Fukushima disaster, worse by typhoon Hagibis


This 17 July 2019 Australian TV video says about itself:

When Japan was rocked by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, we told ourselves the worst was behind us. Tens of thousands dead, an economy shattered, whole communities razed. Surely the Japanese had suffered enough. But as Liz Hayes discovered when she travelled to ground zero weeks later, the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is still leaking. And judging from the experience at Chernobyl, recovery won’t be measured in years. More like centuries.

Typhoon re-releases radioactive contamination from Fukushima — Beyond Nuclear: here.

Fukushima Daiichi Typhoon Hagibis damage update 10.15.19 — Simply Info: here.

Here is an honest and critical look at the reality of what is happening in Japan relating to releasing tons of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean and the coverup of radiation exposure and its related death toll.

How jellyfish regenerate body parts


This July 2017 video from Japan is about Cladonema pacificum jellyfish.

From Tohoku University in Japan:

Jellyfish‘s ‘superpowers’ gained through cellular mechanism

October 1, 2019

Jellyfish are animals that possess the unique ability to regenerate body parts. A team of Japanese scientists has now revealed the cellular mechanisms that give jellyfish these remarkable “superpowers”.

Their findings were published on August 26, 2019 in PeerJ.

“Currently our knowledge of biology is quite limited because most studies have been performed using so-called model animals like mice, flies, worms and fish etc. Given that millions of species exist on the earth, it is important to study various animals and broaden our knowledge,” said Yuichiro Nakajima, Assistant Professor at the Frontier Research Institute for Interdisciplinary Sciences, Tohoku University in Japan, and corresponding author of the study.

“Jellyfish are one of such animals with interesting biological features,” Nakajima said. “For example, they have stinging cells, called cnidocytes, to capture prey.”

Cnidarian jellyfish — named for their stinging cells — have existed on the earth for more than 500 million years. They form part of a unique group of animals that are not bilaterally symmetrical and also possess the capacity to regenerate body parts — a trait most of the complex animals, including humans, have lost. These early-diverging primitive animals could play a pivotal role in helping us better understand the evolutionary biology of bilaterally symmetrical animals, like us humans.

For their study, the researchers used Cladonema pacificum — a jellyfish species from the Cnidaria phylum that has branching tentacles — to investigate the spatial pattern of cell proliferation and their roles during jellyfish development and regeneration, aiming to establish the cellular basis of these phenomena. “With easy lab maintenance and a high spawning rate, Cladonema is suitable for studying various aspects of jellyfish biology,” Nakajima explained.

To investigate the role of cell proliferation following food uptake in determining body-size growth, appendage shape, and regeneration in Cladonema jellyfish, the researchers examined the distribution of cells that play a key role in DNA replication through cell division, producing new ‘daughter’ cells that are identical to the original ‘parent’ cell. They found spatially distinct groups of proliferating cells in the medusa (sexual) life-stage, with cell proliferation in the umbrella-shaped portion of their body being uniform, while cell proliferation in the tentacles was clustered.

After withholding food or blocking cell proliferation using a cell-cycle inhibiting agent, the researchers found body size growth was inhibited, and they also observed defects in tentacle branching, differentiation of stem cells into stinging cells, and regeneration. These results suggest that free-swimming adult jellyfish in the sexual stage possess actively proliferating cells that play a key role in controlling body-size, tentacle shape, and regeneration.

Additionally, the researchers found that when food was not available, the jellyfish exhibited a gradual decrease in body size after 24 hours, suggesting they are sensitive to food availability and are able to adapt to metabolic changes in response to environmental conditions.

“We are currently trying to understand the molecular mechanisms of Cladonema development and regeneration,” said Sosuke Fujita, a master student in the Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University, and the first author of the study. “Based on this research, molecular control of cell proliferation is the key to deciphering jellyfish growth and regeneration.

According to Nakajima, the researchers also plan to investigate the differences between the two different adult stages in jellyfish: medusae (sexual) and polyps (asexual). “For these purposes, we will identify gene expression changes associated with different developmental and regeneration contexts and plan to introduce genetic tools for manipulation of genes.”

