This article from bloomberg that I had shared last night – has a partial list of Japanese companies which are closing for the time being as a result of the ongoing disaster there. The comment I received yielded some interesting thoughts about that and how it will affect the US – both in her thought about it and then what I shared back as I thought about it and tried to tell her the part that I know. That is what follows –
Submitted on 2011/03/14 at 12:16 pm
This is interesting… Since Japan is one of our trades and they stop importing if this would help the U.S economy in providing more jobs for where Japan is not sending. Just a thought.
from – saarew
the response I shared back with her (and a couple other notes I’m making now about it after the response) –
I hate to say this to you – but the chances are very good that what is happening in Japan is not going to be good for our markets nor for our economy because we are trading partners. For instance, how many parts are we dependent on Japan to provide that are going into our airplanes manufactured by our manufacturers? How many parts that go into our cars that essentially have plants in Japan closed now? How many microwaves will be produced? How many dvd player parts and bits of hard drives or other components?
These plants in Japan have had to shutter their facilities because of the earthquake and tsunami damage but also because of the rolling blackouts of electricity – not only does that mean people in Japan won’t be able to work at those plants and then purchase things, it also means those things won’t be heading out over the world where they are incorporated into other things – which makes money for our companies and others around the world.
And, now with the dangers of the radioactive releases – and vast numbers of the population centers in Japan including Tokyo within the range of wind blowing those particles into homes, businesses, offices, streets, food sources, and factories – well, it extends the aftermath far beyond the region initially affected in both time and impacts across a greater area. That is not good for anyone anywhere in the world economy.
Sometime when you have a moment or two, look at the things created, designed, studied and manufactured in Japan. Look at where all those things go – and the other products where they are a part of the design. The range of things is absolutely phenomenal and all of them will be impacted in some way. There isn’t one bra made in a single country anymore, if you think about it. All the parts are shipped from different places, put together and sewn in different places, shipped everywhere getting it done until finally the finished product is sent to the stores where people can buy it. How much of that will have to change quickly on many different products in order to be available at any retailer for consumers at all?
When these ripples move through the world markets and the US marketplace – what good things will result? What will manufacturers here, corporations and businesses do as a response to continue without interruption or to facilitate replacement of those elements? How long will it take them to accommodate the changes? Will they stop producing some finished products and consequently close factories in some of our cities and towns, laying off people and decimating those local economies as they go? What will they decide because whatever it will be will serve their ideas of what is in their corporation’s best interest regardless of what you or I think would be best in the long-term.
Given twenty-five years, the national economy of the United States from where it is today and given the closing temporarily of these trading partner “competitors” to our business interests, might make some advantage of it, but long before that time – many industries in the US could be seriously decimated by not having the access to our trading partner’s assets we have been enjoying.
Think of any one part that was being made in Japan which will be unavailable for awhile, and consider what it would take to build a plant here to produce it, train the people to produce it, engineer the manufacturing line and equipment to produce it, gather the resources around the world to supply the raw materials, work out all the costs and then get it out into the world market where the original parts were being sold to go into other products.
But, that is not all. At one point, the Japanese people and their businesses decided to focus on quality at a higher level, speed and consistency as well as to develop human and mechanical processes and systems approaches to do that. They’ve been doing it that way for decades. It is the standard which would have to be reached for the product or part to even have a chance – and be produced that way to that level of high-quality, reliability, safety and integrity consistently from a manufacturing line producing it with the least amount of waste and rejected units. We can’t do that the way American companies have been doing it for the last fifty years. It doesn’t work that way doing it the way we do it.
I know that was way more than you wanted to know. But, it is a simple question in a way with a reality that is far from simple.
Thanks so much for the question though. You might want to look at the markets today and tomorrow. See what they see. It isn’t jumping upwards on the proposition – it is jumping down – in Asia, in Japan, in Hong Kong, in China – and in the US / on Wall Street. Our trading partner is hurt – we have a lot of negative impacts from that.
I wanted to add that there are a lot of things not usually thought of much – like when we pump gas, who makes those pump parts, handles and hoses – the pipe that carries it from the underground tanks, the tanks that hold the gas in the parking lot of the quickie gas station – the shelving in the store, the cash register they are using to keep up with it, and on and on and on. These gizmos and gadgets incorporated into everything could come from anywhere. There designs could be from anywhere and the manufacturing of the elements going into them could come from anywhere. I’d say, that is a problem where some of the elements will no longer be available because Sony had to shut some factories, Mitsubishi and many other Japanese companies had to stop production awhile along with many other manufacturers of things we use every single day in some measure.
