A sentimental journey to Shinshu

Recently, I have visited Shinshu area. It was the place we often went for camping for the orchestra of med school. With this photo, won't you hear the tune of "En Bateau" in Petite Suite by Debussy, which we used to practise there those days. Standing on the shore of this lake, I could hear that tune in my mind again.

I used to swim across this lake together with some friends, even though it was forbidden at that time. the water temperature might drop drastically in certain part of the lake. A few rowed a boat while the other nuts swam after the boat in the lake. Thrill and fun for us.
This area was gaudily decorated around the years of the Nagano Olympic Games. But I found calm and quietness had returned there again like it used to 40 years ago. The area as a resort might suffer from that recession. I was, however, happy to see this fond place becoming so quiet.
After swimming in that lake, we used to walk this road back to the camp site. It took us an hour. Never tired. Everything was brilliant and shining for us those days. This was a real sentimental journey for me this time. Maybe, I haven't made any progress since those days. That idea made me smile bitterly.
This is the place we have had the camp with the orchestra fellows. We practised in the small hall behind the trees on the left. It still seemed to be used for music practice. Amazing after 40 years interval.
A hill in front of the hall. It used to be early fall when we were there for camping. The leaves always got tinted a little bit colorful those days. Through the windows of the hall, we could see this scenary. Whenever I listen to such as Nr1 Symphony by Beethoven etc we practised those days, this scenary or the touch of breeze coming down from the hill are brought back in my mind.



Former prime minister's memoirs

Our ex Prime Minister Naoto Kan has been ill spoken of his administration for the accident at the 1st nuclear power plant in Fukushima. The criticism is toward the loss of governance and the resulted mess. This criticism is, I believe, quite political to hide the responsiblity of the accident.

I have read his book on his experience for the accident as the prime minister. His description on this accident and the management by the government is based on the facts. Of course, he tries to explain and to self defense against criticism to his decision etc in it. But the overall touch is very calm and not being irritated to the criticism. He thinks that his behaviour would be properly judged by historians in later era.

I was impressed at two points. One is that there have been no preparations, legal, administrative or man power wise, against such a serious accident of nuclear power plants. For the plants have been supposed not to develop such an accident. Hypothesizing such an accident was against the belief that nuclear power plants are accident free. It was related with the absolute right on the side of the bureaucracy. The mess when starting doing with the accident is entirely due to this no failure myth in the bureaucracy. The party, which has proceeded constructing so numerous nuclear power plants in our quake rich country, should also be blamed. At least, the latter party, LDPJ, has no right to criticize Kan at all.

The other point is that there could have been much larger scale of damage to our country. On Mar 15, 4 days after the accident, the power line company heads have proposed the government that they would withdraw from the devastated plants. Kan definitely denied that proposal. He told them, as he wrote, our country would have been collapsed once they withdrew from there. Without a few fortunate happenings at the plants after the accident, it could have been much more serious. With a chamber of Nr 2 plant partially destroyed, that plant has been spontaneously decompressed, so that it spared total explosion. The used fuel pool at Nr 4 plant was accidentally fully watered. It has enabled them to prepare cooling it by some mean. Without those fortunes, the accident would have extended much further and, as a consultative committee told, fifty million people would have to evacuate from Kanto and Tohoku areas, including Tokyo.

The present government of LPDJ won't question the real cause of the accident and the extent it has progressed to. The highly contaminated water is still pouring into the ocean. We don't know how the fuels have been melt down. Nevertheless, they are aiming at restarting the other nuclear power plants. It seems they have not learned from this experience at all. They won't realize their own responsibility for this accident. They repeat only that it should be restarted in safety. What do they mean with "safety".


Pork cooked with ginger

It is a pretty simple menu. Pork and sliced onion was cooked with ginger. Of course, sake, sweet sake and soy sauce were added as seasoning. Ginger accentuates light taste of pork. 
Dark beer fits it.



