Life in Japan

Earthquakes and Nuclear Power Plants in Japan

Everybody knows that Japan is prone to earthquakes. In fact, there are quakes almost every single day.

What really matters are the “big ones”, though.
We all just revelled in sad memories as the “biggest one” had its third anniversary on March 11th, 3 days ago.

Stronger quakes can cause tsunami which are even scarier.
Because of that and what happened in Fukushima tourists think that it’s not safe to visit Japan.

A lot of people who don’t live in Japan simply don’t know that it really depends on where in Japan you live!

 

My Experience With Earthquakes in Japan

I’ve managed to “survive” 4+ years without any earthquake experience.
My first stronger earthquake happened pretty much a year ago.

Today, I experienced my second stronger quake in Japan. It was a M6-quake again and hit about the same regions as the one a year ago.

Earthquake in Japan March 14th 2014

Map Source: tenki.jp

The dates are also interesting, if you like playing around with numbers:
2013-04-13 and 2014-03-14

 

When I mentioned the quake on Facebook, a lot of people “freaked out”. It seems like many don’t know enough about quakes in Japan, so I decided to write another blog post about it.

Not every “stronger” quake is fatal in Japan. It’s a well-prepared country. The buildings won’t collapse easily and a M6 quake usually doesn’t cause much damage. There was also no tsunami warning issued. “Only” 17 people were slightly injured although the quake hit almost all of Western Japan.

 

Not Everyone in Japan is Used to Quakes

You’ve probably read how some people wrote about the quake and some in a “panicking” voice like me. emoticon
That’s because people who live in certain regions are not used to quakes, even here in Japan!
Especially the Chugoku region (Hiroshima, Okayama, Shimane, Tottori) doesn’t get hit often. Most people have been living there for decades without any quakes worth mentioning.
And “my” region, Kansai, has only experienced one severe quake in modern times, the Hanshin Earthquake in 1995.

Thus, for us a M6 quake is a BIG DEAL!! Most of us don’t know how to react, although kids learn about that in school in form of drills – everywhere in Japan.
The majority of my Japanese co-workers (including me) doesn’t have an emergency bag. Maybe we should get one, but we just don’t expect that we’ll need it.

So, an earthquake like that will shake things around, a few items might fall off shelves, but that’s about it.
The slight injuries are usually caused by things falling down on people.
Not really bad at all, but for people who are not used to it, it’s still pretty scary.

 

How Not To React When An Earthquake Hits

And just for your amusement, I’ll tell you what I did. emoticon
Although it was already past 2 a.m. I was still awake and out of bed when it started shaking.
It didn’t take me long to notice that it was a quake. Immediately I was wide awake and jumped under my tiny door frame.
However, the shaking just didn’t stop and a few tiny things fell off my shelves. So, I decided to escape to the broad rice fields outside.
I grabbed my smartphone, the door key and my coat. While shivering (hey, it was in the middle of the night and that quake really got me shocked!) emoticon I put on my shoes. When I was about to unlock the door, the shaking finally stopped, so I didn’t have to run outside.

But it took me some time to calm down again.
I guess as it was so close to the date of the sad anniversary of 3/11, I was even more frightened. emoticon

Obviously, this must sound like a joke to people from the Eastern Kanto region (e.g. Tokyo) or Tohoku where smaller quakes occur almost every day.
They’re used to quakes like that. They don’t make a big deal out of it.
But for us, it is still exciting and scary.

 

Nuclear Power Plants and Earthquakes

As March 11, 2011 has shown, a tsunami is not the only danger that can result from a strong quake.
In a country that is so prone to quakes, is it really safe to have so many nuclear power plants? And trust me, there are a lot!

This discussion has been going on for a long time now.
My home country, Germany, has decided to shut down all nuclear power plants after Fukushima happened.
Japan tried that as well, but it just doesn’t seem to work out.

Why?
Well, there’s one of the biggest cities in the world, namely Tokyo, and … it needs electricity!
Even though there were “power saving campaigns” and “scheduled blackouts”, it just isn’t enough to cover up the needs.
The current government under Shinzo Abe has thus decided to restart one nuclear power plant after another.

Obviously not everyone is happy about that. Thousands of people protested in Tokyo earlier this week.

 

Nuclear Power in Japan: Yes or No?

I’ve talked to quite a few people about this topic and I kind of understand both sides.

Someone said their company was asked to save energy. But if they do so, they can’t produce as much as they’re supposed to and so their business partners just look for other companies in foreign countries. It’s not good for Japan’s economy!
People would have to change their lifestyle at home and at work.

