Fukushima disaster radioactivity below Japanese beaches

This video says about itself:

BBC News: Toxic radioactive isotope found in Fukushima groundwater

19 June 2013

High levels of a toxic radioactive isotope have been found in groundwater at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, its operator says.

By Laurel Hamers, 3:30pm, October 2, 2017:

Radioactive material from Fukushima disaster turns up in a surprising place

Some of highest levels of cesium-137 contamination are in groundwater under nearby sandy beaches

Six years after the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in Japan, radioactive material is leaching into the Pacific Ocean from an unexpected place. Some of the highest levels of radioactive cesium-137, a major by-product of nuclear power generation, are now found in the somewhat salty groundwater beneath sand beaches tens of kilometers away, a new study shows.

Scientists tested for radioactivity at eight different beaches within 100 kilometers of the plant, which experienced three reactor meltdowns when an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, knocked out its power. Oceans, rivers and fresh groundwater sources are typically monitored for radioactivity following a nuclear accident, but several years following the disaster, those weren’t the most contaminated water sources. Instead, brackish groundwater underneath the beaches has accumulated the second highest levels of the radioactive element (surpassed only by the groundwater directly beneath the reactor), researchers report October 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the wake of the 2011 accident, seawater tainted with high levels of cesium-137 probably traveled along the coast and lapped against these beaches, proposes study coauthor Virginie Sanial, who did the work while at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. Some cesium stuck to the sand and, over time, percolated down to the brackish groundwater beneath. Now, the radioactive material is steadily making its way back into the ocean. The groundwater is releasing the cesium into the coastal ocean at a rate that’s on par with the leakage of cesium into the ocean from the reactor site itself, Sanial’s team estimates.

Since this water isn’t a source of drinking water and is underground, the contamination isn’t an immediate public health threat, says Sanial, now a geochemist at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. But with about half of the world’s nuclear power plants located on coastlines, such areas are potentially important contamination reservoirs and release sites to monitor after future accidents.

Botched gauge settings might have contaminated Fukushima groundwater from April onward: Tepco — The Japan Times: here.

A court ruled TEPCO and the Japanese government are at fault in the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.


Tsunami driving many Japanese marine species to America

This video says about itself:

8 June 2012

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife crews removed approximately two tons of invasive species from the dock washed up from the tsunami in Japan.

By Alessandra Potenza in the USA:

Almost 300 marine species hitched a ride on tsunami debris from Japan to the US

They traveled more than 4,300 miles across the ocean

Sep 28, 2017, 2:00pm EDT

On the morning of June 5th, 2012, John Chapman drove up to Agate Beach in Newport, Oregon, to take a look at a massive, 188-ton dock that had washed ashore during a storm. The dock was coated in seaweed and, to Chapman’s surprise, covered with small crabs, mussels, barnacles, and sea stars.

A tag revealed that the dock was from Misawa, Japan, a city that was hit by the mega tsunami that struck the area in 2011. After 15 months of drifting around the Pacific Ocean, the dock — and over 4,000 pounds of living marine creatures latched onto it — had landed in Oregon. “That was a stunning discovery,” Chapman, a professor of fisheries at Oregon State University, tells The Verge. “For my brain to accept what my eyes were seeing… I could not grasp that this could be true.”

The dock, described in a study published today in Science, was just one of hundreds of pieces of tsunami debris that have arrived onto the beaches of Hawaii and the West Coast of the US, from Alaska to California. They represent the first massive example of how hundreds of marine species can drift for more than 4,300 miles across the ocean — and survive the trip. That’s because the dock and the other junk are made of plastic, cement, and fiberglass — artificial materials that last way longer than a piece of driftwood or seaweed. The new research reveals one more mechanism for species to migrate around the world, with potentially disastrous consequences.

