Japanese government revives militarism


This video says about itself:

Japan: Thousands Protest Plans To Send Military Overseas To Fight

31 August 2015

Japan hasn’t sent its military to fight overseas since World War Two. Seventy years later the Abe government wants to change that with a new security bill.

Even though the Japanese right-wing government has said they did not want to go as far as United States Republican candidate Donald Trump‘s advice to acquire nuclear weapons … there is unfortunately more than enough bad news on Japanese militarism.

By Peter Symonds:

Japan’s security laws: Another milestone in the drive to world war

29 March 2016

Japan’s new military legislation comes into force today, allowing the country’s armed forces, under the guise of “collective self-defence,” to fully participate in wars abroad for the first time since the end of World War II. The implementation of the laws is a major step in the revival of Japanese militarism, which has been encouraged by Washington as part of its “pivot to Asia” and preparations for war with China.

The legislation is in flagrant breach of the Japanese Constitution, which, under Article 7, renounces war forever and affirms that land, sea and air forces will never be maintained.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month dismissed the advice of legal experts that the legislation was unconstitutional, declaring that the constitution, not the new laws, had to be changed. Abe is pressing for an end to all restraints on the military and the transformation of Japan into a “normal nation”—that is, one that can aggressively pursue its economic and strategic interests by armed force.

Since coming to power in 2012, the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government has boosted military spending, concentrated war powers in a US-style National Security Council and refashioned military planning to focus on conflict with China. As part of its “island defence” strategy, Japan is building up military forces on its southern island chain adjacent to the Chinese mainland. On Monday, a new radar station became operational on the island of Yoniguna, just 150 kilometres from disputed islets in the East China Sea known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

The entire Japanese political establishment, not just the LDP, is responsible for the extreme tensions over the Senkakus. The previous government, headed by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), provoked widespread Chinese protests in September 2012 by “nationalising” or buying the uninhabited rocky outcrops from their private owner. Abe has refused to countenance any negotiations with China over the future of the islands.

In 2014, US President Barack Obama upped the ante by declaring that the US-Japan Security Treaty covered the Senkakus. This was tantamount to committing the US to intervene militarily in support of Japan should war break out between it and China over the islets. Hundreds of dangerous encounters took place last year, as Japan mobilised fighter jets and coast guard vessels to challenge Chinese “intrusions,” heightening the risk that a mistake or miscalculation could lead to conflict.

The implementation of Japan’s “collective self-defence” laws is another milestone in the drive to war being fuelled by the global breakdown of capitalism. Japanese imperialism is presently operating under the patronage of the United States, but it is an alliance of convenience. Japan and the US have already fought one war in the Pacific that cost the lives of millions to determine which power would dominate Asia, and the two could come to blows again.

The remilitarisation of Japan underscores the warnings made by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) in its February 18 statement “Socialism and the Fight against War” that the world is being drawn once again into a catastrophic global conflict. Behind the backs of their populations, capitalist governments are gearing up for war and becoming increasingly bellicose.

“As in the years that preceded the outbreak of World War I in 1914 and World War II in 1939,” the statement declares, “political leaders and military planners are approaching the conclusion that a war between major powers is not a remote possibility, but, rather, highly probable and, perhaps, even inevitable. At a certain point, such military fatalism becomes a significant contributing factor to the outbreak of war.”

As is today the case in Germany, the road to war is being prepared in Japan with a reactionary campaign to revise history and whitewash the monstrous crimes of Japanese imperialism in the 1930s and 1940s. Abe, whose maternal grandfather Nobusuke Kishi was part of the wartime Japanese cabinet, speaks for broad sections of the ruling elite who justify Japan’s role in World War II as a struggle to free Asia from Western colonialism. Abe appointees have dismissed the wartime sexual slavery of hundreds of thousands of “comfort women” by the Japanese military and downplayed or denied such atrocities as the Rape of Nanjing, in which up to 300,000 Chinese civilians and prisoners were slaughtered.

The government is whipping up Japanese patriotism and a climate of fear over the Chinese “threat” so as to justify rearmament. At the same time, it is seeking to project mounting social tensions outward against a foreign enemy. A quarter century of slump has been compounded by the failure of so-called Abenomics to revive the Japanese economy. Wages remain at the level they were two decades ago, and many young people are condemned to a future of unemployment or low-paid casual work. This week, the Financial Times reported that large numbers of elderly people are committing petty crimes in order to get themselves jailed because they cannot survive on their meagre pensions.