On the other hand, the danger of another strong earthquake and possible tsunami in Japan is very high. It’s really just a question of time.
Something like in Fukushima could happen again and that’s probably too much for Japan to handle!

What’s more important? Japan’s current economy or the ecosystem?

I’d love to hear your opinion about it!
I’m no expert when it comes to quakes, tsunami or nuclear power. I don’t know all the details, but who actually does?
There are only very few true nuclear power experts worldwide after all.
So, even if you aren’t an expert, what do you think about it?

24 Comments

  • I have experienced 4 earthquake tremors over the years. One was in Egypt, a long time ago, one was an after shock in Tokyo in April 2011, one a tremor in Sendai in November 2012, another in Washington DC in 2012.

    I will not deny it is a bit scary, but I have remained calm. I remember what you are supposed to do [flash light, under table, etc.]. There is nothing to be gained by panicking. In Tokyo, I was in the hotel lobby, and the tremor was actually almost 6. People stopped talking, but no one moved. When it stopped, every one went on talking as before. In Sendai I was in my room. They showed it on TV, and made announcements about the lack of danger, a loudspeaker in the hotel hallways said there was nothing to worry about, stay calm.

    Maybe familiarity brings contempt? I believe in any case that the tsunami was much more destructive than the earthquake, and that’s what damaged Fukushima the most. Nuclear energy is clean, not too expensive, and should be encouraged rather than decried. Of course it is important to build the plants properly., They have been using it very successfully in France for some time.

    • That’s another thing people tend to forget. Quakes can happen in a lot of places. Even when you live in a region where there are not quakes, you might just be super unlucky and experience one when travelling.
      I remember a lot of people telling me that they experienced a strong quake while in Japan whereas I had still zero experience despite living in the country for several years.

      With a certain routine, it’s probably easier to stay calm, but it also depends on a person’s character, I guess.
      I didn’t intend to panic, it just happened. And although I told myself to stay calm and focus, my body just wouldn’t listen to me. ^^;

      I don’t know. Define “successfully”. Just because there hasn’t been any accident yet?
      Fukushima has clearly shown that only a few people really know about nuclear power and if mankind doesn’t understand it completely and can’t control it, they maybe shouldn’t use it.
      I know that this is easier said than done because we first need alternatives and I’m also not saying that this has to happen IMMEDIATELY. But I think we should work towards a nuclear-free future.

  • I think Japan should search for alternatives and by the time should stop using nuclear power plants. After Fukushima a lot of people installed sun collectors on their roofs. And I think there are a lot of possibilitys to use the thermal power from the earth..
    But of course that costs a lot of money and as long the power plants excist…

    And yes.. we in Kanto and the people in Tohoko are used to quakes. But most Japanese take them serious. I’m like “oh.. that’s only a small quake… No need to worry..” But my experience is, that the Japanese here are still afraid of a huge quake. They always think about 3/11 and although they are used to quakes, they talk about every single small quake.

    • Of course, it will take time to build up alternatives, but I think that should be the focus right now instead of restarting nuclear power plants without thinking about possible future alternatives.

      That’s interesting. I rarely get a chance to speak to Japanese people in Tokyo, but most foreigners there seem to be used to it and at least SAY it’s not a big deal for them anymore.

  • I think the all world ought to get back to the natural living lifestyle, long gone via 24 hours a day openning and so on, especially the major cities in order to reduce the need for such vast amounts of electical power, to the point when to produce such power, extreme and dangerous methods are used. What I mean by a natural living lifestyle, is the divide between daylight hours and night hours, all this 24/7 grinding away, its the modern era mindset, was not brought about by said, the people, but the powers that be to persuade the people, that’s how it is. And its got to be wrong headed to think that. The control we, said the people, we have is to non comply to the demands of Big Brother and that means turning away from all this 24/7 nonsense. Okay, bank machines and so on can, but for the vast, i.e. we the people just naturally would turn in, go to sleep come the dark hours. Unfortunately Big Brother or the powers that be have convinced the vast majority to basically comply to their demands to have us entertained 24/7 at will and work 24/7 until such time we are incapable of free thought and rational thinking and have us basically enslaved to whatever demands Big Brother as in stall for us without persuasion. And of course, trash the entire planet in the process.

    • In Germany, we don’t even have convenience stores that are open 24/7 and yet we manage to “survive”. ;)
      On Sundays, everything is closed. You can’t go shopping. I suppose that saves a lot of energy.