Animals and plants introduced to new areas can harm local species — sometimes causing extinctions — and substantial economic damage. In Hawaii, for instance, species like plants and birds that have evolved in isolation for millions of years are being wiped out by invasive ones. The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that invasive species cost the US more than $120 billion in damages every year.

Scientists have long known that marine species raft across big bodies of water. Genetic similarities between distant populations suggest that species must have crossed oceans somehow before, and there have been observations of species on rafts far out at sea, says Ceridwen Fraser, a senior lecturer at Fenner School of Environment and Society at Australian National University. Fraser, who wasn’t involved in the study published in Science, co-authored a 2010 study describing how several types of mollusks, crustaceans, and a sea spider from several subantarctic islands had hitched a ride on floating seaweed for a 310-mile trip to New Zealand that lasted several weeks.

Today’s study offers new and exciting evidence. “This is the first time that we are able to document rafting on such a massive scale,” says Martin Thiel, a professor of marine biology at Universidad Católica del Norte in Chile, who was not involved in the dock research. “We know that it has happened, but this is the first time we can see it basically in real time.”

On March 11th, 2011, after a magnitude 9 earthquake struck northeastern Japan, a massive tsunami with waves as high as 126 feet destroyed entire cities — killing over 20,000 people. When they receded, the waves dragged back with them millions of pieces of detritus. Chapman, and a team of other scientists, analyzed more than 600 pieces of tsunami debris — from vessels to crates to buoys — that were retrieved on US beaches beginning in 2012 all the way to last year. Through analyses and genetic tests, they identified 289 species of mollusks, crabs, sea stars, sponges, and even fish that survived the trek from Japan.

The species were able to survive for so long because — unlike hitchhiking animals thousands of years ago — their rafts were mostly made of non-biodegradable material, the authors say. “These species can survive for years if their raft, if their small boat is not dissolving under them,” says study co-author James Carlton, professor emeritus of marine sciences at Williams College. Because the researchers analyzed only a fraction of all the tsunami debris, many more species might have hitched a ride, Carlton says.

There’s no evidence that any of these species have become invasive in the US yet, but it’s “too early to make a call,” Carlton tells The Verge. It can take years for non-native species to establish themselves in an area, and it’s hard to predict which ones could be harmful until they actually become a problem, he says. Some of these species, however, have a history of being harmful invaders in other countries. A type of mussel called Mytilus galloprovincialis the most common species found on the tsunami debris, according to Chapman — is known for reproducing quickly and displacing other mussels, in turn creating problems in South Africa.

The study “uncovers a process that is wholly novel and entirely surprising,” says Steven Chown, a professor in the School of Biological Sciences at Monash University in Australia, who was not involved in the research. “It changes our worldview entirely about the way in which marine organisms may become invasive elsewhere,” he adds in an email to The Verge. But some researchers aren’t surprised by the study’s findings, and say that it reinforces what they’ve already understood. “We now know that rafting happens all the time,” Fraser writes in an email to The Verge, “but it is good example of the diversity of organisms that can be transported via this mechanism.”

The research suggests that plastic waste, which is ubiquitous in the ocean, can be more destructive to ecosystems than we’ve previously understood. “It’s more than turtles eating plastic bags and dying, it’s more than plastic occurring in most of our seafood,” Chapman says. “It’s that also it carries things around the ocean that then can become an economically severe problem.”

And this mass migration from Japan to the US might still continue. More tsunami debris is expected to reach the western coast this fall and next spring, Carlton says. It remains to be seen whether living marine creatures will be found attached to it — seven years after it was pulled out to sea. “We’re going to be watching what still comes in,” Carlton says. “This is not over.”

Here’s a breakdown of the animals that crossed the Pacific on 2011 tsunami debris. About two-thirds of the creatures have never been documented off the western coast of North America. By Mariah Quintanilla, 11:00am, October 17, 2017.

