Japan PM: Nuke Reactors Must be Restarted
( TIME )

Japan’s leader appealed to the nation Friday to accept that two
nuclear reactors that remained shuttered after the Fukushima disaster
must be restarted to protect the economy and people’s livelihoods.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said the government has taken ample
safety measures to ensure the two reactors in western Japan would not
leak radiation if an earthquake or tsunami as severe as last year’s
should strike them.

Noda said a 15 percent power deficit is expected in the western region,
a level he called “severe.” Without nuclear energy, utilities would
have to rely more heavily on expensive fossil fuel, which would
increase electricity bills and financial strain on small businesses.

Local consent is not legally required for restarting the reactors,
though government ministers have promised to gain understanding from
the prefecture.

Noda’s speech Friday possibly removes the last obstacle before a
resumption of the Ohi reactors. The Fukui governor made Noda’s public
appeal conditional to his consent for the startup. With the governor’s
consent, Noda is expected to make a final go ahead as early as next
week, so the restart could take place within days.

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Japan Shuts Off Final Nuclear Reactor
( TIME )

Thousands of Japanese marched to celebrate the switching off of the
last of their nation's 50 nuclear reactors Saturday, waving banners
shaped as giant fish that have become a potent anti-nuclear symbol.

Japan was without electricity from nuclear power for the first time in
four decades when the reactor at Tomari nuclear plant on the northern
island of Hokkaido went offline for mandatory routine maintenance.

After last year's March 11 quake and tsunami set off meltdowns at the
Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, no reactor halted for checkups has been
restarted amid public worries about the safety of nuclear technology.

"Today is a historic day," Masashi Ishikawa shouted to a crowd gathered
at a Tokyo park, some holding traditional "koinobori" carp-shaped
banners for Children's Day that have become a symbol of the anti-
nuclear movement.

"There are so many nuclear plants, but not a single one will be up and
running today, and that's because of our efforts," Ishikawa said.

The activists said it is fitting that the day Japan stopped nuclear
power coincides with Children's Day because of their concerns about
protecting children from radiation, which Fukushima Dai-ichi is still
spewing into the air and water.

The government has been eager to restart nuclear reactors, warning
about blackouts and rising carbon emissions as Japan is forced to turn
to oil and gas for energy.

Yoko Kataoka, a retired baker who was dancing to the music at the rally
waving a small paper carp, said she was happy the reactor was being
turned off.

"Let's leave an Earth where our children and grandchildren can all play
without worries," she said, wearing a shirt that had, "No thank you,
nukes," handwritten on the back.

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1年後の日本 ジェームズ・ナクトウェイが撮る

Japan One Year Later: Photographs by James Nachtwey
( TIME )

A year ago, it was hard to know what to expect. The three disasters
that blindsided Japan on March 11, 2011 -- a 9.0 earthquake, a massive
tsunami and a triple nuclear meltdown -- created an unprecedented
crisis for which there was no rulebook. After the water receded that
Friday afternoon, leaving as many as 20,000 dead and tens of
thousands of homes and businesses in ruins, a terrible stillness
settled over Japan’s northeast coast. A dusting of snow fell onto
empty highways, void of aid vehicles carrying food, fuel, water and
blankets. Tsunami warnings were still in effect, keeping search-and-
rescue teams away from obliterated seaside neighborhoods. As workers at
the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant scrambled to get the damaged
reactors under control, loudspeakers echoed onto empty streets,
instructing people to stay indoors to avoid radiation exposure.

Soon enough, of course, Japan emerged from its state of shock: Self
Defense Forces, aid workers and hundreds of thousands of volunteers
poured into the region to help. But a year later, the region’s
physical recovery is not as far along as one might hope. Only 5% of the
nearly 23 million tons of debris have disposed of, the looming piles at
the edge of the sea a daily reminder of the huge task ahead. Town
councils still argue over how and where to rebuild, and inside the
closed-off evacuation zone around the crippled plant, policeman still
search for victims whose remains were never recovered.

