Kizuna: Tohoku Update, 6 years from Great Earthquake
• Right before the 6th anniversary of the Great Earthquake and Tsunami in the Tohoku area, a presentation “Kizuna: Tohoku Update” took place on February 21 at the Japan information Center, the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago. The three speakers, Ichiro Sone, Chief Executive Director of JETRO Chicago; Yoshiyuki Takasago, Director-General for Commerce and Industry, Commerce, Industry and Tourism; and Robert Priddy, Engineering Lead at Atkins Nuclear Solutions talked about what has being done to build a positive future, with first-hand insights on the current progress.
Tohoku Resurgence Update
• Ichiro Sone spoke about Tohoku’s reconstruction efforts, contributions to the U.S. economy by Japanese companies and others.
• The numbers of victims of the Great Earthquake and
Tsunami, which happened on March 11, 2011, are: deceased 15,894, missing
2,558, and injured 6,152 as of June 10, 2016.
Creating New Industries in Fukushima
• The evacuation zone caused by the accident of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has been reduced to 5% of the entire area of Fukushima Prefecture as of July, 2016.
• Fukushima has been developing a medical device industry. The Prefecture had been one of the top producers of medical devices and parts in Japan before the disaster hit the area. It plans to develop an even greater production base through promoting both industry and employment.
• With a purpose to recover industry and employment of the coastal region, which were lost by the disaster and nuclear power accident, Fukushima will create new industry and employment through research and development related to decommissioning and robot technology, accumulation of energy related industry, and rehabilitation of primary industry.
Contribution to the U.S. Economy by Japanese Companies
• Japanese Direct Investment in the U.S.
• Contribution to the U.S. Employment
• Contribution to the U.S. Export
• Contribution to Research and Development
• Employment in Manufacturing Sector
• Comparison to Other Asian Countries
Recovery and Business Opportunities in Miyagi
• Yoshiyuki Takasago spoke about the recovery and business opportunities in Miyagi Prefecture. The monetary damage by the Great Earthquake and Tsunami in the Prefecture was $81 billion. About 320,900 residents, which were 15% of the Prefecture population, evacuated at a peak time.
Resurgence in Miyagi
• Six years after the disaster, Tohoku’s number one strawberry
producer Watari Town returned to the top position. In Onagawa City, which
was washed away by the tsunami, a shopping mall opened, a new train station
was built inland, and tourism began to revive as hot springs were reopened.
Invest in Miyagi
• Miyagi Prefecture and Japan’s Government have offered subsidies up to 5 billion yen for regional employment creation and business establishment in the areas affected by the tsunami and nuclear power incident. Eligible companies are in the manufacturing industry, logistics facilities, experimentation and research facilities, and more. The 7th round of applications has been accepted through mid-May, 2017.
• Miyagi has offered tax exemptions for firms which invest in the special zones for reconstructions. The offer includes special depreciation/tax exemption, corporate tax special exemption and tax system to promote new establishment – no corporate tax levied for 5 years for newly established business in the tsunami-inundated municipalities.
• Miyagi also offers subsidies for newly established factories limited to manufacturing or research facilities.
Tourism in Miyagi
• Visitors to Miyagi have increased since the disaster hit the area. Most visitors come from Taiwan followed by China and the U.S. Miyagi’s average winter temperature is around 30 degrees, and 78 degrees is the highest in summer. Takasago said that Miyagi was a wonderful tourist spot with Sendai beef, oysters, and a picturesque place of Matsushima.
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
• Robert Priddy of Atkins spoke about the process of decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. He has been performing a project to upgrade fire protection at the plant site more than 18 months and led the work on the fire hazard analysis. He also visited Fukushima several times and walked across the plant site.
Summary of Events
• When the Great Tohoku Earthquake occurred, Fukushima
Daiichi’s units 1 through 3 shut down as designed from 100% power. Units
4 through 6 were already shutdown for refueling and maintenance. All units
were under control.
• The damaged reactor cores are being maintained safely
and are stable.
Projected Goals are:
• Identifying site-wide fire hazards to prevent potential
release of radioactivity to the public and workers.
Atkins’ Help for the Plant
• Performing walk down inspections of 100% of the site
to identify fire hazards and deficiencies in fire detection and suppression.
• TEPCO has been very responsive to Atkins’ recommendations. It dedicated fire trucks and equipment, located water tanks around the site, installed new fire detection and video surveillance systems, and a dedicated fire brigade and around the clock coverage.
Other Atkins’ Improvements were:
• Immediate response to the damages from the tragic 311
event and designed the Advanced Liquid Processing Systems (ALPS), which
was built in partnership with Toshiba.
• Mid-long Term Road Map towards the Decommissioning
• Phase 2 (2014-2021)
• Phase 3 (2022-)
• As his closing thoughts, Priddy said that the future of the region was very bright because he had seen that so many people committed to participate in resurgence, such as building play grounds and bringing back regional cultures.
• Answering a question from audience, Priddy gave his personal view on the future of the nuclear power generation industry. His perspective on the technology side was that nuclear power plant design has continued to be simplified to be safer, and nuclear power will strive to be a clean, safe energy source in the future
From left: Robert Priddy, Ichiro Sone, and Yoshiyuki Takasago