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Gas company urged restaurant at Fukushima blast site to fix rusty pipe

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"urged" well, glad to hear they did their utmost

13 ( +17 / -4 )

Restaurants seem to have a lot of leeway in Japan concerning health and safety. 90% of the eating establishments I have been to here are so dirty or ill-maintained that they would be closed down immediately back in the US. In Hawaii you can plainly see whether or not a restaurant has passed inspection with a highly visible placard. It doesn't surprise me at all that this restaurant chose to forego the repairs to the gas pipe. Japanese like to let places fall apart for some reason. A look at the outside and dining area of a restaurant will undoubtedly indicate the state of the back-of-house conditions. Be cautious where you eat in this country.

13 ( +19 / -6 )

90% of the eating establishments I have been to here are so dirty or ill-maintained that they would be closed down immediately back in the US.

I am thinking that you should start going to other places besides the 5 you seem to frequent. I have lived in Japan a very long time. I have seen my share of dirty dives both in Japan and America. I would say Japan has more but nowhere near 90 percent. Maybe more like 7 percent overall, more if you are in a downtown area.

Most places are certainly safe from explosions or this would happen more.

Restaurants seem to have a lot of leeway in Japan concerning health and safety.

Yes. And America is very strict because it has a history of restaurants poisoning patrons. Arguably they are still poisoning patrons today if the general health of Americans is any gauge. Most Japanese restaurants are clean, safe and serve actual fresh food.

Incidentally a KFC just exploded last year in North Carolina so lets not pretend this is some "Japan only" event.

-4 ( +11 / -15 )

Restaurants seem to have a lot of leeway in Japan concerning health and safety.

Yes. And America is very strict because it has a history of restaurants poisoning patrons. Arguably they are still poisoning patrons today if the general health of Americans is any gauge. Most Japanese restaurants are clean, safe and serve actual fresh food.

The simple answer is that in Japan, no one knows. Many developed countries have centralised restaurant safety/hygiene systems which actively sample, test enforce laws with regards to this issue. It may be done on a local or state level, but it is usually there. Generally a certificate is issued to the venue stating how well they are complying with local food safely laws, which is displayed for the public to see.

I don't see this occurring in Japan. Having lived, travelled and eaten extensively in the country. standards seem to vary considerably with the big chains and modern restaurants doing very well with in house systems. The problem is no one knows how well the tiny snacku bars, and mom/pop local stores are doing because no one is looking. Most take enormous pride in their products . . . but some don't or are incapable of doing so for various reasons.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Well, now there is a culprit, and if there is any paperwork trail here, it could very well be a case of criminal negligence on the part of the owner of the establishment.

Also the gas company should have contacted the proper authorities and had them shut it down until it was fixed!

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Restaurants seem to have a lot of leeway in Japan concerning health and safety.

This is a large misconception here. The local health office, "hoken jo" can and does close down establishments that fail inspections here.

Here is the key word though, "inspections", they are not carried out as much as they should be, and many places get away with a lot of crap, unless someone literally gets sick, or complaints are made and followed up by the proper authorities.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Gas pipes should not be corroding, so I suspect they had a water leak before the gas one... Furthermore, since the restaurant was undergoing renovations, why wasn't the gas supply isolated? I assume stopcocks exist in Japan.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

“urged" well, glad to hear they did their utmost

They fulfilled their responsibilities. They inspected, found a problem, and notified the people responsible for fixing the problem.

Also the gas company should have contacted the proper authorities and had them shut it down until it was fixed!

I doubt that is the law. And if that us the case, the gas company is not at fault.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The gas company ‘urged’ them to replace it? The restaurant should have been closed until it was replaced.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

@Vanessa Carlisle

Ok, so in the USA and else where in the civilized world, would the restaurant be urged or FORCED to replace the damaged pipe? So how many toilets in restaurants here in Japan have hot water AND soap? You realize rinsing hands in cold water actually does little to kill bacteria and virus. Yet employees do that and then gol prepare and serve your food. So, yeah it is a Japan thing.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Never heard of Nuroviris untill I got to Japan, washing hands obviously not a cultural thing hear. Being told a gass pipe is dodgy and an urge not enough, the business washed it's hands of this problem. And during a renovation it's the best time to have fixed it. Prevention is always better than a massive explosion.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

90% of the eating establishments I have been to here are so dirty or ill-maintained that they would be closed down immediately back in the US.

Total Bs and you know it.

and

Ok, so in the USA and else where in the civilized world

you mean like this'

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) estimates that about 2.4 million cases of foodborne illness occur every year in the UK.

The west is a pig pen. LOL

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

There seems to a big difference between gas for business use and gas for home use. I have propane. The gas supplier regularly, annually, checks for leaks. Propane is expensive in Japan, and one reason for this is that the gas supplier is responsible for safety. If I need a new gas outlet in a different room, they will fit it free of charge. They fitted two new connections free of charge.

Recently, I changed gas supplier. The new supplier found a minor leak inside my oven when they checked my house. They arranged for the part on the oven to be replaced and told me, not urged me, not to use the oven until it was fixed. They also said they could not take over as the new supplier until it was fixed.