Typhoon disaster in Japan, TEPCO, government fail


This 9 September 2019 video says about itself:

Typhoon Faxai lashes Tokyo, cutting power and transport

Japan is reeling from a powerful typhoon that has killed at least two people and injured dozens. Typhoon Faxai slammed into the greater Tokyo area and pounded the region with strong winds and torrential rain. Around 2,000 people had to be ordered to evacuate because of the danger of landslides. More than 130 flights were cancelled and many train lines were closed for hours, disrupting commute for millions.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Twelve days after the hurricane Faxai, 45,000 households in Japan are still without electric power. The Japanese energy company TEPCO reports this.

This is the same TEPCO which refused to pay for anti-tsunami measures at the Fukushima nuclear plant; which led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster which still continues.

In the country there is criticism of the repair work after the natural disaster.

TEPCO admits that the effects of the hurricane have been underestimated. “It’s worse than we thought”, says a spokesman. According to him, some affected areas were only reached late and it turned out that many posts and power lines had fallen over.

12,000 TEPCO employees were sent to the affected Chiba region, east of Tokyo, to repair the damage. But according to the energy company, it will take until at least 27 September until the power supply will be completely restored.

Poorly prepared

The major electricity problems are partly due to the fact that almost all power lines in Japan are above ground, but Japanese experts also think that the government and utility corporations were poorly prepared.

“They were too optimistic and did not start from the worst case scenario,” says a retired professor who specializes in disaster management. According to him, tree branches could, for example, have been preventively cut off so that they could not fall on the cables.

A government spokesman disagrees with the criticism. …

This is the right-wing Abe government which is in denial about the gravity of the Fukushima disaster.

More homes damaged

Faxai achieved wind speeds of more than 200 kilometers per hour. There was also a lot of rain. After the hurricane a dead person was reported: a woman was blown against a wall by the strong wind.

Initially it was reported that 4000 houses were damaged in the Chiba region, but that number has been adjusted to 20,000. Residents tell Japanese media that things are tough after the disaster. “Many houses still have no electricity and the roofs have been washed away. People live on the ground floors and make the best of it.”

After the hurricane a heat wave broke out, while due to power outages many air conditioners did not work. Two people died of heat stroke.

Accidents during recovery

Also, three people have died since the hurricane due to accidents in repairing their homes. More than a hundred people were injured. Many victims fell from great heights while repairing their roofs. Among the dead is a 94-year-old man who fell off his roof.

‘Stop Japanese militarist war flags at Olympics’


This 6 September 2019 video from South Korea says about itself:

The International Olympic Committee has said recently that it does not plan to stop Japanese fans next year at the Games in Tokyo from flying the so-called Rising Sun flag, a symbol highly offensive to people throughout Asia whose countries suffered under Japanese imperialism.

The IOC, so far, has said simply that the Olympics should be free of political statements, and that the flag itself is not inherently political.

Our Kim Bo-kyung takes a closer look at the issue.

To people in China, Korea and other countries in Asia, the Rising Sun flag was the symbol of the Japanese Empire as it took over their countries in whole or part in the early 20th century.

According to Alexis Dudden, a historian in the University of Conneticut, it is both unnecessary and unfortunate to see this flag still used by Japan’s self-defense forces, some sports fans and right-wing political groups.

She compared the use of the Rising Sun to the Confederate flag in the U.S., flown by the South in the American Civil War.

Like the Rising Sun, she said, the Confederate flag is now discredited not only because that side lost the war, but also because it causes deep pain and suffering to descendants of the victimized.

In her opinion, the IOC should reconsider allowing the Rising Sun flag next summer in Tokyo.

“It really is important IOC learns why this hurts so much. I mean, imagine this Los Angeles stadium Olympics full of American confederacy flags. That would be terrible.”

In fact, the design Japan has chosen for next year’s medals at the Paralympics feature elements that strongly resemble the Rising Sun, which Professor Dudden thinks is intentional.

“I find it deeply unfortunate that the Paralympics medals will have the Rising Sun flag on the medals that is displaying right now. I think that is a specific political act and it is up to IOC to recognize that there really is historical distinctions going on here.”

