Raised in the tumult of Japan’s industrial powerhouse, the 11 men and women profiled in A Different Kind of Luxury have all made the transition to sustainable, fulfilling lives. Based on Andy Couturier's popular articles in The Japan Times, this lushly designed volume has a wealth of stories about real people who have created an abundance of time for contemplation, connecting with the natural world, and contributing to their communities. In their success is a lesson for us all: live a life that matters. Read an excerpt of the book here or here. Read a review of the book here, here, or here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Update on Nuclear Situation in Japan

I just spoke on the phone with Oizumi.  He's asked us to buy him some radiation meters, and we've finally been able to find ones that are appropriate.  I'll tell you how he's going to use them below, but first, here's what he reported about nuclear power in Japan.

San Oizumi, anti-nuclear activist
profiled in Chapter One of
A Different Kind of Luxury
"There are 54 nuclear reactors total in Japan.  Only 14 are currently in operation.  Since the earthquake and tsunami and the meltdown at Fukushima, they [the government or electric companies] have not been able to restart a single one.   All the planned reactors that are in the pipeline to be built have been halted."

I asked Oizumi if he thought that if the conservative party [the LDP] got back into power that they would be able to restart those plants.

He said, "That's not going to be so easy to do, the citizen's movement is too powerful."

So that's good news.  And I should say, Oizumi (who you can read about in Chapter One of the book) is not at all prone to wishful thinking or blind optimism.

Still, of course, there is terrible nuclear poisoning that has happened in Japan, and good and trustworthy data is very hard to get.  (Remember the government and Tokyo electric swore that there had not been any radiation at all released in the first week after the tsunami.  In fact, there were three full meltdowns.)

Oizumi said that he and the others in the local citizens movement (Oizumi lives in Central Japan, near the city of Nagoya which is between Tokyo and Osaka) are forming a group to monitor radiation levels, and have gotten a very large and sophisticated radiation monitor.  The seven devices that we are buying for him and sending there will be sent to Fukushima, to Miyagi prefecture, and to the plant in Hamaoka.

Oizumi with his second daughter

The best news however, is that through conservation and the reduction in electricity use in Japan since the disaster there have been no power outages.  Oizumi said, "By turning down air conditioners and reducing power usage, Japan has had enough power.  And that means that we do not need any more nuclear power stations, and that we do not need to restart any of the closed ones.  We have enough."


  1. You should also advice him to get in touch with members of "Safecast", a group of citizen/scientists who are mapping radiation in Japan without any government intervention. They are on the web!

  2. Hi Andy!
    I came across your book while browsing at my local library and was immediately struck by the title which resonated with me 100%. Plus! I've visited Japan a few times in my recent life and have been very moved by their culture and traditions. I'm now into the 3rd story of your book and so far, its been so so inspiring and uplifting. My husband and I have left our corporate jobs 3 years ago and went wwoofing in the UK and have been exploring an alternative, low impact life since then. But we are from Singapore, where there is a major land scarcity (5 million people living on 700km2, choosing to live this way has been a huge challenge. It's just not as straight forward as being from a country where you can just 'leave' the city and go into the mountains to live. There is practically no countryside here. In anycase, we are trying to figure it all out. And it's just wonderful to come across inspiring material and people to motivate us. I also dabble with a bit of writing too... so
    we have a blog too about our journey - http://ignorancetoenlightenment.blogspot.com/ and infact, i just blogged about your book in my latest post. Now that I've found your blog, I will add a link as well to you!
    Good luck with everything! Namaste.