Foreign firms largely excluded in Fukushima clean-up

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  • 19

    paulinusa

    As expected and just business as usual. It's not about doing the most effective job at the best cost savings. I won't list all the reasons why, that would take too long, but I'm sure those of you who live in Japan and/or know about Japanese business culture already have an idea of what I'm talking about.

  • 8

    Probie

    Japan is failing to keep a pledge to tap global expertise to decommission its crippled reactors, executives at nuclear contractors from the United States and Europe say.

    What? Did people actually expect them to keep that pledge?

  • 17

    tapi0ca

    Foreign firms simply sell their product without providing back-up services or maintenance. We can’t sign a contract with a company that we can’t get in touch with immediately and one that will rush to deal with any problems right away, the executive said.

    Uh... kind of like, er, TEPCO?

  • 11

    kurisupisu

    As in the past,Japan has shown itself to be stuck,to use a Freudian term-in the anal phase. In the 1995 Kobe earthquake foreign volunteer doctors were refused offers of expertise. Forward to 2011 in Fukushima where the Russians had a hospital ship uniquely able to anchor off remote coastal villages able to perform operations and help those with exposure and....rejected again? Massive amounts of money collected worldwide and in Japan and survivors are living in prefabs or sports centres. Dr Busby's initial start to aid Fukushima survivors with testing and low cost body cleansing medicines were met with death threats and had to be abandoned no less. The Japanese executive's surmisation that “Foreign firms simply sell their product without providing back-up services or maintenance. We can’t sign a contract with a company that we can’t get in touch with immediately and one that will rush to deal with any problems right away,” is with the advent of the phone and email and the number of foreign firms doing business in Japan is just another example of misguided Nihonjin ron. However, all the while it takes Japan to sort out this problem it can be seen that myriad meltdowns are still poisoning the world-cooling water as well as radioactive gases are escaping 24 hours a day and have been doing so since March 2011, The number of workers able to work at the plants is falling since there aren't enough people around with low exposure to continue this dangerous work. What will be the result of this prevarication and head in the sand mentality be? Well,studies on insects by researchers from Fukushima by researchers at Hokkaido university have found the same abnormalities as those seen in children born after the Chernobyl accident-gross bodily defects-bear in mind that the cleanup there took weeks and the concrete cover was made a priority. In Japan what remedial work can be done when nobody knows where the melted cores are located or even how to access and handle highly dangerous radioactive material?

    What is certain is that Japan needs all the help it can get-it is a pity that the powers in Japan don't realize this....

  • 4

    hereforever

    Give all LPD members a 10million a year pay cut and the money is there. And can still afford their lobster dinners, luxury homeS , carS and life and the actual hard working taxpayer can enjoy life a little better.

  • 12

    tkoind2

    Like everything else here, if you are not a Japanese company, good luck getting the job. Japan's closed minded business thinking is why even Myanmar is more attractive than Japan to global business. Is it any wonder they are failing their promise for this issue?

    Japan is sometimes as exclusive and backwards as it can possible be in a modern world. Too bad the people here continue to tolerate this kind of 19th century behavior.

  • 2

    whiskeysour

    Japan is failing to keep a pledge to tap global expertise to decommission its crippled reactors, executives at nuclear contractors from the United States and Europe say.

    Looks like they are sweeping something under the rug. Coverup maybe ? Maybe they (international contractors ) will find faulty work and construction. maybe the power plants are held up by glue and paper clips. lol

    Who knows ??? Maybe all of them have stress fractures and cracks..... Kind of normal in a earthquake prone enviroment.....

  • 2

    Elbuda Mexicano

    Japan has nobody to blame but itself, so if Fukushima etc..is screwed for a long time, JAPAN is 99.9999% to blame!

  • 5

    Pukey2

    Let them clean up their own mess then. But don't complain when foreigners have left the country and no tourists come when the next incident occurs.

  • 12

    ebisen

    R U kidding us? Fukushima is the perfect cash cow for hundreds of local suppliers, for the next century. All funded by the public. Why share this pie with foreign companies? Do you really believe the local companies have an interest into finishing the cleanup faster and more efficiently?