Irradiation of the decommission workers

Tokyo Electric Power Company(TEPCO) has recently published the estimated irradiation data to thyroid gland of the workers at the Fukushima 1st Nuclear Power Plant.

The number of the workers are 19592. Approximately 80% of them belong to small companies which contract with TEPCO for the decomission process. Among them, 1973 workers were estimated to have been irradiated more than 100mSv to thyroid gland by I131. Irradation of 100mSv and more is thought to "definately" increase the risk of cancer. Lower doses could also be carcinogenic.

TEPCO has reported to WHO the data of irradiation of 522 workers, whom they actually measured the doses. It was last Dec. for the first time. Those irradiated 100mSv or more were 178. The maximum dose measured was 11800mSv.

We could guess a large number of workers are under high risk for cancer with the irradiation. They should follow up those in high risk. The other carcinogenic radioactive substances should be followed up as well.

The most serious issue was that they had not published the data as soon as the accident occured. This delay in publishing makes us suspect they still have something wrong hidden. In this accident, they have kept facts or data hidden when the facts or data were not beneficial to them. Concealment of facts or data has been revealed to be their nature.

Irradiation of the workers and the people around the plant will go on. The underground water is reported to have been contaminated. The contamination of the environment is not controlled yet. Regular monitoring of the contamination should be continued. Especially, for the workers from small companies emplyoed for decommision. It may take decades from now.

The LDPJ, which is thought to win in the election this week end, published the manifesto to restart the other nuclear power plants as soon as possible. It is not rational to do that since they have not fully elucidated the cause and the entire result of the accident yet. The accident is still going on. Another serious accident in our country should collapse it for sure. Any other plants should not be restarted in our country. 


Visiting parents in law again

For the past 3 days, I and my wife have been to Shikoku to meet my wife's old parents again. It was a 7 hours long trip. We haven't been bored on the way as we have talked a lot of the old days. After 34 years, we still have something to talk about. While talking about them, we often recall something we haven't shared yet. Or could we repeat the same topics which we used to talk in the past?

The city where the parents are in a nursing facility looked all the same as we visited there this winter. They both looked fine despite of the mother being on a wheel chair. They seemed to have been cared for nicely by the personnel there. The father sometimes kid himself saying that they are in a human zoo. Since both of them will reach their 90s very soon, it might be a good place to spend their senior days.

My wife has brought a few CDs of old songs to the father. She explained about them to him.

My wife served yogurt to mother.
We have had a nice dinner at a restaurant on the 20th floor of the hotel, where we could have a great command of view over the ocean.
At the sunset from the restaurant.
The day after, that is, yesterday, we have brought the father for a regular check up to a med school hospital. It was fairly big one. He has had some kind of infection which has been treated per oral antibiotics. We were concerned about the exam since the lab data has not been normalized for a few weeks. But the exam has revealed only mild liver dysfunction due to the antibiotics. The doctor on charge kindly explained the exam result in that way. Of course, it has made us all relieved a lot.
I have rarely been to such a hospital as a patient or a patient's family. The doctor who took care of the father was a young one. Very kind and eager to let him understand of his condition. There were young staff walking vividly on the corridor etc there. They looked kind of dazzling to me. I felt it had been only a few years ago when I was working hard like them at a med school hospital. Now the time is over. I am on the side of patient. No wonder, we are getting nearer to the age that needs to be cared for like the parents in law. We should be ready for that soon.


Hail has damaged the vegetables

A couple of days ago, we have had a bad thunderstorm. Much lightning. Pouring down rain. And finally even much hail started falling. The hail was 1cm or so in diameter. Pieces of ice were literally  dropping. My antenna or house have not been damaged. But the vegetables in the garden farm were damaged a lot.

Some of young plants were bent on the ground.