      It is not easy, but it’s probably the only way to have a future. I fear that we might completely destroy our ecosystem in the long run and we should better start looking for “natural” or “safer” alternatives NOW.

      Thanks a lot for your comment, Jason! :)

  • As a former Tokyoite, I agree that a 6 doesn’t seem that dangerous anymore. I stopped getting under door frames long ago, unless the earthquake went on for a really long time. Sometimes, though, they do, and there’s always a bit of fear there, in the moments where you wonder if it will get worse. You just can’t completely escape it.

    Living through 3/11, and experiencing daily quakes for months on end, though, definitely makes you more cautious to prepare. After 3/11, I kept enough drinking water for two weeks on hand, as well as an earthquake kit.

    I don’t have much of an opinion about nuclear power, however. I suppose that it’s necessary for the time being, since it’s just not that simple to come up with new power plants overnight, and rolling blackouts in the middle of winter/summer in Japan can be deadly. But the world will change, eventually.

    • I’m sure that anyone who went through 3/11 and all the aftershocks is used to “stronger” quakes and not easily frightened anymore.
      I have enough water bottles (~ 10L) and some canned food that I keep for an emergency that hopefully will never come.
      However, everything else that would be useful is spread throughout the apartment in several different rooms (e.g. flashlight, batteries, scissors). I probably should put together a “basic emergency bag”. ^__^;;

      I agree. I remember how I freaked out when they told us they would do rolling blackouts a few summers ago.
      I’m not saying it should happen immediately as that’s impossible, but they should focus on building up alternatives we can rely on safely in the future. :(

  • I also have experienced major earthquakes while visiting California in the US (Northridge, Landers and Big Bear Quakes). They were all between 6.7 and 7.3 magnitude, but had relatively few deaths, but thousands of casualties, yet there was little damage to Nuclear Power Plants in the area (there was no Tsunami); even so I refuse to visit California any more and most of my relatives have left that area permanently!!

    I am very much against the use of ANY Fission Nuclear Reactors in the Future as they are too susceptible to damage from natural disasters/terrorists and the potential radiation damage to the environment and the people on this planet FAR outweighs any possible benefits (Chernobyl and Fukashima have proven that). I currently live near a huge (and almost 50 year old) nuclear fission power plant “Brown’s Ferry” and worry about the dangers posed by it often.

    But, I see no reason not to fully develop Fusion reactors in the future that leave no radiation and can’t cause meltdowns. Currently, Fusion reactors have not yet reached the operational stage in their development and may yet be another decade away from being commercially feasible (since not enough money is spent on their development). BTW, Quote from Wiki “There is no possibility of a catastrophic accident in a fusion reactor resulting in major release of radioactivity to the environment or injury to non-staff, unlike modern fission reactors.” from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_power . Please read the section on “Accident potential” under the “Safety and the Environment” section. Oddly enough, the best Fusion type reactors being developed (Most efficient and cheapest to develop) benefit from using H3 molecules in their reactors. Unfortunately, H3 is not readily found on Earth, but is in abundance on the Moon. That’s one reason why Japan and China are interested in mining the moon, while the US has cancelled all of its future programs for exploring the lunar surface. I’ve heard a leading NASA scientist say that if you could fill the Shuttle cargo bay with H3 enriched soil from the moon and bring it back to Earth, it would be worth more than a trillion US dollars (7-8 of those and the US would be out of debt, yahoo). Apollo 17 geologist Harrison Schmitt – the only professional geologist to visit the Moon discovered H3 there and has tried unsuccessfully for decades to get NASA and the US government to make plans to mine it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrison_Schmitt .

    Jasmine, nice article and very provocative. Too bad you can’t take pictures of nuclear power plants. BTW, it takes years to shut down, clean up and stop fission nuclear reactors. So, even if they started building fusion reactors to replace them, the world would still be in danger of radiation contamination from the nuclear by-products from those fission reactors for hundreds (maybe thousands) of years. If WWIII ever happens (Like in the Ukraine in the next month) with Russia and the US using nuclear weapons, fission power plants won’t matter one bit.

    • Bud, thanks so much for sharing your opinion!

      First of all I have to admit that I had no idea there were so many quakes in California! I completely understand why you wouldn’t want to go there anymore after what you’ve experienced already.