The same crisis of global capitalism that is fuelling the drive to war is giving fresh impetus to socialist revolution. Opposition to war and militarism is deeply embedded in the Japanese working class, which suffered not only the police-state rule of the wartime militarist regime in Tokyo, but also the murderous US bombing raids. The Japanese people remain the only population to have experienced the horrors of nuclear incineration in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Some of the largest anti-war protests in Japanese history took place last year as the Abe government rammed its military laws through the parliament. At their height, the demonstrations swelled to 120,000 in Tokyo, with smaller protests in hundreds of other cities and towns. …

Workers and youth in Japan, like their counterparts around the world, can halt the slide towards world war only through the construction of an international anti-war movement of the working class based on the program of socialist internationalism. … We urge our readers in Japan and throughout Asia to take up the struggle to build this anti-war movement.

The Japanese government downgraded its assessment of the economy last Wednesday following a similar move by its central bank the previous week. Notwithstanding the initial hype which surrounded it, Prime Minister Abe’s economic agenda—so-called Abenomics—is now a dead letter so far as any economic revival is concerned. Growth has continued to contract while wages remain stagnant: here.

Donald Trump wants nuclear weapons for Japan


This video says about itself:

2 July 2009

Atomic Bomb Survivors Re-live Their Stories

“On August 6, 1945, a great terror was thrust upon the world. David Rothauser’s 80 minute documentary, Hibakusha, Our Life to Live, probes the life stories of Japanese, Korean and American survivors of the terror; the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There is an URGENCY here. The survivors are dying off. By keeping their memory alive may we no longer live in the fear of nuclear annihilation.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Japan: Tokyo rejects Trump‘s advice about getting nuclear bomb

Tuesday 29th March 2016

TOKYO rejected yesterday US presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s suggestion that Japan and South Korea should acquire nuclear weapons.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that the country’s three principles of not owning, making or allowing nuclear weapons remained “an important basic policy of the government.”

Mr Trump said in an interview with the New York Times published on Sunday that Japan and South Korea should pay more for their own defence — and that “could mean nuclear.”

Both countries have hosted many thousands of US troops since the end of World War II, which Mr Trump said he would withdraw if the two nations did not increase their own defence spending.

Mr Suga declined to comment specifically on Mr Trump’s statement, saying he was only running for the presidency at that point.

South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang Gyun declined to comment on Mr Trump’s remarks.

So, Donald Trump went too far; even for the militarist right-wing Abe government in Japan.

Fukushima, Japan nuclear disaster continues


This video from the USA says about itself:

Radioactive Waste Still Leaking Five Years After Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

10 March 2016

Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, says decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi reactors could take decades and cost billions of dollars.

Fukushima update: here.

The Fukushima accident has not served as a wake-up call in Japan — Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: here.

News coverage of Fukushima disaster found lacking; Few reports identified health risks to public — Celine-Marie Pascale, American University via Science Daily: here.

FUKUSHIMA – Public prosecutors decided on Tuesday not to indict Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Naomi Hirose and other current and former executives of the utility over radioactive water leaks from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant into the ocean: here.

Hazel grouse with chicks, video


This 2 March 2016 video from Japan shows a hazel grouse with chicks.

Fukushima, Japan news update


This video says about itself:

Atomic mafia: Yakuza cleaning up Fukushima

4 December 2013

Homeless men employed to clean up the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, including those brought in by Japan’s Yakuza gangsters, were not aware of the health risks they were taking and say their bosses treated them like “disposable people.”

Five years on, tsunami debris on ocean floor near Fukushima nuclear plant remains untouched: here.

How Citizen Science Changed the Way Fukushima Radiation is Reported: here.

Sixteen children confirmed to have thyroid cancer in second Fukushima survey — Japan Today: here.

This Chicago Tribune article from the USA is on concerns over Japan’s plutonium stockpile in the light of the expiration of the 1988 Japan-U.S. atomic energy agreement that will either be automatically extended, revised or unilaterally scrapped in July 2018.

Fukushima disaster: Tepco to pay couple in landmark damages case: here.

Higher levels of Fukushima cesium detected offshore: here.

For some Fukushima mothers, protecting children from radiation comes at heavy price — The Asahi Shimbun: here.

The reactor meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant hit by a devastating tsunami in 2011 should have been announced much sooner, the operator admitted this week. In a statement, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said that a public declaration of the meltdown should have been done within days of the disaster: here.

Japanese government brings back militarism


This video says about itself:

Japan: Thousands Protest Plans To Send Military Overseas To Fight

31 August 2015

Japan hasn’t sent its military to fight overseas since World War Two. Seventy years later the Abe government wants to change that with a new security bill.