Newly discovered hermit crab shelters in corals, not shells

Left: Diogenes heteropsammicola and its coral house. Right: the hermit crab without its coral house. Image: Momoko Igawa

By Mariah Quintanilla, 2:57pm, September 20, 2017:

This newfound hermit crab finds shelter in corals, not shells

Symbiotic find is surprising as these corals already pal up with another critter: marine worms

A new species of hermit crab discovered in the shallow waters of southern Japan has been enjoying the perks of living like a peanut worm. Like the worms, the 7- to 8-millimeter-long hermit crab uses corals as a covering, researchers report September 20 in PLOS ONE.

Other kinds of hermit crabs live in coral reefs, but typically move in and out of a series of mollusk shells as the crabs grow. Diogenes heteropsammicola is the first hermit crab known to form a mutually beneficial relationship with two species of mobile corals called walking corals. The host coral grows with the crab, providing a permanent home for the crustacean. In exchange, the crab helps the coral “walk.”

Walking corals are already known to be in a symbiotic relationship with a different sea creature — flexible, marine peanut worms called sipunculids. A symbiotic shift between such distantly related species as the worms and the crab is rare because organisms in a mutualistic relationship tend to be specialized and completely dependent on one other, says study coauthor Momoko Igawa, an ecologist at Kyoto University in Japan.

But similar to the worms, D. heteropsammicola appears to be well-adapted to live in the corals. Its extra slim body can slip inside the corals’ narrow cavity. And unlike other hermit crabs — whose tails curve to the right to fit into spiral shells — D. heteropsammicola’s tail is symmetrical and can curl either way, just like the corals’ opening.

“Being able to walk around in something that is going to grow larger as you grow larger, that’s a big plus,” says Jan Pechenik, a biologist at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., who was not involved in the study. A typical hermit crab that can’t find a larger shell to move into “really is in trouble.”

D. heteropsammicola’s relationship with walking corals may begin in a similar way as it does with sipunculan worms, Igawa says. A walking coral larva latches onto a tiny mollusk shell containing a juvenile hermit crab and starts to grow. When the hermit crab outgrows the shell, the crustacean moves into the readily available host coral’s crevice, and the shell remains encapsulated in the coral.

By observing the hermit crab in an aquarium, Igawa and coauthor Makoto Kato, also an ecologist at Kyoto University, determined that the crab provides the corals with the same services as the worms: transportation and preventing the corals from being overturned by currents or buried in sediment.

Igawa hopes to search for this new hermit crab in Indonesia, a region where walking corals are normally found. Plus, because walking coral fossils are easy to come by in Japan, she also wants “to reveal the evolutionary history of the symbioses of walking corals [with] sipunculans and hermit crabs by observing these fossils.”

See also here.

Japanese Deputy Prime Minister claims Hitler had ‘good intentions’

This 1 August 2013 video is about Japanese Deputy PM retracting remarks defending Hitler’s genocidal policies.

That was then. And now …

While United States President Donald Trump whitewashes United States neonazis, a Japanese right-wing colleague of Trump whitewashes old German nazi Adolf Hitler.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Deputy Prime Minister of Japan makes Nazi remark again (and that’s not a coincidence)

Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso did not raise dust for the first time with a remark about World War II. During a seminar on politics, 76-year-old Aso said that Adolf Hitler had “good intentions”.

“Hitler, who killed millions of people, was wrong, although he had good intentions,” said the Japanese. There was a storm of criticism in Japan and abroad. Aso, who is also Finance Minister, retracted his words. …

According to correspondent Kjeld Duits, the retraction of controversial words is typical of Aso. “He is familiar with this, and the Japanese language is also good for expressing vague expressions,” said Duits. “You say something that can mean several things and everybody knows you mean one thing, but then you say afterwards that you meant something different.”

Aso did something similar in 2013 when he suggested that Japan had to follow the example of the Nazis in changing the pacifist constitution. “We can do it secretly, as the Weimar constitution suddenly changed into the Nazi constitution, without anyone being aware of it. Why do we not learn from that tactic?”