      I agree with you. Maybe I’m a bit sensitive when it comes to nuclear power, because I was NEARBY when both, Chernobyl and Fukushima happened.
      You know a lot more about the topic then me and I see you further researched it. Thanks a lot for the links!
      Well, if there is really no danger (especially no danger of radiation), I have nothing to say against it.
      But I also think we all should try to focus more on natural power (wind, sun, water) and try to build up more alternatives like that.

      Radiation is scary as hell. We shouldn’t use it to produce electrcity, but we DEFINITELY should not use it as a weapon (again). This is so sad and I hate nuclear weapons so much (or any weapons in general).
      And like you say, radiation and nuclear waste will cause problems for years and years to come. That’s why we should focus on alternatives NOW!
      But I guess too many people are greedy and just think that they won’t be around in the distant future, so why should they care. :(

      • Jasmine,

        I 100% agree with your position also, we need to maximize the use of solar, wind, thermal and convection energy processes to reduce the energy requirements on oil, gas and coal sources (that cause so much pollution) required to meet the needs of the industrialized nations of the world. I would also agree that shutting down all FISSION nuclear reactors is a top priority in all areas as soon as possible, so we can eliminate the radiation dangers to our environment and people. I would hope that the US, China, Japan and the other industrialized nations would spend much more money developing FUSION reactors to meet the energy need of the future and get the process commercially operational as soon as possible since it creates no radiation dangers at all.

        Let me make clear the distinction between FISSION and FUSION reactors: FISSION is BAD and creates radiation, while FUSION is GOOD and only creates Helium and water as by-products. If a FISSION reactor looses containment, it blows up and has a core meltdown that releases deadly radiation over a large area hundreds, if not thousands of square miles that destroys life in the Oceans, land and in the atmosphere, while FUSION reactors will just cease to operate and not damage the environment if a catastrophe were to disable or breech the reactor core. Big difference between the two and there is not enough being done to develop FUSION power around the world!!

        BTW, recently, I have noticed an upswing in racist remarks in Japanese Anime. For example, this last week on “Hajime no Ippo” a very popular boxing sports anime they had a flashback of Japan just after the end of WWII. The Americans were shown in an over the top manner as cruel racists that beat and intimidate the Japanese people. Of course, they also have a beautiful female character that is dying of radiation poison from Hiroshima as a central figure in the flashback. I don’t feel that this was a responsible way to brainwash a new generation of kids with 60 year old stereotypes. If they were going to bring up old stereotypes then they should have been fair in equally portraying the Japanese militarists of that period as they truly were.

        Then on “Uchuu Kyodai” a series about two Japanese brothers that become astronauts, they portray a NASA American manager as racist because he refuses to give a mission to one of the brothers after he has had a panic attack in a spacesuit. Later on, the other brother is shopping in a store and buys “American White” beer that he later gives away to the neighbors and acts as though it ‘s not very good. Frankly, I was very disappointed when I saw these instances and it made me angry at Japan, even though I desperately want the US to become stronger allies with them. Why do they feel its necessary to beat up on other cultures to raise themselves up??

        Sorry for the rant, but its just another example of how the Japanese feel about Gaijin! Ya know recently, on American TV, they announced that China was having a huge surge in Christianity and that nearly 70 million Chinese are Christians now. They filmed in hundreds of churches around the country during this show and talked to people to get their opinions and they also reported that there was a directive from the Chinese politburo to encourage the growth of Christianity in China to improve the morals of the people. I was astounded, especially since Japan has fewer Christians per populace than Iraq and North Korea. In the future, do you think America is going to lean towards China with a predicted 90 to 100 million Christians, while Japan acts racist towards the US and has the fewest number of Christians than any other industrialized country in the world??

        • Thanks for all the detailed information.

          Maybe I’m not up to date, but “Hajime no Ippo” isn’t a very recent anime, so it’s not a recent thing at all.
          However, there was an uproar as signs that said “No foreigners / Japanese only” were displayed during a soccer game in Saitama. I don’t know all the details, though.

          In Japan there are only about 1% Christians. That also has to do with Japan’s history. There used to be more. I wrote about it in my article about Shimabara. If you want to learn more about it, then visiting Kyushu, especially Nagasaki, will teach you a lot. :)
          I don’t think it is as bad as you think it is. Japan doesn’t act extremely racist towards the US!

