Archive for the Environmental disaster Category

Japan’s economy slides back into recession – GDP contracts by worse-than-expected annual rate of 3.7% [Japan Times]

Posted in Capitalism crisis early 21st century, Environmental disaster, Japan, Nukes on May 20, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

AP, Bloomberg

-Excerpted-

The economy contracted sharply in the first quarter, veering back into recession as factory production and consumer spending wilted in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Real gross domestic product — a measure of the value of all goods and services produced domestically — shrank at an annualized rate of 3.7 percent in the January-March quarter, following a revised 3 percent drop the previous quarter, the Cabinet Office said Thursday.

The median forecast of 23 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for a 1.9 percent drop.

The result marks the second straight quarter that the economy has lost steam.

While there is no universally accepted definition of a recession, many economists define it as two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction. Others consider the depth of economic decline as well as other measures, such as unemployment.

…Martin Schulz, senior economist at Fujitsu Research Institute, said there is “no doubt” that recession has returned. More surprising is just how quickly the economy crumpled, he said.

The latest GDP report includes just 20 days following the disaster, but “the impact is huge,” said Schulz, who had expected to see most of the economic fallout in the second quarter.

The March disaster hit an economy that was already weighed down by years of deflation and subdued consumer spending and that was reliant on exports for growth.

The economy will probably contract at a 3.3 percent annual pace this quarter, and then resume growth the next two quarters, according to the average forecast of 43 economists in a survey by the government-affiliated Economic Planning Association released Monday [refer to the wrong forecast of “economists” in the 3rd paragraph, above – Zuo Shou].

“The negative economic impact from the disaster will be on full display during the second quarter,” Hiroshi Watanabe, a senior economist at the Daiwa Institute of Research, said before the report. “This recession may be deep, but short.”

…The nation’s GDP shrank for four straight quarters during the global financial crisis and contracted for three straight quarters in 2001…

Edited by Zuo Shou

Full article here: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20110519x1.html

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Meltdown of Japanese nuclear reactor confirmed [World Socialist Web Site]

Posted in Corporate Media Critique, Environmental disaster, Fukushima nuclear plant, Japan, Media cover-up, Naoto Kan, Nukes on May 13, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

from Japan Times article "Reactor 1 in worse shape than thought"

By Peter Symonds
13 May 2011

Despite the lack of coverage in the international media, the situation at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan remains, in the words of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s weekly bulletin, “very serious”.

The continuing crisis was underscored yesterday when the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), reported that the reactor 1 had been far more seriously damaged than believed and its fuel rods had undergone a meltdown.

Workers entered the reactor building last week, for the first time in two months, in order to restore ventilation and reduce the ongoing high levels of radiation inside the structure.  Having achieved those initial steps, engineers repaired an important gauge used to measure water levels inside the reactor’s pressure vessel.

Previous readings had shown the water level at 1.6 metres below the top of the fuel rods in the reactor core.  As it turned out, these measurements were false.  The actual water level was five metres below the top of the fuel rods, leaving them fully exposed.

At the same time, temperature readings inside the pressure vessel have stabilised at between 100 and 120 degrees centigrade.  If the fuel rods were still largely in place, the temperature would be far higher.  As a result, TEPCO engineers now believe that at the height of the crisis, when the reactor’s cooling systems failed, molten fuel fell to the bottom of the pressure vessel.

TEPCO has been pumping water into the pressure vessels of reactors 1, 2 and 3 for weeks in a bid to lower temperatures.  The low level of water in reactor 1 indicates that the molten fuel might have created a hole in the bottom of the steel pressure vessel.

TEPCO general manager Junichi Matsumoto told a press conference yesterday:  “There must be a large leak… The fuel pellets likely melted and fell, and in the process may have damaged… the pressure vessel itself and created a hole.”

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Kan’s leadership poor: poll [Japan Times]

Posted in Environmental disaster, Fukushima nuclear plant, Japan, Naoto Kan, Nukes on May 13, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

May 2, 2011

Kyoto

-Excerpt-

A total of 76.0 percent think Prime Minister Naoto Kan is not exercising sufficient leadership in handling the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and responding to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, up from 63.7 percent in the previous survey in late March, Kyodo News survey results showed Saturday.

The telephone survey on Friday and Saturday also showed that 23.6 percent think Kan should resign immediately, up from 13.8 percent in the previous survey.

A total of 70.6 percent said they do not value the government’s handling of the nuclear crisis, up 12.4 percentage points, and 52.3 percent said they do not value the way the central government has dealt with disaster-hit areas, up 13.1 points.

The support rating for Kan’s Cabinet dropped 1.5 points to 26.8 percent, and the disapproval rating rose 3.1 points to 58.7 percent.

Asked about their evaluation of Kan as the country’s leader, 45.7 percent replied he is not exercising much leadership and 30.3 percent said he does not exercise leadership at all. Only 1.3 percent said he does so sufficiently, and 21.0 percent said he wields leadership to some extent.

