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Fuel removal crane trouble occurred because brake was on: TEPCO

The operator of the disaster-struck Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant said Thursday that a crane used to move spent fuel stopped working the previous day because it was operated while the brake was applied. The crane stopped moving around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when workers were preparing to lift a batch of fuel assemblies, placed inside a transportation container, from the spent fuel pool at the No. 4 reactor building.

Japan invites tenders for seafloor drilling to relocate U.S. base

Japan's Defense Ministry began inviting tenders Thursday for a drilling survey on the seafloor to build a controversial replacement facility for a U.S. Marine base in Okinawa despite staunch local opposition. The ministry's local bureau in Okinawa hopes to start reclamation work in the spring of 2015, so the new facility in a coastal area of Nago can accommodate the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Ginowan.

Ex-internal affairs minister Masuda eyed as TEPCO's outside director

The government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. plan to appoint former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Hiroya Masuda as an outside director for the ailing utility, sources close to the matter said Wednesday. The operator of the accident-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has effectively been under state control since 2012 and a majority of its board members are now from outside TEPCO, having been brought in as part of efforts to improve management transparency.

Residents of evacuation zone in Kawauchi to stay home overnight

The Japanese government is considering allowing residents of an evacuation zone located within a 20-kilometer radius of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to stay at their homes overnight for three months from April 26, government sources said Sunday. As of the end of December, 330 residents of 152 households in the zone of Kawauchi village, Fukushima Prefecture, were still in evacuation housing after the nuclear plant was severely damaged by the huge earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

Fukushima operator halts water decontamination system

The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant said Wednesday it has temporarily shut down a decontamination system that scrubs radiation-tainted water used to cool damaged reactors. Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said it had discovered a defect in its Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) and switched it off on Tuesday for repairs. It is not the first time the utility has shut down the system, which has been hit by a series of glitches since trial operations began a year ago.

TEPCO says 13,000 tons of toxic water may need to be cleaned again

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant said Wednesday that it may have to clean some 13,000 tons of radioactive water all over again, as it has found its water treatment system was not working properly. The Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS, has been developed to drastically reduce the radiation level of highly contaminated water that is accumulating at the plant. But it has been plagued with trouble and its test-run period has been prolonged.

Land prices rise in Japan's 3 major metropolitan areas

Residential land prices in Japan's three major metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya rose by an average of 0.5 percent in the 12 months to Jan. 1, while commercial land prices there increased by an average of 1.6 percent, both rising for the first time in six years, the government said Tuesday.

Okinawa vice gov. calls for closure of U.S. Futenma base by 2018

Okinawa Vice Gov. Kurayoshi Takara on Monday urged the government to close a key U.S. military base in the prefecture by 2018, the first reference to the exact deadline by an Okinawa official for a long-stalled bilateral relocation plan with Washington. Takara made the remarks as the government held the first meeting of a newly launched working group to discuss how to reduce the burden on Okinawa of hosting the bulk of U.S. military bases.

Japan's longest-serving mayor to retire

Japan's longest-serving mayor announced his intention Thursday to retire in August after fulfilling his 10th consecutive term in office. Kenji Nakano, 84-year-old mayor of Tsuruta in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Aomori, told the town assembly he has "promised the town's people to make the 10th term a completion of my work" and that he will not participate in the upcoming mayoral election despite calls for him to serve another term.

Gov't partially accepts local request on radioactive waste plan

In response to a request from the governor of Fukushima, the government has agreed to exclude one of three towns from its plan for building sites to store radioactive waste resulting from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster, sources close to the matter said Saturday. Disagreement between the central government and the municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture over the waste facilities has been blamed for obstructing progress in decontaminating areas around the nuclear plant crippled by the March 2011 quake and tsunami.
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