed petitions both for and against the restart of the Sendai plant.

The plant is operated by Kyushu Electric Power Company. Last month it became the first to pass new regulations for nuclear plants introduced after the 2011 Fukushima accident.

Panel members in favor of the restart argued that the local economy has been sluggish since the plant went offline. But others opposing the restart said the screening by the government’s Nuclear Regulation Authority does not guarantee the plant’s safety.

The panel rejected ten petitions against the restart, and adopted one calling for the plant to return online.

MENAFM.COM

UPDATE 1-Japan’s new METI minister says will restart reactors deemed safe

Reuters
Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:40am BST

No question atomic power is important energy source-Miyazawa

* To visit Kagoshima to meet local authorities near Sendai plant (Adds minister’s quotes)

By Mari Saito and Kentaro Hamada

TOKYO, Oct 21 (Reuters) – Japan‘s newly appointed trade minister, Yoichi Miyazawa, said on Tuesday that he would continue with the policy of seeking to restart nuclear reactors deemed safe by the atomic regulator.

Miyazawa, speaking to reporters, also said he would move towards restarting Kyushu Electric Power Co’s Sendai plant in southwestern Japan.

FULL STORY

Motoko Honda, pianist, composer, sound artist, from Sendai

Motoko Honda, pianist, composer and sound artist from Sendai Japan, expresses her heartfelt feelings about the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster of March, 2011. Currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area, she frequently returns to help family and friends who are still living in the region. Her mother works for a disaster relief organization helping victims of the disaster. Matoko is an acclaimed musician performing internationally and works in a variety of musical genres.

http://www.motokohonda.com

3.11 Remembered…3 years on…

michaeltongepic

Michael Tonge – 3/11/14 Sendai, Japan
Tomorrow will be a very hard and emotional day for many people in the Tohoku area of Japan. On this day 3 years ago at exactly 2.46pm we had one of the most powerful earthquakes to ever hit Japan, followed by the devastating tsunami. Around 20,000 people lost their lives that day…old and young…men, women and children. Those of us who were here that day will never ever forget. People have moved on but the memories will always be deep. Tomorrow will be a tough one for many who lost loved ones…and the many who are still living in temporary housing or have not been able to go back to their homes or towns. So…wherever you are in the world…please think of Japan and the pain that is still so fresh for so many. Just a few photos I took in the days, weeks and months after the disaster…because it is so important not to forget!!

Tsunami-hit city rejoices in Japan baseball title

Yahoo News
11/3/13

The tsunami-hit city of Sendai erupted in joy as its local club won Japan’s professional baseball title for the first time ever Sunday, more than two years after the disaster.

The nine-year-old Rakuten Eagles, the youngest of Japan’s 12 pro baseball clubs, beat the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Giants, the richest and oldest franchise, 3-0 at home in the final game of the best-of-seven Japan Series.
>ARTICLE

Strong quake hits off Japan near Fukushima

  • People crowd at Sendai railway station in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 after trains were halted following a strong earthquake struck off the coast of northeastern Japan. It is the same region that was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami last year. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREAEnlarge Gallery

    People crowd at Sendai railway station in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 after trains were halted following a strong earthquake struck off the coast of northeastern Japan. It is the same region …

Give2Asia hosts NGOs working in the Tohoku region

I was honored to be invited to a special luncheon today hosted by Give2Asia http://www.give2asia.org in San Francisco. 4 NGOs from the Tohoku area were invited to share their experiences in the rebuild and relief effort in the areas affected by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant failure.

It was heartwarming to hear their stories and their challenges. Yet their commitment showed the strength and resiliency of the Japanese people.

Still one of the messages rang clear: many felt uncertainty in regards to their future and that part of their (NGOs) mission is to give hope to the people who had lost loved ones, their homes, jobs, and any sense of normalcy. There are still over 300,000 people living in temporary housing. The population in some of the towns have decreased to 70% as people, especially the young, moved out to find jobs in Tokyo and other areas. The once vibrant fishing industry in Ishinomaki is now non-existant. Acres and acres of farmland are ruined as agriculture in certain areas has been abandoned.

Many outsiders fear traveling to the region due to the radiation contamination from the Fukushima power plants. The long term economic impact is yet to be realized.

It is my hope that on my trip to the Tohoku area, I can bring a sense of support and hope to the people. As one of the executives from the Give2Asia said, “working in the nonprofit sector to help the rebuild and relief effort, you have to be an optimist”. Bringing a sense of hope to the people, that by working together, there will be a better tomorrow.

Today was such an emotional, moving experience. Thank you Gillian Ira Yeoh and Give2Asia. I look forward to meeting some of the NGOs in Japan next week.

One Year and Six Months. A trip to Tohoku

It’s been one year and six months since the tragic earthquake and tsunami that devastated regions of the Tohoku area, and six months since our “One Year After benefit concert took place in Fremont, California. We had the opportunity to connect with many dedicated people helping the displaced children through the Living Dreams organization. And now, next month I will have an opportunity to travel to the area to actually meet some of them in person.

It’s one thing to rally our community together to raise monies for the victims of a disaster. It is another thing completely to come face to face with their reality, as they struggle day to day to bring normalcy back into their lives. The people of Japan are resilient and hardworking and have made tremendous strides in rebuilding their lives and their cities. But the toll has been taken, as thousands of acres of farmland have been contaminated, lives lost, homes swept away, and families displaced. It will take years before the area once again thrives.

