2015年3月31日 星期二




2015年3月30日 星期一

日本福島核電廠須200年才能除役:Technology to Look Inside Fukushima Reactors Faces Challenge

Technology to Look Inside Fukushima Reactors Faces Challenge

Japan Nuclear
The cutting-edge technology was billed as a way to decipher where exactly the morass of nuclear fuel might sit at the bottom of reactors in the Japanese power plant that went into multiple meltdowns four years ago.
But what went wrong, even in a simple demonstration for reporters Friday for the 500 million yen ($5 million) project, was a sobering reminder of the enormous challenges that lie ahead for the decommissioning of Fukushima Dai-ichi.
Muons are cosmic-ray subatomic particles so tiny they go through almost anything except for so-called heavy elements like uranium and plutonium used for nuclear fuel. They can help present a picture of what's inside an object, similar to the way doctors use X-rays, and have been used to study the Egyptian pyramids, the insides of volcanoes and ship cargo at ports.
The ideal scenario goes like this: Two giant walls more than two stories high will be set up right next to each reactor to shoot out muons so that data from how the muons scatter after hitting what's inside, picked up by sensors, can be analyzed. Such image-mapping is possible because muons will bend at different angles, depending on the material they hit.
But a programming glitch could not be fixed in time for Friday's demonstration at Toshiba's research center, near Tokyo, to show any image, even a mock-up, from the muons.
All reporters got to see was the huge equipment, metal with lots of wirings and blinking little lights, in a giant garage-like building, and on its side, not straight up as it would be when put to use at the plant.
Experts have long said that what's crucial for decommissioning is getting an image of the nuclear fuel after the March 2011 tsunami crippled backup generators at Fukushima Daiichi, setting off the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl.
No one knows where the molten fuel debris lies, and in what shape or state. Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates Fukushima Dai-ichi, has said it likely sank to the bottom of the plant. But the fuel could have dropped even beyond.
Tadashi Yotsuyanagi, an official in charge of the muon project at Toshiba Corp., acknowledged radiation would be an obstacle for people doing the construction work to set up the walls. High exposure to radiation is unhealthy, sometimes fatal.
But once the image is relayed to a distant computer, studying that won't require people to be near radiation, the plus of using muon technology for studying nuclear plants, according to Adrian Hillier, an expert on muons at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the U.K.
Toshiba plans to start setting up the "muon trackers" at Fukushima Dai-ichi sometime after October but before March 2016. The Japanese electronics giant, which owns Westinghouse Electric Co. of the U.S., is one of the main companies behind Japan's nuclear industry, including Fukushima Dai-ichi. Toshiba has been working on the muon technology from right after the disaster, with the help of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the U.S.
But Yotsuyanagi acknowledged the technology would not be able to get the complete image toward the bottom of the reactor. He also said heavy radiation in the area would throw the sensors off, although that can be figured into the calculations of the scattered muons.
David Ireland, a professor who heads the Nuclear Physics Group at the University of Glasgow, said muons may be the only way to probe inside atomic reactors.

The chief of the Fukushima nuclear power station has admitted that the technology needed to decommission three melted-down reactors does not exist, and he has no idea how it will be developed.

In a stark reminder of the challenge facing the Japanese authorities, Akira Ono conceded that the stated goal of decommissioning the plant by 2051 may be impossible without a giant technological leap. “There are so many uncertainties involved. We need to develop many, many technologies,” Mr Ono said. “For removal of the debris, we don’t have accurate information [about the state of the reactors] or any viable methodology

Japan faces 200-year wait for Fukushima clean-up
All workers are given a radiation scan after visiting the power plant
Kimmasa Mayama/EPA

  • Fukushima workers
    All workers are given a radiation scan after visiting the power plant Kimmasa Mayama/EPA

2015年3月29日 星期日

Samurai life during Japan’s Great Peace

  Yale University 都分享了 1 條連結
“Samurai and the Culture of Japan’s Great Peace,” a new, interactive...

