Japanese great tit language word for ‘snake’

This 30 January 2018 video says about itself:

Alarm calls make birds picture snakes

Japanese [great] tits use a particular alarm call to warn other birds of snakes. Read more here.

Japan’s military sexual slavery and South Korea

This British ITV video says about itself:

2 November 2015

A Chinese “comfort woman” tells ITV News the tale of the brutality she endured at the hands of Japanese invaders during WWII.

By Ben McGrath:

Tensions between South Korea and Japan reemerge over “comfort women

3 January 2018

A task force under South Korea’s Foreign Ministry released new findings on December 27 regarding a December 2015 agreement between Seoul and Tokyo on the historical issue of “comfort women.” The report calls into question the manner in which the accord was reached and has the potential to destabilize South Korean and Japanese relations.

The task force conducted a five-month investigation and found that certain aspects of the negotiations between Seoul and Tokyo were kept secret from the public. It accused the former South Korean administration of Park Geun-hye, which was in power at the time, of failing to take into account the opinions of former comfort women—a euphemism for sex slaves—who are still alive, as well as related civic groups.

Details reportedly withheld from the public included Tokyo’s demands that Seoul not support any groups that would oppose the agreement, provide detailed plans for dealing with a statue honoring those enslaved in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, and pledge that Seoul not use the phrase “sexual slavery”. Park’s government said it would work to persuade civic groups to prevent protests and agreed to use the term “comfort women”.

Moon’s government has not rejected the agreement, which Seoul stated in 2015 was “final and irreversible.” Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said: “Based on the findings, the government will gather opinions of the victims and others involved going forward with a focus to be placed on a victim-centered approach. In addition, action will be taken carefully in consideration of any impact that it could have on the relations between South Korea and Japan.”

A final decision on the matter is not expected until after the Winter Olympics being hosted by South Korea in February. However, a high-ranking South Korean official quoted by the Yonhap News Agency suggested Seoul could pursue a path of strategic ambiguity to avoid a diplomatic falling out with Tokyo. At the same time, Moon is cautious of moving too close to Japan as he attempts to rebuild economic relations with China.

Following a two-track approach that separates historical disputes from diplomatic and military issues, Moon pledged that despite the task force’s findings, he would “restore normal diplomatic relations for future-oriented cooperation between Korea and Japan.” Seoul is also reportedly making arrangements for a trilateral summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who proposed the meeting, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Tokyo in April. Beijing has not yet expressed support.

However, Tokyo reacted negatively to the report. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono called on Seoul to “faithfully” carry out the 2015 agreement, while warning any attempt to revise it would make relations between the two countries “unmanageable.”

The 2015 agreement represented a significant thaw in relations between Tokyo and Seoul at the behest of the Obama administration in Washington, which was concerned that animosity between its two major military allies in Northeast Asia was cutting across preparations for war with North Korea and China.

The Abe government offered a limited apology for the women’s enslavement by the Japanese military during the 1930s and 1940s, while pledging to donate 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) to a fund to be distributed to South Korean victims, 32 of whom are still alive. The deal did not cover women in North Korea, China, the Philippines or other countries where women were also enslaved.

Moon’s approach to this issue is similar to that it had adopted in relation to the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) anti-missile deployment, part of the US military build-up primarily directed against China. In his campaign for the presidency, Moon exploited public opposition to the comfort women agreement and THAAD to win electoral support. In June, Moon called for a full environmental impact assessment before THAAD could be completely deployed. After posturing as a THAAD opponent, he quickly approved its full installation a month later, pointing to a North Korean missile launch as justification.

However, a dispute in the South Korean ruling class is emerging over this approach, with Moon’s opponents demanding closer relations with Tokyo and Washington as the latter accelerate the current war drive against North Korea. Chang Je-won, party spokesman for the main opposition Liberty Korea Party [the right-wing party of ex-President Park Geun-hye, impeached for corruption and daughter of a military dictator], denounced the task force’s report.

“Amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, a strong alliance with the United States and Japan is crucial to protect the country from the nuclear threats from North Korea”, Chang said last week. “The revelation is a poor move that is far removed from resolving the comfort women issue, and can lead to serious security issues.”

