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.

Japanese leeches against invasive slugs


This video is about Limax maximus slugs mating in their native Norway.

From Hokkaido University in Japan:

Native leech preys on invasive slug?

July 21, 2017

Summary: Citizen science has revealed the spread of the invasive giant slug Limax maximus

aka leopard slug

and its potential native predator in Japan, providing new insights into predator-prey dynamics between introduced prey and native predators.

The giant slug Limax maximus is native to Europe and Asia Minor but has spread widely, being found in North America, South America, North Africa, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and other regions. The slug is recognized as a notorious pest because it eats agricultural and garden crops.

In Japan, L. maximus was first found in Ibaraki Prefecture in 2006 and its population has rapidly spread throughout the country, making it difficult for scientists and local governments to monitor the slug’s occurrence and behavior.

Yuta Morii of Hokkaido University and Takafumi Nakano of Hiroshima University investigated the habitat range of L. maximus in Hokkaido, Japan, by recruiting ordinary citizens as “citizen scientists” through a local newspaper and a television program.

A total of 38 observations were reported by the citizen scientists from February 8 to October 18 in 2016, including 29 reports accompanied by a photograph, the exact location and the date of the observation. The team analyzed these 29 records along with previously published records about the species.

At least 16 naturalized populations of L. maximus were found in Hokkaido, 14 of which were previously unknown. Four sites were more than 30 kilometers from Sapporo, where the species was first detected in 2012, and were distant from each other.

Notably, one observer submitted a photo of an L. maximus individual being preyed on by a microphagous leech, Orobdella kawakatsuorum. Orobdella leeches are known to inhabit Japan and adjacent regions, and were thought to feed on only earthworms, not slugs. “It was a surprise to see this specialist predator might have changed its prey to include the newly appeared resource,” says Morii.

“Citizen science has proven to be a powerful tool for revealing the spread of recently introduced species, and could even provide significant data to better understand predator-prey dynamics. This study also revealed that L. maximus feeds on cucumber, sweet potato, lettuce and Chinese cabbage, which emphasizes the importance of controlling their populations,” Morii said.

Fukushima radiation problems in Japan


This video says about itself:

Radioactive Salmon Discovered in Canada Linked to Fukushima Nuclear Contamination

22 December 2016

A team of research scientists from the University of Victoria in Canada discovered radioactive salmon due to Fukushima nuclear contamination.

Researchers at the Fukushima InFORM project in Canada, led by University of Victoria chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen, said they sampled a sockeye salmon from Okanagan Lake in British Columbia that tested positive for cesium 134.

This finding comes after seaborne cesium 123, which is thought to be an indicator of nuclear contamination from Fukushima, was detected on the West Coast of the United States this month.

It’s the first time Canadian experts confirmed the news that radioactive plume has made its way across the Pacific to America’s West Coast from the demolished Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in eastern Japan.

Cullen with his research team as well as 600 volunteers started their research on the Fukushima nuclear contamination in 2014 and have collected fish and seawater samples.

Cesium 134 is called the “footprint of Fukushima” because of its fast rate of decay. With a half life of only 2.06 years, there are few other places the dangerous and carcinogenic isotope could have originated.

“In 2015, we collected an individual fish that we could detect artificial radioactivity in the fish itself. This contrasts with almost all the other fish we’ve collected on the order of about 400 fish over those three years where we were unable to actually detect any artificial radionuclides in the individuals. In this particular one, we can detect cesium-137 which is artificial, a man made radio nuclide, and so we decided to have a more careful look to see if some of that contamination was related to Fukushima. The way that we do that is to look for cesium-134 and that isotope has a relatively short half life of two years, and if we see cesium-134 in a fish today, we know that it has been affected by Fukushima. When we count for longer, we can see smaller and smaller amounts of radioactivity,” said Jay Cullen, professor of the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences with the University of Victoria.

It is important to note that airborne radioactive fallout from the initial explosion and meltdowns at Fukushima in 2011 reached the USA and Canada within days, and circled the globe falling out wherever the currents and precipitation carried it – mostly to places unknown to this day.

More here.

US sailors who ‘fell sick from Fukushima radiation’ allowed to sue Japan, nuclear plant operator — The Telegraph: here.

From Kyodo news agency in Japan:

Fukushima’s tritiated water to be dumped into sea, Tepco chief says

July 14, 2017

Despite the objections of local fishermen, the tritium-tainted water stored at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant will be dumped into the sea, a top official at Tokyo Electric says.

“The decision has already been made,” Takashi Kawamura, chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., said in a recent interview with the media. …

As of July 6, about 777,000 tons were stored in about 580 tanks at the Fukushima plant, which is quickly running out of space.