Stalks of some vegetables like tomato or water melon were cut by dropping hail. It is just as if they were cut by a sharp knife.
But there were those survived in this weather. A couple of Marygold, left, and Basil, right. Bravo to those plants with vivid lives.  
This morning, I found some of the bent plants started growing straight up again. I could not help smiling at them. The lives are not so strong against natural disasters but still could survive by themselves. Touching, isn't it? 
I thought what difficulty farmers have in such a weather. They might know how to prevent from having such a trouble. But in some cases, it might be very difficult to spare such damage. They have somthing common with medical people who are also doing with lives which could undergo unforeseeable changes.


The 9th anniversary of my father's death

It is the 9the anniversary of my father's death. The time has passed quickly.
My father used to be born at a pretty wealthy family. In sometime, however, he has lost his parents due to tuberculosis in a short interval. He has not had a chance to educate himself but was forced to be involved in the war soon. The age of war has compelled him to spend his precious young days in the army. He has experienced a hell in China. It was a background why he had had a firm belief in pacifism.
When coming back homeland, he was caught by Christianity. He joined the tuberculosis sanatorium managed by my aunt, where he has married with my mother. As the sanatorium was closed, he brought his young family to Tokyo, where he has had a job as a housekeeper at a hospital. Maybe, I am too lenient to him but could say he has worked very hard. He was very eager to give his children chances for education. He has not complained of me at all when I wanted to go to med school after finishing mechanical engineering at a college. It was surely an economical burden to him and my mother those days. My brother also had professional education as a psychiatrist while my sister became a nurse.
In his retirement, he has spent peaceful years here in this countryside with us. He has cared for our children so affectionately. Without him and my mother, I believe we could never have worked  as doctors.
Describing his life in this way, I might mislead the readers that he could have been a man of character. It is not a reality. He has had many problems in his character and behaviour, I know. But I know he has struggled for life, truth and family as much as possible in his own way.
The epitaph says God is guarding us as a quotation from a Psalm in the Bible.
I still miss him.


The rainy season is over

And burning hot summer has started.

This morning, I have sorted the vines of water melon and cut some unnecessary ones. Some have become like jungle since I haven't done with them for a while. There was one water melon already grown up to 3 or 4 inches in diameter. About 15 fruits are already grown to certain size. It is the time for me to "battle" with nasty crows. They would enjoy water melons in my absence when they are ripe enough. What nasty and provoking creatures they are!

This is the naturally grown pumpkin in weeds bed. 10 pumpkins were found.

The most ripe one. Already harvested yesterday.
Lilly is full blown now.
Basil in a line.
Hydrangea in the garden of our parent's home. Very quiet.
One of the new flower beds. Too luxuriant flowers? Many more will be added to them.
Along the entrance, a lawn yard with trees. Noone enjoys this scenary. It is for my own enjoyment. It is a bit too laborious for me to go on caring for it only for that purpose, though. It is still good to have trees around here. Good cosy breeze is coming through them.


A drive to north Ibaraki

A few days ago, the weather forecast said it would be fine in the daytime here despite of being in the rainy season right now. I thought it was a good chance to visit northern part of Ibaraki along the coast of the Pacific ocean. I wanted to visit there by myself.

There is a road, the route 6, running straight north to south there. In the narrow and slightly sloped land toward the ocean from the hills on the opposite side, there are houses or shops along that road. Of course, there are a lot of farms there. It is always bright and warm throughout a year. I used to drive up there with the family on week ends when they were still young. It has never been a renowned resort at all. Rather few visitors there. It was also favorable to me. Those days, I vaguely thought it would be good for us to move there when I retired. It was a so nice place for us to visit.

The nuclear power plant accident must has made changes there. The power plant is located about 60km, that is, about 40 miles, north of the border between Ibaraki and Fukushima. The main trunk roads, including the above mentioned one and the high way, as well as the railway were interrupted a few km north of the border by the accident. The area in the diameter of several km around the power plant is still strictly prohibited to enter. As told before, approximately 150,000 of people are still evacuated from that area. Northern Ibaraki is just next to the area.

That was shy I wanted to get back there again. A place I used to love so much. A place that has undergone a drastic change due to the accident.