As for the handling of the nuclear crisis, 43.6 percent said they do not value the government’s response to the nuclear crisis much, and 27.0 percent said they do not approve of it at all.  Meanwhile, 25.9 percent said they approve of it to some extent and 1.8 percent said they do so very much…

Full article here

China: decelerating growth in order to improve [Prensa Latina]

Posted in China, Economy, Employment, Energy, Environmental disaster, Environmental protection, Japan on May 10, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

April 29, 2011

by Luis Melián

Beijing, (PL)  After growing until it became the second economy in the World, China is now committed to decelerating expansion in order to improve its economy and make it more sustainable.

With the approval of the XII Socio-Economic Development Plan [Twelfth Five-Year Plan] (2011-2015), the seven percent average projected growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for that period attracted attention when compared to indexes in recent periods.

The goal for the previous five-year plan was set at 7.5 percent.

The reduction becomes more significant when bearing in mind that the country’s output of assets and services increased by an average rate of 11.2 percent in the 2006-2010 period.  This year, the GDP should rise by eight percent.

According to the plan for 2011-2015, the most populated country in the world set, among its priorities, the goal of changing the development model, which depends on exports and investments too much.  The aim is to make the economy sustainable with regard to using energy resources and controlling pollution, apart from ensuring a high priority for scientific activity, including innovation.

In accordance with the aforementioned document, China intends to reduce power consumption by 16 percent and carbon dioxide emmissions by 17 percent.

Until now output of assets and services was for many the yardstick par-excellence for socio-economic development, but reality demands translating the progress shown by numbers into better life conditions for the people.

Officials are aware of that, so that this issue is also among the great goals for the new five-year plan. It can be recalled that in spite of the large growth in the last few decades, and without disregarding its multifarious benefits, China still has the task of eliminating poverty in some areas, as well as the differences between the countryside and the city and between the eastern and western regions, the latter being less developed. Continue reading

S&P cuts outlook for debt rating on disaster [Japan Times / AP]

Posted in Environmental disaster, Japan, Nukes on May 7, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

April 27, 2011

Standard & Poor’s lowered its outlook for Japan’s credit rating to negative amid concern the country’s finances will deteriorate further as it rebuilds after last month’s earthquake and tsunami.

The change announced Wednesday from a stable outlook means Japan’s sovereign debt rating could be downgraded, which might increase the government’s borrowing costs.

S&P said the March 11 disasters cast doubt over Japan’s economic performance and will increase its already large debt.

It said the next two years present severe challenges to Japan as it seeks to reduce public debt — more than twice the country’s gross domestic product — while financing reconstruction.

“If the government’s debt trajectory remains on its current course or begins to erode the nation’s external position, the long- and short-term ratings could be lowered,” the agency said.

S&P projected that reconstruction costs could range from ¥20 trillion to ¥50 trillion, increasing the country’s fiscal deficit above prior estimates by 3.7 percent of gross domestic product through 2013.

If Japan’s fiscal deterioration outpaces those revised estimates — and the country does not boost revenue through tax increases or other means — S&P said its long-term sovereign rating could be downgraded from its current ‘AA-.’

The warning came four months after the agency cut Japan’s credit rating for the first time in almost nine years.

Article link here

Chernobyl nuclear disaster victims commemorated in Ukraine – PHOTO [People’s Daily]

Posted in Environmental disaster, Nukes, Ukraine, USSR on May 6, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

April 26, 2011

Ukrainians light candles to commemorate those who died after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, during a ceremony at the memorial to Chernobyl firefighters in the city of Slavutich, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 26, 2011. Ukraine marked the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which was the world’s worst ever nuclear accident. Some 50,000 Pripyat residents were evacuated after the disaster, taking only a few belongings. They never returned, and workers and their families now live in the new town of Slavutich, 60 kilometers (37.5 miles) from the plant. The city of Slavutich was built following the evacuation of Pripyat, which was just 1.5 kilometers (about one mile) away from the Chernobyl plant. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Full photo article here

Full text of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s speech at opening ceremony of Boao Forum [Xinhua]

Posted in Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, Economy, Environmental disaster, Hu Jintao, Japan, Reform and opening up, Scientific Outlook on Development, USA 21st Century Cold War on April 30, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

BOAO, Hainan, April 15 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Hu Jintao on Friday delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 2011 annual meeting of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA). The following is the full text of Hu’s speech.

Towards Common Development and a Harmonious Asia

Speech by H.E. Hu Jintao

President of the People’s Republic of China

At Opening Plenary of Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2011

Boao, 15 April 2011

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

First of all, I wish to extend, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, warm congratulations on the opening of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2011 and express sincere welcome to all guests present.

The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) was launched ten years ago with the concerted efforts of organizations and individuals from across Asia.  It was an important symbol of the growing solidarity and desire for cooperation in Asia under the new situation.  In the ten years since, the BFA has played an important role in building consensus in Asia, making Asia’s voice heard and promoting Asian cooperation.  It has become one of the highly influential economic forums in the world. The BFA owes its growth to the fast development of Asia; it is, at the same time, a witness and driver of this historical process.

In the last ten years, Asia’s economy has been in high gear and regional cooperation has seen robust growth.  Asia’s influence in the world has been rising steadily.  Asian economy was the first to recover from the international financial crisis and has become an important engine for world economic recovery and growth.  Asia’s development is not only changing the destiny of the Asian people, but also exerting a growing impact on the development of the world.

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