Tepco’s decision has local fishermen worried that their livelihood is at risk because the radioactive material will further mar public perceptions about the safety of their catches.

Kawamura’s remarks are the first by the utility’s management on the sensitive matter. Since the March 2011 meltdowns were brought under control, the Fukushima No. 1 plant has been generating tons of toxic water that has been filling up hundreds of tanks at the tsunami-hit plant.

Kawamura’s comments came at a time when a government panel is still debating how to deal with the tritium issue, including whether to dump it all into sea.

Saying its next move is contingent on the panel’s decision, Kawamura hinted in the interview that Tepco will wait for the government’s decision before actually releasing the tainted water into the sea.

“We cannot keep going if we do not have the support of the state” as well as Fukushima Prefecture and other stakeholders, he said. …

But fishermen who make their livelihoods from sea life near the plant are opposed to the releases because of how the potential ramifications will affect their lives. …

Tachiya, of the cooperative that includes fishermen from the towns of Futaba and Okuma, which host the plant, took a swipe at Tepco’s decision, saying there has been “no explanation whatsoever from Tepco to local residents.”

On March 11, 2011, a tsunami inundated the six-reactor plant, situated 10 meters above sea level, and flooded the power supply, causing a station blackout. The cooling systems of reactors 1, 2 and 3 were thus crippled, leading to core meltdowns that became the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Water is being constantly injected into the leaking reactors to keep the molten fuel cool, creating tons of extremely toxic water 24/7. Although it is filtered through a complex processing system, extracting the tritium is virtually impossible.

Fishermen express fury as Fukushima plant set to release radioactive material into ocean — The Telegraph: here.

” It’ll be a tough journey – previous robots sent in to the ruined nuclear reactor didn’t make it back. … ” View BBC News’ photo essay on Toshiba’s newest swimming robot, a “little sunfish” that is hoped to withstand off-the-charts radiation levels in Fukushima Daiichi’s wrecked containment vessel: here.

Or will this mechanical ‘little sunfish‘ fare as badly as living fish in the Pacific Ocean off Fukushima?

This video says about itself:

Japan’s Homeless Recruited to Clean Up Fukushima Radioactive Hotspots

30 December 2013

It is five o’clock in the morning and close to freezing point in Sendai, 360 kilometres (200 miles) north of Tokyo.

For those living rough, this station is one of the warmest places to sleep, however, their refuge is also a recruiting ground for labour brokers. The men in Sendai Station are potential labourers who can be dispatched to contractors in Japan’s nuclear disaster zone for a bounty of $100 a head.

Shizuya Nishiyama, who is 57, has been homeless for a year and sleeps on a cardboard box, next to a shop window in Sendai station.

Twice Nishiyama says he has been recruited to scrub down radioactive hotpots in Fukushima, 80 kilometres (50 miles) to the south.

“We’re an easy target for recruiters. We turn up here with all our bags, wheeling them around and around the station and we’re easy to spot,” Nishiyama said as the first passengers of the day hurried to their trains.

Nishiyama’s first employer in Sendai offered him $90 a day for his first job clearing tsunami debris unrelated to the Fukushima site. However, he was made to pay as much as $50 a day for food and lodging. He also was not paid on the days he was unable to work. On those days, though, he would still be charged for room and board. He decided he was better off living on the street than going into debt.

“They say to us: ‘Are you looking for work? Are you hungry?’ And if we haven’t eaten anything, they then offer to find us a job,” Nishiyama added.

Almost three years ago, a massive earthquake and tsunami levelled villages across Japan’s northeast coast and set off multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Today, the most ambitious radiation clean-up ever attempted is running behind schedule. The effort is being dogged by both a lack of oversight and a shortage of workers, according to a Reuters analysis of contracts and interviews with dozens of those involved.

In Sendai, the largest city on Japan’s tsunami-devastated northeast coast, homeless people like Nishiyama have flocked here in the hope of finding reconstruction work in the disaster zone.

Activists have said that those jobs are increasingly hard to find. Now more than 300 people live rough in Sendai, twice as many as before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

For companies operating near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, that has presented an opportunity.

“There’s this problem where workers are reaching their radiation limits in Fukushima, and are not allowed to continue working. There’s actually an overall shortage of people available to do those dangerous jobs. So it’s to make up that shortfall that homeless people are now being made to risk their lives,” said Yasuhiro Aoki, a Baptist pastor and head of a support group for Sendai’s homeless.

The shortage of those willing and available to take on dirty and dangerous jobs in Fukushima has not pushed wages higher, workers, lawyers and volunteers said.