The comfort women dispute has been ongoing for nearly three decades following growing public anger over war crimes in the early 1990s. Before and during World War II, the Japanese government and military established a system in which an estimated 200,000 women from its colonies and conquered territories were deceived, coerced and in some cases physically forced into becoming nominal prostitutes.

Poor working class and peasant women were primarily affected, with the first “comfort women” coming from Japan. While some women received or were supposed to receive money for their “services,” this was only to provide a thin veil of legitimacy to a practice where women endured hellish conditions at “comfort stations,” in some cases at the front lines. Many women turned to drug abuse or opted to commit suicide.

The South Korean establishment in the past was undoubtedly well aware of this practice of sexual slavery. Following post-war independence, leading government and military positions were filled with Japanese collaborators who did nothing to address the needs of these women and their families.

The recent visit to Sri Lanka by Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono saw governmental confirmation of Sri Lanka’s first Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) project. A statement from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office revealed that an MoU with Japan to build a Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) would be signed in the third week of January. The project to build the FSRU and LNG terminal will be a joint venture by Sri Lanka Ports Authority with both Japan and India, it is learnt: here.

Korean president criticizes sex slave deal with Japan

 A statue of a Korean ‘comfort woman’ in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Yun Ho Lee

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Friday, December 29, 2017

South Korean president criticises ‘seriously flawed’ sex slave deal with Japan

Government panel reports on problems with content and process of ‘comfort women’ agreement

SOUTH KOREAN president Moon Jae In condemned the 2015 deal with Japan over reparations for wartime sex slaves yesterday as “seriously flawed, both in process and content.”

“Once again [I] firmly state that this agreement does not resolve the issue over comfort women”, Mr Moon said in a statement, using the euphemism for women and girls forced into sexual slavery in Japanese military brothels in the 1930s and ’40s during the country’s conquest and occupation of east Asia.

Mr Moon’s criticism followed Wednesday’s report of a commission set up to study the deal, agreed two years ago yesterday, by which Japan was to pay less than £6 million into a fund to support former sex slaves.

Parts had been kept secret, the panel said, including a Japanese demand that South Korea not use the term “sexual slavery” and that it remove a bronze statue commemorating the sex slaves from outside Japan’s embassy in Seoul.

The South Koreans agreed to the first but didn’t give a clear answer to the second.

The panel also said the government hadn’t properly consulted surviving victims before reaching the deal.

The agreement was negotiated by the government of Mr Moon’s right-wing predecessor Park Geun Hye, who was removed from office and arrested for corruption in March.

Mr Moon vowed during his presidential campaign to renegotiate the agreement.

A government spokesman said only that it would take “sincere and practical” measures to do right by the sex slaves and consult victims and experts before pursuing any changes.

However, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said on Wednesday that Japan stands by it and that any attempt at revision would make relations between the countries “unmanageable” and “unacceptable.”

The Japanese military forced between 200,000 and 400,000 women into organised sexual slavery, beginning in Shanghai, China, in 1932. Most of the women were from China and Korea but also several other countries, including the Philippines and Indonesia.

As with other states such as Britain, Japan has been extremely reluctant to acknowledge its imperialist past.

Along with its refusal to fully apologise and pay reparations for its taking of sex slaves, leading politicians often visit a shrine commemorating war criminals and rightwingers have repeatedly and successfully campaigned against accurate history textbooks.

New deep sea Xenoturbella worm species discovered

This video says about itself:

18 December 2017

Scientists discover mysterious marine worm without an anus

Researchers in Japan have discovered a bizarre new species of worm that could shed light on the origin of complex structures inside animals’ bodies. The strange pale-orange creature dwells on the floor of the western Pacific Ocean, and lacks a number of features – including an anus. Scientists say the species comes from a group of worms that holds a ‘controversial’ place in the tree of life, as a sister group of that which contains most complex animals.

These creatures dwell hundreds or thousands of meters beneath the surface, making them difficult to study. But, the researchers say the latest discovery could now offer a solution. Xenoturbella japonica was found in the western Pacific, in a region easily accessible from marine stations.