  • 3

    JeffLee

    Japan Inc. is clearly not qualified to participate in the global economy. And Europe and Canada want a "free trade" deal with Japan? LOL!! Good luck with that one.

    "We sell to you, but you don't sell to us, except maybe cut tulips, muesli and crude oil." That's Japanese people's idea of "free trade."

  • 5

    gogogo

    “There appears to be a desire to treat this as a science project and reinvent the wheel,” Jeffrey Merrifield, senior vice president of U.S. nuclear engineering firm Shaw Group Inc’s power division told Reuters.

    Welcome to Japan

  • 1

    gaijinfo

    "We sell to you, but you don't sell to us, except maybe cut tulips, muesli and crude oil." That's Japanese people's idea of "free trade."

    Japan's like a childish women who wants her partner to communicate his emotions. Only what she really means is only the emotions she wants to hear.

    • Moderator

      All readers back on topic please.

  • 6

    lostrune2

    They don't want foreigners to know what really goes on in their closed world.

  • 7

    GW

    after 3-11 I was involved in maybe importing prefabricated housing & portable toilets(Urayasu & similar) & there was no way you'd get anywhere so those ideas were quickly tossed.

    Thankfully I was able to import & deliver a lot of US donated baby formula that THANKFULLY Customs did waive normal food/drug testing issues so was able to get it in & to people in need.

    But overall Japan Inc doesnt really want any help, they dont care about their own people so why'd they care about foreign businesses participating in the cleanup etc.

  • 5

    HollisBrown

    I'm sure a lot of this is down to the foreign firms not having the same 'links' as the Japanese companies that are winning the contracts.

    However, the following quote pretty much sums up Japanese thinking for me:

    Foreign firms simply sell their product without providing back-up services or maintenance. We cant sign a contract with a company that we cant get in touch with immediately and one that will rush to deal with any problems right away, - the executive said.

    The 'fear' of the foreign entity yet again. I just read through that quote and squirm. To use such a sweeping generalization to reach an absolute conclusion that business cant be done with foreign firms makes me irate.

    The most galling thing is I'm sure the executive who said the above would have no problem doing business with the likes of TEPCO, NEXCO, Olympus etc.

  • 2

    basroil

    HollisBrownDec. 17, 2012 - 10:37AM JST

    I'm sure a lot of this is down to the foreign firms not having the same 'links' as the Japanese companies that are winning the contracts.

    If by "links" you mean bribes, then yes. So far the only companies to win any contracts are those with worldwide exclusive technologies, and they are time limited contracts until Japanese companies develop something halfway as good.

  • 0

    Disillusioned

    A government oversight panel has estimated it will cost $15 billion to decommission the reactors, not counting for the costs of disposing of radioactive waste.

    But, nuclear energy is cheap, right? - It's been well known that TEPCO and the J-Gov did not want foreign intervention in the cleanup of Fukushima, simply because they were afraid of the ridicule and backlashes over their inadequacies, lies and dithering over the cleanup operation.

  • 6

    Lilic

    TRANSPARENCY ‘NO. 1 PRIORITY’ Thats a very funny Joke!

  • 3

    Spidey

    To be expected when the Yaks (wolves) are running the show.

    Sheep indeed.

    S

  • 3

    tokyobakayaro

    First we have this:

    Foreign firms largely excluded in Fukushima clean-up

    Then:

    I would tell you that if the roles were reversed, Americans would want American firms leading the way, said John Raymont, president and CEO of Kurion.

    Double standard, anyone?

  • 6

    smithinjapan

    "Foreign firms simply sell their product without providing back-up services or maintenance. We can’t sign a contract with a company that we can’t get in touch with immediately and one that will rush to deal with any problems right away,”

    Utter BS. The problem is that if you hire foreign firms, the work will be done quickly and you'll have to pay them in full, instead of prolonging the work in order to line the pockets of the yakuza. TEPCO has already admitted, among the late pile of admissions, that it has hired people through 'shady companies', and though they complained it might hurt them and they will TRY to change, they aren't going to. Hiring only Japanese companies ensures that they can pat each other on the back and continue to cut corners while begging handouts from the government.