Responsibility for monitoring the hiring, safety records and suitability of hundreds of small firms involved in Fukushima’s decontamination rests with the top contractors, including Kajima Corp, Taisei Corp and Shimizu Corp, officials said.

As a practical matter, however, many of the construction companies involved in the clean-up say it is impossible to monitor what is happening on the ground because of the multiple layers of contracts for each job that keep the top contractors removed from those doing the work.

Wage data provided by police in one investigated case showed that after deductions for food and lodging, workers were left with an hourly rate of about $6, just below the minimum wage equal to about $6.50 per hour in Fukushima. Some of the homeless men ended up in debt after fees for food and housing were deducted, police said.

Aoki explained the homeless people’s situation further.

“Without any information about potential dangers, many homeless people are just put into dormitories – and the fees for lodging and food automatically docked from their wages. Then, at the end of the month, they’re left with no pay at all,” Aoki said.

Former wrestling promoter Seiji Sasa, 67 has recruited Sendai’s homeless for more than two decades.

He said he earns about 100 dollars for every introduction, and many of his recent hires are likely to end up in a radioactive workplace but that he didn’t ask questions.

“I don’t ask any questions, that’s not my job. I just find people and send them to work. I send them and get money in exchange. That’s it. I don’t get involved in what happens after that,” Sasa said.

“As a broker, it’s thanks to homeless people that I’ve been able to eat. I introduce them to work, receive money in return, and make my living. If what I did killed homeless people, then I’d be out of a job,” he added.

For Nishiyama, radiation is the last thing on his mind. He just wants to make it through the winter and prepare his cardboard box against the cold of the nights to come.

This Reuters report forgets to mention that recruiting these homeless people as nuclear radiation cannon fodder is done by Yakuza gangsters. This other Reuters report does mention that.

From Kyodo news agency in Japan:

Radiation levels exceeding state-set limit found on grounds of five Chiba schools

Jun 13, 2017

Radiation levels exceeding the government-set safety limit of 0.23 microsieverts per hour have been detected on the grounds of five schools in the city of Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, the prefectural board of education said Monday.

Between late April and mid-May, the board officials detected radiation levels of up to 0.72 microsieverts per hour in certain areas of the schools, including Kashiwa High School and Kashiwa Chuo High School. The areas — including soil near a school swimming pool and drainage gutters — are not frequented by students, but the board closed them off and will work to quickly decontaminate them, the officials said.

Kashiwa has been one of the areas with high radiation readings since the 2011 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

According to NHK, the board of education had been checking the soil on the school premises in Kashiwa after radiation levels beyond the state limit were detected in shrubbery near the city’s public gymnasium. The board will announce the results of radiation tests at other schools in the prefecture around the end of July, NHK reported.

Radioactively-hot particles detected in dusts and soils from Northern Japan by combination of gamma spectrometry, autoradiography, and SEM/EDS analysis and implications in radiation risk assessment — Marco Kaltofen, Arnie Gundersen, ScienceDirect: here.

Radioactive hot particles still afloat throughout Japan six years after Fukushima meltdowns — BuzzFlash: here.

Increases in perinatal mortality in prefectures contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in Japan — U.S. National Library of Medicine: here.

Korean sex slaves of Japanese army, first video ever


This video from South Korea says about itself:

Footage of Korean women sexually enslaved by Japanese soldiers in WWII revealed for the first time

Japan’s sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War Two

More than just another unresolved issue that strains bilateral relations, there are survivors of the atrocity and their families who more than deserve apology and compensation.

However, Tokyo has been devoted to denying and burrying its wartime sins.

At long last crucial evidence that should aid efforts to corner Japan into acknowledging historic facts and facing reality has been found.
Lee Ji-won tells us more.

Women,… with faces full of fear,… are lined up against a wall.

A man, presumed to be a Chinese officer, talks to them.

This short 18 second video is of seven Korean women sexually enslaved by the Japanese soldiers in Yunnan province, southwest China, around the end of World War II.

It is the first-ever video footage of Korean victims that has been found. On Wednesday, Seoul city and Professor Chung Chin-sung of Seoul National University unveiled the video from 1944,… which had been stored in the National Archives and Records Administration of the United States for over 70 years.

Previously,… footage of Chinese comfort women had been found,… but there were only pictures and documents on the Korean comfort women.

But after the professor and his research team were certain that a video on the Korean victims existed, they spent two years searching for the footage,… and they finally found what they were looking for amongst hundreds of film reels last month.

The footage was taken by an American combat photographer just after the region was reclaimed from Japan by the Chinese. During World War II, an estimated 200-thousand women, mostly Koreans, were kidnapped and forced to become sex slaves for Japanese troops.