          • Jasmine,

            “Hajime no Ippo – Rising” is the latest release of the anime boxing series under the general title “Hajime no Ippo” and it just started 5 or so months ago in its latest incarnation. It is currently showing on Japanese TV as never before seen episodes. Its on its 23rd episode of the latest series and could go another 25 or so before it ends. This series is one of the most popular anime in Japan and has been running on and off as an Anime or Manga for over 14 years. I watched 92 episodes of the anime series over the years and two OVA movies that have come out since 2000 and none of the previous episodes I watched had blatant racism towards Americans.

            I’ve been watching anime since the 1990’s and I really believe that I’ve seen a recent stark increase in racism in the shows and TV programs (subbed) that I’ve watched. It might be because of the latest trend towards nationalism that the Senkaku Islands situation has created and the Japanese media seems determined to drudge out old stereotypes that have been used many times in the past to foment anti-foreigner feelings (so anime has followed that trend); but they are making a grave mistake to pick on Americans, especially since Japan needs the US very much right now.

            The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is running a PR campaign here in the US to make Americans sympathetic to their people using info-mercials and documentaries. Since the US owes China so much money (in the trillions of US dollars), I’m certain we are being leveraged to step away from our treaty obligations to protect Japan; while Japan, by their own constitution aren’t allowed to have a full blown military. It’s becoming increasingly likely that the US might have to take China’s side in any future conflicts between the two nations over territorial claims, fishing or undersea energy rights. By looking at Chinese news sources, it seems that the PRC is squarely in favor of Russia’s actions in the Crimea and China might learn how feckless the current American President really is.

            I have to say that if the 244 million Christians in America realize that there are 70-100 million Christians in China, they would seriously hesitate before considering using any military options against the Chinese government (if the PRC decided to bully Japan as Russia is doing in the Ukraine) and Japan could not compare to China’s military might.

            Let me preface the following by stating that I’m not an active Christian and haven’t been religious for over 25 years, so I have no reason to wonder about this except that it intrigues me and seems somehow odd. I’ve already read up a lot about why Christianity was banned in Japan for over 250 years and a lot of it is tied in with the term “Gaijin”

            I’ve read that the origin of the term “gaijin” supposedly came from a combative term that implied an enemy or a barbarian, then it was used to describe any bad foreign influences that corrupted the Japanese during the Shogunate’s suppression of Christians from 1597 -1852. Only later on did it come to mean “outside person”. I personally believe that using “Gaijin” was originally an anti-Foreign/anti-Christian campaign created by Hideyoshi Tokugawa in 1597. He compared Christians to oni that possessed the minds of Japanese youth and used the term “Ijin” meaning “foreign influence” to alienate the Christians. He used this as a basis or justification to begin an anti-foreign/anti-Christian policy. It was his belief that foreigners were unduly influencing Japan. Hideyoshi blamed the Christians for his failed invasions of Korea and the lack of support from his Christian Daimyo and was leery of the Catholic Spanish that had conquered the Philippines. On February 5, 1597, twenty-six Christians—six European Franciscan missionaries, three Japanese Jesuits and seventeen Japanese laymen including three young boys—were executed by crucifixion in Nagasaki, and Christianity was outlawed. This oppression of Christianity eventually led to several uprisings of Japanese Christians in Japan during the early 1600’s which then led to the Tokugawa exclusion edicts of 1635 by Lemitsu Tokugawa. That edict completely shut Japan off from the rest of the world for almost 250 years. The term “Ijin” was later changed to Gaijin, a more generic name and finally to Gaikokujin as a more polite way of addressing the foreign barbarians after Japan was re-opened by Admiral Perry to international trade in 1852.

            To demonstrate how successful the campaign against Christianity was in Japan, one only has to look at the numbers. In 1600 Japan was 6 percent Christian and rising; while in 2012 they have less than 2 percent Christians (as compared to Iraq’s 3 %, North Korea’s 4% and China’s 5-6%). Japan’s closest neighbor South Korea has 25% Christians and nearby Philippines have almost 90% Christians in their population as a comparison. That’s a stark contrast!!

            To demonstrate how successful their anti-foreign campaign was, once again turn to the numbers: Japan has the highest homogeneous population (as defined by Wiki) for any large country on the planet by Far… 98.5% and the closed country of North Korea is a distant second to Japan at 88%, while most other nations barely reach 50%.

            During the militarist era (1920-45), Christianity and Foreigners were always connected with the term “Gaijin” as the Foreign Christians were said to be opposed to the Emperor, thus resulting in state sponsored repression and terrorism against Christians in that era. During WWII the militarist constantly used political cartoons and pamphlets that showed Churchill and FDR as Christian devils that would feast on the bones of Japanese children (I have seen these).

