Japanese national: Let’s clean up Baguio City together!

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 17, 2019   •   2359

(Left) Masakazu Nose voluntarily paints an overpass in Baguio City. (Right) Masakasu inviting netizens to join him in a cleanup drive.

Masakazu Nose used to run a small takoyaki store in Baguio City.

Born in Tokushima, Japan, Masakazu is known to be a silent man in his 40’s. Some people would even describe him as gentle.

He came to the Philippines in April 2014 to learn English. One month later, he began cleaning overpasses along Magsaysay Avenue, Abanao Street, and lower Session Road.

Every morning, with a pair of tongs in one hand and a garbage bag in the other, Masakazu would go around the streets collecting trash like candy wrappers and plastic cups.

Masakazu even bought paints at his own expense to repaint walls. In a report, he said he did these things because he has time to spare.

This earned the admiration of the locals as well as the media. He was interviewed by various news outlets. Netizens still continue to share their admiration for Masakazu a few years after he first became viral.

Did You Know ?. . . . . Mazakasu Nose is a Japanese National who has lived in Baguio City for a number of years. He owns…

Posted by Romeo del Carmen on Sunday, 14 July 2019

After staying in the Philippines for three years, Masakazu returned to Japan to manage an oil soba store near Okubo station in Tokyo.

But he has never forgotten about his life in the Philippines, which he calls his second home.

Masazaku will return on August 1-3 to clean up the city—this time, he is inviting everyone.

“Let’s clean up the city together!” his Facebook post reads.—AAC

Japan to send charter flight to Wuhan to bring citizens home as virus spreads

Robie de Guzman   •   January 28, 2020

Japan’s government will send a chartered flight to Wuhan, the epicenter of a virus outbreak in China, on Tuesday (January 28) night to evacuate its nationals wishing to return home.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters the flight can carry around 200 passengers, but added about 650 Japanese citizens are hoping to come back to Japan.

Motegi said the government is also making arrangements for additional flights that will leave for Wuhan as early as Wednesday (January 29).

The Japanese government will also send masks, protective gear, and other relief supplies to support Chinese and Japanese people living in Wuhan. (Reuters)

(Production: Akiko Okamoto)

Farming slowly recovers in Japan’s disaster-hit Fukushima region

UNTV News   •   January 23, 2020

Strawberries at a cooperative in the town of Ono, where farmers are struggling to convince the public that their products are no longer contaminated from the nuclear disaster in 2011, in Fukushima, Japan, Jan. 21, 2020 (issued Jan. 23, 2020). EFE/AGUSTIN DE GRACIA

By Agustín de Gracia

Fukushima, Japan
– The farmers and fishermen of Japan’s Fukushima region are slowly regaining their production rate nine years after the deadly nuclear accident in 2011, and believe that things could return to normal with time and patience.

“It will happen gradually. We have to be patient,” said Koichi Aoki, director of the Hydroponic Producers’ Association in Ono, around 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of the Daiichi nuclear reactor, the site of the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Aoki was at a greenhouse full of strawberries ready to be picked. The facility also produces tomatoes and asparagus, mainly selling to large supermarkets.

On Mar. 11, 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami destroyed four of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which led to the worst nuclear tragedy since Chernobyl in 1986 and forced the evacuation of around 164,000 people.

The region’s farms were affected due to the soil, water and tree bark getting contaminated by radioactive matter.

This destroyed the local economy in a prefecture which has the third-highest agricultural production in the country.

However, farmers’ prospects are improving with time, as official data showed that in 2018 agricultural exports reached 218 tons, a 42 percent rise from the year after the disaster.

Even the schools in Fukushima now use around 40 percent local produce as ingredients — a similar level to before the 2011 disaster.

“People have begun to understand that what we produce here is safe,” said Aoki, who heads a cooperative formed by 21 farmers.

Fukushima farmers attribute “rumors” to bad press surrounding their products after the disaster, as the produce is monitored for radioactivity in regular inspections.

A center for agricultural technology situated near Fukushima continuously tests samples of farm and marine products in order to check their radiation levels.

In 2019, none of the samples of the agricultural and aquaculture products showed radioactivity levels above acceptable standards.

In Japan, the food radiation limit is 100 becquerels per kilogram, much lower than the 1,250 becquerel limit established by the European Union and 1,200 in the United States.

However, despite the inspections and growing exports, countries such as China have maintained a ban on a wide range of farm products from Fukushima, while the US has imposed restrictions on some goods.

Authorities have also established facilities to test marine samples, including a center near the city of Iwaki which analyzes 150 samples every week and where 99.8 percent of the samples analyzed since 2018 have tested negative for concentration of hazardous levels of radioactive cesium.

However, Fukushima’s fishing industry is yet to recover from the disaster, with the catch in 2018 barely reaching 15.5 percent of the levels before the nuclear accident.

Despite favorable test results, Fukushima fishermen have faced many hurdles in finding markets for their products, which continue to hold a bad reputation, with buyers opting to purchase from other regions.

Hishashi Maeda, manager of a trawlers’ cooperative in Onahama, 66 km south of Daiichi, expressed hope that the sector will return to normalcy with time.

“We are determined to be patient and keep working hard… otherwise the distribution of fish will drop,” said Maeda, holding the limited catch of the day on his back, ready to be sold. EFE-EPA

ag/ia/tw

Court orders suspension of Japan nuclear reactor over safety concerns

UNTV News   •   January 17, 2020

Tokyo – A Japanese court on Friday ordered the suspension of a nuclear reactor at the Ikata plant in western Japan on safety grounds, revoking an earlier decision that had green lighted its operation.

The Hiroshima High Court said the operators of the plant Shikoku Electric and the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority underestimated the risk posed to residents by a possible eruption of the Aso volcano, located about 130 km (nearly 80 miles) from the Ikata plant, public broadcaster NHK reported.

In December 2017, the court had ordered the suspension of reactor no. 3 at the plant for the same reason, and became the first Japanese high court to question the new safety requirements implemented in the country in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

However, in September 2018, the court accepted the operator’s appeal because the risk of volcanic eruption was very low, thus allowing the company to restart operations in October of that year.

This time, the court took into account the allegations made by a group of citizens from Yamaguchi Prefecture – located adjacent to the plant – who again highlighted the risks arising from a possible eruption of Mount Aso.

Reactor no. 3 at the Ikata plant was one of the few in the country that had received permission to operate under post-Fukushima regulations, although it was temporarily shut down on account of an inspection by the operator.

Shikoku Electric said it would appeal against the court’s decision that has dealt another legal setback to the plans of the Japanese operators and the government to gradually reactivate the reactors that meet the new safety requirements.

The Fukushima disaster triggered a massive review operation of all the nuclear plants and set off new and stricter security regulations in Japan.

Tokyo estimates 20 to 22 percent of electricity in the country will be generated from atomic plants by 2030, slightly lower than the 30 percent before the 2011 tragedy, the worst nuclear accidents after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

Radioactive emissions and spills from the Fukushima disaster left around 110,000 people displaced and has severely affected agriculture, livestock, and fishing in the region.

The disaster was triggered by an earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, leaving over 15,000 people dead and more than 3,000 others missing. EFE-EPA

ahg/tk-pd/ssk

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