From the University of Tsukuba in Japan:

Mysterious new seafloor species sheds light on early animal evolution

A new species of the enigmatic marine worm Xenoturbella, dredged from the seafloor of the western Pacific, contributes to understanding of the early evolution of the Bilateria

December 18, 2017

Summary: Researchers have described a new species of the enigmatic marine worm Xenoturbella, named Xenoturbella japonica. Two specimens of this new species were dredged from the seafloor of the western Pacific. These primitive worms, lacking a centralized nervous system, kidneys, and anus, are important for understanding the early evolution of the Bilateria. MicroCT scanning revealed previously unknown structures, and molecular genomic analysis suggested that features of this species may be ancestral to Xenoturbella. This newly identified species is promising for further research on early bilaterian evolution.

Japanese researchers have discovered a new species of the enigmatic marine worm Xenoturbella, which they have named Xenoturbella japonica, as reported in a new study published in BMC Evolutionary Biology.

Xenoturbella lacks certain features common among more complex animals, such as a centralized nervous system, kidneys, and an anus (i.e., its digestive system has only one opening). Thus, these primitive worms are important for understanding the origins of these structures. The classification of Xenoturbella in the tree of life has been controversial, but it is generally regarded as a basal member or sister group of the Bilateria, a group that includes most complex animals.

The researchers, centered at the University of Tsukuba, described two specimens of X. japonica dredged from the seafloor of the western Pacific: a female about 5 cm in length, and a juvenile about 1 cm in length. Both specimens are pale orange in color, with an oval-shaped mouth and a glandular network on the ventral (bottom) surface.

MicroCT scanning, a method not previously applied to Xenoturbella, revealed the specimens’ internal structures, and a new feature not visible using conventional methods: the frontal pore.

“We also extracted DNA and sequenced the mitochondrial genome and partial Histone H3 gene sequences,” co-author Hideyuki Miyazawa explains.

“Molecular phylogenetic analysis confirmed that X. japonica is distinct from previously described species of Xenoturbella.” DNA contamination from several species of bivalve was also detected, which indicates that, like other species of Xenoturbella, X. japonica likely feeds on marine bivalves.

“Species within this genus have previously been divided into ‘shallow’ and ‘deep’ subgroups, and our results place X. japonica in the ‘shallow’ subgroup,” lead author Hiroaki Nakano says. “Interestingly, X. japonica shares features with both subgroups, however. Thus, features of this species may be ancestral for this genus, and this new species may be particularly important for unraveling the ancestry of Xenoturbella and the early history of the Bilateria.”

Research on Xenoturbella has been limited by the inaccessibility of specimens in their seafloor habitats hundreds or thousands of meters below the surface. This new discovery may offer a solution. As co-author Hisanori Kohtsuka explains, “because one habitat where X. japonica was found is easily accessible from a marine station, this new species promises to be valuable for future research on bilaterian and deuterostome evolution.”

Japan nuclear news update

This 2011 CNN video from the USA says about itself:

15 March 2011

Dale Bridenbaugh quit his job at GE [General Electric] to protest the Mark 1 nuclear reactor design used at a damaged Japanese power plant.

Japan court bars restart of nuclear reactor shut after Fukushima — Bloomberg: here.

Government and utilities shaken by high court challenge to public trust in Japan’s nuclear authority — The Japan Times: here.

Japanese officials are trying to decide what to do with thousands of tons of radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant: here.

High radiation levels are still limiting recovery work at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, a stark reality that reporters saw firsthand when they observed efforts to remove risk factors there: here.

To serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, you must meet certain health and fitness requirements: you must be fit to serve. But a healthy group of young service men and women – many in their 20s – have come down with serious health problems since serving on a humanitarian mission to Fukushima, Japan, following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to a nuclear meltdown of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TepCo) nuclear power plant: here.

US military helicoper’s window falls on Japanese school

This video, about Okinawa in Japan says about itself:

Parents Outraged Window From U.S. Military Helicopter Falls Onto Elementary School Yard In Japan

13 December 2017