To settle the issue, she said it’s important to have an international conversation to educate people on how much suffering this flag still causes.

Along with that, she said she hopes the South Korean government can navigate the challenges Japan keeps putting in its way, and she urged the South Korean athletes who’ll be competing in Tokyo to rise above any provocations they encounter there.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

South Korea has urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban the ‘Flag of the Rising Sun’ around next year’s Games in Tokyo. The country expressed great concern about Japan’s plans to allow the flag in the stadiums.

South Korea finds the impact of the flag similar to what Nazi expressions are for Europeans, and calls it a symbol of Japanese aggression during the war in the first part of the last century.

The flag, with a sun in the middle and sixteen rays around it, has been the official war flag of the Japanese armed forces.

“The flag is a direct violation of the Olympic spirit, which promotes world peace and love for humanity,” writes the Asian peninsula country, which was occupied by Japan from 1910 to 1945.

Flag forbidden in football

The same discussion about whether or not to allow the flag took place earlier in football matches, after which FIFA decided to ban the flag in stadiums.

The IOC has only confirmed that the request from South Korea has been received in good order.

Rare Japanese salamanders, new research


This January 2019 video says about itself:

After the new setup for my group of Hida salamanders (Hynobius kimurae) is finished (setup video and information: here), it’s time to let them move in.

So here’s a short video of these salamanders in their new tank. The group consists of four adult H. kimurae and one adult H. nigrescens.

General information on Hynobius kimurae:

“The Hida salamander (Hynobius kimurae) is a species of salamander in the family Hynobiidae, the Asiatic salamanders. It is endemic to Japan. It lives in deciduous, coniferous, and mixed forests, where it breeds in streams.”

Now, about relatives of these salamanders.

From Kobe University in Japan:

GIS and eDNA analysis system successfully used to discover new habitats of rare salamander

September 6, 2019

A research team has successfully identified an unknown population of the endangered Yamato salamander (Hynobius vandenburghi) in Gifu Prefecture, using a methodology combining GIS and eDNA analysis. This method could be applied to other critically endangered species, in addition to being utilized to locate small organisms that are difficult to find using conventional methods.

The study was conducted by students from the Bioscience team in Gifu Senior High School’s Nature and Science Club (which has been conducting research into the species for 13 years). They were supervised by teachers and aided by university researchers, including Professor Toshifumi Minamoto from Kobe University’s Graduate School of Human Development and Environment. The project was a collaboration between Gifu Senior High School, Kobe University, Gifu University and Gifu World Freshwater Aquarium.

It has been reported that there are approximately 50 Hynobius species of salamander worldwide, around 30 of which are endemic to Japan. Hynobius vandenburghi (until recently known by its previous classification of H. nebulosus), is only found in central and western Japan, with Gifu Prefecture marking the northeast limit of the species’ distribution. However, like approximately 60% of amphibian species in Japan, it falls under the ranking of critically endangered and vulnerable species, mainly due to habitat decline. Only three sites providing habitats for Yamato salamanders had been discovered in Gifu Prefecture up until recently.

The research team utilized a combined methodology of GIS and eDNA analysis with the aim of discovering more Yamato salamander habitats. GIS (Geographic Information System) is a spatial analysis tool that allows data and geographic information to be collected, displayed and analyzed. Environmental DNA analysis involves locating DNA of the species in the environment (in this case in water samples) to understand what kind of organisms live in that habitat.

First of all, environmental factors (such as vegetation, elevation, and gradient inclination and direction) present near the known habitats in Gifu Prefecture were identified, and this information was entered into the GIS to locate new potential habitats. This resulted in a total of five new potential sites being discovered- three in Gifu city and one site each in Kaizu and Seki cities.

Next, each site was visited and water samples were taken. Yamato salamander often lay their egg sacs in shallow water near rice paddies and wooded areas, so the water samples were taken from these environments. The samples were then analyzed for Yamato salamander eDNA. eDNA was discovered in the water from the Kaizu City site, the Seki City site and one of the Gifu City sites.