Later, Aso corrected his words, but he refused to resign. The fact that he mentions the Nazis several times is not a coincidence, Duits thinks. “You have groups, including supporters of Aso, who think that Japan – and thus their German ally – was not wrong in the war.

“So this is what they want to hear. They are happy with it,” said Duits. And that’s nice for Aso, because he may be in the race to become Prime Minister of Japan. From 2008 to 2009, the Liberal Democrat [euphemistic name of this right-wing party] was also prime minister and elections will be held again by the end of 2018.

‘Just dangerous’

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which monitors anti-Semitism worldwide, reacted to Aso’s words. “We are disappointed. This is just the latest of a troubling list of ‘misstatements’ and are downright dangerous. These words are harmful to Japan.”

Earlier this week, the center was also critical of a famous Japanese plastic surgeon. This Katsuya Takasu had stressed that he had learned at the university in Germany how beautiful Nazism was.

Also, the surgeon doubts on Twitter if the Holocaust really happened. “Jews were certainly prosecuted, but we know about it only second-hand and based on declarations from the Allies.” The Simon Wiesenthal Center has called on the association of plastic surgeons to investigate Takasu. …

And I know of two fashion shows at fashion colleges where students in this kind of [SS] uniform walked on the catwalk and did Hitler salutes” says Duits.

According to Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad (translated):

Aso studied economics and led the family corporation Aso Cement and other corporations, before becoming a politician in 1979, with a career in the LDP in parliament and various government posts.

This business has a remarkable wartime past. In the mines of Aso Cement during World War II, three hundred allied prisoners of war are said to have worked, including Dutch people. Apologies for this have never been made.

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 then policy chief, Tomomi Inada

These pictures from Japanese neo-nazi leader Kazunari Yamada’s website show him posing with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s internal affairs minister, Sanae Takaichi, and Abe’s party’s then policy chief, Tomomi Inadalater minister of war … sorry for forgetting to use the euphemism ‘defence’ … of Japan.

Amid the escalating danger of war on the Korean Peninsula, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a sudden election Monday evening, stating he would dissolve the lower house of parliament on Thursday. Campaigning will begin October 10 and the election will take place on October 22. It is the first general election since December 2014. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) already has sizable majorities in both houses of the Japanese Diet or parliament. Abe has called the snap poll, above all, to whip up a climate of fear and panic over North Korea so as to intensify his push for Japan’s remilitarization: here.

Dinosaur age diving bird discovery in Japan

This video says about itself:

Hesperornis Tribute

3 May 2009

Hesperornis is an extinct genus of flightless aquatic birds that lived during the Santonian to Campanian sub-epochs of the Late Cretaceous (89-65 mya). One of the lesser known discoveries of paleontologist O. C. Marsh in the late 19th century Bone Wars, it was an important early find in the history of avian paleontology. Famous locations for Hesperornis are the Late Cretaceous marine limestones from Kansas and the marine shales from Canada, but the genus had probably a Holarctic distribution.

Hesperornis was a large bird, reaching up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) in length. It had virtually no wings, and swam with its powerful hind legs. The toes were probably lobed rather than being webbed, as in today’s grebes; like in these, the toes could rotate well, which is necessary to decrease drag in lobed feet but not in webbed ones such as in loons, where the toes are simply folded together.

Like many other Mesozoic birds such as Ichthyornis, Hesperornis had teeth in its beak which were used to hold prey (most likely fish). In the hesperornithiform lineage they were of a different arrangement than in any other known bird (or in non-avian theropod dinosaurs), with the teeth sitting in a longitudinal groove rather than in individual sockets, in a notable case of convergent evolution with mosasaurs.

