What Drives Change?

Mary Beth changing altitude.This website and blog serves to examine and question what drives change both in Japan and across the globe. Some key drivers are natural disaster, energy demands, demographic and environmental changes, and technology. I will attempt to bring a human face to these dynamic and interconnected issues through my experiences and observations.

In addition, please visit our non-profit site, Renew Yamada, to help in the rebuilding of Toshiaki’s hometown.

Fukushima-Not a Game

I have hesitated to write more on the condition and challenges of the Fukushima Nuclear site that was damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami for a few reasons; frustration, complexity, fear and yes, denial. However, a pleading e-mail from my typically logical, and cool-headed brother has motivated me again. The task list for TEPCO and the Japanese government is lengthy and complicated. Before they can even begin the unchartered path of normal decommissioning, they must first go where no man has gone before. Their first goal is to maintain a stable enough  environment just to prevent an unthinkable disaster. This includes the cumbersome chore of keeping the spent fuel rods cool.

Problem # 1- Water Leakage 

A leak here, a leak there

Water storage tanks(Asahi)Not unlike the ‘Whack-a-mole’ game found in arcades, where the goal is to hammer down a mole as it pops its head up, only to have another one pop up in another location, repeating this over and over until your time, money and/or energy runs out. So has it been with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The damaged pools holding the spent fuel rods need an endless source of water to keep them cool. The water then becomes contaminated.  While it is well known that much of that water has ‘flowed’ into the ocean, a concerted effort is being made to store the contaminated water in containers. The containers are being filled as fast as they can make them. For the last couple of months the nightly news has reported one container after another leaking radiated water.  As soon as they try to patch up one problem another one starts leaking, with no end in sight. Prime Minister Abe has asked for the world for help in this matter, signifying a sure lack of confidence. [Continue reading…]

The Marvels of Communication

Emi and Miki in grown up shoes

This article was originally posted on a Travel website- Novel Adventurers . It demonstrates the changes in communication technology, cultural understanding and connection. My husband, Toshiaki, and I have been married nearly 27 years. Today, it’s hard to believe that both sets of parents were not so thrilled about this union at the beginning. Our upbringings […]

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Okinawa’s Coral Reef Rehabilitation–Enjoy it While it Lasts


The energy of summer comes in many forms: sounds, smells, tastes, temperatures and sights. The orchestrated buzz of the cicadas are strong indicators of summers in Japan. Omatsuriall over the country bring aromas and flavors experienced, typically, in melting temperatures among pounding Taikovibrations. Visually, summer energy fills the night skies with man-made fireworks and natural star-filled vistas. […]

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Let the Sun Shine

Solar PV

  It’s easy to criticize, blame, and find fault in anything, but finding solutions, or at least partial ones–that takes some work. There has been a lot of blame and criticism concerning the nuclear industry and the Japanese government (albeit, well deserved). Japan’s safe energy independence is still a long way off. Just one look […]

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Nomads No More

We are Nomads no more. Well, at least for now. We have just finished nearly a year of ‘nouveau homelessness’. Upon our return to Japan, we were blessed to be allowed to ‘co-habitat’ with our dear friend, JoAnn, while periodically house-sitting for a few other friends. We learned the art of creative bartering and while […]

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Energy Usage – Can I Really Make a Difference


Can the efforts of one person really make a difference in the energy crisis? When it comes to the energy crisis, aren’t we really at the mercy of the decisions of governments and the financial concerns of the energy conglomerates and big industries? Most citizens know that fossil fuel sources are the main contributor to […]

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Energy-the Basics

BY MARY BETH HORIAI The environment column for Being A Broad this year will be dedicated to Energy and all it’s forms, usage, and mystery. Until recently, many humans take little care to know or understand where energy comes from, how it is produced into electricity and other forms of power, and what the impacts are from […]

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How has Tohoku changed us?

No matter where you were on March 11, we will forever be changed. The images that remains fixed in our minds of floating houses and cars, faces of people struggling to make sense of things, and then the amazing movement of the collective human heart. Whether the events in Tohoku changed us or woke-up our […]

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Fukushima in the US? How would America cope?

Source: The Guardian (UK)

Last week twelve members from the IAEA’s International Remediation Expert Mission, representing several countries visited Japan to inspect, assess and help with clean-up plans and future waste management. Why this concern and assistance from experts outside of Japan? Well, any country with nuclear reactors, more likely, fear ever having to be in the position Japan […]

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The ‘New Homeless’


One driver of change I haven’t discussed yet is a changing economy. In most developed countries, high levels of GDP usually indicate a sign of a strong economy. The general understanding is that the more we buy and own the better off we are. The biggest purchase for most individuals is their home. We have […]

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