Japanese government honours war criminals yet again


This video says about itself:

11 September 2013

Aug 15, 1945 – Japan officially surrendered and thereby ended World War II. Every year nationalistic rightwing groups gather to protest the Peace Anti-War demonstrators at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine. Yasukuni Shrine dates back to the mid-19th Century and it is a shrine for the souls of all those who died serving the Emperor. In 1978 the spirits of Class A war criminals were enshrined there and subsequent official government visits there have often sparked outrage with Asian countries who suffered from Japan’s actions in WWII.

On the anniversary of Japan’s surrender, a peace protest is organized which marches near the shrine.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

China protests at Japanese PM’s latest WW2 shrine tribute

Shinzo Abe sends ornaments to Yasukuni shrine, regarded by victims of wartime atrocities as symbol of militarism

Friday 17 October 2014 09.25 BST

China’s foreign ministry has expressed serious concern after the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, sent a ritual offering to Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine, where war criminals are honoured among 2.5 million casualties from the second world war.

Dozens of legislators prayed at the site in the latest staging of a ceremony that has repeatedly drawn rebukes from Japan’s neighbours.

Yasukuni honours war criminals, including Hideki Tojo, among the millions it commemorates. Many Asian victims of Japan’s wartime atrocities, especially China and the Koreas, see the shrine as a symbol of militarism.

“China is seriously concerned about and resolutely opposed to the negative tendencies which have appeared in Japan regarding the Yasukuni shrine,” the Chinese foreign ministry said.

Abe last visited Yasukuni in December, triggering anger from China and South Korea. On Friday, he sent a set of Shinto-style masakaki ornaments to mark the shrine’s autumn festival, one of three major events when Japan’s conservatives come to pray there.

The chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said Abe made the gesture as a private citizen based on his personal belief.

A group of 110 legislators and 80 aides prayed at the shrine for the war dead. Cabinet members were mostly expected to stay away. The internal affairs and communications minister, Sanae Takaichi, told reporters she would attend, while Yauhisa Shiozaki, the minister of health, labour and welfare, offered religious ornaments similar to Abe’s.

Not really surprising for Ms Takaichi, as she has connections to open neo-nazis.

Abe is in Italy for the Asia-Europe meeting and is scheduled to return to Japan on Saturday.

Butterflies dying in Fukushima


This video from China is about a pale grass blue butterfly.

From BioMed Central:

Are butterflies still fluttering in Fukushima?

September 23, 2014 at 9:00 am

In this guest blog, Joji M. Otaki discusses the impact feasting on radioactively contaminated leaves has on the surrounding blue butterfly population.

The collapse of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011 is the second largest nuclear accident, next to Chernobyl, in the history of mankind. Many theoreticians and politicians have claimed, without any field-based or experimental evidence, that there are no harmful biological effects caused by the released artificial radionuclides.

Even worse, some biologists have claimed that there are no biological impacts in the polluted area, based solely on fragmentary data from a short survey or a non-informative experiment (or based on irrelevant data) that have no power to resolve the issue. These claims were often relatively well advertised.

However, this situation has changed in recent years. For example, it has already been reported that some animals, especially butterflies, decreased in number in the polluted areas in Fukushima, based on field surveys conducted by Prof. Timothy Mousseau and his colleagues. We have been working on the pale grass blue butterfly, Zizeeria maha, to evaluate the biological impacts of the accident … . We are sure that this species of butterfly was considerably affected by the accident, based on several field surveys, rearing experiments in our laboratory, external exposure experiments, and internal exposure experiments, some of which have already been published. The internal exposure experiments were performed in the previously published papers by feeding Okinawa larvae (least affected in Japan) leaves contaminated at high levels.

Now in the paper just published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, we tested if leaves contaminated at relatively low (or very low) levels from places where many people live could be harmful to this butterfly from Okinawa. As expected, leaves contaminated at very low levels (e.g., Okinawa, 0.2 Bq/kg; Atami, 2.5 Bq/kg) did not show any significant effect. However, to our surprise, leaves contaminated at relatively low levels, approximately 100 Bq/kg (e.g., Koriyama, 117 Bq/kg), resulted in a mortality rate of more than 50%. This result differs from the previous one which was based on leaves contaminated at relatively high levels (e.g., Fukushima, 7,860 Bq/kg; Iitate-flatland, 10,170 Bq/kg) see). Because the breeding lines used in these two experiments were different, the difference indicates sensitivity variation within this single species.

Indeed, in our experiments, a mortality rate never reached 100%, even in feeding leaves contaminated at extremely high levels. In other words, some are completely fine at least morphologically, but others are heavily ill or dead. Sensitivity to radiation varies very much among individuals.