The first Hesperornis specimen was discovered in 1871 by Othniel Charles Marsh. Marsh was undertaking a second western expedition, accompanied by ten students. The team headed to Kansas where Marsh had dug before. Aside from finding more bones belonging to the flying reptile Pteranodon, Marsh discovered the skeleton of a “large fossil bird, at least five feet in height”. The specimen was large, wingless, and had strong legs—Marsh considered it a diving species. Unfortunately, the specimen lacked a head. Marsh named the find Hesperornis regalis, or “great ruling bird” [Western ruling bird].

Hesperornis hunted in the waters of such contemporary shelf seas as the North American Inland Sea, the Turgai Strait and the prehistoric North Sea, which then were subtropical to tropical waters, much warmer than today. They probably fed mainly on fish, maybe also crustaceans, cephalopods and mollusks as do the diving seabirds of today. Their teeth were helpful in dealing with slippery or hard-shelled prey.

On land, Hesperornis may or may not have been able to walk. They certainly were not able to stand upright like penguins as in the early reconstructions. Their legs attached far at the back and sideways, with even the lower leg being tightly attached to the body. Thus, they were limited to a clumsy hobble at best on land and would indeed have been more nimble if they moved by sliding on their belly or galumphing. Indeed, the leg skeleton of the hesperornithids was so much adapted to diving that their mode of locomotion while ashore, as well as where it laid its eggs and how it cared for its young is a matter of much speculation.

Some have even pointed out that it cannot be completely ruled out that these birds were ovoviviparous instead of incubating their eggs. In any case, young Hesperornis grew fairly quickly and continuously to adulthood, as is the case in modern birds, but not Enantiornithes. More young birds are known from the fossil record of the more northernly sites than from locations further south. This suggests that at least some species were migratory like today’s penguins which swim polewards in the summer.

Hesperornis were preyed upon by large marine carnivores. Tylosaurus proriger specimen SDSMT 10439 contains the bones of a Hesperornis in its gut, for example.

Now, a relative of Hesperornis has been discovered.

From the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in the USA:

Amateur collectors in Japan discover country’s first and oldest fossil diving bird

August 8, 2017

Summary: Two brothers from a small town in Hokkaido, Japan, made the discovery of their lives — the first and oldest fossil bird ever identified in their country. Identified as a new species, it has been named Chupkaornis keraorum.

During a walk near a reservoir in a small Japanese town, amateur collectors made the discovery of their lives — the first and oldest fossil bird ever identified in their country.

After sharing their mysterious find with paleontologists at Hokkaido University, brothers Masatoshi and Yasuji Kera later learned the skeletal remains were that of an iconic marine diving bird from the Late Cretaceous Period, one that is often found in the Northern Hemisphere but rarely in Asia. The remarkable specimen — which includes nine skeletal elements from one individual, including the thoracic vertebrae and the femoral bones — is being heralded as the “best preserved hesperornithiform material from Asia” and to be “the first report of the hesperorinthiforms from the eastern margin of the Eurasian Continent.”

Identified as a new species, it has been named Chupkaornis keraorum — Chupka is the Ainu word used by indigenous people from Hokkaido for ‘eastern,’ and keraorum is named after Masatoshi and Yasuji Kera, who discovered the specimen. The bird would have lived during the time when dinosaurs roamed the land.

The scientific paper describing the find, entitled “The oldest Asian Hesperornithiform from the Upper Cretaceous of Japan, and the phylogenetic reassessment of Hesperornithiformes,” has been posted on the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology website.

“This amazing find illustrates the special relationship paleontologists and other scientists have with ordinary citizens who come upon interesting and unusual objects,” said Tanaka. “Thanks to the wisdom and willingness of Masatoshi and Yasuji Kera to share their discovery with us at Hokkaido University, they have made a major contribution to science, and we are very grateful.”

The bones, estimated to be anywhere from 90 million to 84 million years old, were unearthed from the Upper Cretaceous Kashima Formation of the Yezo Group in Mikasa City, Hokkaido. The fossil bird consists of four cervical vertebrae, two thoracic vertebrae, the distal end of the left and right femora, and the middle part of the right fibula. The specimen is currently housed in the collection of the Mikasa City Museum in Hokkaido, Japan.