  • 2

    The_True

    Let's be Honest here! When other countries will start playing the same game to Japanese company?

    Japan don't play fair, other country need to see that, and start by stoping Japanese companies doing business in they countries.

  • 1

    some14some

    Foreign firms largely excluded in Fukushima clean-up

    that's alright, invite and give them red carpet welcome when everything is cleaned up by domestic help.

  • 0

    basroil

    smithinjapanDec. 17, 2012 - 11:59AM JST

    Utter BS. The problem is that if you hire foreign firms, the work will be done quickly and you'll have to pay them in full,

    Yup, most foreign firms have offices here and for lucrative contracts like this, they'll send over a hundred engineers overnight if they get paid. Most of the contracts have nothing to do with Japan though, most of it is R&D and products that can be designed elsewhere and assembled by Japanese companies if needed. All they need here is a turnkey solution to certain problems, so no reason why foreign companies can't do as well a job. And as you mentioned, they probably will do a better job since they don't have other interests.

  • 10

    Scrote

    I think you'll find that the nuclear plants at Fukushima are emitting a unique, Japanese radiation which is different from radiation found elsewhere in the world. It is, therefore, entirely understandable that only Japanese companies are able to work with these radioactive substances.

  • -3

    LFRAgain

    The first most telling quote in this article:

    "I would tell you that if the roles were reversed, Americans would want American firms leading the way," said John Raymont, president and CEO of Kurion. "For companies that have the special know-how that is transferable, the doors are open."

    Mr. Raymont is one of several foreign companies that are helping with the cleanup.

    The second most telling quote:

    "Some executives worry that being shut out now risks their ability to tap a growth market, since Japan could scrap dozens of reactors over the coming decades."

    This speaks more to the issue than anything else in the article or in this comment thread. It's not about Japan benefiting from foreign expertise. It's not about saving the Japanese taxpayer money. It's about these companies not being able to get their foot in the door of lucrative government contracts providing a service that Japan is perfectly capable of providing for itself. And they're whining about it.

    I'm just going to go out on a limb here and suggest that perhaps the primary reason Japan wants to direct the money earmarked for cleanup to local companies might be because it wants to keep as much of that money as possible in local economies that are being battered by an 18-year+ recession.

    Or maybe not. Maybe those secretive, inefficient, double-dealing, selfish, inscrutable Japanese really are just out to screw the rest of the world by blocking foreign companies from wallowing in largesse born of catastrophe, as most posters here would suggest. Yeah, that’s got to be it. (Rolls eyes…)

  • 1

    Row Bur

    When the last clean land in Japan is poisoned, the last fish taken, then you can bet Japan will expect other countries to allow them land. Im afraid the world will have seen the lies and self deceit that destroyed a once proud culture. No one is gonna help if you wont help yourselves.

  • -3

    basroil

    LFRAgainDec. 17, 2012 - 02:30PM JST

    It's about these companies not being able to get their foot in the door of lucrative government contracts providing a service that Japan is perfectly capable of providing for itself.

    If they were perfectly capable, why haven't they done everything already? Japanese companies are fine for certain thing, but what you are asking is in violation of international treaties, and will cost Japan far more in payback than they would "save" keeping it in a protectionist state.

  • 5

    JeffLee

    @LFRAgain

    The presence of foreign firms would raise competitiveness in an otherwise bloated and inefficient sector. That would, yes, LOWER the cost to Japanese taxpayers.

    Furthermore, foreign investment in Japan creates jobs, it doesn't take them away. Just think of the hundreds of thousands Japanese in Japan employed by some of the world's most cutting-edge firms: Amazon, Starbucks, Apple, Google, etc.

    The old 1950s economic model of shutting out foreigners doesn't work anymore, in fact it's been hurting Japan. That much should be clear.

  • -1

    Eppee

    There is obviously huge amounts involved there, no Japanese official would like to see this cash leaving the country, nothing surprising there. Everybody is doing the same ...

  • 3

    Brian Wheway

    Do you ever get the feeling that they are closing ranks agian? why? Japan your in the crap and you need out side help decomitioning these reactors ! This Stubborn mule headed attitude needs to change!!

