Remember the AP article about Fukushima I Nuke Plant struggling to find and retain good workers? In that article, "Happy" said his cumulative radiation exposure was 300 millisieverts (that's probably why he is not working at Fuku-I right now), and that many veteran workers like him who know the work and who can supervise are leaving.
He also said some of the new workers supplied by lower-tier subcontractors can barely read, but that's what TEPCO gets for the price it is willing to pay.
Clearly the Abe administration hasn't read inconvenient English articles like that. Instead, it has boldly declared that they will remove the fuel debris (corium) one and a half year AHEAD OF SCHEDULE.
Never, ever mind that they don't even know where the corium is, in each of the reactors at Fukushima that went kaput.
Never, ever mind either about WHY they are doing it. Probably they don't know themselves, other than "We're Japanese, we're different. We're not Americans (Three Mile Island), we're not Russians (Chernobyl)."
Just like "Abenomics" (which some in Japan call "Ahonomics"; "aho" in Japanese means "stupid idiot" in Osaka dialect), if you keep talking about it and enough people believe it, I'm sure miracles will happen.
TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo, who must be fully aware of the experienced worker shortage at Fukushima I Nuke Plant even if their spokesman says there is no problem, folds, again. They never stood up against the meddling Kan administration to shield the plant staff so that Yoshida and his men could do their work in the critical first few weeks of the accident. So it is simply a waste of breath to ask why they cannot say "no" to the Abe administration.
From Nikkei Shinbun (6/8/2013):
Removal of fuel debris at Fukushima I Nuke Plant to be carried out 1 and a half year ahead of schedule, the government and TEPCO say
The national government and TEPCO have decided to accelerate the current plan for decommissioning Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Removal of fuel debris inside the reactors has been scheduled to start by the end of 2021, but the government and TEPCO will aim at June 2020 to start the removal.
The plan will be part of the revised medium-to-long-term "roadmap" to be announced on June 10 by the secretariat of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant Decommissioning Promotion Committee (Minister of Economy Toshimitsu Motegi as chairman). The revised "roadmap" will be discussed with the municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture, and formally adopted in June.
Removal of fuel debris has hardly any precedent in the world, and it is the most important task in the decommissioning of Fukushima I Nuke Plant. In the "roadmap" of 2011, the target was to start the removal within 10 years.
In the revised "roadmap", building the impervious wall with frozen soil will also be included, in order to prevent the groundwater from entering the reactor buildings and adding to the contaminated water.
Well, if in a rare chance that Tokyo gets to host the 2020 Olympics, they will get to play some of the events in Fukushima Prefecture just as the corium is being removed at Fukushima I Nuke Plant. Lovely.
But since when has removal of corium become the most important task in the decommissioning? I have a feeling that Nikkei Shinbun has no idea what's important and what is not. I don't think the national government or TEPCO knows either.
Even IAEA had to gently suggest to the Japanese government and TEPCO, "Why don't you think about what you want to achieve, what you want the site to look like when all the decommissioning work is done?" - like talking to a first grader.
That suggestion was completely ignored by just about everyone, and all that was reported about IAEA's most recent visit in April was that IAEA thought the contaminated water was a problem.
"Happy" was tweeting this Nikkei article in exasperation, saying:
Forget removal procedure. Where are the leaks and when will those leaks be plugged? How many man-rem will it be? That's what I want to know.
"Man-rem" is a unit of measurement of absorbed radiation that is equal to one rem absorbed by one individual. One rem is 10 millisieverts.