Researcher: Children's cancer linked to Fukushima radiation

TOKYO (AP) — A new study says children living near the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer at a rate 20 to 50 times that of children elsewhere, a difference the authors contend undermines the government's position that more cases have been discovered in the area only because of stringent monitoring.

Most of the 370,000 children in Fukushima prefecture (state) have been given ultrasound checkups since the March 2011 meltdowns at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. The most recent statistics, released in August, show that thyroid cancer is suspected or confirmed in 137 of those children, a number that rose by 25 from a year earlier. Elsewhere, the disease occurs in only about one or two of every million children per year by some estimates.

spent fuel rods in Japanese storage pool
AP Photo/Koji Sasahara

US experts warn plutonium stocks could soar in East Asia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Experts warn that Northeast Asia could see a dangerous growth in stocks of weapons-usable plutonium — and U.S. lawmakers say Obama administration policies could be making matters worse.

Japan plans to open as early as next spring a plant that could reprocess enough spent reactor fuel to make as many as 1,000 nuclear bombs a year. The plutonium that is produced is supposed to be for generating electricity, but Japan already has tons on hand and no use for it, with its reactors at a virtual halt following the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster. Local politicians are aggressively backing the plant, eager for investment in a remote northern region.


Oil prices pressured by weak Japanese economic data


Weak consumer data from Japan and a cut in Standard & Poor’s oil projections were pressuring oil prices early Friday. West Texas Intermediate crude rose just 36 cents  to $45.27 a barrel in electronic trading on the Nymex, while London Brent increased 16 cents to $48.33, Reuters reports.


Oil lower on Japan data


Data showing a decline in Japanese exports raised fears about economic growth, pressuring oil prices early Thursday. U.S. benchmark crude dropped 60 cents to $46.55 a barrel in electronic trading on the Nymex, while in London Brent fell 65 cents to $49.10, Reuters reports.

Japan trade deficit narrows in August on lower oil imports

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's trade deficit narrowed in August from the year before as costs for crude oil imports plunged and exports to the U.S. showed steady growth.

The customs data released Thursday showed a 4.2 percent drop from August a year earlier in the volume of exports for the world's third-largest economy, likely mainly reflecting weakness in shipments to China.


Oil mixed on drop in US inventories, weak Asia data


Weak economic signals from Japan and China, alongside a Genscape estimate of a drop in U.S. crude inventories, kept oil prices in check early Tuesday. U.S. benchmark crude gained 15 cents to $44.15 a barrel in electronic trading on the Nymex, while in London Brent lost 6 cents to $46.31, Reuters reports.


Slight changes in oil prices on Asian stock news


Strong stock news from China and Japan on Wednesday helped stabilize oil prices, Reuters reports. Brent crude rose 9 cents to $49.61 per barrel, while U.S. crude dropped 6 cents to $45.88.

Can towns near Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant recover?

NARAHA, Japan (AP) — A few signs of life are returning to this rural town made desolate by the Fukushima nuclear disaster four-and-a-half years ago: Carpenters bang on houses, an occasional delivery truck drives by and a noodle shop has opened to serve employees who have returned to Naraha's small town hall.

But weeds cover the now rusty train tracks, there are no sounds of children and wild boars still roam around at night. On the outskirts of town, thousands of black industrial storage bags containing radiation-contaminated soil and debris stretch out across barren fields.

Pacific bluefin tuna group puts off new moves to save fish

TOKYO (AP) — An international body that monitors fisheries in most of the Pacific Ocean ended a meeting in Japan on Thursday without agreement on fresh measures to protect the dwindling bluefin tuna.

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission was unable to get a consensus on either short-term or long-term measures to help restore the bluefin population, whose numbers are estimated to have fallen 96 percent from unfished levels.

Hitachi eyes expansion into offshore wind parts


Hitachi Ltd. is looking to expand its research into offshore wind energy and is considering development of a new manufacturing line that would produce parts for 5-megawatt systems by March 2016, Bloomberg reports.


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