Samurai life during Japan’s Great Peace is focus of Yale Peabody Museum exhibition

 A Kawarikabuto helmet — a 17th- to 19th-century Samarai helmet — was designed in such a way as to identify a commander during battle; to allow a general to know who among his men performed particular feats of bravery; and to look impressive in ceremonies.
A Kawarikabuto helmet — a 17th- to 19th-century Samarai helmet — was designed in such a way as to identify a commander during battle; to allow a general to know who among his men performed particular feats of bravery; and to look impressive in ceremonies.
“Samurai and the Culture of Japan’s Great Peace,” a new, interactive exhibition opening at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, will bring to life the many-layered history of the samurai and those they ruled.
The exhibition opens on Saturday, March 28 with a program titled “Swords & Stories: A Celebration of Japan and Its History,” to be held 11 a.m.–3 p.m. The program will feature martial arts demonstrations, Japanese drumming, and calligraphy and sword drawing, along with games, crafts, and a scavenger hunt. At 11 a.m., Betty Baisden will present a puppet show titled “Roxi and the Samurai.” Upcoming events related to the exhibition include public lectures, guided tours, a fall film series, and origami and calligraphy workshops. The exhibition will be on view through Jan. 3, 2016, at the museum located at 170 Whitney Ave.
In the exhibition, visitors will encounter swords and imposing armor — and learn that most were made at a time when war had passed from memory into legend. The weapons’ primary function was not to protect their owner or fell foes, but to justify the inherited privileges of warriors who had not fought a battle in generations. In the 1500s, samurai nearly destroyed the Japanese state with their incessant wars. But after 1615, they presided over 250 years of peace, the longest that any large society has known.
Supported by a grant from Connecticut Humanities, “Samurai and the Culture of Japan’s Great Peace” features a collection of objects from across Yale, many of which have never been seen by the public. At the core are over 150 objects from the Yale Peabody Museum’s Japanese Collection. Other artifacts come from the Yale University Art Gallery, the Sterling Memorial Library, the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments, and several private collections. Touch screens and dynamic projections complement these three-dimensional objects.
Heading the curatorial team is Fabian Drixler, associate professor of history at Yale University. He is joined by William D. Fleming, assistant professor of East Asian languages and literatures and theater studies; and Robert George Wheeler, the Harold Hodgkinson Professor Emeritus of Engineering and Applied Science and a faculty affiliate in anthropology at the Peabody. The three Yale faculty members have also produced an illustrated exhibition catalog. Designed and published by the Yale Peabody Museum and distributed by Yale University Press, it covers well-known facets of Japanese history from new and sometimes quirky perspectives. Like the exhibition, it is designed to be engaging and accessible to the general public while offering experts the results of new research. 
Additional support for the exhibition was provided by the Council on East Asian Studies; the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation; The Japan Foundation, New York; the 2014-2015 O. C. Marsh Fellows; and presenting media sponsor WSHU Public Radio. 

Photos: “Samurai and the Culture of Japan’s Great Peace": A new exhibition at the Yale Peabody Museum

Yale University 都分享了 1 條連結
“Samurai and the Culture of Japan’s Great Peace,” a new, interactive...

2015年3月24日 星期二

Can education change Japan's 'depressed' generation?

Can education change Japan's 'depressed' generation?

By Mariko Oi
BBC News, Japan
  • 23 March 2015
  • From the sectionBusiness

Media captionCan education reforms lift Japan's 'depressed' economy?
Every lesson at Japanese schools starts with a simultaneous bow. "Let's try that again because your posture wasn't good," says a teacher to a room full of six and seven year-olds.
She then reminds the children to have their pencil boxes, notepads and textbooks on top of each other and placed at the left corner of their desks. The students obey without a single word of objection.
A few hours later, they queue quietly before being served their lunch.
Towards the end of their education this conformist attitude is still evident. Each year, more than half a million university students start looking for work together.
The first step is to perfect a handwritten resume, or CV, because many in Japan believe that students' characteristics and personalities can be judged by the way they write.
All dressed in a black "recruit suit", they then visit hundreds of companies. Bold hues of black, navy or dark grey are the recommended colours for their job-hunting suits.
Stripes are not encouraged. According to the teachers and career counsellors, it is considered risky to be fashionable.

'Withdrawn' generation

The job-hunting season is a huge part of Japanese life and has even influenced the nicknames given to different generations.

Yoko Sato
Jobseeker Yoko Sato says she has no desire to work abroad

In Japan, there is no Generation X, Y or Z.