The ingestional impacts appear to be transgenerational, as the body size (more precisely, the forewing size) of this butterfly decreased in the offspring generation. Moreover, the sensitivity of the offspring generation increased, resulting in very high mortality rates. Interestingly, feeding the offspring larvae non-contaminated leaves resulted in low mortality rates.

Of course, we do not know how much of our experimental results from the pale grass blue butterfly are applicable to humans. However, it is widely believed among modern biologists that insights obtained from one biological system are largely applicable to other systems. This is why biologists study model organisms such as the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Studies on this insect have greatly contributed to our understanding of humans.

To my knowledge, there have been no cases of human health effects of the Fukushima accident reported in scientific literature thus far, although anecdotal evidence has been around. To be sure, human-based studies are slow, descriptive, less conclusive, and more often a target of political pressure, compared with insect studies, but of course human studies are necessary. I believe that at least some studies on human health will appear sooner or later in scientific literature.

‘Remember Fukushima': Thousands rally against nuclear restart in Japan — Common Dreams: here.

Tepco struggling to win approval of fishermen over water-discharge plan — The Asahi Shimbun; The Japan Times: here.

Tritium up tenfold in Fukushima groundwater after Typhoon Phanfone — The Japan Times; Fukushima plant prepares for typhoon Vongfong — IANS, Yahoo! News: here.

About a third of the 180 monitoring cameras installed at the experimental Monju fast-breeder reactor were found broken during a safety inspection last month, a source familiar with the matter said, renewing concerns about safety management at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which runs it: here.

More than 25,000 people will never go home because of Fukushima contamination — Rob Edwards, Sunday Herald: here.

Orchids of Ameland island


This video is called Japanese wild orchid hunt: the search for Calanthe sieboldii.

On 21 September 2014, Vroege Vogels radio in the Netherlands reported about the Groene Strand beach on Ameland island.

New sand dunes are forming there. They attract special plant species.

Including the rare fen orchid.

Other orchid species there: southern marsh orchid; early marsh orchid; and marsh helleborine.

Almere orchids destroyed: here.

Japanese government, friends of neo-nazi fuehrer


Pictures from Japanese neo-Nazi Kazunari Yamada’s website show him posing with Shinzo Abe’s internal affairs minister, Sanae Takaichi, and his party’s policy chief, Tomomi Inada. Photograph: Guardian

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Neo-Nazi photos pose headache for Shinzo Abe

Two newly promoted political allies of Japanese PM shown smiling alongside far-right figure Kazunari Yamada

Justin McCurry in Tokyo

Tuesday 9 September 2014 05.18 BST

Barely a week after Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, overhauled his administration amid flagging popularity, two of his senior colleagues have been forced to distance themselves from rightwing extremism after photographs emerged of them posing with the country’s leading neo-Nazi.

Sanae Takaichi, the internal affairs minister, was among a record-equalling five women selected by Abe as he attempts to make his cabinet more female voter-friendly and to increase women’s presence in the workplace.

Takaichi, an Abe ally on the right of the governing Liberal Democratic party (LDP), was pictured posing alongside Kazunari Yamada, the 52-year-old leader of the National Socialist Japanese Workers party, on the neo-Nazi party’s website.

A smiling Takaichi and Yamada appear together standing in front of a Japanese flag.

Yamada has voiced praise for Adolf Hitler and the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre. In a YouTube video Yamada’s supporters are seen wearing swastika armbands, while he denies the Holocaust took place and criticises postwar Germany’s ban on the Nazi salute, accusing the country of being “no different from North Korea”.

This video about Yamada is called 密着24時!日本のネオナチ – A Japanese Neo-Nazi.

Takaichi met Yamada “for talks” at her office in the summer of 2011, according to her office. Confirming the photographs were genuine, a spokesman for Takaichi claimed her office had been unaware of Yamada’s extremist views at the time.

Media coverage prompted her office to request that the photographs be removed but by then they had already been widely circulated on social media.

A second photograph shows Yamada standing alongside Tomomi Inada, another close Abe ally who was given the powerful job of LDP policy chief. Inada’s office was quick to distance the MP from Yamada, whose website celebrates the “samurai spirit” and proclaims that the “sun shall rise again”, saying it would be disappointed if the photograph led people to “misunderstand what she does”.

While there is no evidence that either politician shares Yamada’s neo-Nazi ideology their appointment has fuelled accusations that Abe is taking his administration even further to the right.

Takaichi and Inada have both visited Yasukuni shrine, which honours Japan’s war dead, including 14 class-A war criminals; last week, Takaichi said she would visit Yasukuni again, this time in her role as minister. “I’ve been visiting Yasukuni as one Japanese individual, to offer my sincere appreciation to the spirits of war dead,” she told reporters. “I intend to continue offering my sincere appreciation as an individual Japanese.”

China and South Korea view politicians’ pilgrimages to the shrine as evidence that Japan has yet to atone for atrocities committed on the Asian mainland before and during the second world war.