  • 4

    Alex Einz

    Fukushima is turning into huge business opportunity and money making machine, simply because there is no regulations or transparency and more money can be funneled there as needed, nobody involved in that business is interested in a fast and good job. Nothing surprising that foreign companies are not allowed in unless they are part of the amakudari concern.

  • -3

    LFRAgain

    basroil,

    "If they were perfectly capable, why haven't they done everything already?"

    Against whom or what are you measuring Japan's progress? Against private corporations that have done little but whine about how they could do it better, if only they were given a chance -- a claim for which there is scant evidence?

    Where's the proof of their purported superiority in cleaning up nuclear disasters? No, seriously. I'm curious to know exactly what nuclear catastrophe these private companies cut their teeth on that gives them such a superior and definitive edge over Japan's private corporations. It most certainly wasn't Cherynobl, I can assure you. So if not that, then what? Have there been other nuclear disasters of the magnitude of Fukushima that I'm not aware of?

  • 9

    zichi

    All the work in Fukushima, including the ¥13 billion decontamination work is being done by the top 5 construction companies, the same ones which built the atomic plants in the first place. The decontamination work is taking than expected and at the current rate of progress it could take 5-10 years which will see that ¥13 billion triple or quadruple, which is probably the intention of the slow progress.

    The nuclear refugees are just pawns in a rich man's game.

  • 2

    bajhista65

    Foreign firms largely excluded in Fukushima clean-up; “THE DOORS ARE OPEN” Shaw’s Merrifield said his company was no longer working on any projects in Fukushima. Shaw sold its stake in nuclear plant company Westinghouse Electric Co to Toshiba for $1.6 billion in October.

    I am quite confused with this news.. Foreign firems largely excluded. Merrifield complaining but have already earned $1.6 Billion by selling his stake

    There will be large sum of money here by Contractors and Sub Contractors and Sub sub Contractors and so on.

    PM elect Abe... you better look at this deals and imposed strict TRANSPARENCY .

  • 1

    ramses68

    "The majority of contracts for Fukushima have been awarded directly by TEPCO, which outsources decontamination and debris-clearing to Yaks."

    Fixed

    "Hitachi GE Nuclear posts bid notices on its website in both English and Japanese. The company said it was working as quickly as possible to restore and rebuild Fukushima and the short bidding periods were not designed to shut out foreign firms."

    Umm... Restore the entire prefecture? Restore and rebuild the nuclear plant that is supposed to be shut down? I can't seem to wrap my mind around what EXACTLY it is that they are restoring? The confidence of the citizens of Japan, maybe?

  • -1

    basroil

    LFRAgainDec. 17, 2012 - 04:51PM JST

    Where's the proof of their purported superiority in cleaning up nuclear disasters? No, seriously. I'm curious to know exactly what nuclear catastrophe these private companies cut their teeth on that gives them such a superior and definitive edge over Japan's private corporations. It most certainly wasn't Cherynobl, I can assure you.

    Where's the proof that Japanese companies alone are competent enough to do it properly? Don't start making up garbage, because the last major incident, Chernobyl (or Chornobyl, not cherynobl), international companies were teaming up to provide services at competitive prices. Among them was a Japanese company JGC, which teamed up with private British and French companies for their bid. Similarly, Sellafield (horribly polluting military grade plutonium production facility that had many level 3-5 incidents) decommissioning is done in part by AXIOM, which is a multinational group comprised of British, French, and American companies. Sellafield is much like a slow motion Fukushima, having released 11PBq of CS137 in 1977-79 alone, and total CS-137 release larger than Fukushima. It's a bit more expensive for decommissioning, but that's because you have a dozen reactors and processing plants to deal with, rather than three and a half reactors.

    All work on the incident should be done according to best services for a reasonable price. The only way to get a reasonable price for good service is to allow multinational groups that can work together to bring expertise that the Japanese companies simply don't have.