Born in 1981, I belong to the "employment ice age" generation when university graduates struggled to find work because of the state of the economy. It is believed to have resulted in the highest number of "withdrawn" or "hikikomori" who refuse to leave their rooms after feeling rejected by the society.
The generation before us was much luckier and is known as the "bubble" generation, because the Japanese economy was at its peak as they entered workforce.
There are stark differences between those who witnessed Japan's booming economy and today's youth.
There are a number of nicknames for them: the "relaxed" generation is most commonly used because they were educated under a revised system aimed at freeing children from cramming, or intensive learning.
The "enlightened" generation is another, and it implies that they had only known Japan in its economic decline and had learned not to expect anything, including wealth or even sex.

William Saito
Government adviser William Saito says parents want their children to get good jobs in stable Japanese companies

Their low self-esteem and unhappiness are obvious in the government's annual survey of the country's youth, aged between 13 and 29. Less than half of those surveyed (45.8%) said they were happy with themselves, compared to 86% in the US, 83.1% in the UK, or 71.5% in South Korea.

Depressed youths

Nearly 80% of Japanese youth felt depressed in the week of the survey, which is more than double compared to Germany. One third of them don't think they'll be happy when they are 40.
It is also a generation that is known not to take a risk.
For example, the number of youths studying overseas has fallen by nearly 30% between 2004 and 2012 (from 82,945 to 60,138). That's according to data collected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Nail manicure
While traditional Japanese nail salons are expanding successfully abroad, many workers are happy at home

"I studied English at school but I have no desire to study it further to be able to work abroad," says Yoko Sato, whom I met at a recruitment forum in Tokyo. "If I get a job with a Japanese company, that'll be much more stable."

It is an attitude that comes from the parents, says William Saito, who advises the government.
"Parents are mortally afraid of their children falling off what's known in Japan as the escalator, because of what they have gone through.
"So if you don't go lock-step with your peers in finding a job and getting a promotion, they feel that they'll be left behind and that the disparity will increase," he adds.
Even after they get a job, more than half of new recruits at Japanese companies say they don't want to be deployed abroad, according to theJapan Management Association.

Education overhaul

The government wants to change this mindset. It hopes to double the number of Japanese students who study abroad by 2020.
It has also changed the education curriculum so that all primary school children will learn English from the age of 10 when they're in grade 5. Under the previous system, students in public schools did not learn the English language until they were at a junior high school at the age of 13.
But it takes more than just language skills, and the government is trying to overhaul the education and employment systems as part of its economic policy known as Abenomics, after prime minister Shinzo Abe.

Young sad Japanese woman
Low self-esteem and unhappiness blight Japanese youth, surveys suggest

"In Japan, people try to get into a good college in order to get into a good company, but it becomes a very narrow window of how you evaluate a person," says Mr Saito.
He also describes the current recruiting process, which differentiates between new recruits and mid-career employees, as "discriminatory" because it has failed to make the best use of the country's talent.
For decades, Japan has produced millions of class-A students who would work long hours and devote their lives to their employers. They were the army of salarymen behind Japan's recovery from World War Two.
But to make the future generations more competitive abroad, the old systems need to be reformed.

2015年3月21日 星期六


SAKURAvillage 編輯局
「Giving thanks to ancestors」
In Japan, "Shunbun No Hi" (Vernal Equinox Day, March 21st this year) is a national holiday and a seven-day period surrounding "Shunbun No Hi" is called "Ohigan".
Japanese people have a custom to visit one’s ancestors’ graves during this period and offer "Botamochi", bean cake, to ancestors.
Generally botamochi is a sweet made with a sticky rice ball covered by red bean paste but we can find some varieties of botamochi that covered roasted soybean flour, sesame or mashed boiled green soybeans.
It is believed that red beans have an effect to get rid of evil spirits from the past, so we offer Botamochi when we pray for ancestors.
SAKURAvillage 編集局

2015年3月17日 星期二

Who will look after Japan's elderly?

