Fukushima, Japan nuclear disaster news

This video from Japan says about itself:

3 February 2017

Radiation inside the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant measures as high as a deadly 530 sieverts per hour, the highest since the 2011 disaster, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) announced on Feb. 2.

TEPCO calculated the radiation dose from video noise on footage it took inside the containment vessel in late January, when a camera was inserted to examine conditions inside and scout a route for a scorpion-like observation robot scheduled to go into the vessel later this month.

Deployment of the robot is also being reconsidered after two gaping holes were found along the robot’s planned path over a 5-meter-wide circular walkway inside the containment vessel, close to where the 530-sievert radiation dose was detected.

The holes in the metal grate walkway — one of unknown size and the other measuring about 1 meter square — make both routes considered for the robot impassable.

Six years after Fukushima, much of Japan has lost faith in nuclear power … Six years have passed since the Fukushima nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011, but Japan is still dealing with its impacts. Decommissioning the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant poses unprecedented technical challenges. More than 100,000 people were evacuated but only about 13 percent have returned home, although the government has announced that it is safe to return to some evacuation zones: here.

Asking the tough questions on Fukushima — The Japan Times.

The Japanese government may buy [contaminated soil], using soil from the Fukushima prefecture as landfill for “green areas” and parks, potentially subjecting citizens to dangerous radiation: here.

From the Asia Times:

Six years after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accident three global nuclear corporations are fighting for their very survival.

The bankruptcy filing by Westinghouse Electric Co. and its parent company Toshiba Corp. preparing to post losses of ¥1 trillion (US$9 billion), is a defining moment in the global decline of the nuclear power industry.

However, whereas the final financial meltdown of Westinghouse and Toshiba will likely be measured in a few tens of billions of dollars, those losses are but a fraction of what Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) is looking at as a result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Japanese bats in winter, video

This video says about itself:

Searching for Japanese Bats – Japan‘s Northern Wilderness – BBC Earth

Steve heads for the Rimizu limestone caves in Japan to search for hibernating bats.

Japanese snow monkeys video

This BBC video says about itself:

15 March 2017

In Northern Japan, Steve Backshall finds the elusive snow monkey. Winter shrinks their feeding grounds making them easier to spot.

Fukushima cancer child not in government files

This video from the USA says about itself:

“What became clear in the Diet Fukushima Investigation Committee”

HD, 16 min 25 sec, in English


Member of Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Commission Risk Assessment of Low Dose Radiation in Japan
Former Senior Researcher in National Institute Radiological Science

Human Rights Now, Physicians for Social Responsibility, & Peace Boat US present:

“Experts call for immediate action to protect the right to health of women, children and others affected by the nuclear accident in Fukushima.”

March 13, Wednesday, 10:30AM to Noon, at the UN Church Center, NYC

WHAT: Since the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, individuals and communities in Japan continue to be exposed to dangerous levels of radioactivity. There are serious concerns about consequent health effects for pregnant women, mothers, children and others in contaminated areas. Residents have a right to live in a safe and healthy environment, however, sufficient protective measures and support are not being provided. The right to access medical treatment and the medical data about one’s own body are being seriously denied.

A human rights expert from Japan, a medical doctor from Japan, and a medical doctor from the U.S. will speak about how the lives and health of local women, children and others in the Fukushima area are being affected after the disaster and what should be done to provide immediate relief. The actions called for in the December 15, 2012 Human Rights Now “Civil Society Statement” to immediately implement the recent recommendations by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health will be highlighted.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Japan: Fukushima cancer kid missing from official files

Saturday 1st April 2015

A CHILD who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer after a meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is missing from government check-up data, medical workers warned yesterday.

The 3.11 Fund for Children With Thyroid Cancer, named after the date of the March 11 2011 disaster, said that the four-year-old is missing from a list of 184 cases of thyroid cancer in Fukushima.

Government officials claim that no-one younger than five got the cancer after the nuclear meltdown.

Dr Hisako Sakiyama, a fund representative, said that the missing record was alarming.

The boy, now 10, is receiving treatment at Fukushima Medical University, so she said it was inconceivable the university — which compiled the list — was unaware of the case.

Japanese government’s extreme right scandals

This video says about itself:

Japan: Anti-Abe activists protest PM’s alleged ties to ultra-nationalist school

5 March 2017

Scores of demonstrators gathered in Tokyo, Sunday, to protest Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s alleged links to an ultra-nationalist private schooling company.

By Peter Symonds:

Scandal exposes Japanese government’s ultra-right ties

27 March 2017

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is embroiled in a widening scandal over his alleged involvement with a private elementary school project in Osaka by Moritomo Gakuen, an extreme-right educational organisation. The allegations, which also involve Abe’s wife Akie, have contributed to falling opinion polls for Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government.

In sworn testimony to the Japanese parliament last Thursday, Moritomo Gakuen head Yasunori Kagoike added further fuel to the controversy swirling around Abe. He confirmed he received a sizeable donation for the school from Abe via Akie in September 2015. “She said ‘please, this is from Shinzo Abe,’ and gave me an envelope with 1 million yen ($US9,000) in it,” he said.