This story surprises me. I wonder where the leak was because it seems the gas supplier has to maintain parts such as pipes from the tanks to the wall connections. They also have to check everything from the connection, but it is the owners responsibility to replace anything that side of the connection.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

It is not enough to urge in the interests of public safety

3 ( +3 / -0 )

When remodelling our front garden, we removed a lot of earth and found that our gas main was quite rusty, pitted and corroded, and requested the gas company to replace it. They told us just to cover it up again with soil, as exposing it had caused the rust!!!

When we finally got the ward office involved, we found that our house and three other houses were incorrectly all connected to a single gas line, and that all the lines had to be separated, replaced and re-routed.

Not impressed with Utilities!

12 ( +12 / -0 )

When we finally got the ward office involved, we found that our house and three other houses were incorrectly all connected to a single gas line, and that all the lines had to be separated, replaced and re-routed.

Bwahahahahaha!! That's great!! Good for you!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Never heard of Nuroviris untill I got to Japan, washing hands obviously not a cultural thing hear.

There are 685 million cases of norovirus yearly around the world. The figures vary, but the US gets around 20 million and Japan well under 1 million.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

yet I'd never heard of it that's my point, I did get it after 1year in Japan it's nasty, had to throw out my futon after. Australia, NZ not an issue as far as I know. It's a nasty thing to have dehydration is a give in when expelling body fluids with violence.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The gas company is getting a lot of grief in the comments, but in fairness it doesn't own the pipe, it was the responsibility of the restaurant owner to replace it when informed of the defect. I don't think the gas company did anything wrong by merely urging it.

I own a home here and the gas company sends a guy out to inspect our gas system once a year, as they do everywhere. If he finds a problem, he tells me and its my responsibility to pay to have it fixed. That is the way it works.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

90% of the eating establishments I have been to here are so dirty or ill-maintained that they would be closed down immediately back in the US.

Endlessly fascinating to hear how things are done over there. It sounds amazing.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

so in the USA and else where in the civilized world, would the restaurant be urged or FORCED to replace the damaged pipe?

As an American I hesitate to call my country "civilized". But yes, I do believe it would have been FORCED assuming it had even been found, as my countrymen do seem to have a particular bent using force. Meanwhile, I live in this country Japan, where people obey a stay at home request better than people in my country obey a stay home ORDER.

Truth be told neither the soft nor the hard way is perfect, but I see fewer bad incidents here in Japan with less authoritarianism. Not to say the Japanese are soft about everything, but I don't miss American authorities breathing down my neck or even the necks of others.

You realize rinsing hands in cold water actually does little to kill bacteria and virus.

That's nice. Hasn't seemed work so well with Covid-19 over there. And I tell you what. I never heard of Japanese spitting in customers food and spreading their hepatitis that way. Its happened quite a few times in my lovely, "civilized" country.

Holistically I have to choose Japan, warts and all. Sorry.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Cricky: ".... each year in Australia there are an estimated 1.8 million cases of norovirus infection, making it the most common cause of gastroenteritis [28]." Source - https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-cdna-norovirus.htm-l~cda-cdna-norovirus.htm-l-4

It's pretty common everywhere. I never paid that much attention to it either, but something to watch for.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Here in the UK we moan about health and safety regulations, when is comes to gas installations, they have to be 100% fit for purpose, urging some to fix a gas problem??? WTF no! the gas co is responsible as well as the owner, 1: the gas co TELLS the owner to fix it and they will be back to inspect it, if not they will not authorise its use and turn it off. 2: the owner gets it fixed, if not he's not in business, if he turns it back on its his responsibility for any problems brought about by his actions. like in this case where people are killed or injured, he should be arrested and charged with murder/manslaughter and or charged with X,Y, Z

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Whole lotta urgin’ goin’ on.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In my home country any time if the gas company finds out about any safety violation or potential issue like rusty pipes, their solution is simple. They cut the gas supply immediately and tag it as "unsafe".

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Correct me if I am wrong but in this instance the restaurant was drawing gas from outside tanks and the gas was propane, not natural gas. The tanks are serviced by one of several private companies that compete in the area on price and service, and it was this private company that notified the owner they had a rusty pipe. Being outside exposed to the elements it corroded, so it wasn't a case of a buried gas line corroding due to an adjacent water leak. The restaurant is not connected to a single underground and heavily regulated gas utility like one finds in the US or China for example. And, oh by the way, having a single regulated underground gas utility is no guarantee of safety. Just as the people of San Bruno California how that works !

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Why didn't the gas company notify the fire department and then the fire prevention officer would have shut down the restaurant until the pipe was replaced? That's how it works in most first world countries.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Why didn't the gas company notify the fire department and then the fire prevention officer would have shut down the restaurant until the pipe was replaced? That's how it works in most first world countries."

The "gas company" as you term it is not a public utility like you are thinking of with all the rules a public utility is required to follow. In this instance it's a company that comes around with a truck filling above ground propane tanks. They\ propane company may not even own the tanks. Think of trailers in a trailer park with their exposed propane tanks that a truck goes around filling each week. We have homes and businesses in the valley I live in that have the same sorts of outdoor propane tanks because there is no underground gas utility outside of the urban area. Most companies don't want to lose a customer by turning them in to the fire department. The driver probably saw the rusty pipe and made a comment to the owner it would be a good idea to replace it. I don't know the exact rules in Japan but that is how I am reading what happened.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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