Who will look after Japan's elderly?
  • 16 March 2015
  • From the sectionAsia
Media captionJapan's demographic problem is a timebomb that has already gone off
Several times a night, Midori Ide wakes up to help her 96-year-old grandmother use the toilet. To make sure she can assist immediately, Midori sleeps right next to her grandmother.
It is not a duty that many 29-year-olds would enjoy. But she tells me she feels guilty that she can only do it once a week.
Midori works the other six nights of the week at a nursing home caring for other elderly people while her grandmother stays at a different facility.
"It's a dilemma but I need to earn money because my family isn't wealthy," she said.
"I also want to continue working because ever since my grandfather died when I was 15, I've decided to become a care worker and it is my calling."
But it comes at a cost. Midori dreams of going abroad. She misses spending time with her friends.
"I don't want my grandma to hear this but I am almost 30 and I worry if I can start my own family one day," she whispers.
"But I don't want to think about when my grandmother will stop waking me up. I want to be with her when she achieves her dream of turning 100," she says.

'Too tired'

Midori is one of 177,600 people in Japan aged between 15 and 29 who are caring for a family member. Not many would be as content as her with their decisions.
Elderly residents rest in the grounds of a temple in Tokyo on September 15, 2014 as the country marks Respect-for-the-Aged-Day.
Japan has a rapidly ageing population with more than a quarter of its citizens over the age of 65
There is also a growing number of households where one elderly person is looking after another in need of nursing care.
Just last month, a 71-year-old husband was arrested for killing his wife who had dementia. "I got too tired from looking after her," he confessed, according to local media. "I wanted to take my own life, too."
It was not a one-off tragedy. And they are the real people behind some staggering statistics about Japan's ageing and shrinking population.
Today, more than a quarter of Japan's population is aged over 65. This is set to increase to 40% by 2055, when the population will have shrunk from the current 127 million to 90 million.
The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has warned that Japan will need to add one million nurses and care workers by 2025.

Temporary home

Encouraging immigration may seem like a simple solution - but it's not a popular one.
Japan is still one of the most ethnically homogeneous countries in the world, with foreigners making up less than 2% of the population. Opening up Japan to large-scale immigration is a very sensitive subject.
In 2008, the government started allowing foreign nurses and care workers in.
But the bar is set high. Having to pass the national exam in Japanese is incredibly difficult and only 304 foreign nurses and carers have so far managed to make Japan their temporary home.
Japan will need to add one million nurses and caregivers by 2025, the government has said
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he is keen to expand programmes for foreign workers including nurses but says they would be required to go home after three to five years.
"What the government is doing is not going to address the serious population collapse that Japan faces," says Hidenori Sakanaka, executive director at Japan Immigration Policy Institute.
"Japan needs 10 million immigrants over the next 50 years and we need to accept them as new members of our society," he says.
"If we educate our young people that Japan needs to become more multiracial to tackle the population problem, I think we can achieve it without causing major problems."

'Cultural difference'

But his opinions seem optimistic in light of a recent column by well-known author Ayako Sono.
While Ms Sono supported removing strict requirements to allow more foreign workers to enter Japan to look after the old, she said these workers should live in separate communities - prompting claims she was advocating policies similar to apartheid.
Her views are not mainstream. But the service industry, which hires foreign students as part-time employees, also received harsh feedback, especially at the beginning, from those unused to dealing with foreigners.
"In our survey, customers asked why they had to be served by waiters who cannot speak Japanese properly," said Naoki Ishino of restaurant chain Negishi. "Some simply asked why we were hiring Chinese people.
"There were also cultural differences. For example, our foreign staff found it very difficult to apologise when a customer complained about a mistake made by a colleague."
After training them under a supervisor from their own country, Mr Ishino says things started to improve.
But allowing a limited number of foreign students to work in restaurants is a far cry from the influx needed to care for Japan's rising number of elderly people.
And there are no immediate solutions on the horizon.
Midori and her grandma
Midori says she likes caring for her grandmother but misses her friends and travelling
"Japan has been excessively conservative about the introduction of immigrants and we need to deregulate," says Seijiro Takeshita of Mizuho International.
But he says Japan needs to be sure this would not harm "the homogeneous group ideology", given that "failure of multiculturalism in Europe" has, he says, led to social conflict.
Midori says she enjoys caring for her grandmother but she's likely in a minority.
She also has elderly parents who will soon need to be looked after. For those who don't have a relative to help them, with indigenous resources overstretched, the future is a worry.
Japan needs to find a solution, fast.