            Somehow, modern Japan has effectively created a hidden social stigma around the term Gaijin (some places even sell Gaijin holloween masks… ooooh scary). I am still trying to understand why Japan is so hostile to the Christian religion. How they managed this will certainly take much more research to discover, but it is the single most inscrutable thing about the Japanese people to me!!.

            P.S. “Gaijin” is considered to be a word that is supposedly not used in the news media any more. Like Ken has previously said, Debito Arudou the Japanese activist on racism in Japan talks about this at length in many articles in the Japan Times and other publications. Here is the link to one of his pieces http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2008/09/02/community/the-gaijin-debate-arudou-responds/

          • Oh, I didn’t know there was a newer version of it. But like I said, I’m totally not up to date. ;)
            Thanks for all the extra info.

            You seem to be very interested in the term “gaijin” and its connotations. This is a complete off topic from my original blog post, but if you’re interested in it so much, you might want to read this article on Tofugu (if you haven’t already).

  • Well it’s not easy really. Especially for a country like Japan that does not have many sources of “clean” energy. There’s only so many dams they can build really (and it’s really sad to see what gets lost under the water). They are working on harnessing energy from the ocean as well, but really, it’s just not enough to cover the energy needed.

    So what do you do? Import fossils and burn them? How good is that for the ecosystem?

    Unless there are any reasonable alternatives nuclear energy is really the only way. Is it clean? No of course not and we’ll have to deal with the waste for a very long time. Not to mention potential disasters like Tschernobyl and Fukushima.

    But until scientists come up with a feasible clean(er) alternative, I think we have to deal with nuclear energy. And I really wish they’d find a way to bring them all up to a certain standard internationally :(

  • Dear Zooming Japan,

    I will not go into the Nuclear Power issue in this comment or otherwise it would be too long.

    I think it is worthwhile to mention two more points in regards to earthquakes:
    – Tsunami: Make sure that after an earthquake occurs that you get an idea whether there is a possibility for a tsunami or not. If there is a possibility of a tsunami get to higher ground NOW. This does not apply only to the countryside, but wherever you might be. Note there are more and more markers in Japan showing you the actual position in height in regard to the sea.
    – Contact: Make sure you have discussed with your significant others inside of Japan and outside on how you will exchange information on how you are doing and where you are. Come up with plan B, C, D and E! One of it will work.
    – Walk home: We spend quite a bit of time at home and at work. Make sure that you know how to get on foot from your place of work to your home. Do it actually once and you will feel much better.

    Although I had experienced the larger Niigata earthquake, plus the March 11 earthquake I am not that scared about them anymore. Yes, you don’t know when the next one strikes, but you can train yourself and your surrounding on how to behave best to avoid injuries and safe lives.

    All the best,

    Sibylle Ito

    • Sibylle, thanks so much for adding some useful advice.

      I remember reading your 3/11 story. I probably would have freaked out, so no wonder you’re NOW used to quakes and everything that comes with them (e.g. walking home / being in traffic jams for hours).

  • ‘What’s more important? Japan’s current economy or the ecosystem?” — if you turn back on the nuclear power stations, there is no conflict: economy and ecosystem both benefit.

    The government, however, would lose fossil fuel revenue. It can’t get this revenue from uranium because uranium is less than a tenth as costly. Even when it is extracted from seawater, it’s still way cheaper than imported LNG (the fuel in the huge spherical tanks that you may have seen on ships coming to Japan, four tanks per ship if I’m remembering the photo correctly.)

  • A big problem in Japan is that their nuclear power plants are not safe to run due to the major earthquake danger–a danger that can render the emergency systems to safely shut down the reactor totally useless, as the experience at Fukushima showed all too clearly.

    What Japan needs is a far safer nuclear reactor design called the molten-salt reactor (MSR). Fueled by commonly-found thorium-232 dissolved in molten fluoride salts, MSR’s don’t require expensive and potentially dangerous pressurized reactor vessels and in case of an emergency shutdown, all you need to do is dump the liquid nuclear fuel out of the reactor into a safety holding tank (which can be done by gravity). As such, MSR’s are well-suited for areas prone to earthquakes like Japan.

    • I’m not an expert, so I’m not sure if that would help, but it became clear that the people in charge of it (TEPCO) have NO idea what they’re doing and the government should have gotten rid of them right after the incident.
      I also feel that they should have worked close with foreign nuclear experts. As far as I know that hasn’t really happened, has it?