I am not sure what to expect as I make plans for my short trip to the area. I hope to bring a message of good will and support from the many in our community who worked hard to stage our fundraiser. And I hope to meet the people who through sheer perseverance have rebuilt their lives and their homes, keeping the light of hope shining for all to see.

We have a lot to learn from these people.

I will be updating my experiences along the way.

Steve Yamaguma

Moving On From Tragedy

Rafu Shimpo
http://rafu.com/news/2011/10/sendai-moving-on-from-tragedy/ 
Sat, Oct 1 2011

Sendai’s residents carry on after March 11 disaster with mixed emotions and a determination to celebrate life.
By Audrey Shiomi
Rafu Contributor 
Spectators gather for a street performance during the 21st annual Jozenji Street Jazz Festival held Sept. 10-11. The event drew 790,000 visitors to Sendai. (AUDREY SHIOMI)

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SENDAI  — The musicians were in place and the crowds were revved on the eve of the Jozenji Street Jazz Festival.  Given the outpouring of support to carry out this year’s event despite March 11’s disaster, the 21st annual event was expected to draw at least the same crowd as last year — 740,000 spectators — if not more.

A successful festival would be a small triumph for Japan’s struggling economy and a boon to local storeowners whose businesses stretch along Jozenji Street in the heart of Sendai. However, for event co-founder Mitsuhiro Sakakibara, 54, emotions wavered between elation and guilt.

A woman cooks Hiroshima-yaki at a food booth. (AUDREY SHIOMI)

“Sometimes I cannot accept the good feelings I have in me,” said Sakakibara the evening before the two-day event held Sept. 10-11. “It’s hard to explain my feelings even in Japanese.”

Sakakibara began the festival back in 1991 along with other musician friends. Years earlier, as a student at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, he was impressed to see musicians taking over public spaces — in subways and on street corners — and envisioned importing the same artistic vibe to his northern Japan hometown. Within a 20-year span, the event has become a cultural staple in Sendai, growing from 25 jazz bands to over 4,900 performers of all genres.

Sakakibara praised the festival’s 60-member organizing committee — all volunteers — for their hard work, but mourned the death of one member, a firefighter who went missing during a tsunami rescue mission. His body was recovered one month later.

“It still hurts to think about it,” he said. “I can’t just feel happy. I’m sure many people feel like me.”

Indeed, many Sendai residents feel mixed emotions, especially pangs of remorse, or zaiakukan, for emerging relatively unscathed after March 11.

“In Japan, they say that if you do something bad it’ll come back around,” said Sendai resident Nanae Ota, whose family was safe after the earthquake. “But I know the tsunami took the lives of people who didn’t deserve to die.”

The entire prefecture was rocked by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake, but only those living along the coast — in towns such as Kesennuma and Ishinomaki — faced the ensuing tsunami. City residents suffered considerably, but they soon realized it was best not to talk about it considering others were far less fortunate.

Huge cracks run along the walls of Noriko Okazaki’s condominium in Sendai’s Izumi Ward. She and her husband bought the property two years ago just before learning he was to be transferred across the country to Hiroshima. Okazaki became used to living alone in the condominium, but it became emotionally difficult to stay after March 11. Sadly, if she were to complain about her situation to others, it would only make her feel worse.

“There’s always someone next to you with a sadder story than yours, so you feel bad about saying anything at all,” she said.

Traditionally when a loved one passes, family members are expected to quietly grieve for the rest of the year. Most do not embark on overseas vacations, nor do they exchange New Year’s postcards (the U.S. equivalent of Christmas cards). This April marked a drastic decline in hanami (picnics under cherry blossom trees) outings throughout the country. Sakakibara and his committee considered cancelling this year’s festival.

Traditions aside, March 11 seemed to compel many Sendai residents to reinvest in themselves and celebrate life. In the past few months, therapist Akane Shiomi (no relation to the author) noticed more of her co-workers going to concerts, dancing, and indulging in other forms of entertainment more than in years past.

Ota, a self-employed chef, began teaching private cooking classes more frequently.

“I felt so helpless after hearing how many perished, but it’s driven me to do the things I do best and do it more often,” she said.  “It’s when I do nothing when I feel the most guilty about being here today.”

In July, six major Tohoku festival committees — Nebuta Matsuri, Hanagasa Matsuri, and Tanabata Matsuri among others — joined forces to hold a first-ever collaborative summer festival event. The Rokkon Festival drew an unprecedented number of visitors to the city for a weekend-long parade. Such a celebration might otherwise be frowned upon after a national disaster, but for the people of the Tohoku region this was an opportunity to enjoy life without remorse.

Sakakibara, too, hoped to spread a bit of joy to those who needed it most. Following the earthquake, he visited some of the many evacuation centers in Miyagi. Along with food, water and his electric keyboard, he brought over a violinist, a rakugo comedian and other performers. He worried what they’d think of his light-hearted entertainment — but the crowd loved it. That’s when Sakakibara started to believe in the power of music.

“Music heals people. It offers something to the people,” he said. “That encouraged us to go through with the festival.”

He hoped this year’s jazz festival could in some small way help those affected by March 11. Guilty feelings aside, it seemed like the right opportunity to move on.

For more of Audrey Shiomi’s Tohoku series, visit HERE.