Entries in Japanese (3)


Japanese Deny US Nuke Claim

DigitalGlobe/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- America's top nuclear official told Congress Wednesday that the pool cooling spent fuel rods at the crippled Japanese nuclear complex had lost most of its water or all of its water, a potentially catastrophic situation.

The Japanese quickly challenged that statement but gave few details about the holding pool's condition.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said that the fuel pool at unit four at the the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had lost massive amounts of water.

"We believe at this point that unit 4 may have lost a significant inventory, if not lost all of its water," Jaczko told a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "What we know at unit three, and again our information is limited, what we believe is that there is a crack in the spent fuel pool for unit three as well, which could lead to a loss of water in that pool."

The spent fuel rods are kept in pools of water to prevent them from overheating and ultimately melting down. The outer shell of the rods could also ignite with enough force to propel the radioactive fuel inside over a wide area.

Japan's nuclear safety agency and Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the complex, deny water is gone from the pool.

Radiation levels have risen rapidly at the plant and there is a fear that the situation is heading for the worst. If levels continue to rise, the doses emergency workers experience near the reactors could be lethal. One U.S. Official told ABC News that "it would be hard to describe how alarming this is right now" and that a suicide mission might not even be enough to avert disaster.

Jaczko recommends that American citizens living within 50 miles of the Fukushima nuclear power plant evacuate the area.

But Japan's current evacuation zone is 12 to 19 miles. The recommendation comes as the Tokyo Electric Power Co. announced that the power line to the plant is almost complete and that the company plans to try it "as soon as possible." The line would revive electric-powered pumps, enabling a steady water supply to be maintained at the troubled reactors and spent fuel storage ponds, keeping them cool.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Teen Arrested in Japanese Cheating Scandal

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TOKYO) -- An Internet cheating scandal has rocked Japanese universities, and now a 19-year-old man is in custody.

Police arrested the teen after he admitted to soliciting answers to college entrance exam questions online. News of the Internet postings first surfaced last week and spurred a nationwide manhunt.

Police say the teen used his cell phone to post math and English questions to a popular website during the exam. Users then responded by providing answers. The cheating scandal was so shocking in Japan because it involves four of the country's most prestigious universities. As a result, the education ministry is now considering banning all mobile phones from exam sites.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japan: Aging Population Getting Lonelier

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The Japanese could be in for a lonely future. New numbers from an upcoming census paint a grim picture for the aging country.

Researchers predict the upcoming census will show the number of single homes surpassed those with families for the first time. Nearly a quarter of Japanese are already over the age of 65. The country saw a record number of deaths last year, while the population decrease reached historic figures.

Experts say the issue will only get worse. They call it the "2030 problem," a spike in the number of single homes over the next 20 years. Many Japanese are opting to stay single, but others have been forced to live alone because of divorce or death. In a few decades, nearly 40 percent of people in their 50s and 60s are expected to fit that mold.

The Japanese government has come up with programs to encourage marriage; they've even handed out child allowances to ease the financial burden of raising children. But that has not necessarily led to a spike in birthrates or marriages. Last year, roughly 700,000 couples got married -- the lowest in more than half a century.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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