On a beach, near to the border to Fukushima. At the tip of the peninsula on this photo, we could see the devastated nuclear power plant far away.

Of course, I could never go into the area contaminated with radioactive.

It was noon when I left for the area. In addition, I took the way off the highway. That was why I got there around 3 PM. I drove up the route 6, which lead from Tokyo to Miyagi through Ibaraki and Fukushima along the coast. There was apparently nothing changed. Of course, there were new houses and buildings along the road. The traffic seemed as crowded as before.

Carefully watching along the road, there were a few restaurants closed. A famous hotel on a cliff was also closed. Before retiring, I had a patient, a 2 or 3 years old girl, whose father was working as a police officer. He was assigned to this area immediately after the accident. The mother was worrying about the high radioactivity in this area. As the politicians used to announce, the level of radioactivity is not so high that it affects human body at once. Just only "at once". Who knows about the late effect, especially, for young children most sensitive to radioactivity among all age groups? I know quite some children and their families have moved from this area to anywhere else. I wonder if I was taken a strong hold of that idea but felt there were less people on the streets, especially, small children. Closed shops/restaurants or hotels might have deprived the people in this area of chances of employment.

I wanted to have a cup of coffee at a restaurant on a beach, where I had taken lunch with my wife on the way back from Miyagi. It was a trip to see my old mother at a nursing facility. However, the restaurant was also closed. It told they would close the restaurant for a while. But I was not sure how long the while meant. A rock on the ocean in front of this restaurant looked the same as before.

 Some politicians have made a slip of tongue and told what they had thought about this accident. A  politician at an important position in the dominating party told recently there had been no one killed by this accident. She meant no problem to restart the other nuclear plants. She got a powerful objection to it by the people in Fukushima and was forced to withdraw her words. There have been hundreds of people killed, not directly by the accident but by the accident related events. As told above here, so many people are still evacuated from the area around the nuclear power plant as well.

I was convinced not to forget this fact again during this small trip.

Regarding NSA

I have learned that NSA is handling espionage of the electrical methods/devices in the US. It is different from CIA. Very little information is revealed concerning what they are doing. The amended FISA enacted in 2008, which was proposed by the Bush government, is the foundation of their espionage, without permission by the court, for any communications by foreign people and possibly by the US citizen as well. It seems the size of the organization and its budget  are expanding at present.

I am still very afraid such an organization could suppress our human right or could be involved in the control of idea among the people. Because it is in a black box to the people and is endorsed such a power over them. Information is the origin of power in the modern era.

I admit it is necessary for us to do with the espionage battle in the international politics. Whether or not we like it, there have actually been such battles all over the world. But is it possible for us to grasp what they are doing and to administer it? How could we resisit them when they infringe our human right? Especially, when such an organization is closely linked with the political power, it seems unlikely we could contol them at present.

In Japan, the present government aims at establishing NSA like agency in the government shortly. The constitution plan of LDPJ says our human right should be infringed or suppressed when it is necessary to maintain the public order. I don't believe such a government could administer NSA like agenscy in Japan for the peace and the welfare for the people.

In the US, I wonder if NSA hasn't become self interested for themselves or for the government. How do they agree or compromise with the human right of the people, even if admitting there are some occasions espionage becomes necessary for the peace in ths society? Doesn't the existence of such a intelligence agency with enormous ability and power do well with the democracy and freedom the US seeks for?


A discouraging event

Bugging phone call etc at the foreign embassies may be one of the biggest crimes by the US government. Wasn't The US government the representative for the fairness and democracy in the world? This criminal befaviour must have been done since the governments by the former presidents. However, since Obama has impressed us with fair and clean politics, this event discourages us so much. I am concerned about the sequelle of this problem.

Two questions; Why didn't the embassy personel realize that? They were so optimistic for diplomatic affairs?  How less busy was CIA after the cold war had been over? They might be making their jobs by themselves?