Field surveys were also conducted to find eggs or adult salamanders at each of the sites where eDNA was discovered. A single pair of egg sacs were found at the Kaizu city site. This lends support to the idea that the combined methodology of GIS and eDNA analysis can be successfully utilized to find new habitats of rare and elusive species like the Yamato salamander.

As this research was carried out by supervised high school students, it is anticipated that this combined methodology can be utilized not only by experts but also as a useful tool for citizen-led conservation efforts. Another advantage of the GIS and eDNA analysis method is that it requires less time, energy and funds compared to conventional field capture (locating animal specimens). This could prove invaluable for identifying and protecting the habitats of endangered species in the face of rapidly declining biodiversity worldwide.

New beaked whale species discovery in Japan


This 7 November 2016 video says about itself:

St George, Alaska Berardius New Beaked Whale

For over 60 years, Japanese whalers have observed an unusual form of beaked whale in northern waters. Called Kurotsotchi or “raven whale”, biologists considered it possibly a dark form of Baird’s beaked whale, Berardius bairdi. An international team of scientists and naturalists contributed specimens and observations, and, recently, Dr. Phil Morin examined DNA of this dark form. Data point to a new species of whale!

This slideshow chronicles the St. George Island, Alaska community’s role in securing the “8th whale”. This specimen provided both morphological and DNA data critical for advancing the discovery of the new species of beaked whale in the Berinigian region.

From Hokkaido University in Japan:

New whale species discovered along the coast of Hokkaido

September 3, 2019

A new beaked whale species Berardius minimus, which has been long postulated by local whalers in Hokkaido, Japan, has been confirmed.

In a collaboration between the National Museum of Nature and Science, Hokkaido University, Iwate University, and
the United States National Museum of Natural History, a beaked whale species which has long been called Kurotsuchikujira (black Baird’s beaked whale) by local Hokkaido whalers has been confirmed as the new cetacean species Berardius minimus (B. minimus).

Beaked whales prefer deep ocean waters and have a long diving capacity, making them hard to see and inadequately understood. The Stranding Network Hokkaido, a research group founded and managed by Professor Takashi F. Matsuishi of Hokkaido University, collected six stranded un-identified beaked whales along the coasts of the Okhotsk Sea.

The whales shared characteristics of B. bairdii (Baird’s beaked whale) and were classified as belonging to the same genus Berardius. However, a number of distinguishable external characteristics, such as body proportions and color, led the researchers to investigate whether these beaked whales belong to a currently unclassified species.

“Just by looking at them, we could tell that they have a remarkably smaller body size, more spindle-shaped body, a shorter beak, and darker color compared to known Berardius species,” explained Curator Emeritus Tadasu K. Yamada of the National Museum of Nature and Science from the research team.

In the current study, the specimens of this unknown species were studied in terms of their morphology, osteology, and molecular phylogeny. The results, published in the journal Scientific Reports, showed that the body length of physically mature individuals is distinctively smaller than B. bairdii (6.2-6.9m versus 10.0m). Detailed cranial measurements and DNA analyses further emphasized the significant difference from the other two known species in the genus Berardius. Due to it having the smallest body size in the genus, the researchers named the new species B. minimus.

“There are still many things we don’t know about B. minimus,” said Takashi F. Matsuishi. “We still don’t know what adult females look like, and there are still many questions related to species distribution, for example. We hope to continue expanding what we know about B. minimus.”

Local Hokkaido whalers also refer to some whales in the region as Karasu (crow). It is still unclear whether B. minimus (or Kurotsuchikujira) and Karasu are the same species or not, and the research team speculate that it is possible Karasu could be yet another different species.

This study was conducted in collaboration with multiple institutions. Dr. Shino Kitamura and Dr. Shuichi Abe of Iwate University carried out the DNA analyses while Dr. Tadasu K. Yamada and Dr. Yuko Tajima of the National Museum of Nature and Science made osteological specimens, morphological observations and detailed measurements to depict systematic uniqueness. Dr. Takashi F. Matsuishi and Dr. Ayaka Matsuda of Hokkaido University made the multivariate analyses. Dr. James G. Mead of Smithsonian Institution contributed to discussions related to systematic comparison.