While an agreement between Korea and Japan was made by the previous Park Geun-hye administration in 2015,… where Japan financially compensated the victims with one billion yen, or about 8-point-9 million U.S. dollars, thousands of citizens and the surviving victims criticized and refused the deal as Tokyo claimed there was no evidence of the Japanese military forcing the enslavement of women.

But with Korea’s newly elected President Moon Jae-in calling for renegotiation of the deal,… the research team says that they hope the footage will work as a tool to open up such talks. “We hope the new findings will bring the public’s attention and interest on the matter,… so that when President Moon has his first bilateral talk with the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, at the G20 summit later this week, an atmosphere for renegotiation can be made.”

With only 38 Korean victims still alive,… the research team stressed their determination to uncover this video evidence of Japan’s sexual slavery so that there’s a chance for the issue to be resolved within their lifetimes.

Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.

Japanese right-wing government loses local election


This video says about itself:

Japanese protest against Shinzo Abe‘s attempt to change constitution

21 May 2017

“What should be changed is not the Constitution but politics!” Young Japanese stage a protest against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s attempt to amend the pacifist Constitution.

From Reuters news agency:

Sun Jul 2, 2017 | 8:50am EDT

Japan PM’s party suffers historic defeat in Tokyo poll, popular governor wins big

By Linda Sieg | TOKYO

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s Liberal Democratic Party suffered an historic defeat in an election in the Japanese capital on Sunday, signaling trouble ahead for the premier, who has suffered from slumping support because of a favoritism scandal.

On the surface, the Tokyo Metropolitan assembly election was a referendum on Governor Yuriko Koike‘s year in office, but the dismal showing for Abe’s party is also a stinging rebuke of his 4-1/2-year-old administration.

Koike’s Tokyo Citizens First party and its allies were on track for between 73 to 85 seats in the 127-seat assembly, according to exit polls by NHK public TV.

Later vote counts showed the LDP was certain to post its worst-ever result, winning at most 37 seats compared with 57 before the election, NHK said, while Koike’s party and allies were assured a majority.

“We must recognize this as an historic defeat,” former defense minister Shigeru Ishiba was quoted by NHK as saying.

Shizo Abe’s present war … sorry, I should use the euphemism ‘defense’ minister, Tomomi Inada, is friends with the fuehrer of Japan’s neonazi party.

“Rather than a victory for Tokyo Citizens First, this is a defeat for the LDP,” said Ishiba, who is widely seen as an Abe rival within the ruling party. …

Past Tokyo elections have been bellwethers for national trends. A 2009 Tokyo poll in which the LDP won just 38 seats was followed by its defeat in a general election that year …

Koike, a media-savvy ex-defense minister and former LDP member, took office a year ago as the first female governor in the capital, defying the local LDP chapter to run and promising to reform governance of a megacity with a population of 13.7 million and an economy bigger than Holland’s. …

“We may discover that Japan is not all that different from Britain, France, and the U.S. in its ability to produce a big political surprise,” he said, referring to recent elections in those countries.

The LDP’s thrashing could also make it harder for Abe to pursue his cherished goal of revising the U.S.-drafted constitution’s pacifist Article 9 by 2020, a politically divisive agenda, said Sophia University professor Koichi Nakano.

“His prime motive to stay in power is his desire to revise the constitution, but once his popularity really starts to fall, that becomes very difficult to do,” Nakano said.

Abe‘s troubles center on concern he may have intervened to help Kake Gakuen (Kake Educational Institution), whose director, Kotaro Kake, is a friend, win approval for a veterinary school in a special economic zone.

The government has not granted such an approval in decades due to a perceived glut of veterinarians. Abe and his aides have denied doing Kake any favors.

Potentially more devastating is the impression among many voters that Abe and his inner circle have grown arrogant. …

Abe is expected to reshuffle his cabinet in coming months in an effort to repair his damaged ratings, a step often taken by beleaguered leaders but one that can backfire if novice ministers become embroiled in scandals or commit gaffes.

Among those many political insiders expect to be replaced is Defense Minister Tomomi Inada. Inada’s remark during the Tokyo campaign seeking voter support in the name of the Self-Defense Forces, as the military is known, came under heavy fire. By law, the military is required to be politically neutral.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to accelerate the revision of the country’s constitution at a faster than expected pace. During a speech on June 24, he proposed that his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) would submit proposed changes to lawmakers by the end of the year. At the top of the list of amendments is the alteration of Article 9, often referred to as the pacifist clause, in order to accelerate Japan’s remilitarization: here.

Japanese PM Abe’s support slides again before parliament appearance: here.