Japanese firms struggling with the earthquake aftermath
Bloomberg news on cable just noted there have been four explosions in total along with a fire at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and the Japanese government officials say that the radiation levels are rising in some areas.
Found this on Guardian which has a couple telling paragraphs –
The government ordered any inhabitants remaining in the 12-mile radius exclusion zone to leave immediately, told those between 12 miles and 19 miles away to stay indoors and imposed a 19-mile no-fly zone. (I’m leaving out the sentence about the experts saying it is no problem because that has evidently been updated to reflect something different now than they had said previously, my note)
The prime minister, Naoto Kan, asked people to remain calm in a televised address but warned: “Radiation has spread from these reactors and the reading of the level seems high … There’s still a very high risk of further radioactive material coming out.”
This morning’s leak appears to have been caused by a fire at the number 4 unit, where spent fuel rods were stored. The nuclear safety agency said the blaze was extinguished several hours after it broke out.
But the No 2 unit’s containment structure – which prevents radioactive materials from leaking in the event of meltdown – also appears to have been damaged after a possible explosion shortly afterwards. That is of particular concern because the building housing the reactor was damaged by the hydrogen blast at neighbouring unit 3, experts told Kyodo news agency.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, the owners of the plant, admitted for the first time that there was a possibility of partial meltdown, Kyodo reported. Officials have already gauged that as a “high possibility”.
It goes on to say that residents between 20km (about 12 miles) and 30km (19 miles) should stay indoors, close the windows, turn off ventilation, leave clothes that were hung outside on the outside (as in leave them alone and don’t touch them), brush off their shoes and hair and clothes – earlier there was a note on CNN that people in these areas have no electricity and are without water, too.
An expert told broadcaster NHK that the situation was “very grave”, warning that without protective gear a level of 100 millisieverts could be enough to cause male infertility in a short time.
He also said those in the 12-mile to 19-mile zone should dust off their hair and clothes before entering their building, including brushing off the soles of their shoes. Once inside they should close windows and turn off air conditioning. Any laundry hanging out should be left outside.
My Note –
People across the world and in the US are having a fit about nuclear power as a result of this. There are protests about it which is probably not helping a whole lot and officials everywhere taking a “stop, let’s take another look at how these are being designed and make sure that the builders and owners aren’t cutting corners” sort of stance about it which probably will help. There are changes in the designed nuclear power plants from the date of the one in trouble – which should actually read “ones” in trouble, because although the news has not been covering it – there are more of them in trouble than the one at Fukushima, the Dai-ichi complex. These are all having to be managed at the same time with varying degrees of difficulty in three of the locations particularly.
In Japan, there are international atomic specialists from around the world including from the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the IAEA, among others. But, what they do not seem to have are the brilliant minds of the atomic physicists, nuclear research physicists and mathematicians on the team. And, they should be part of the team. Regulatory bodies are only one perspective with a limited range of conceptual possibilities available to them. I’m glad they are there, however I would love to see a comprehensive team of physicists and mathematicians interacting with them as a strong resource of expanded possibilities from their base of knowledge. Maybe they are doing that. I hope so.
I was going to add a little about the businesses and assets in Japan that will impact the world economies and the US business environment. The $287 billion dollars that disappeared from the Japan stocks is one descriptor of the problems, but not the only one. That is almost as much of a tsunami as the tsunami was and just about as destructive. I wish people in those arenas wouldn’t run into the stock market and start dumping stocks when there is a difficulty somewhere – they are just making things more difficult than it has to be and the situation in the longer term will work out to be profitable to those same stocks they dumped anyway. Such short term thinking has done more damage to more places on this planet than many difficulties of other kinds have done. (including this situation in Japan right now.)
Not only is our nation not prepared for the kind of natural disasters and man-made disasters being faced in Japan right now – what is happening with the withdrawal of tremendous amounts of money in a short period of time, would happen to us as well right in the middle of dealing with the disaster’s aftermath – and we wouldn’t be prepared for that either. The Bank of Japan put in about $183 billion, I think it was yesterday and today – but it hasn’t slowed the race away from their companies and the stocks representing them. That is going to make things harder, that’s all.
Oh yeah and that was the other thing – that the containment vessel at the Fukushima Daiichi plant could likely be cracked. Yes, they retold that on the bloomberg news a minute ago. That is definitely the other thing . . .
But, the earthquake resistant building processes, systems, materials and methods actually worked. Even the nuclear plant wasn’t damaged by the earthquake and lasted through the tsunami with all its power.