Rebuilding all that was lost will take time, but other things will take
longer. In two towns in Miyagi prefecture, one of the worst-hit areas,
20% of residents report having chronic insomnia, and 5% report having a
member of their household who is suicidal or having serious psychiatric
problems. In Tokyo, people talk about the collective funk that the city
can’t seem to shake. The crushing loss of life, community and faith in
the nation’s public institutions all fuel this dark mood, and the
dwindling spirit of volunteerism is reinforcing the feeling that Japan
is fated to slip ever further from the perch of power and vitality it
enjoyed in the late 20th century into a rudderless murk in which things
are getting worse and may not get better.

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明仁天皇の心臓手術成功 されど君主制の懸念は消えず

Emperor Akihito’s Heart Surgery a Success, But Concerns for Monarchy
( TIME )

Japan’s 78-year-old Emperor Akihito underwent successful heart bypass
surgery yesterday at the University of Tokyo Hospital. The procedure,
which lasted less than six hours, was not an emergency; the Emperor’s
team of doctors decided the angina patient should have the coronary
artery bypass now to enjoy a better quality of life as he gets older.

Emperor Akihito’s ongoing health problems have raised questions about
succession law in the oldest hereditary monarchy in the world.
Currently, Japan’s Imperial House Law states that a new emperor will
only take the throne when his father dies. Women are ineligible and
that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon: In 2005, when former
Prime Minster Junichiro Koizumi raised the idea that birth order, not
gender, be the determining factor for succession, his own Liberal
Democratic Party heartily objected and the idea was shelved.

That leaves the small Imperial family with a serious shortage of male
heirs. After Crown Prince Naruhito, 51, and Prince Akishino, 46, five-
year-old Hisahito, Prince Akishino’s son, is the only male currently
in the family who will be eligible to take over the throne for the next
generation. “By the time [Hisahito] assumes the throne, he will be the
imperial family,” Colin Jones, a law professor at Doshisha University,
told Bloomberg.

Emperor Akihito is held in high regard in Japan, having brought a more
down-to-earth touch to a monarchy in which the emperor had been thought
of as a living god. After last year’s 9.0 earthquake and tsunami,
Emperor Akihito made an unprecedented televised speech expressing his
concern. He and his wife Empress Michiko visited temporary shelters on
the devastated coast in April and opened the hot springs at one of
their villas to disaster victims.

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As Its Single Ranks Swell, Japan Wonders 'Where's the Love?'
( TIME )

Dai Nakajima wouldn't mind a girlfriend. At 28, he's starting to feel
pressure to settle down. Not short of gumption, he approaches girls on
the streets of Tokyo's trendy districts and asks if they'd like to join
his weekly gokon parties. Like blind dating in a group, these singles-
only meet-ups are designed to help people connect and, ideally,
exchange numbers. He admits that his street success rate is only about
10%, but says that's enough to keep him going. "I've been looking for
four years," he says. "But to be honest, I'm enjoying my single life."

Nakajima is single, yes, but not alone. "Not dating," "single" and "no
real need to get married" were the surprising majority of responses in
a government-sponsored 2011 survey of men and women ages 18 to 34. A
record-high 61.4% of unmarried men had no girlfriend, up 9.2 points
since the previous survey in 2005. Unmarried women with no boyfriend
hit a record 49.5%, up nearly 5 points. Among the 40% who said there
was no need to get married, 45% of the men said they have no particular
interest in "dating the opposite sex." (Comparable figures on same-sex
relationships are not available.) This ambivalence has sparked fears
that Japan's birthrate and, indeed, its economy, will continue to flag.

It is still unclear what, exactly, is behind the country's changing
dating and marriage patterns. However, anecdotal evidence suggests
shifting gender norms and new economic realities are playing a role.
Along with labels like otaku (geek) and hikikomori (shut-ins), young
Japanese men are often derisively called "herbivores" for shunning so-
called manly pursuits. Meanwhile, more Japanese women are entering the
workforce, earning wages and enjoying increased economic freedom.

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