  • -5

    basroil

    bajhista65Dec. 17, 2012 - 05:15PM JST

    I am quite confused with this news.. Foreign firems largely excluded. Merrifield complaining but have already earned $1.6 Billion by selling his stake

    You're probably confusing companies politics with contract politics. Shaw Group never worked on a TEPCO or government contract, rather Toshiba sub-contracts. And the $1.6billion stake was sold as part of the original terms of the 2006 purchase, where Toshiba promised to buy out the remainder of Westinghouse if Shaw wanted. That was in Sept 2011, and in Nov 2011 they were back doing subcontracting for Toshiba. The main issue with them now is that they are being bought out by Chicago Bridge and Iron, so the contract changes likely have nothing to do with the article issues (preferential treatment for Japanese companies), rather internal issues.

    Doesn't change the fact that all top-level contracts are given to Japanese companies even if they are notoriously bad managers.

  • -1

    philsandoz

    How many foreign firms were invited to take part in reconstruction efforts in Iraq after the second Gulf War? Almost none, with the vast majority of work going to Dubbya Bush-related companies such as Haliburton. This was much more egregious and downright greedy than Japan trying to do its own clean up.

  • -1

    herefornow

    “There appears to be a desire to treat this as a science project and reinvent the wheel,”

    Did anyone really expect any different? Japan Inc. caused this mess, so they were certainly going to try to save face by solving it in house -- plus keep all the money to themselves. Also with the world-renowned insularity of Japan, combined with likely poor Englsih skills by the folks involved in this, and there was really no chance of Japan tapping into much-needed expertise outside the country. So, once again, the Japanese citizen and tax payer will pay for the igorence and arrogance of big business.

  • 1

    Fadamor

    It's about these companies not being able to get their foot in the door of lucrative government contracts providing a service that Japan is perfectly capable of providing for itself. And they're whining about it.

    "Perfectly capable"?! Umm... did you actually READ the whole article?

    The majority of contracts for Fukushima have been awarded directly by TEPCO, which outsources decontamination and debris-clearing to general contractors.

    "General Contractors"... as in "I know how to build a brick wall or frame a house" contractors... hired to clean up and decommision a nuclear reactor. That's like asking a general practitioner to perform intricate brain surgery. If Japan had actual experts, they wouldn't be hiring general contractors.

  • -3

    Ch1n4Sailor

    “I would tell you that if the roles were reversed, Americans would want American firms leading the way,” said John Raymont, president and CEO of Kurion. “For companies that have the special know-how that is transferable, the doors are open.”

    Yes, and he's absolutely right... BUT....

    AND there's a few very very very big exceptions you have to take into consideration, First of ALL Japan has been a closed closed closed, 100% tariff country on a whole spectrum of imports for the last 70 years, while on the other hand, the U.S. (Albeit because of greedy capitalist) have gave Japan (and every other country) Free reign over selling any product they wanted to in America.... Now Time to Grow up Japan, You got your own way for the last 70 Years, now time to face up and play fair like an adult, no more kiddie games!

  • 0

    Aristoman

    It is so simple as it gets. Japan wants to keep the money in Japan. Lets wish them luck, and hope that they are right on this one. Unfortunately they were wrong by building NPPs on active faults.

  • -1

    LFRAgain

    "All work on the incident should be done according to best services for a reasonable price."

    Are you seriously suggesting that Japan divest itself of any say in how it cleans up a disaster on its own soil? Seriously? The word, "sovereignty" pops to mind, and last I heard, being a profit-making multinational doesn't automatically trump Japan seeking to pursue national interests, including keeping its citizens employed.

    And thanks, by the way, for framing your comments in the same silly pettiness it takes to nitpick typos. I'll file your considerations accordingly.

    Meanwhile, the multinationals for which you and others here are weeping can go wait for the next "growth market" disaster to fll their coffers and please their shareholders. Japan will do just fine without their "expertise."

  • -1

    LFRAgain

    "they were certainly going to try to save face by solving it in house -- plus keep all the money to themselves."

    What the hell?! Can you people actually hear yourselves? I wasn't aware that a disaster causing tens of billions of US$ in damages, and kiling some 15,000 people was to be considered a money making opportunity for the rest of the world.

    In fact, I don't recall ever seeing fine print at the Red Cross website, or any other NGO relief organatization's website saying anything to the effect of, "Use this money to rebuild, but only as long as you let us have a crack at some of it."

    Unfreakingbelievable, you people.

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