By Ben McGrath:

Japanese PM pushes to remove constitutional constraints on military

15 February 2016

In the lead up to this summer’s parliamentary upper house election, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to make constitutional revision a major feature of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) campaign. The proposed changes would formally remove any barriers to Japan’s ability to wage war to further its strategic and economic interests, as well as deepen the attack on democratic rights at home.

Abe has made explicit calls in recent weeks for the revision of the constitution. On February 3, he stated before a parliamentary budget committee: “There is the view that [Japan should] address the situation in which 70 percent of constitutional scholars suspect the SDF (Self-Defense Forces) is in violation of the Constitution.”

Abe was responding to a question from Tomomi Inada, chairwoman of the LDP’s Policy Research Council and supporter of constitutional change, who claimed that Article 9 of the post-World War II constitution “no longer fits reality at all.” Article 9 declares that “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.”

Successive post-war governments in Japan have tacitly breached Article 9 and built up a large military under the guise of “self defense,” despite the constitution’s declaration that “land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.” Over the past two decades, the Japanese military has been deployed overseas, including in support of the US-led occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Increasingly, however, the Japanese ruling class wants to cast off the constitutional restraints. Last summer, the LDP-led government, in the face of widespread opposition and protests, rammed through military legislation to allow Tokyo to engage in “collective self-defense,” which in reality means taking part in predatory wars alongside an ally, namely the United States.

The new laws are in clear violation of the constitution, as many constitutional scholars have stated. Far from backtracking from this unconstitutional legislation, Abe is now cynically using the lack of constitutional authority to press forward with the LDP’s long-held plans for a wholesale revision of the constitution.

In the budget committee, Abe continued: “Given the view that we should change this with our own hands, the LDP has announced a draft revised constitution.” The draft, proposed in April 2012, not only alters Article 9, but also makes numerous other changes that limit democratic rights and strengthen the state.

First, the draft would turn the SDF, the official name of Japan’s military, into a “National Defense Force” with the prime minister as commander-in-chief. This force could be deployed abroad under the guise of international peace-keeping operations, as well as domestically to suppress opposition to the government.

The proposal would also impose “duties” on the Japanese population, including to “respect” the national flag, anthem and the new constitution. It further states that “engaging in activities with the purpose of damaging public interest or public order, or associating with others for such purposes, shall not be recognized.” In other words, the freedom to criticize the government would effectively be banned.

The LDP’s draft alters the role of the emperor, making him “head of state,” while removing the emperor’s or a regent’s obligation to respect and uphold the constitution. This would concentrate more power in the anachronistic and backward institution, moving to return the emperor to the position he held before World War II.

The government, however, confronts significant barriers to constitutional revision, which must be approved by two-thirds of both houses of parliament, as well as by a majority of the voting population at a referendum. While the LDP and its ally Komeito hold a two-thirds majority in the Lower House, they have only a simple majority in the Upper House and need 86 additional seats.

Speaking at a New Year’s press conference on January 4, Abe said the LDP “will appeal for [constitutional revision] strongly during the House of Councillors (Upper House) election campaign, just as we have thus far.” Abe claimed there was “unshakeable” support for the SDF in Japan to support his decision.

In reality, there is widespread opposition to remilitarization. Last summer, mass protests took place throughout the country opposing the security legislation to expand the role of the SDF internationally in support of allies like the United States. These protests culminated in an August 30 demonstration of 120,000 people denouncing the bills in front of the parliament building in Tokyo.

In order to obtain the seats needed, the LDP is seeking additional coalition partners. Last month, Abe acknowledged that winning the necessary seats in the upcoming election would be difficult. In response, Nobuyuki Baba, secretary-general of the right-wing Osaka Ishin no Kai, said his party would “cooperate positively” with the LDP and Komeito’s efforts to change the constitution.

Since his February 3 remarks though, Abe has toned down his calls for constitutional revision. While not facing outright opposition, some within the LDP are clearly concerned that anti-war sentiment could result in an unwanted electoral backlash. “An appropriate approach would be to proceed [with the constitutional revision] while winning the understanding of the largest opposition party,” LDP secretary general Sadakazu Tanigaki said.

The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), however, is attempting to exploit the anti-war sentiment for electoral purposes. DPJ leader Katsuya Okada said last month: “If the prime minister secures a two-thirds majority, he will surely amend the Constitution. As his deepest wish is to revise Article 9, we must block him from achieving the two-thirds majority by all means.”