Strategic Briefing | 3.15.2011 | Japan’s nuclear crisis

Japan Nuclear Crisis Deepens
Voice of America | Mar 15
The crisis at Japan’s damaged nuclear power complex in the northeastern part of the country is worsening. Top government officials acknowledge further, significantly higher radiation leaks and explosions at a total of three reactors. Tuesday morning, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan delivered a nationally broadcast message to citizens, after a third reactor building explosion was confirmed in Fukushima. Urging the public to heed his words calmly, Kan acknowledged one of the damaged reactors is facing a much higher risk of releasing radiation into the atmosphere. The prime minister asked those living between 20 and 30 kilometers from the plant to stay indoors. Those living closer, about 200,000 people in all, had previously evacuated.

Japan panics as nuke plant belches high levels of radiation
Indian Express | Mar 15
The radiation fears added to the catastrophe has been unfolding in Japan, where at least 10,000 people are believed to have been killed and millions of people have spent four nights with little food, water or heating in near-freezing temperatures as they dealt with the loss of homes and loved ones. Asia’s richest country hasn’t seen such hardship since World War II. The stock market plunged for a second day and a spate of panic buying saw stores running out of necessities, raising government fears that hoarding may hurt the delivery of emergency food aid to those who really need it.
Radiation hazard detected / Massive leak feared after fire at spent nuclear fuel pool
Daily Yomiuri | Mar 15
High levels of radiation were detected at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant Tuesday morning after a fire broke out near a pool in the No. 4 reactor where spent nuclear fuel is temporarily kept, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. TEPCO said radiation measuring 400 millisieverts (400,000 microsieverts) per hour was detected at 10:22 a.m. following the fire, which broke out at 9:38 a.m. “There is no doubt [these radiation levels] may pose health risks to humans,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a press conference.
World stocks, oil slump on Japan nuclear fears
Reuters | Mar 15
World stocks hit 2-1/2 month lows on Tuesday and oil fell and the yen surged after reports of rising radiation near Tokyo triggered a 10 percent fall in Japanese stocks, hurting risky assets across the board. German government bonds and the low-yielding dollar were the biggest beneficiaries of increased risk aversion while a measure of European equity volatility surged to an 8-1/2 month high. Tokyo stocks fell 14 percent at one point before posting their worst two-day losing streak since 1987 after Japan said the risk of nuclear contamination was rising.
Emerging Economies Move Ahead With Nuclear Plans
New York Times | Mar 15
Despite Japan’s crisis, India and China and some other energy-ravenous countries say they plan to keep using their nuclear power plants and building new ones. The Japanese disaster has led some energy officials in the United States and in industrialized European nations to think twice about nuclear expansion. And if a huge release of radiation worsens the crisis, even big developing nations might reconsider their ambitious plans. But for now, while acknowledging the need for safety, they say their unmet energy needs give them little choice but to continue investing in nuclear power.
Japan’s disaster could spare global economy
Montreal Gazette | Mar 15
While the current disaster is complicated by the added damage from a tsunami and devastated nuclear plants, many analysts expect that Japan’s economy will recover essentially all of its lost output by the end of this year. That was the case when the Kobe disaster hit and it seems to be a pattern: developed economies bounce back very quickly from even very large natural disasters, said Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets. His forecast for Japanese economic growth is that it will be little changed from expectations before the disaster. This expectation of resilience was a key reason for the mild reaction in global markets, noted Julian Jessop, chief international economist at Capital Economics. As well, Jessop said in a note to clients, Japan is more a supplier to the world economy than a source of demand, so it won’t hurt other countries too seriously if its growth should falter.
Tokyo Shares End Day Down 11%
Wall Street Journal | Mar 15
“What the world is watching right now is whether Tepco’s Fukushima nuclear power plant is going to turn into Chernobyl,” said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, referring to the world’s worst nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986 in present-day Ukraine.
Radiation fears after Japan blast
BBC | Mar 15
The drastic action to conserve electricity was ordered by the government in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami which crippled several nuclear reactors.The resource-poor country depends on nuclear energy for about a quarter of its electricity. Out of Japan’s 54 reactors, 11 are closed. With the quake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant lost to the national power grid, there is a power shortfall of 10 million kilowatts per day, according to the economy, trade and industry minister.The rationing is expected to last weeks rather than days, affecting millions of people from the northeast coast down to Shizuoka, 200km south of Tokyo.