“Hespeornithiforms is the oldest group of birds that succeeded to adapt for diving in ocean. This study provides better understanding in the early evolution of this group and the origin of diving in birds,” added Tanaka.

Chupkaornis has a unique combination of characteristics: finger-like projected tibiofibular crest of femur; deep, emarginated lateral excavation with the sharply defined edge of the ventral margin of that the thoracic vertebrae (those vertebrae in the upper back); and the heterocoelous articular surface of the thoracic vertebrae. Phylogenetic analysis of this study revealed that Chupkaornis is one of the basal hesperornithiforms, thereby providing details of the evolution of this iconic group of diving birds.

“In Japan, many important vertebrate fossils have been discovered by amateurs because most of the land is covered with vegetation, and there are few exposures of fossil-bearing Cretaceous rocks. This research is a result of collaboration with amateurs, and I am thankful to their help and understanding of science,” said Kobayashi.

Hesperornithiformes were toothed, foot-propelled diving birds and one of the most widely distributed groups of birds in the Cretaceous of the northern hemisphere. These birds had extremely reduced forelimbs and powerful hind limbs, suggesting that they were flightless sea-going predatory birds. Most of hesperornithiform fossils have been discovered from North America so far. The discovery of Chupkaornis, the oldest Asian hesperornithiform, suggests that basal hesperornithiform had dispersed to the eastern margin of Asia no later than 90 million to 84 million years old.

The discovery has broader aspects — and that’s why Dr. Fiorillo, curator and vice president of research and collections at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, is involved. Dr. Fiorillo is considered one of the world’s preeminent experts on arctic dinosaurs for his decades of research in Alaska. He has deep interest in the Beringia land bridge that connects North America to Asia. He was asked to collaborate on this discovery because several of the co-authors of the paper, including Kobayashi and lead-author Tanaka, have been members of his field team during past Alaska expeditions.

“This study not only tells important new information about the evolution of this unusual group of birds, it also helps further our understanding of life in the ancient northern Pacific region, more specifically what was going on in the ocean while dinosaurs walked the land” said Fiorillo.

Japan’s nazi-friendly war minister resigns

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 then policy chief, Tomomi Inada

These pictures from Japanese neo-nazi leader Kazunari Yamada’s website show him posing with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s internal affairs minister, Sanae Takaichi, and Abe’s party’s then policy chief, Tomomi Inadalater minister of war … sorry for forgetting to use the euphemism ‘defence’ … of Japan.

The latest news is that Ms Inada has resigned as war minister. Not because of her nazi scandal, but because of other scandals.

By Ben McGrath:

Japan’s defense minister resigns in wake of scandal

29 July 2017

Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada resigned Friday, ostensibly for her role in the cover-up of Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) documents damaging to the Abe government’s militarist agenda. Her departure is an attempt to prevent further falls in public support for the government and Abe’s plans to force through pro-war constitutional revisions by 2020.

The cover-up involved daily logs that revealed Japanese troops participating in a so-called peacekeeping operation in South Sudan were at risk of being pulled into a military conflict in July 2016. One of the five legal requirements for the Japanese military to take part in such a mission is that a ceasefire agreement be in place, a condition that the GSDF daily logs clearly showed had been violated.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga painted Inada’s resignation as an attempt to take responsibility for the cover-up, rather than being forced out in a planned cabinet reshuffle on August 3. Suga apologized for the scandal as well and claimed the government “will work hard to win back the public’s trust.”

A close ally of the prime minister, Inada is known for her nationalist and militarist views and regular visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, a symbol of Japanese militarism. The shrine is where those who died in Japan’s wars, primarily World War II, are symbolically interred, including 14 class-A war criminals.

Inada has largely been a liability during her tenure in office. She was appointed defense minister last August as Abe pushed his cabinet even further to the right. A Jiji news agency survey earlier this month found support for Abe’s cabinet had fallen to 29.9 percent, with many people citing a lack of trust in the government.