Abe flatly denied making a donation. However, Kagoike declared: “Abe’s wife apparently says she doesn’t remember this at all, but since this was a matter of honour to us, I remember it quite vividly.” Akie was named as “honorary principal” of the school until she abruptly resigned after the scandal broke.

Whether or not money changed hands, Abe and his wife are clearly in sympathy with Moritomo Gakuen’s curriculum and methods. While the school project has been shelved, the organisation already operates a kindergarten in Osaka in which young children are required to recite the Imperial Rescript on Education—a 19th century edict issued by the Emperor calling for loyalty and filial piety and hailing the glory of the Japanese empire. The school has been accused of sending a letter to parents expressing hatred toward Koreans and Chinese.

The alleged donation is not strictly illegal, but the controversy first erupted in February over allegations that government influence was enabling Moritomo Gakuen to purchase land for the new school at a fraction of its worth. Kagoike testified in parliament last week he believed some sort of political intervention took place as the process began to move more rapidly after he began asking for assistance.

Kagoike later told the media he believed finance ministry officials, whom he did not name, helped in the sale … His organisation bought the land for 134 million yen (about $1.2 million) or about one seventh of its assessed value—supposedly discounted to cover waste disposal costs. Kagoike defended the discount, claiming it needed “a lot of money to take out the household waste in the land and replace it with good soil.”

The scandal has drawn in other political figures close to Abe, providing a glimpse of the network of right-wing nationalist organisations connected to his government. Defence Minister Tomomi Inada was forced to apologise to parliament and retract a statement that she had never represented Moritomo Gakuen in court. As a lawyer, Inada appeared in court on its behalf in 2004, and defended other extremist organisations in high-profile cases.

Three other politicians—two from the LDP and one from the ultra-nationalist Nippon Ishin—denied assisting Moritomo Gakuen after being named in parliament last week. In Osaka, the organisation asked the prefectural government to relax the restrictions on setting up private schools, which was granted in April 2013 when Ichiro Matsui, a close political ally of Abe, was governor.

Abe and the overwhelming majority of his cabinet, including Defence Minister Inada, are members of Nippon Kaigi, an extreme nationalist organisation that seeks to re-establish Japan as a “proud nation.” It promotes the necessity for a strong military, the writing of the constitution to remove restrictions on the armed forces and patriotic education, whitewashing the crimes of Japanese militarism in the 1930s and 1940s.

Moritomo Gakuen head Kagoike was a member of Nippon Kaigi but claims to have left in 2011. He boasted that the school he planned to establish would be the first Shinto primary school in Japan with a shrine housed on the grounds. The organisation claimed the shrine would help connect the school and “the roots of our country.” Shintoism was the state religion of the pre-World War II militarist regime in Japan that revered the emperor as a god.

The Imperial Rescript on Education was a key element of this militarist ideology, read in schools and enshrined alongside a portrait of the emperor until after the war. The document refers to the people of Japan not as citizens but “subjects of the emperor” and declares: “Should an emergency arise, muster your courage under a cause and dedicate yourselves to the good of the Imperial state.”

During the post-war US occupation of Japan, the parliament officially repudiated the rescript as incompatible with the country’s democratic constitution. Successive governments have held that the imperial edict was invalidated by the adoption of the Fundamental Law on Education. The promotion of the rescript is part and parcel of efforts by government-linked organisations such as Moritomo Gakuen and Nippon Kaigi to whip up patriotism and militarism.

Since coming to power in 2012, Abe has taken significant steps to remilitarise Japan. These include boosting the military budget, removing constitutional constraints on “collective self-defence”—that is, participating in US-led wars—and establishing a US-style National Security Council to centralise military strategy, planning and operations in the prime minister’s office (see: “Japanese imperialism rearms”).

Abe has also encouraged an ideological offensive designed to cover up the past crimes of Japanese imperialism and stir up militarism, particularly among young people. Significantly, Defence Minister Inada has repeatedly defended the use of the imperial rescript in schools. Asked about it in parliament in February, she declared: “I don’t agree with the education ministry saying that there’s a problem having students memorise the rescript by heart.”

The revival of Japanese militarism is another sign of the deepening crisis of Japanese and global capitalism, which is fuelling geo-political tensions and the drive to war. The Abe government’s determination to rearm reflects the sentiment in ruling circles that Japanese imperialism must be able to use all means, including military, to prosecute its economic and strategic interests against its rivals.

Japanese militarism getting worse

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 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 Inada; now minister of war … sorry for forgetting to use the euphemism ‘defence’ … of Japan.

By Peter Symonds:

Japanese imperialism rearms

24 March 2017

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is exploiting the extremely tense situation on the Korean Peninsula to push for its military to be able to carry out “pre-emptive” strikes on an enemy such as North Korea. The acquisition of offensive weapons, such as cruise missiles, for the first time since the end of World War II would be another major step by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to rearm Japan, heightening the danger of war.

Commenting on North Korean missile tests, Defence Minister Tomomi Inada suggested on March 9 that Japan could acquire the capacity for “pre-emptive” attacks. “I do not rule out any method and we consider various options, consistent of course with international law and the constitution of our country,” she said.

