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Beware the myth of (nuclear) safety

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Asked by local journalists what his advise would be for the Philippine government given Japan’s nuclear experience in March 2011, Hatsuhisa Takashima hesitated, saying that he was only in the country to provide updates on Japan’s recovery.

Still, the former chief commentator and director-general of NHK News, as well as former press secretary of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offered a simple reminder: Transparency is a must.

“In Japan, there was the myth of safety. The companies assured the people that nuclear facilities were safe,” Takashima said.

This, he said, was partly the reason why people reacted strongly to the incident at the Fukushima nuclear plant following the earthquake and tsunami in what is now referred to as “3/11.”

They were not used to iodine pills and local governments were confused on what to do in the event of a nuclear meltdown.

“On one hand, industry is screaming for more power. Development needs support. On the other hand, people must know the risks and benefits so that there is no confusion later on,” Takashima said. “It is really up to your government and your people whether nuclear energy is right for you. It is also a question that local governments in Japan are dealing with.”

Presently, Japan’s nuclear plants are going through regular maintenance and safety evaluation, and local governments must give their consent for any of these to be put back online. The Japanese government has reported gains in energy conservation by asking people to use energy wisely, especially with summer coming in a few months.

Japan’s Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Public Relations Noriyuki Shikata told reporters in Tokyo that the government has not quite abandoned nuclear energy, although it is reviewing its energy program.

Yet Toshinori Takahashi, a member of the Matsushima Kaigan Isozaki fisherman’s association, said plainly in a briefing in Matsushima City that he feels it’s not true that nuclear energy is cheap, that it is safe, or that Japan cannot live without it. Tough stuff, indeed.  Riza T. Olchondra

Everyone vs Maga

Apparently, the War of the Villages we reported in Biz Buzz the other day is not just a case of Dasmariñas Village versus Magallanes Village. According to our sources, it’s actually everyone else in the Makati Inter-Village Association (MIVA) that is moving to cut out “Maga” from the shared privileges enjoyed by the group’s members.

To recall, MIVA’s other members include Forbes Park, Bel-Air and Urdaneta, in addition to “Dasma.”

The popular line of thinking in this association now is that “there is no benefit for the residents of these four villages to access Magallanes.” Thus, these four associations believe that the current set up—especially the one that includes issuing member-residents with the coveted MIVA car pass that allows one to freely access all other villages—is skewed in favor of Maga.

“Maga can access all these villages, while the benefits are not reciprocal,” one source explained.

And what of Maga’s threat to close off the sewer system and flood Forbes and Dasma in their own ordure?

“They can’t do that since it’s the utility company that owns the facility, not Maga,” said the source.

Sounds like the stuff of another high profile legal battle.  Daxim L. Lucas

‘The next Azkals’

So the country is clearly ready for football (aka, “soccer”), given what we’ve seen of the Azkals’ phenomenon.

But is the Philippines ready for rugby?

Yes, rugby. Not the adhesive we see being sniffed by street urchins all over Metro Manila, but the very physical variant of football where the goal  to carry an elliptical “ball” is carried by broad-shouldered men barreling through adversaries to cross the opponent’s goal line.

No less than HSBC seems to think so.

In fact, the British banking giant is bringing rugby union to the Philippines later this month, sponsoring the Division 1 games of the Asian 5 Nations tournament, which will be held at the Rizal Stadium from April 15 to 28.

The Philippine Volcanoes—yes, the very same guys whose revealing underwear endorsement billboards on Edsa were taken down last year—will be representing the country against teams from Singapore, Chinese Taipei and Sri Lanka.

According to the sponsors, the Volcanoes are quite good at the British game, having accumulated an impressive win-loss record in recent years, and being a perennial Division 1 contender (out of five divisions, plus the elite “Top 5”).

How good are they?

“They could be the next Azkals,” said one official.

We’ll know soon enough.  Daxim L. Lucas

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