At a press conference yesterday, Inada revealed more behind her decision to step down. She stated: “Not only has the log controversy highlighted inappropriate handling of information disclosure, but the fact that there were numerous instances of what appeared to be information leakage from within our organization [that] has risked eroding public trust in our governance system.”

In other words, her de facto removal is not so much due to her role in a cover-up, but in allowing it to go public.

The scandal began last September when journalist Yujin Fuse made an information disclosure request to see the GSDF daily logs from South Sudan for July, the month fighting broke out between government and rebel troops. The Japanese soldiers were taking part in the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), supposedly aiding construction projects in the oil-rich African country.

The government initially claimed in December that the logs had been discarded, but then announced on February 7 that a wider search had uncovered the documents in digital form at the Joint Staff office, which oversees the GSDF, the Air SDF, and Maritime SDF, the formal names for Japan’s military branches.

The logs contained reports such as, “Fierce gun fighting at five, six o’clock (reference to direction) of the camp,” and “Fierce fighting involving tanks and trench mortars.” They also contained a map of the GSDF camp and a red area adjacent with the words, “Fighting broke out.”

In total, 300 people were killed in the conflict and 36,000 were displaced in July last year. Abe’s government pulled the GSDF troops out of South Sudan in May, but denied that the decision was related to unstable military conditions.

At the time of the fighting, the government downplayed what was happening in South Sudan. On top of securing access to oil and minerals, the [South] Sudan deployment provided Abe’s government with the pretext for employing its new security legislation that allows SDF troops to take part in battles alongside allied countries, ostensibly by coming to their defense. Last November, the cabinet formally authorized the SDF to operate under the laws, which were passed in September 2015 and enacted the following March.

By March this year, however, Japan’s state-run broadcaster NHK reported that the GSDF also had digital copies of the logs and had met in February to decide what to do with them, opting to delete them in order to preserve the lie that only the Joint Staff had the documents.

Defense Minister Inada appeared before the Diet’s Lower House Security Committee that month to point fingers at GSDF figures for the cover-up and claimed to have no knowledge of what had transpired. She assigned the in-house Inspector General’s Office of Legal Compliance to investigate.

This month, however, it was revealed that Inada had been present at the meeting in February and was well aware that the digital logs existed and were being deleted. Yet the Inspector General’s Office cleared Inada of wrong-doing.

That whitewash became untenable on July 25. Fuji News Network reported that it had a two-page memo from an anonymous senior Defense Ministry official, showing that Inada had been present at a February 13 meeting to discuss the cover-up. It quoted a conversation between Inada and Lieutenant General Goro Yuasa, who reportedly said: “We have only confirmed we don’t have the paper (version of the log). But (electronic) data does exist.”

Inada responded, according to the note, by asking: “What should I say in answering [questions] tomorrow?” Two days after that meeting, Inada allegedly endorsed the decision to prevent the public from learning that the GSDF also had retained the daily logs, leading to their deletion.

Only weeks ago, Prime Minister Abe rejected calls for Inada’s dismissal after she angered voters by urging them to back the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidate in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly elections in order to “support” the SDF. The opposition to her comments reflected broader anti-war sentiment in Japan and hostility to the Abe government’s agenda of remilitarization.

The main opposition Democratic Party (DP), sensing an opportunity to score political points, attacked Inada on July 19, saying she “has repeatedly given false responses in the Diet and it is very egregious.” It called on Abe to dismiss her.

The leaks from within the Defense Ministry reveal an internal conflict over how to push forward with the remilitarization plans in the face of popular opposition. Sections of the ruling LDP have been critical of Abe’s proposed revisions to the constitution, demanding he adopt an even more right-wing, pro-war position. This includes Shigeru Ishiba who is considering challenging Abe for the LDP presidency in next year’s leadership vote.