Hiroshi Imazu, chairman of the LDP’s policy council on security, was more forthright: “It is time we acquired the capacity. I don’t know whether that would be with ballistic missiles, cruise missiles or even the F-35 [fighter], but without a deterrence North Korea will see us as weak.” The policy council plans to submit a proposal in the current parliamentary session with a view to its inclusion in the next five-year defence plan.

Inada’s caveat notwithstanding, the purchase of weapons of aggression would openly breach Article 9 of the Japanese post-war constitution, which renounces “war … and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes” and declares that “land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.” Such a move would also dispense with the longstanding legal fig leaf that Japan’s existing military forces are purely for self-defence.

To date, Japanese governments have baulked at the acquisition of obviously offensive weapons, such as ballistic missiles, aircraft carriers and long-range bombers, not least because of widespread anti-war opposition among Japanese workers and youth. On Wednesday, however, Japan commissioned the Kaga, its second helicopter carrier. The ships are the largest put into operation by the Japanese military since World War II and could be modified to carry fighter aircraft.

The Abe government, the most right-wing in post-war history, has greatly accelerated the drive to remilitarise Japan and remove legal and constitutional restraints on its armed forces. Since coming to office in 2012, Abe has used the slogan of “pro-active pacifism” to justify increased military budgets, the establishment of a US-style National Security Council to centralise war planning in the prime minister’s office and a shift in the strategic focus of the military from the north to the southern island chain, adjacent to the Chinese mainland.

Abe underscored his confrontational stance toward Beijing at the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos where he drew a false comparison between China today and German imperialism in 1914 so as to brand China as “aggressive” and “expansionist.” He deliberately heightened the dangerous standoff with China over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islets in the East China Sea by insisting his government would not enter negotiations over their status with Beijing.

In 2015, the Abe government provoked huge protests against legislation that, under the deceptive banner of “collective self-defence,” allows the Japanese military to participate in US-led wars of aggression.

Abe has campaigned on the program of making Japan “a normal nation” with a strong military—in other words, for Japanese imperialism to prosecute its strategic and economic interests through all, including military, means. The LDP is pushing for a complete revision of the constitution, including the modification or removal of Article 9. The document has long been regarded in right-wing militarist circles as an “occupiers’ constitution” drawn up by the United States to render Japan impotent.

Abe and his cabinet have very strong links to ultra-right groupings such as Nippon Kaigi, which campaigns for a new constitution, promotes militarism and patriotism, and seeks to whitewash the crimes of Japanese militarism in the 1930s and 1940s. Nippon Kaigi’s parliamentary grouping includes 280 of the 717 parliamentarians in the lower and upper houses. Significantly, Abe is a special adviser to the organisation and 16 of his 20-member cabinet are members. He is now embroiled in scandal over claims that his wife, allegedly acting on his behalf, gave a cash donation to the ultra-nationalist operator of a private kindergarten in Osaka that indoctrinates pre-school children in Japanese patriotism.

The drive to remilitarise is being fuelled by the worsening crisis of Japanese and world capitalism, and the deep concern in Japanese ruling circles about the country’s historic decline, underlined by its relegation to the third largest world economy, behind China. As well as boosting the military, Abe has sought to extend Japanese influence, including military ties, especially in Asia, through the most active diplomatic drive of any post-war prime minister.

The Abe government has prosecuted remilitarisation under the umbrella of the US-Japan military alliance and with the active support of Washington. In part, this is to avoid stirring up memories of Japan’s wartime atrocities in Asia and generating opposition in the region to Japanese imperialism. Abe has also sought to continue to work closely with the Trump administration. He was one of the first world leaders to visit Trump after the US election, and again after Trump took office.

Trump’s installation, however, has profoundly destabilised world politics, including in Asia. His repudiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was a blow to the Abe government, which had invested considerable political capital in overcoming opposition within the LDP, in order to ensure its ratification. Abe regarded the economic pact as critical to countering Chinese economic clout, ensuring a dominant position in Asia for Japan, in league with the US, and overcoming the protracted stagnation of the Japanese economy.

Moreover, Trump’s “America First” demagogy and threats of trade war have not just been directed against China. He has a long history of denouncing Japan for its trade surplus with the United States and “unfair” trade practices. During the US presidential election campaign, Trump also called into question the US-Japan Security Treaty, threatening to walk away if Japan did not pay more toward the cost of US military bases in the country. He even suggested that Japan should protect itself by building its own nuclear weapons.

As in Europe, all the geo-political fault lines that led to two disastrous world wars in the 20th century are emerging again. The Abe government’s determination to rearm Japan as rapidly as possible is not about countering the “threat” posed by North Korea, but defending the interests of Japanese imperialism by every means, compounding the danger of war. As in the 1940s, intense rivalry for markets, raw materials and cheap labour could fuel trade conflicts between US and Japan and a competition to dominate Asia, ending in a catastrophic war that would inevitably engulf the region and the world.

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has called on the government to boost the country’s anti-ballistic missile systems and to consider acquiring, for the first time, weapons capable of carrying out attacks on enemy bases. The recommendations are another step towards the remilitarisation of Japan pressed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that is adding to sharp regional tensions: here.