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.

Japanese PM plans to remove constitutional shackles on the military by 2020: here.

The intensifying tensions over the Korean Peninsula are being utilised by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Japanese government to accelerate the overturn of key restraints on militarism embodied in the country’s post-World War II constitution. It is also whipping up war scares in the population to justify the acquisition of military hardware designed for offensive warfare: here.

Fukushima, worse radiation than ever


This video from Japan says about itself:

Fukushima Unit 2 Scorpion Probe Dies But Sends Back Some Data

Feb 16 2017

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Japan: Fukushima’s high radiation wrecks robot

Saturday 18th February 2017

Nuclear disaster site’s clean-up hits big trouble

ROBOT probes sent into a wrecked Fukushima nuclear reactor suggest that the clean-up process faces worse than anticipated problems, the plant operator admitted yesterday.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said that the remote-controlled “scorpion” robot had been sent into the Unit 2 reactor’s containment vessel on Thursday to investigate the area around the core that melted six years ago.

However, its crawling function failed while climbing over highly radioactive debris.

The robot, carrying a dosimeter, thermometer and two small cameras, transmitted some data and visuals but failed to locate melted fuel, which is key to determining how to remove debris from the reactor.

The robot was abandoned inside the vessel at a point where it won’t block a future probe.

Preliminary examinations in recent weeks have detected structural damage to planned robot routes and higher-than-expected radiation inside the Unit 2 containment chamber, suggesting the need to revise robot designs and probes. Similar probes are planned for the two other melted reactors.

A tiny waterproof robot that can go underwater will be sent into Unit 1 in the coming weeks, but experts haven’t yet worked out a way to access the badly damaged Unit 3.

The operator needs to know the melted fuel’s exact location and condition and other structural damage in each of the three wrecked reactors to assess the best and safest ways to remove the fuel.

Despite the incomplete probe missions, Tepco is sticking to its schedule to determine methods for melted fuel removal this summer before starting work in 2021, said spokesman Yuichi Okamura.

The company is struggling with the plant’s decommissioning, which is expected to last decades, following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to the meltdown.

Tens of thousands of residents are still unable to return to their home because of high radiation.

Earlier this month, another robot, designed to clean debris for the main scorpion probe, had to return midway through because two cameras became inoperable after two hours when its total radiation exposure reached a maximum tolerance of 1,000 sievert. This level would kill a human within seconds.

Local servicemen may have radiation poisoning from Fukushima — San Diego City Beat, USA: here.

The Fukushima nuclear meltdown continues unabated — Helen Caldicott: here.

Japanese seabird conservation


This video says about itself:

14 September 2015

At Hakodate, Japan – After their early morning feeding, these seabirds are grooming their feathers and taking a rest, along that huge motionless breakwater.

From BirdLife:

Japan is home to one third of all seabirds – so we mapped its waters

By Alex Dale, 7 Feb 2017

Japan is known for its densely-populated cities, but some of its most vital areas for bird conservation are places where humans rarely venture – its marine waters.

A nation comprised of a chain of islands, Japan is blessed with a long and rugged coastline, which is home to a particularly high diversity of seabirds within Asia. Nearly a third of all known seabird species venture into Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which stretches 200 nautical miles from its coastline. These species includes all three North Pacific albatrosses, eight auks and eleven petrels and shearwaters.

As seabirds are one of the most threatened groups of birds worldwide, it’s no surprise that some of these species have been assessed by BirdLife as threatened, and are in urgent need of protection. These include the Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus, listed as Vulnerable due to its extremely small breeding range, which is limited to several Pacific islands; Tristram’s Storm-petrel Hydrobates tristrami, which is threatened by predation by rats and cats introduced to the islands it breeds on; and Japanese Murrelet Synthliboramphus wumizusume, which is threatened by human disturbance by anglers at its breeding sites and accidental capture in gillnet fisheries, among other factors.

As you can see, Japan’s seabirds already face a complex web of threats, and the concern is that the ongoing expansion of offshore wind farms in and around the country could heap yet more pressure onto the most threatened species.> They are being built to meet a national need for renewable energy, one which has only grown following the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster of 2011. Clearly, there is a pressing need for Japan’s most vital marine sites to be properly monitored and protected.

However, this is currently not the case. The Japanese government has stated that 8.3% of the country’s waters are protected – but concerns have been raised about how effective this protection is for preserving the country’s marine biodiversity. For example, it includes marine areas that are locally managed by fisherman and so lack legal protection, and also marine areas that are indeed protected by national laws, but don’t contribute to marine biodiversity conservation. All in all, that 8.3% is not the be all and end all when it comes to protecting Japan’s seabirds.

But we have now taken an important first step towards improving protection for seabirds. In 2004, BirdLife International and its Partners initiated a project to designate sites that are important for coastal and marine conservation as Marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (Marine IBAs). This is part of an ongoing push that has created the largest global network of important sites for biodiversity. Using simple but robust criteria to identify these crucial sites helps inform decision makers by highlighting areas of land and sea most in need of protection.

To this end, the Wild Bird Society of Japan, (WBSJ, BirdLife Partner), and BirdLife International Tokyo have just completed identification of Japan’s 27 new Marine IBAs, adding to the 167 terrestrial or near-shore IBAs that were already recognised in 2004.

Seabirds are excellent indicators of the health of the marine environment’ explains Yutaka Yamamoto, Conservation Division Chief at WBSJ. ‘Identifying key seabird sites in Japan will inform marine conservation priorities and actions needed for the protection of our oceans.’

The results have just been published in a booklet that covers the new marine IBAs, including details for the breeding sites, threats, and biology on the 18 ‘trigger species’ for which sites were selected, and case studies about local communities working on seabird conservation. This includes several towns and villages where local conservation groups, fisheries associations, government, and seabird scientists are taking action to monitor and raise awareness about seabirds, and develop nature-based tourism. Kadogawa Town, close to the new Birou-jima Island marine IBA – which contains the world’s largest breeding colony of Japanese murrelets -, has even adopted the species as their town symbol.

Identifying Japan’s marine IBAs has been a long process involving many collaborators and a lot of data’, said Mayumi Sato, BirdLife Marine Programme Coordinator for Asia, ‘but it’s actually an initial step, and I am optimistic that it will help inform protection of many crucial areas of coast and sea. It gives me much hope to see local communities and fishers who are already active and working alongside government and scientists to promote and protect wildlife in these unique seabird sites.’

This important work was made possible thanks to kind funding from The Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund and from The Tiffany & Co. Foundation through a grant to American Friends of BirdLife International.

The booklet can be downloaded from The Wild Bird Society of Japan’s website.