The efforts at recovery, the preparations and drills, the quick deployment of resources for rescue and recovery, the fast assessment system to put the resources where they are needed – so much of that has worked and worked well, either very nearly well or extremely well – and despite some rough spots – is working. (except for nothing could have prepared for the complete massiveness and unpredictability of the event, the magnitude of the event together with an immediate secondary massive event of the tsunami – and except for the backup power requirements for cooling the nuclear power plants that went out resulting in the partial meltdown, explosions and radioactive releases.)
My daughter pointed out that putting backup generators in the basement of a nuclear power plant sitting at sea level was a significant design flaw and I bet some of our nuclear power plants that require them could have the same flaw of common sense (in the case of flooding, that would not be the best placement of backup power generators obviously.)
She also mentioned that a 50 mile radius ended up being required at Chernobyl – after people were exposed to radiation and radioactive fallout along with many being killed. I wish they wouldn’t take any chances with exposing people to these particular radiation particulates from the nuclear plants going into overdrive – the sickness and long-term effects on people’s lives cause so much suffering that it just isn’t worth anyone being exposed to it and put at risk at all.
I wanted to point out this – an article found yesterday, before today’s explosions in the .No 2 Reactor – the graphics being shown on the tv news in Japan during government and TEPCO press briefings were as if a little off the top of the fuel rods represented the only real water / cooling problem that had been occurring . . . then I read this paragraph which I was posting yesterday about it and suddenly thought through what it means –
The No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has lost its ability to supply water to its core, a failure that has lowered the level of cooling water in the reactor and exposed a good part of nuclear fuel rods, the operator of the facility said Sunday.
As of 7:30 a.m.,
2.95 meters of the 4-meter nuclear fuel rods were exposed because of diminished water levels in the reactor.
Cooling system fails in second reactor
The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network
Mon, Mar 14, 2011
My Note –
That means there is an official record of the fact that three-quarters of the rods’ lengths were exposed to the air without any water covering them for some period of time. I would say they probably did more than melt. It is like watching a slow unfolding nuclear fission bomb – sadly.
The other thing I noted aside from the company – TEPCO apologizing today which means they know there is a greater problem they could be held responsible for – but I also noticed in the press briefing with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano after the explosion of the No.2 reactor a number of hours ago now, he had sweat beading on the right side of his forehead as he was speaking – and I’ve seen several of these press briefings he has given without anything like that.
Either he was very hot, had been out in the rain, just washed his face – or what I think is more likely – he knew something that was making him so uncomfortable that the beads of sweat formed on his forehead and above his brow at the crown of his hair. That almost made me more uncomfortable and more scared than seeing the actual explosions on film, because I know that he knows. He might not be able to fully say it all because he doesn’t want people to panic or something – but he knows.
I think he is a conscientious man in an untenable position.
From Russia Today – a very useful informative video about this above –
Shaun Burnie, Independent Nuclear Energy Consultant
He notes that each reactor has 80 – 90 tonnes of fuel rods per reactor and also says there are 445 nuclear reactors worldwide. He did mention at the end of the interview that there are 42 million people within dispersal range of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. I would love to have heard the rest of what he had to say about it.
Also wanted to note that with all the science which is known – why don’t we run water pipes through the side of a volcano and back out again to get the steam for turning a turbine to generate power? I still can’t believe that all those systems, as sophisticated, expensive and dangerous as they are – that are in nuclear plants – just to boil water . . .
I’ve had it with hearing that the exposures of these radioactive isotopes from nuclear plant incursions is the same as the dose in a chest x-ray
Nobody stands in front of a chest x-ray machine for three hours solid or for three days constantly – and if they did, guess what would happen? Those same x-rays and gamma radiation killed the people who experimented with it and designed it – the effects are cumulative on top of everything it damages in the first place and with each moment of exposure.
So, the part the media is missing is that these exposure rates being expressed by “officials” and experts who want to downplay the dangers are neglecting to mention that it is the rate for the one minute being tested. But, the human being’s entire surface area including every single cell in the body (3-dimensionally) is receiving the full dose of that minute times however many minutes they are exposed – in this case 3 days times 24 hours a day times 60 minutes an hour times the doses of radiation per minute they received. Stop playing with this stuff.
If I’m wrong, then fine – I’m wrong. But, if there is information all over the official scientific information that says I’m right – then a difference of opinion is not going to make that one bit different. And it isn’t pretty.
So, that means – if someone stood at the gate of the Fukushima plant today for one minute – they would be getting a chest x-ray. The plume went up and bellowed outward – so, standing a mile from the plant or twenty miles away for ten minutes would be what? For three hours? For 3 days? For 96 hours? For the next week?
Who would stand in an x-ray machine for a solid week twenty-four hours a day and expect that it would have no effect on them?